Easy National Parks to Visit - No Hiking Required! - Travel Squad Podcast

Easy National Parks to Visit – No Hiking Required!

This one is for the non-hikers out there with 11 easy national parks to visit – no hiking required! America’s national parks have so much natural beauty to take in, and much of it you can see and enjoy without trekking miles uphill to the summit. These national parks can be enjoyed to the fullest with zero hiking. These parks have gorgeous scenic lookouts, short walking paths to the park’s attractions, or are designed to be enjoyed at a slow pace.  If you’re looking for the easiest national parks to see without hiking we have the ultimate list for you here! But also know most national parks can be enjoyed without hiking, even the parks with the highest peaks still have walking and easy trails to take in the beauty. 


Top 11 U.S. National Parks Without Hiking 

  1. Channel Islands National Park, California
  2. Death Valley National Park, California
  3. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona 
  4. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  5. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico 
  6. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  7. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  8. Glacier National Park, Montana 
  9. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
  10. Everglades National Park, Florida
  11. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Easy National Parks to Visit – Episode Transcript

4 (56s):
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today. We’re going to talk to you guys all about our top 11 National Parks that require no hiking.

3 (1m 7s):
I’m a big hiker. So I don’t know if I’m going to like this episode.

4 (1m 11s):
I don’t know about that. Okay. Once you hit 30, you’re no longer a solid hiker.

3 (1m 15s):
Yes. I like to enjoy National Parks with hiking and without hiking. And I think there’s a lot to be said. So I’m actually really excited about this episode. A lot of scenic overlooks, beautiful drives, unique nature things to see all right here in the U S and our National Parks.

2 (1m 31s):
I don’t rest often. So when I do, it’s actually really, really, really, really nice. So I’m super looking forward to going through all of these National Parks and just sitting in the backseat of the car, looking out at overlooks and just enjoying myself.

4 (1m 44s):
We’re talking easy days, but this time really, really easy day and not just squat easy days, like real easy days,

6 (1m 50s):
I was just going to say, no one loves an easy day, more than ideal. And I truly do mean an easy day when we do talk about the no hike, National Parks. And it’s really nice to have national parks that you can go to and enjoy something other than hiking. And we’re super excited to share this list to you. Some of them, we were actually on hiking trips to these national parks and realized that, oh, this would be great to put on a list for no hikes needed to see this beautiful national park.

4 (2m 15s):
And we’ve touched upon this before. Kim said at one time, and it really, really resonated. And it’s so true. You know, there is the misconception that when people go to National Parks, you have to be really physically active, do a lot of hiking. And for some people that is the national park experience, but for a lot of other people, that’s not necessarily the case. And These parks really highlight ways that you can see the true natural beauty of America with no hiking with those beautiful overlook. So I’m really, really excited to talk about this.

6 (2m 46s):
So, number one on our list is Channel Islands, National Park located in California. And the location of this national park is actually off of the coast of California to get to it. You would have to start in like Oxnard or Ventura, but the Channel Islands National Park is actually composed of five different islands. And you can visit each one. You do have to arrive via boat, but some things that you can do are snorkeling or whale watching around the islands and that doesn’t require any hiking.

4 (3m 15s):
Yeah. And the boat right out. You can either take chartered boat rides out from private companies, or if you have your own boat, sail yourself out there, visit all the islands. Each one is unique in its own, right? With certain things to actually do on it. None of those by the way are hiking. And when Brittany and I went to the Channel Islands, we went to Anna Kappa island, which is the closest island to the California coast. And it does have the last lighthouse built on the west coast of the United States. And that island is famous for the seabirds nesting in that area. And all of the other islands that are there along the coast of part of the Channel Islands, none of the sea birds nest there, they specifically go to Anna Kappa, which I find so odd.

4 (4m 1s):
It’s like, why compete for that limited space when there’s other islands? But no, they just decided to go there.

6 (4m 7s):
You know, it’s really nice being on California’s coast in general, and looking out to the Pacific ocean, but it’s a whole nother perspective to be in the Pacific ocean on the Channel Islands, looking back at the California coast. And I think that’s really unique about the Channel Islands.

4 (4m 23s):
Yeah. And one thing that I regret is when we went out to Anna Kappa Brittany, we didn’t bring our bathing suit because where we dock, you know, these are islands out on shore and they’re not beachy islands or high jagged rock islands. So you have to dock take some wooden steps up, but where you dock in this little alcove area of the island, there’s a whole bunch of kelp and seals and sea lions are down there swimming. The water is clear. And they said, oh, if you have your bathing suit and some goggles, this is great snorkeling area. And I really want to go back and do that, whether it be an Anna cap or any of the other islands

6 (4m 58s):
And some of the islands, you can even camp on as well. So if you’re into camping out kind of remotely, this is the place to do it.

2 (5m 5s):
I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that Jamal did not bring his bathing suit. Therefore he was not prepared.

4 (5m 11s):
Well, neither did Brittany. And they did not advise us that there was swimming.

6 (5m 16s):
That’s true on

3 (5m 17s):
An island who would have thought,

4 (5m 20s):
I guess when you put it in that perspective, but yeah,

6 (5m 22s):
Well it’s an island, but you actually dock and you have to climb a plate 75 steps to get to the top of Anna Kappa. So you wouldn’t think that there’s no beach or shore. Really. It’s like a rock protrusion out of the Pacific ocean. And you have to go up these steps to get to like the top of where you can do all of the wildlife viewing.

4 (5m 43s):
So keeping on with the California theme here, we’re going to go to another California national park. This time we’re taking you from the coast and the Pacific ocean inland a little bit to Death Valley, National Park

3 (5m 56s):
Death Valley is opposite of a California coastal island. It is a desert, one of the hottest deserts. Is it the hottest desert in the U S

4 (6m 6s):
I believe it’s the hottest desert in the world. I think the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth surface happens and Death Valley.

3 (6m 13s):
Yeah. You’ll hear in the summer commonly headlines of it being 129 degrees,

4 (6m 18s):
130 plus. Yeah,

2 (6m 20s):
Last year in 2020, it was one of the highest recorded temperatures, I think since like 1920 or something like that,

4 (6m 26s):
It gets hot out there.

3 (6m 27s):
So it’s a good place to go in the winter, December, January, February, not in the summer when it’s really hot, but it’s really beautiful. Actually, there is a really nice drive that you can take. It’s called artists drive, and it has all these beautiful colors on the rock formations and lots of beautiful desert scenery to look out to.

4 (6m 47s):
Yeah. And it is the largest park in the contiguous 48. So there’s a lot to see. And I think what gets really underrated is the scenic beauty that the desert really provides. And so there is that artist drive, but then you can also go out and see the giant salt flats that they have out there and go out and walk on the salt flats. There’s bad water basin, which is the lowest point in the United States and north America. It’s 282 feet below sea level or 86 meters. So Death Valley, even though it’s so hot, they had a lot of settlers out there, believe it or not. So there are sites that you can go when overlooks and see old construction and buildings of when people were settled out there.

4 (7m 32s):
And it just boggles my mind to think people would want to be anywhere out there in that heat.

6 (7m 36s):
Did you guys know that Europeans actually like to go to Death Valley in the summer?

2 (7m 41s):
I was just thinking about that fact, because Jamal did mention that on episode 23 for Death Valley. And I just can’t even believe that like, people are flocking out there during the summer to experience that type of heat

4 (7m 52s):
European specifically, I heard this on NPR and it was actually you, you mentioned Zana how 2020 had one of the hottest years on record. Well, the year before that in 2019, it was like the second hottest. And they were talking to a park ranger and it was on the radio and they were saying, oh yeah, like, even though it’s really hot out here, you’d be surprised how many people come during the summer. And she also did mention, you know, there’s a lot to see from within the comfort of your air conditioning of the car. But she said that there’s summer months are the busiest, especially with European tourists, because they don’t have that type of heat over in Europe. So for them to experience it, it’s something really unique.

2 (8m 32s):
That’s so crazy. Californians are like flooding into their homes and the Europeans are flooding out into the heat. But no, I mean, it gets so hot that sometimes people’s cars break down out there and I’ve heard stories about Rangers rescuing people, who’s had their car breakdown and it gets really dangerous because you could potentially die without any type of air because it gets so hot.

4 (8m 52s):
Absolutely. So if you do go out and do all the scenic drives that they have out in Death Valley, do bring a lot of water with you, but Death Valley is such a beautiful park.

6 (9m 2s):
So keeping with the desert theme, we’re going to move on to number three, which is Petrified Forest National Park. And that’s located in the Eastern portion of Arizona.

4 (9m 11s):
Yeah. And we had a whole episode on this episode, 61. So do check it out for more information about Petrified Forest National Park. And what I really liked about it is the uniqueness of this park, the Petrified Forest, they’re talking about Petrified logs that are literally millions of years in the making to get to this point where they’ve turned to stone. They really look like crystals. You can tell that they’re actually trees so really unique in its own, right? But there is not a lot of hiking. Most of the park is along one main road with many scenic overlooks. If there is walking that needs to be done, it’s a very small trail to just observe the natural scenery in the area, but no strenuous hikes and they are all paved.

4 (9m 57s):
So it really, really good for you in that sense to just really enjoy the scenic beauty.

6 (10m 3s):
And this is one of the National Parks where you can actually bring your dogs on the trail, which is pretty unique because a lot of the National Parks do allow you to bring dogs into the park, but not onto some of the more popular trails. And this one you can bring your dog on the trail also gives you really beautiful views of the painted canyon Badlands. And the Badlands are just so beautiful with ranging in color of purples, reds. Lavender’s graze. Beiges so beautiful. It really does look like someone’s taken an, a brush and painted the canyons. So beautiful.

2 (10m 34s):
Cool. Now I have not been to this park, but I remember when you guys came back from it and you were talking about it, I didn’t really know what to expect. And when I saw the pictures, it just like blew me away with how beautiful it was.

6 (10m 44s):
And we have an itinerary available for this national park. It also includes Saguaro National Park and grand canyon. So definitely check it out on our website, Travel Squad, Podcast dot com.

4 (10m 55s):
Yeah. And you said it, Brittany keeping with that, we’re moving on to Saguaro National Park because keeping in the desert here, this is located in Arizona this time, instead of the Northeast Arizona, we’re going down to Southern Arizona to Saguaro National Park.

6 (11m 11s):
And in Saguaro, there is hiking available, but we’re not talking about hiking this episode. So there are two famous scenic drives. The park is actually broken up into a Western portion and Eastern portion and the town of Tucson sits in the middle. So one of the famous drives is called a behavioral loop drive, and it’s a six mile scenic loop through the Tucson mountain district of Solara west. And it has beautiful views of the Sonoran desert has tons of Vista’s pull offs for picnics and sightseeing. And so it’s a definitely a very beautiful drive.

4 (11m 45s):
And what we didn’t mention was what Saguaro National Park is. So warm is a type of cactus. And so this national park pretty much preserves the ecosystem that these cacti thrive in. And just literally imagine cacti that are 30 to 40 feet in height. And it literally looks like you’re in a forest of cacti. They’re so highly concentrated as if you were in the forest and the mountain seen trees, but these are just cacti. And it’s so unique. I’ve never seen anything quite like that in a desert landscape.

6 (12m 21s):
In fact, the second drive is called cactus forest drive, and this is an eight mile paved scenic loop through Saguaro east. And it has stunning views of the Sonoran desert, the giant saguaro cactus, and tons of pullouts for photography, picnicking, sightseeing, walking. It’s really, really beautiful. And it definitely so interesting to stand next to a cactus that is three to five times the size of you.

3 (12m 47s):
I know I’ve seen your pictures. It looks so funny. You’re so tiny next to it.

4 (12m 51s):
Well, I was going to say when we were recording this episode and talking about it again, episode 61, we talked about Petrified Forest and Saguaro on the same trip. And I’m just going to say, Kim, you were talking about being impressed with the girth and the protrusions where you’re not, and the length of the CAC diet.

3 (13m 8s):
I like earth and I like length. Yeah,

2 (13m 10s):
Well Jamal six foot tall. So it’s crazy to see him standing in front of the, one of those CAC dyes and just seeing how tall it is, cowering over such a tall person already.

4 (13m 20s):
You know, when we were out on those drives, going through them, you see out there and you know, they’re tall, but until you’re standing next to it or somebody, you know, is, and you’re really looking at it, then you can just really appreciate the sheer size of it.

6 (13m 35s):
And from Saguaro National Park and Arizona, we’re moving one state east into New Mexico, and we’re going to number five, Carlsbad Caverns, National Park

4 (13m 44s):
And Carlsbad Caverns is located in the Southeast portion of New Mexico. And what this is really famous for is the large cave that they have out there. And by large, I mean really large, it’s the largest showcase in north America. What that really means is it’s the largest cave that actually has just general public access to. And the good news is you don’t have to do any hiking whatsoever. You take an elevator from the surface down into the depths of the earth. And once you enter out, you’re in a whole new world, quite literally, and figuratively, you’re seeing stalagmites, still lag tides.

4 (14m 26s):
And you go from the desert above where, when we were there in the summer was a hundred degrees outside. You get into the depths of the earth and it’s 45 50 degrees on the inside. And it’s just so crazy. You follow a trail, but the trail throughout the cave is relatively flat and you just get a sea Earth’s wonders from the inside.

3 (14m 47s):
It sounds beautiful to be locked up in a cave. And I know we’ve talked a lot about deserts and now we’re in here in caves. I just wanted to pause real quick though. And we’re talking about National Parks that don’t require any hiking, but I wanted to do a little PSA, little squad tip that every national park you don’t have to hike in, you can go to even the Rocky mountain national park, where it’s literally a mountain and you can still go and not Hike at all and enjoy it. There’s always lookouts. There’s always small trails. There’s always beautiful drives. And then some of them also have really great hiking, but a lot of these ones here we’re talking about don’t have any hiking at all. So anyway, I just want to get that PSA out there and let people know these are not just the only 11 national parks in the country that don’t have hiking.

3 (15m 31s):
You can go to all of them.

4 (15m 32s):
Absolutely. And these ones, you can really see the showcase of what they have to offer without it too. And that’s what really makes them unique. The fact that there is none or what there is, is very, very minimal. And yet you still see so, so much.

2 (15m 45s):
You know, what I really loved about the episode for Carlsbad Caverns was when Jamal and Brittany, when you’re talking about going into that cave and how dark it is and how at one point in time, people were exploring those caves. So imagine if your light went out, if you lost your light, you’re down there lost forever and you’re never getting out because it’s so pitch-black. And to just imagine that that’s so crazy. So if you guys haven’t listened to that episode, go check it out and make sure you’re subscribing to our podcast too.

4 (16m 11s):
Absolutely. That’s episode 39. And one thing I just want to say, I forgot to mention two things else that are really unique about this park in the evening. They have the bat watching where you can see the bats fly out of the natural entrance at night to go out and start doing some insect, hunting for dinner for

2 (16m 32s):
That one

4 (16m 34s):
For dinner, excuse me, which is really, really cool. And also the main showroom that they have that is all lit up, that they have the paved trail on. Everybody has access to that. They do have a lower cave, which is an entrance below that where you actually have to do additional paid ranger, guided tours, and that area is not lit up Zaina so you get to experience in there with your headlamp, having it on really exploring the cave as the original people were. And they took us to a point where they really make you turn off your headlamps and you get to feel that pitch black and darkness.

4 (17m 14s):
And is that a heavy feeling that like when I was down there and we did that, I thought to myself, how would I feel if I was exploring this? And this just went out on me and now I’m stuck. There’s no way to find your way out. It’s wild.

2 (17m 26s):
How long did they keep you like that?

4 (17m 28s):
He started telling ghost stories. At that point, we were in the dark literally for maybe about three minutes. And not only that, he made us crawl into a smaller portion where we all sat in and huddled up. So it wasn’t like a big, vast open cave. We were literally confined into a crawl space area when we did it too.

6 (17m 47s):
We actually had to crawl into a space. We all sat cross-legged and then we all turned off her lights and then sat there in silence for a few minutes. And you could just feel the weight of the darkness. And you’re thinking to yourself, like, I hope I can turn my light back on how the hell am I going to get out of here? If I can not turn my light back on, do I have a flashlight in my backpack? Like, those are the thoughts that you’re thinking, but I was going to mention that too, that there are several different tours that you can take that you can pay for to upgrade and see more of the cave than what is offered just in the big room.

4 (18m 21s):
And I would highly recommend doing that. That was a unique experience that most people that visit Carlsbad Caverns don’t do highly, highly recommend

6 (18m 30s):
Fun fact. I actually took Jamal here for his birthday weekend trip. Loved it. And he loved it. Can you imagine that

4 (18m 36s):
One of my birthday trips that Brittany planned for me, that I actually loved,

6 (18m 42s):
And Jamal mentioned that you can see the bats fly out of the natural entrance. So when you’re in the visitor center, that’s where you go to take the elevator down into the big room. But outside of the visitor center, there is a small short trail that says this way to the natural entrance. And so you can view the natural entrance without hiking down that way.

4 (19m 2s):
We talked about this, as we know, as a no Hike, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually Hike into the cave naturally and hike out. But if you want to keep to the elevator and just enjoy the trail on the inside of the cave, this is for you.

6 (19m 16s):
So now we’re moving into Utah, we’re heading to Canyonlands National Park for a number six,

3 (19m 23s):
The island in the sky.

6 (19m 25s):
Yes. So Canyonlands National Park is huge. There’s actually like four different districts of this national park. We specifically visited island in the sky and it truly does feel like an island in the sky because you you’re going up this like mountain top, and then you hit like a Mesa and you’re at a plateau. And then you get to look down into all of the surrounding canyons around it. And there’s just so many scenic overlooks to just stop at and admire the vastness of this place. And it’s really impressive. Like you think that the grand canyon is impressive, but just imagine everywhere you look, there are just hundreds of canyons around you.

4 (20m 4s):
You know, I told that to Brittany when we were actually there, couple things, Utah is a very underrated states, so much natural scenic beauty. It’s absolutely amazing. And I told this to Brittany when we were there. And I said the same thing, having been to the grand canyon and having been here now to canyon lands canyon lands is so much more impressive when I’m at the grand canyon. I can see to the other side, when I’m an island in the sky at canyon lands, I don’t know where the other side is. It’s just so vast and it’s still carved by the Colorado river. So this is the origins of the river making its way down into Arizona area to form the grand canyon. But I feel canyon lands is much more impressive than the grand canyon.

2 (20m 47s):
No, this is what I want to say about Utah. They have so many National Parks last year when COVID was running wild. Obviously we couldn’t do any international trips. And I feel like every other month you were going to a new national park. And every time I would ask where you’re going, it was always Utah. And I’m like, how have you not explored every inch of Utah already? And there was still a new park that you guys were going

4 (21m 11s):
To. There’s five national parks in Utah. Okay.

6 (21m 14s):
I was just going to ask her pop quiz, how many National Parks are there in Utah?

2 (21m 17s):
Okay. What I can name is Bryce Zion canyon lands. And that’s it.

4 (21m 23s):
There’s arches and Capitol reef after that. Gotcha. But one thing about Canyonlands is there’s a lots of places where you have the multiple scenic overlooks and you are so high up and along these canyons. And they’re so sheer that there really is no trails for you to hike the actual hiking trails that we did see here in this area. None of them were like over a mile. If you were to go ahead and really do it, but imagine going to Niagara falls, you see it and you’re looking at it. And then after a while, that’s all there really is to see. And how much longer can you really look at it? Each viewpoint at canyon lands, you think, oh, I’m looking out into a canyon. It’s going to be the same thing.

4 (22m 3s):
No, it’s completely unique with the landscape and how it looks. It’s so much more deeper. These ones are dark colors. So at one point it even looked like when we were at Hawaii volcanoes national park and looking at the surface and caldera Mount Callaway, it just had that dark death look, but very beautiful at the same time. And so the scenic overlooks are so impressive at Canyonlands.

6 (22m 25s):
Yeah. So I’m just going to mention a few. One of the best overlooks was called grand view point, and it’s supposed to have one of the best canyon views in the entire island of the sky district. And it is a paved, accessible overlook only like 300 feet from the parking lot. So you barely have to get out of your car to see this beautiful overload.

4 (22m 44s):
Yeah. And another viewpoint is the Schaefer canyon viewpoint. Here. You can walk out to the edge of the islands in the sky Mesa and stand about 1400 feet above the canyon, just so, so impressive. But one thing that we weren’t able to do that I would highly recommend to do, and it’s actually one of the highlights of Canyonlands National Park is doing the 100 mile loop around the white rim road. So it will take you from the top portions of the canyon, into the canyon. It’s unpaved. So you do need a good sturdy four wheel drive vehicle to do this, but what better way to see all of Canyonlands get out of the island of the sky district, see the other districts than do the white rim road.

4 (23m 25s):
So when we go back, I want to invest the time to do this on the national park website. It’s weird. They said, invest how many days to do that?

6 (23m 32s):
Two

4 (23m 33s):
Days? They said like two, three days. And like it’s 100 miles. I feel like I could do it clearly in a day, but again, didn’t see the scenic beauty down below. So maybe you want to spend a little bit more time, but I do want to do that.

6 (23m 44s):
And you guys, we are releasing a future episode on canyon lands and arches later this year. So be sure to subscribe to our podcast so that you know that you’re going to get the episode. First

3 (23m 55s):
Number seven is Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming in the middle of the U S Evey. It is the first national park in the country and arguably the most iconic for very good reason. It has old faithful, you know, the very tall Geyser, very reliable Geyser. It has thermal pools, gorgeous colors. And you could see all of these geological formations and things that blow your mind without having to hike at all. A lot of the pathways to see a lot of these gorgeous thermal pools are wooden plank pathways that are handicap accessible. I’ve saw lots of elderly people managing it just fine. They’re not long roads, and you can choose how long you want to go, or if you want to keep going, it’s perfect.

3 (24m 40s):
It’s great views and little bit of work to get there.

4 (24m 43s):
When we were on this trip, we actually did grand Teton national park, which is just south of Yellowstone working our way up to Yellowstone. And we did a lot of hiking and grand Teton and everything that we had scheduled to do in Yellowstone. None of it was really hiking. And I think when we were originally planning the trip, we thought to ourselves, oh, obviously there’s the scenic overlooks. We have to see these iconic points, like the grand prismatic old faithful. And then we included those obviously. And then yet there really wasn’t much hiking trails that are listed in there because it really is meant to see these crazy geological formations that they have out there.

6 (25m 24s):
And not only seeing the crazy geological formations, but just animal watching, like you’re keeping your eyes peeled whenever you’re driving throughout Yellowstone, because you might see bears or Buffalo or deer or wolves. So there’s just so many different animals that you can see in. You’re keeping your eyes peeled to like gig. Are we going to see something cool today?

4 (25m 44s):
I mentioned this when we talked about this in episode 57 here, when we were going over to Yellowstone, this is America safari. I mean, unless you’re out in Alaska, the last frontier area, you know, when you’re down here in the lower 48, this is where you go to see wildlife here at Yellowstone National Park,

3 (26m 2s):
We would see tons of cars pulled over on the side of the road, parked with their binoculars, just sitting out there, enjoying it, talking to other people. And that was one of the draws and attractions of the park.

4 (26m 13s):
I remember when we pulled over one time, because we saw so many people like, oh, what are they looking at? And these people had binoculars and like, oh, we’re watching a mama grizzly and her Cubs they’re up there in that little snow pack on the mountain. And unfortunately we didn’t have ours, but that’s such a huge excitement. You know, you, you see people pulled over to the side of the road and you know, there’s wildlife happening and what it is, it’s always a surprise when you find out

6 (26m 36s):
And people go there for like weeks on end. Like we talked to a couple and they’re like, yeah, we go every year for like two to three weeks. And they know the bears by like their numbers and how many Cubs they have and whoa, how many they had last season. So like people are keeping up on these bears.

3 (26m 54s):
Not only that, but something else I did not know about Yellowstone is that there is a grand canyon of the Yellowstone here just like the grand canyon. But it is just as gorgeous though. It’s just beautiful canyon where it’s just peppered with scenic overlook spots. So we would get in the car, drive to one, get out, take a picture, drive like half a mile down the road, get out and take another picture. And it kind of curves around with this Creek river thing at the bottom of it,

4 (27m 21s):
The Yellowstone river, that form is that canyon by the way,

3 (27m 24s):
Yellowstone river and the colors popping out. And then from each scenic overlook, you think it’s the same thing from a different view, but the new view is even more gorgeous than the next new view. And it’s just a day of pictures and it’s beautiful.

6 (27m 37s):
And some of the overlooks have use of the waterfalls flowing into the canyon. Some of them just have use of the canyon itself. And like Kim said, you know, every half mile or so, we’re like, oh wait, there’s another overlook. Should we get out? And we’re like, yeah, we have to. Because it was like FOMO, you don’t want to miss out on possibly not getting the best view.

4 (27m 56s):
I remember when Brittany told us what we were going to be doing when we were looking at the grand canyon of Yellowstone and how many overlooked points that there were. And then we did the first one, we did the second one, and then we did the third one. And then when we were on our way to the third one, before we got there, I was thinking to myself like, ah, that’s going to be the same thing again, but you guys are so right. It really was a different view and it was more breathtaking than the next. And by the time we did the fourth and there was a working our way to five and six, I was excited for five and six instead of like, oh, we’re going to be doing more.

6 (28m 34s):
I would have to say my favorite scenic overlook at the grand canyon of Yellowstone was artist’s point though.

3 (28m 40s):
It was beautiful.

4 (28m 41s):
Very beautiful, indeed. So moving on north from Wyoming, we’re going to be headed up one state here to Montana and going to Glacier National Park and Glacier National Park is another perfect park to do no hiking and still seeing everything that you need to see.

6 (29m 0s):
Yeah. Glacier National Park has a very famous road. It’s called going to the sun road. And it basically goes to the sun to the fun

4 (29m 9s):
Pretty much,

6 (29m 10s):
But it has so many different viewpoints and lookouts and stopovers. It pretty much begins at lake MacDonald and lake MacDonald is the iconic lake of Glacier National Park where it has the very beautiful colored rocks reflecting in the water. Have you guys seen the picture of that? Oh yeah,

3 (29m 28s):
I

2 (29m 29s):
Have. It’s incredible.

6 (29m 31s):
And so everyone goes to lake McDonald to get that scenic picture of the rocks and you can see their beautiful colors. The water’s crystal clear the backdrop of the mountains in the background. It’s amazing. I definitely recommend you guys going and specifically stopping at lake McDonald for that. But as you go through Glacier National Park, there’s so many different overlooks and waterfalls and peaks. One of the other famous one is called a garden wall or the weeping wall, and it’s a hundred foot long rock wall and it weeps out water. So in the months where there’s a lot of snow melts, there’s water gushing from these rocks. And if you were to drive your car under it, you would have to keep your windows up because you would just get soaked if your windows were open.

4 (30m 15s):
Yeah. And another really unique thing about Glacier National Park is how short of a season it has for visitors. You know, good going to the sun road is going up this mountain. You start down by lake McDonald, as Brittany said. And then once you start climbing that windy mountain road, you start getting into higher elevations where there’s actually snow, you’re long sheer cliffs. So because of how much snow they have out there, you can’t even take this road until sometimes late may or June, sometimes even later. So their season is really, really short in that sense. So if you go early on in the season, when they first opened that road, you can go ahead and see the weeping wall at that time.

4 (30m 55s):
But my favorite thing that we came across on the go into the sun road was Logan’s pass. This is a very well traffic spot. The visitor center is located here. It’s located on the continental divide. I know we talked about this before. I’m going to give another pop quiz to see if you guys remember what is the continental divide? Zena.

2 (31m 18s):
I swear. I know this. Okay. The continental divide is something from the west and the east. Oh, wait, oh, wait. Anything on the west? The water runs one way. Anything on the east, the water runs the other way.

4 (31m 28s):
Yeah. So if it falls on one side on the west, it will flow to the Pacific. If it falls to the east side, there, it will flow out to the Atlantic. So Logan’s pass is along the continental device. Yes. And from there originates a lot of the hiking trails you can do, but we’re not talking about the hiking trails from there. There’s a very scenic overlook point at Logan’s pass. And Brittany and I may have seen one of our top five sunrises at Logan’s past.

6 (31m 56s):
The sunrise was amazing. Like literally we got there at like golden hour, which is an hour before sunrise. It’s the highest point in the park that you can reach by a car. And so the clouds were below us and the sun was rising up and it was just rising in the perfect spot where there was a little notch in the top of the mountain. And it was just perfectly coming through the frame. Super beautiful. I mean, I would highly recommend going there just to spend time watching the sunrise there, but we continued on going to the sun road and we also hit a stop to see Mt. Jackson Glacier, which is a mountain and Glacier in one. And it’s the seventh largest Glacier in the park and the fourth highest peak.

6 (32m 38s):
And it’s super easy to see from the road because some of the glaciers in the park, you can’t see unless you’re hiking. And this is one of the ones that it’s very easy to see from the road.

4 (32m 47s):
Absolutely. And there’s so many more scenic viewpoints along the going to the sun road. I mean, that is the thing to do in the park is do the, going to the sun road. You can hear all about those stops and locations and more about the park and the actual hiking that Brittany and I did do in that park in episode 69. But before we move on, I just want to say this. We mentioned how the going to the sun road is a long sheer cliffs winding your way up. I thought to myself, how are we going to see wildlife? Like on these roads? I mean, it’s a sheer cliff to the right to the left animals would have to be literally following the road with the cars. And as Brittany and I were coming down, we came across bears that were on there. I’m just like, how is there a bear on here?

4 (33m 28s):
Like we’re up so high and this is a sheer cliff. So even on that, I was thoroughly surprised you will catch some wildlife in the most unexpected places like Glacier.

6 (33m 38s):
And he was getting some berries. It was so cool to see cause we just stopped there on the road. And he was just going through the bushes, eating some berries. But my final thought on glacier is when you’re at lake MacDonald, there is a restaurant bar called Russell’s and they were serving huckleberry Margarita’s. And I enjoyed a margarita while we were looking at those beautiful colored rocks at lake MacDonald,

3 (34m 3s):
That is such a Montana thing, Montana, Idaho.

4 (34m 9s):
And you know, if these weren’t real easy days, we would not be drinking and doing hiking. So kudos to glacier on that. And so that way we can enjoy the huckleberry market. All right, guys. So real talk. We’re moving on to number nine. I know this is one of our favorite National Parks that we’ve all been to as a squad. We’ve said it before highly underrated, who wants to kick us off with what we’re talking about next, that number nine,

2 (34m 34s):
I’m going to take you right into Hot Springs, National Park, Arkansas. I freaking love this park. This park is amazing. It was one of those, like just wasn’t expecting that.

4 (34m 46s):
I mean, we knew we were going to have a good time, but holy crap, how bad-ass was Hot Springs,

3 (34m 51s):
Loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it. And when you think of Arkansas, you don’t always think about beautiful nature and relaxation and tourism, but that is exactly what this national park slash city has to offer. It’s so unique. So much history.

2 (35m 7s):
It’s literally a national park in the middle of a small town.

4 (35m 11s):
Yeah. So the claim to fame for Hot Springs is the fact that this city is built upon natural Hot Springs. And sometimes when we think of Hot Springs, we think of them being ferric or smelly. But these Hot Springs here in Arkansas are not. So it became a really popular recreational area. They made bath houses where they collected the natural hot Springs. People would go and bathe in them. They would turn them all into spas. They’re these beautiful turn of the century bathhouse style buildings with beautiful mosaic class, beautiful tiling. So you really do feel like you’re stepping back in time when you go to these bath houses and the national park is along the main street of a legitimate town and city in the United States.

4 (35m 57s):
And what you do when you go here is you just book a reservation at one of these bath houses and go soak yourself in these natural hot Springs. And so believe it or not, we did that. That’s what we did all day when we were out there, just getting some real RNR on this easy day.

6 (36m 14s):
And Jamal, you mentioned like, you feel like you’re stepping back in time, but there was actually a museum of one of the older bath houses where you do step back in time and see the exact setup that they had back when they started the bath houses.

3 (36m 26s):
There’s also a lot of mementos toward the mob bosses and gambling rulers of what was it? The twenties or farther back.

4 (36m 36s):
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, th this was a mob hub back in the day and they have a lot of places where Bugsy Siegel, Al Capone, all these famous mob bosses, they all had stomping grounds at Hot Springs.

3 (36m 53s):
It’s pretty cool. Some of the Hot Springs that are in this national park, in this town Al Capone or who was it with the syphilis.

4 (37m 0s):
He died of it at Alcatraz. Oh,

3 (37m 2s):
Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So such cool mob history there too, which was so unexpected and little MLB history. So you have a little bit of everything, not just nature, but the nature too is just beautiful. And it’s everywhere in the streets, in the small Hills behind the streets. And you can get just gorgeous views of the steam coming out of the ground on quiet mornings. People actually drinking the same Hot Springs water that they have for hundreds of years now. So it’s just, it’s a really cool place with a different kind of vibe when you’re walking through it.

4 (37m 34s):
I mean, I loved Hot Springs so much. I want to go back. We talked all about it in episode 22, but until you go for yourself, do a little bit of research, get inspired, but think of Vegas, but at national park level, not anything like crazy Vegas, but like the spa boutique Vegas side of things.

2 (37m 52s):
Yeah. Because you know, when you’re talking about this being a mob hotspot at one point in time in American history, it was also a symbolist hotspot at one point in history. And that’s why, you know, Kim was mentioning about Al Capone and syphilis because everyone who had syphilis went to the Hot Springs because they thought that the Hot Springs water had natural healing properties that would cure it. Spoiler alert. It did not cure the syphilis. And

4 (38m 18s):
Does that, why you still have your Zana? Just kidding. Just kidding.

2 (38m 26s):
So they actually had to move the MLB spring training outside of Hot Springs National Park, because of all the syphilis

4 (38m 34s):
Going on, wasn’t a national park, then just Hot Springs, the city.

2 (38m 36s):
Yeah, Hot Springs, the city. So, but they have since changed the water frequently, in fact, in the Hot Springs. So you’re good to go. And this is also the hometown of bill Clinton.

4 (38m 47s):
Absolutely. If you want to hear more about Hot Springs again, listen to episode 22.

6 (38m 51s):
Well, I just wanted to mention one last quick, cool, unique fact about Hot Springs. National Park is it’s the only national park that has the brewery within the national park. And they actually use the thermal water to make the beer,

4 (39m 4s):
The delicious beer. I forgot to mention. We had some Brewskies before we took our hot spring baths. Did we not wait?

2 (39m 11s):
He did. And if I’m not mistaken, the owner of that brewery is a female. So girl power.

3 (39m 17s):
All right. Number 10 on our list. This place is so cool. Everglades National Park in Florida, just outside of Miami. One of my favorite cities.

2 (39m 25s):
This is the place to go to, to airboat with the Crocs, not the ones that you wear, but the ones that bite

4 (39m 31s):
You liked air voting with the Crocs. And I, when we went,

2 (39m 33s):
I loved air boating with the Crocs. Let me tell you a squad tip, wear your hair in a ponytail, wear your hair in a bun. Yeah, because your hair is blowing everywhere. They even give you things for your ears because it’s going to be so loud. And it’s just, the wind is blowing. It’s so exciting. Like I, I mean, I don’t even know how to describe these air boats. I’ve never even been on an airboat before.

4 (39m 55s):
Yeah. So Everglades National Park, like Kim said, south of Miami, think swamp land, Florida. This is what the Everglades are. This is where you’re going to find the Crocs, the alligators, swamp marshlands. And because the water is so marshy filled with that soft grass, they can’t have boats that have propellers. That’s why they have the fan boats that Zen is talking about that are so loud. Blow the wind everywhere to mess up your hair, need those earbuds. And so realistically Everglades National Park is the swampy marshes. So there’s no trails or anything for you to actually Hike. The only way to see it truly is by boat.

4 (40m 35s):
And you have done yourself, a disservice. If you go to Everglades National Park and do not do a airboat tour,

2 (40m 42s):
You know, what was so great about the airboats is the men who are driving. It are burly. They usually have beards. And they’re typically wearing Flint.

4 (40m 52s):
We’ve talked about this before. We’ll say it again. If you guys are a big burly man wearing a flannel DM, Zayna either on Travel Squad or direct you’re right up her alley for type that’s her go-to.

2 (41m 5s):
Thank you, Jamal. You’re

4 (41m 6s):
Welcome.

6 (41m 7s):
So if you don’t go on an air boat, there are other options. You can go on a boat or he can kayak or canoe. You know, I was thinking about that. Like, I would be a little scared to kayak and canoe and a place that is filled with crocodiles and alligators.

2 (41m 22s):
I didn’t realize you can kayak or canoe, but let me tell you, I am going to hell no, dude, that don’t they’ll eat your canoe in one snap.

6 (41m 32s):
Yeah, it would. It would be intense to go in a kayak or canoe. Can you imagine like tipping over in those waters hail,

4 (41m 38s):
You know, when we go on our rugged adventures, not a lot of things scare me in terms of what I wouldn’t do. You know, I probably would go out there on a kayak, but I would be nervous the whole time. I could tell you that. Just thinking about it now gets me a little like, eh, I’d be nervous, but maybe I would do it. I dunno how far out I’d go, but I might do it.

6 (42m 0s):
You can also bike around the Everglades or birdwatch, it’s really popular for birdwatching. I actually found out doing some research.

4 (42m 8s):
Again, you could hear more about the Everglades and episode 49 and squad tip for you guys out there. We do have an itinerary out, including Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Park, which completes the trifecta of Florida National Parks, which is a perfect segue because that moves us on into number 11, Dry Tortugas National Park.

6 (42m 30s):
And this is our last national park that we’re going to talk about in this episode. But Dry Tortugas National Park is so unique because you can only get to this national park by sea plane, sailing your own boat, or taking a tour company boat from the key west and getting to this island from the Florida coast.

4 (42m 50s):
So Biscayne is 70 miles off the Florida coast. And like Brittany said, it’s very remote. Only those few ways in which you can get there. And there are several islands in the area, but the main island that you would go to encompasses Fort Jefferson, which is a historic military Fort and prison that was built in the 18 hundreds. It’s actually the largest brick masonry building, I think in the Western hemisphere. And it would be even larger if it was finished, they never even finished it. But beyond just the historical aspect of the Fort around that area, there’s beautiful coral Reeves. They have another island out there that has a lighthouse.

4 (43m 31s):
That’s very famous for nesting sea turtles. I mean, it’s called Dry Tortugas. So there’s a lot of sea turtles out there in that area. And so it was just so beautiful. You go out there, you’re out in the middle of the ocean, on an island off the coast of Florida. See nothing but crystal clear, beautiful water and just enjoying the sea life that they have out there.

2 (43m 52s):
And when Jamal says it’s called Dry Tortugas Tortuga is turtle in Spanish. That’s what he meant by that.

6 (43m 59s):
Unfortunately, while we were snorkeling, we didn’t see any in the water,

4 (44m 5s):
The other island, I wish

6 (44m 6s):
We had, but that snorkeling we did along the island shores was probably some of the best snorkeling I have ever done in my life. And we’ve been struggling quite a few times. So really beautiful fish, a really beautiful coral. And this trip was also historic being that we were at Fort Jefferson. So it was a really interesting mix of wildlife and sea life and history, all in one national park.

3 (44m 29s):
It sounds beautiful anywhere. There are sea turtles. That’s where you can find me,

4 (44m 33s):
Except you weren’t with us at Dry Tortugas com, but there were no seats rural. So you didn’t miss out too much, I guess.

6 (44m 40s):
So like Jamal mentioned earlier, you can hear more about our Florida National Parks trip in episode 49. And again, there’s an itinerary that we’ve created. That includes Everglades dried her two guys and Biscayne national park.

3 (44m 53s):
And not just as this, an itinerary to see these parks, it’s five days of fully built out where to go, what to do the route to take the highlights, to see even where to eat and drink because it’s close to Miami. So it’s not just an itinerary, but it is your full fledged research built out travel plan to see these three Florida national parks in one, five day trip.

4 (45m 18s):
Yeah. And I just want to throw out there the other national park, we’re talking about Biscayne completely out in the ocean. It’s all snorkeling out there. So that’s another national park that requires no hiking. We didn’t necessarily include it on this list because we didn’t want to put all three. But now that we’re talking about it, I’m going to say it. So you can do all three of these ones, just enjoying scenic beauty and water and nature and some snorkeling, but don’t snorkel in Everglades with the Crocs.

2 (45m 44s):
Thank you for that PSA.

4 (45m 45s):
It got to put it out there.

3 (45m 47s):
We need to keep our listeners alive. So don’t do that.

4 (45m 50s):
Let us know if you can do though.

2 (45m 52s):
Yeah, seriously.

6 (45m 53s):
So any final thoughts on our new Hike, National Parks?

3 (45m 57s):
My final thought is one. I just said earlier, just about not letting hiking discourage you from seeing the beauty of all of these National Parks. We’ve only talked about 11 kind of 12 here, but there are so many more that even when they have a lot of hiking, there’s still lots of beauty and lots of scenic, overlooks and experiences that you can have without hiking. And there’s a lot more than just these 11 that don’t require any hiking at all.

6 (46m 20s):
I feel like we’re going to need to do a part two on the no Hike, National Parks series.

3 (46m 24s):
Maybe even a part three,

2 (46m 26s):
I would say, get out there and don’t hike.

4 (46m 29s):
Just go see America. It’s beautiful.

3 (46m 31s):
Exactly. Like your motto is

4 (46m 33s):
That’s, Kim’s motto over 30. You see how she resonated with that. So, well,

2 (46m 38s):
Because they’re funny. As soon as I said that there was that long silence and I was like, nevermind,

3 (46m 43s):
I’m here for that 2021. Get out there and don’t hike. All right guys. It’s my favorite time of the week

4 (46m 51s):
Questions of the week. Woo.

3 (46m 53s):
All right. Our first question is coming in from Leah, from port Angeles, Washington, and she is asking, are there any non hiking National Parks on your list to visit soon that you haven’t visited yet?

6 (47m 6s):
All of them are on my list, Leah, all of them, but I would have to say that Congress, every national park in South Carolina has been on my list for a while. And I definitely want to go and do some kayaking or canoeing in that swamp land

4 (47m 24s):
For me, another non hiking national park that comes to mind that I really want to go to is actually one of our newest National Parks. It’s going to be white sands national park out in New Mexico. It’s these amazing sand dunes. You guessed it by the name. Maybe they’re white. It’s just this unbelievable scenic beauty. I’ve seen photos of it. I can’t wait to actually be there in person. And I can tell you, there’s no hiking trails through those sand dunes. So I know it’s not a hiking.

3 (47m 53s):
the one that’s been on the top of my list for a long time. Now is Mesa Verde national park in Colorado. Why Kim? Because ancient ruins just get me going.

4 (48m 4s):
There’s ancient ruins there.

3 (48m 5s):
Yes, yes. The pueblos are built into the rock formations. And so you can actually see ancient living quarters and remnants of these civilizations. It’s really, really, really cool. And they do tours and it’s just an awesome piece of American history.

4 (48m 21s):
I was joking because I did know that there were ancient ruins in there, right? It’s been on our list to go to, and I think we were going to do it in 2020. And we didn’t because with COVID they actually stopped the guided tour. So you could still go to the park and just kind of overlook them, but they’re not doing the tours to the pueblos and the dwellings that are carved into the mountain. So rest assured when they open, not as on our list for a squad trip,

2 (48m 45s):
Mine is Theodore Roosevelt national park. This is up in North Dakota and we almost made it there too. So close, but you know, last year with COVID we had a trip planned for the south and then we had to revise. And so then we were going to go to theater, Roosevelt national park there in North Dakota, but then we had to revise that. So, so close, but not there yet. And I’m super excited.

4 (49m 9s):
I want to go there to see more bison. We had them in Yellowstone, but this is going further east on the American planes. And we still see the great bison.

2 (49m 17s):
I’m just about to say, I mean, this is the habitat for bison elk Prairie dogs. I can’t even say, You know what? I can’t say it without laughing because of the movie rat race. If you have not seen that movie go see it. And yes, Theodore Roosevelt national park.

6 (49m 33s):
So our second question is from Danny, from Cardiff.

4 (49m 35s):
Thanks Danny. Hey

3 (49m 37s):
Danny,

2 (49m 37s):
Danny.

6 (49m 38s):
And he asks, what National Parks would you recommend for our March trip?

2 (49m 43s):
So if you’re in Cardiff, you’re really close to Death Valley and Joshua tree represented in California here. So I would say those two right off the bat

4 (49m 52s):
Death Valley and Joshua tree are out in the desert. So you’re at that transition of going from winter into spring. So it won’t be too hot out there and it’s not full winter. So it’s not too cold out in the deserts too, because the deserts get cold in the winter. So those would be great. March ones. I would also wager to say all three of the Florida National Parks, Everglades, Biscayne, Dry. Tortugas why I would say that Florida is good all year round temperature wise. But when I say good all year round, realistically, if you go any later in the summer, it’s just going to be way, way, way too humid. So I think March gives you that good buffer time to experience the Florida National Parks when it’s not fully winter and also before it gets disgustingly humid out there.

2 (50m 39s):
And if you decide to kayak or canoe in the Everglades, let us know,

6 (50m 43s):
Danny, it sounds like you need to purchase our itinerary on Florida’s three National Parks because this trip would be perfect for you in March.

2 (50m 50s):
Absolutely.

3 (50m 51s):
Yeah. I have to agree. I think marches that shoulder season where it’s still snowy in a lot of places. So a lot of the mountainous national parks are going to be too snowy to hike in, or a lot of trails are going to be closed or even a lot of the scenic viewpoints will still be closed. I know we went to Yellowstone in the end of may and there were still some snow closed trails that were just walking trails.

6 (51m 11s):
Yeah. And Glacier doesn’t even start to open the, going to the sun road until June or July.

3 (51m 16s):
Yeah. So I think Florida is your spot. Alright, everybody, thank you so much for tuning into this week’s episode. Please keep the adventures going with us by following us on Instagram and on YouTube at Travel Squad Podcast, and tag us in your adventures by sending us in your questions of the week.

2 (51m 33s):
And if he found the information in this episode to be useful, or if you thought we were just playing funny, please make sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too.

4 (51m 41s):
And if you haven’t already, if you’re a continuous listener, first time listener, please subscribe, rate, and review our podcast and tune in Every Travel Tuesday for new episodes,

6 (51m 51s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, we have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you.

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