We’re sharing America’s year-round free national parks that you can visit without spending a dime! This episode details several holidays throughout the year you can visit American national parks for free, we’re honoring national park week and inspiring you to get outdoors by sharing 10 national parks that are free 100% of the time.
Are national parks free? We were surprised to learn that no, not all national parks are free to enjoy. Most of them require an entrance fee or fees to do certain activities within the park.
There are some FREE days every year including;
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- First day of National Park Week
- Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- National Public Lands Day
- Veterans Day
If you can’t make it on any of those days, then consider visiting these national parks which you can enter for free all year long.
- Hot Springs National Park
- Virgin Islands National Park
- Congaree National Park
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Redwoods National Park
- North Cascades National Park
- Channel Islands National Park
- Great Basin National Park
- New River Gorge National Park
- Biscayne National Park
Whether you want to see America by sea, go north to see America on ice, or gaze up at the tallest trees in America and the world – you can do it all and do it all for free.
If your considering a trip, but don’t want to do all the planning then be sure to check out our Travel Itineraries available for instant download. These itineraries map the entire route, tell you where to stay, where to eat, activities to do, how much time you need to do them and so much more to make your trip as easy as booking and showing up to have fun!
Free National Parks – Episode Transcript
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad Podcast. Today we are talking all about free national Parks to visit in the US
1 (1m 5s):
Who doesn’t love a free national park.
3 (1m 8s):
Woo, we love ’em. We’re gonna give you and dive into 10 free national Parks in this episode. As a matter of fact, national Park Week is starting April 22nd. So this episode airs here on the 11th. So in a few days it is the start of National Park Week and we thought, what better time to bring this episode to you than during this week. Now do keep in mind during National Park Week, every national park in the US is free to enter, but what we’re talking about right now are 10 free national Parks that are always free year round. It’s
1 (1m 40s):
Not free the whole week though, Jamal. It’s only free the first day of
3 (1m 44s):
National Park. Yes. And if I didn’t clarify that, I apologize. I thought I had, but thank you for the reiteration on that. Brittany. Only the first day of National Park Week is the free entrance. But again, this episode we’re gonna go over free national Parks for you to visit all year round that have no entrance fees.
2 (1m 60s):
I know the National Park is doing this because they want to get people excited about seeing these Parks experiencing the culture and that’s fucking amazing. I didn’t realize that just one day of the year, every single park in the country is free and I’m now thinking in my head like, how many Parks can I visit If I plan it right, maybe I can go to this one and fly across the country, go to this one.
3 (2m 23s):
Or you just buy your America the beautiful for 80 bucks.
2 (2m 26s):
They’re really not that expensive to visit in general. But I’m glad that there are still Parks out there that allow you to enter for free anytime of year. It’s really cool, especially when you think about how much time and energy and devotion is put into preserving these spaces when we have, not to get political, but like you know, every so here and then we have people talking about wanting to take this park back and drill it or do this, you know, Roy Station it. And I just am grateful we have these Parks and I’m grateful that they are free. I’m especially excited because on this list of free annual national Parks, we actually had to remove one recently. Great Smokey Mountains National Park used to be free all year round, but we recently had to remove it because they changed the rules.
2 (3m 8s):
It is now paid, you don’t necessarily have to pay to enter it because of the geography and the
3 (3m 13s):
Setup. Yeah, main highway runs right through it and because of that it used to be free, but
2 (3m 17s):
Now you are technically supposed to pay to park in the Trailhead parking lots
1 (3m 22s):
If you plan to be at a spot for more than 15 minutes. So that does not give you a lot of time. They want you to pay for a day pass.
2 (3m 28s):
So there’s urgency behind this. You guys see it before it’s gone. See it while it’s free and start with this list.
3 (3m 35s):
Yeah. And did you say you were excited about the fact that they took away it free or excited to let people know to go with the urgency? Because I feel like you said you’re excited. I’m not excited. Oh, I thought I heard you say
2 (3m 45s):
That you’re excited. When I went to Great, when I went to Great Smokey Mountains, it was free. I thought that was amazing.
1 (3m 51s):
2 (3m 51s):
But unfortunately y’all, you have missed your chance to experience it for free, but you can still experience these ones that we have on our list.
3 (3m 59s):
1 (4m 0s):
So we do have a few tips for you guys. We don’t have that many, so we’re gonna keep it pretty short and dive into those. Before we dive into the episode, first thing I just wanna bring up to everyone is just keep in mind that although the entrance to the park is free, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things within the park that are free as well. So sometimes they’re remote destinations and so transportation to get to the island is not free. It’s the entrance to the park. That’s what’s
3 (4m 28s):
Free, right? Or the first national park that we’re going to mention. It’s free because this national park happens to be in a city in a downtown area. But if you want to do something within the National park specifically, and we’re gonna talk about that shortly, then it has that admission cost. So again, just entrance and a great point to mention. Another good point and tip is download offline maps. We say it all the time, we’re gonna say it again. Some of these places are in remote regions. You do want to have that for you. Very clutched to have offline maps.
2 (4m 59s):
And then my tip is bring bug spray. You’re in nature. So there’s gonna be bugs. There’s some national Parks where they’re more plentiful than others, but always good to have that in your hiking day pack.
1 (5m 10s):
3 (5m 11s):
Couldn’t agree more on that one. You definitely sunscreen. Yeah, definitely don’t want the bugs. And you wanna have some sunscreen, so let’s jump right into it. Number one, I kind of teased on it again, free national park for you to visit all year round Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. And we’ve had many episodes where we talked about how much we love it. We love it. One because it’s free, two because it’s an awesome park. But like we were saying earlier in the tips, this is one where the park is in the middle of the downtown, but if you want to experience the hot springs and the bathhouses that they have, you do have to pay to enter those. But to go and stroll the downtown where they have the bathhouses absolutely free for you, even doing some of the hiking behind those bathhouses within nature is free.
1 (5m 53s):
Yeah, it really depends on what you wanna get out of this national park. The hiking in the park is free. They have some really good trails. It’s a really good park to visit. We did it in a day, however, I would recommend two days there. I feel like when we went, we said we would’ve loved to have an extra day there. Yeah. But it is a really cool national park. You can see still the steam coming out of some of the vents in the roads and you can see some of those natural hot spring areas. So it’s definitely worth visiting. And we’ve talked about this in other episodes. It’s an underrated national park and it’s free go visit it even if you’re strolling the downtown area or you’re just doing a road trip and stopping through, I think it’s worth the stop.
2 (6m 33s):
It is a really cool national park and it’s an Arkansas, which if it wasn’t on your bucket list, this part should put it on there. You have to go. And I think it’s cool that it’s home to the only brewery that exists in a national park that’s pretty
1 (6m 50s):
Cool. And it has a really rich cultural past.
2 (6m 53s):
The his, the American history that exists here is really cool from the MLB to the American
1 (6m 58s):
3 (6m 60s):
And if you want to hear more about all that history and stuff we’re talking about, do yourself a favor, go back to listen to our episode that’s exclusively on Hot Springs National Park, episode 22. But I just love this national park. We’ve hyped it up so many times in so many different episodes. It’s a great free national park. And even if you aren’t gonna pay the little bit to utilize the bathhouses that they have in there and so can do a spa experience in the natural hot springs that are all around the city, you would be doing yourself a favor by just even enjoying the downtown region and even the nature mountainous forest that they have behind the city. Real great park.
1 (7m 35s):
So number two on our list is Virgin Islands National Park Jamal and I visited in January of 2021 and it’s located on the island of St. John in the US Farion Islands, which is southeast of Florida, about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico. It’s in the Caribbean sea. It’s a really beautiful, it has so much to offer, like I mentioned, it’s on an island, St. John, and it takes up 60% of that island, the national park. So has a huge presence there. However, there is a caveat. There is no airport that takes you to this island. So you have to fly to a different island and then take a ferry or a boat to get to this national
3 (8m 15s):
Park, right? So to get to the US Virgin Islands, you could either be on a cruise or if you’re flying you would fly to St. Thomas, which is the main island that has the largest population. From there you can catch a very inexpensive ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. So again, caveat free national park, but to get there, you need to know somebody with a boat to take you or take that boat yourself from the main island over there. But when people think of the Virgin Islands or the Caribbean, I mean you think of white sand, beaches, lush, tropical, et cetera, and it’s all of that. And at the same time, if you know that’s what you’re gonna encounter in the Caribbean, imagine how beautiful this place has to be for them to even make it a national park.
3 (8m 60s):
It’s that extra special beautiful bays where you can snorkel with all types of sea life. We went to a couple locations where they’re famous for sea turtles and it’s snorkeling there, this and that. And there’s also hiking and a rich history of like plantations of the sugar cane plantations and rum and other stuff that they have. They’re so really unique national park as a whole.
1 (9m 21s):
So we got to do a really cool hike on this island. It went down to sugar plantation ruins. There were a ton of hermit crabs there too. Then we went to a secluded beach on this hike and we even got to see ancient petroglyphs that were carved into some of the rock along the way. So that was really cool. But the highlights for sure are definitely the beaches, the snorkeling there. And you can drive all around the national park, it’s free. But I do wanna mention there is one spot within the national park that you do have to pay for, which is called Trunk Bay. It’s one of the most popular and photograph beaches in St. John. So if you do go there, you do have to pay. But all of the other beaches within this national park, all of the other hikes, everything is
3 (10m 4s):
Free. And a beach to know is gonna be Maho Beach. This one was our favorite beautiful white sand beach. It’s famous for its sea turtles that I was mentioning earlier. And why so many sea turtles come here is there’s a seagrass bed that’s from the beach, like 30 yards out. So like a hundred feet of lush seagrass and they’re obviously feeding on it. And this was the place even with that seagrass where we saw the sea turtle, find the jellyfish chomp on the jellyfish and just even while we were snorkeling to see that. And all in all, you know, you won’t be disappointed with St. John and going to the Virgin Islands National
2 (10m 38s):
Park. I love this one because it feels like an international vacation, but you’re still in the US and you’re international park.
3 (10m 44s):
Yeah. Feels even more international because they drive on the left-hand side of the road. Whoa, look at that.
2 (10m 51s):
That’s really cool. Number three on our list is Congaree National Park. This one’s located in South Carolina. It’s technically, I guess the closest major town would be about 30 minutes from Columbia the Capitol. But I would not consider that a major town necessarily. Most people will probably be going to Charleston and that’s about a two hour drive, right? So it’s pretty close and a really, really good day trip. And it won’t even take your full day.
1 (11m 16s):
Yeah, you can easily do it
2 (11m 18s):
In half a day, about two hours there, two hours driving back and I would say less than four hours in the park you could spend more. Of course you could. So the park is totally underrated. We went in May of 2022. We had the park primarily to ourselves. So maybe depending on time of year you might as well. Another one of the really cool highlights of this trip is the fireflies. We didn’t get to see that when we were there because we didn’t plan to be there at night. But if you are going to see this national park any time of year, it’s free. And on top of that, they have a really cool firefly experience that you can do.
3 (11m 52s):
Yeah. And in about six months ago we had an episode specifically on Congaree National Park. So if you’re interested, go back and listen to it. We even mentioned in that episode that unless it’s your bucket list item goal to every national park, you know, I wouldn’t necessarily make a specific trip to go to Congaree, right? But even still, if you’re in Charleston, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, which is all popular places along the coast in South Carolina, you can invest a two hour drive inland and make a little day trip, break up your beach experience and go to Congaree. And I don’t think we even mentioned yet what Congaree National Park is. It is a forest in the western part of South Carolina.
3 (12m 34s):
But what’s unique about this forest is it acts as a natural floodplain to the Congre River. So it’s almost kind of swampy, but it’s not really a swamp, it’s a forest. And because of the natural floods that do come in from the Conrie River, the main highlight is walking an elevated boardwalk that the national Park has built. So you can be technically on the forest floor but not really in the water or the mud and just kind of go through and it’s a really unique experience and we saw a lot of wildlife when we were there and wasn’t expecting it. All of a sudden we started seeing caterpillars, we saw one, we’re like, oh this is crazy. And then there was a whole bunch of them on the Ford Walk and we’re like, cuz you imagine when these things actually have their metamorphosis and are no longer caterpillars and their butterflies, it’d always be cool at seeing those fireflies then in the river areas where it’s flooded over their little lakes.
3 (13m 24s):
And you could see alligators in there. And I know some people might say, oh I don’t wanna see that. But then we saw turtles in there also. We even saw a tortoise on land going through the thicket. So really unique forest environment that you wouldn’t really expect to see. I mean who sees a flooded forest in the United States and you can’t hear at Congaree and it’s a free national park.
1 (13m 44s):
Yeah, I definitely think it’s underrated. I wanna say it’s like the seventh to least visited National Park in the us. So we did see other people but we saw only a handful of people otherwise we had parts of it completely to ourselves. When we were looking out at the alligator at one of the lakes, it was Weston Lake, no one else was there to view that alligator with us. We had that whole viewing deck to ourselves. So that was really cool. So if you’re in the area, definitely hit up Cony National Park. Hey Scotties, have you ever wanted to make a podcast? Spotify for podcasters lets you make one super easily distribute it everywhere and even helps you earn money. It’s all in one place and it’s free.
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2 (15m 20s):
Hey Scotties, let’s take a quick detour to talk about our travel Itineraries that we’ve created just for you.
3 (15m 26s):
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1 (15m 47s):
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2 (16m 0s):
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3 (16m 18s):
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1 (16m 25s):
Number four on our list is Cuyahoga Valley National Park and this national park is located in Ohio Jamal and I visited in July, 2022. And I would say there is a reason why this national park is free.
3 (16m 40s):
Yes, I would definitely say so. You know what’s funny is when you actually Google images of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it’s very serene, very pretty. And I don’t know if we were there during the wrong time of season to kind of see that stuff with a little bit more river flow and the rocks and colors that I expect to actually see. But when we were there in July, again, you know, hot summer, didn’t really get to see that. But they have a lot of unique stuff that we really didn’t get to partake on. We were there in Ohio, so we went to Cuyahoga but the, our purpose wasn’t to go there. We’re going to Cedar Point bucket list, amusement park destination for me. But they have lots of unique stuff that I wish we did where they have the train that you could take through the Cuyahoga Valley.
3 (17m 24s):
But what this area actually is, is the natural forest that actually lies between Cleveland, Ohio and Akron. And so it’s the river that run runs through and that river then flows into Lake Erie itself. So it is a beautiful natural environment. But we did the main hike to do, which is called the ledges hike. And it’s one of those things where I, I just didn’t understand, you know, the lure of what everyone said, this was great. But I guess in a state like Ohio where there is only the one national park, like people are excited about this and it has a unique lure to it of just being like this, you know, untouched land that’s between like two major cities.
3 (18m 5s):
It has a great history of the reason why that river’s important too. So it’s protected in that way. But in terms of overall scenic beauty would say like I was wowed by it. But if you’re in Cleveland, definitely worth a visit.
2 (18m 17s):
I mean I’m looking at pictures on Google images and I, I agree, it looks serene, it looks gorgeous. There’s waterfalls, there’s lush greenery, there’s fall autumn colors from online. It says that the best time to visit is spring to see wildflower. So if you’re hearing this in April, go in spring or in fall because the fall colors really come out and some of these pictures really show gorgeous orange bread, yellow fall colors. So maybe it was just the July time of year that you went could
3 (18m 44s):
Have been July. And again we did the must do area. But what you’re actually seeing or what I’ve even seen when I’ve done the Google images and photos, like I don’t know where this was in the park that we didn’t actually see it because of our research. Wonderful. Well we saw one waterfall, which was one of the main ones. But I mean you Google image and you see tons of waterfalls, it’s not all of the same one, right? And so we didn’t see these so I don’t know where they were because all of our research that we did of the minimal time we spent there said to do these things, Brandy white falls, which we saw really cool waterfall also, but there’s more than than that the ledges and like during those main ones you don’t see those stuff that you see in the Google images. So I would go back and if I’m in that area and actually try to see what I see in the Google images because it looks very pretty.
3 (19m 30s):
I just don’t know where we missed that.
1 (19m 31s):
You know what was really funny was I was looking at reviews online looking at all trails and people were saying like the ledges is the must do hike. Like definitely go check that out. Someone even went as far to say don’t even go to Brandy Wine falls, it’s not worth it. Just go straight to the ledges. Spend all of your time there. So I was like kind of in my mind thinking like let’s go to the ledges first cuz we could at least see that as everyone’s like really hyping it up. Yeah it was cool And they do have really cool rock formations but I think with everything else that we’ve seen that’s been really grand, we weren’t as impressed. But then we went to Brandy Wine Falls and I was actually like expecting to be underwhelmed. Underwhelmed and I really liked
3 (20m 12s):
It. Yes. And it was like, who’s this person riding? Go spend your time all at the ledges, forget the waterfall. I’m like the waterfall was better than the ledges. So I mean to eat your own like this is a park where do your research and I gotta feel like locals probably know more than people that are writing like stuff and what to do because I maybe we followed that and we were let astray on what it is that we did because the scenic pictures that you actually see when you Google it are beautiful and we just missed that and I don’t know where it was so we kind of left a lot to be desired. But I feel like if you’re in the area it could be a cool free part to explore and take your time, time to find that stuff.
2 (20m 48s):
Another free park actually in California this time is the Redwood National Park. And I unknowingly went here in probably 2008. I went up on a spring break trip with some friends and we stayed in Arcata and we did a Fern Canyon hike. Come to find out years later that was Redwood National Park. And so it’s cool because there really isn’t, at least when I was there, there wasn’t like an entrance to the
1 (21m 17s):
Park. There’s not really.
2 (21m 18s):
So that’s what makes these free Parks free a lot of times is they can’t put a gate on it. It’s nature.
3 (21m 23s):
Oh not only nature, it’s a major highway that runs right through there. I mean there’s Redwoods National Park and Redwoods State Park, which they coincide together really as one. But you have the famous highway 1 0 1 that kind of run through there. They’re major through affairs so they can’t regulate it, right? So it’s a highway that you can pass through if you’re just driving cuz it’s really the only way to get north and south in that region. But once you get to the trailheads to park, they don’t charge you for it. Now are they gonna do what you mentioned at that little caveat on great Smoky Mountains? Maybe so, but as it stands now, that’s the case where it’s actually free. And the redwoods, I would wager to say this is the start of the Pacific Northwest.
3 (22m 5s):
A little bit of a rainforest of the very top corner of northern California getting to Oregon, Washington. But this is home to the tallest trees in the world right here at Redwood National Park. So if you want to feel like a tiny little ant amongst giants, come to Redwoods and really just appreciate that beautiful coastline, jagged California coastline plus tallest trees in the world. You can’t go
1 (22m 29s):
Wrong. Yeah, the tallest tree in the park and in the world is 380 feet tall. Like can you imagine Stan right next to that you would feel like a little ant. It’s crazy. But that tree its name is Hyperion, is actually protected and its location is not shared. So people don’t really know if they’re standing next to the tallest tree in the world or not. But there are a lot of really cool other big trees in the park. There’s actually a tree named Big Tree. It’s estimated to be like 1500 years old and it’s 286 feet tall. Wow. And it’s 24 feet across the base. Literally Jamal. And I have a picture in front of it where we’re both standing with our hands spread out and we don’t even cover like the base
2 (23m 12s):
Of that. Wow. So it’s tall and
1 (23m 14s):
Wide. Yeah. But definitely love Redwood National Park for growing up in Northern California. I feel like we didn’t go here enough and analyze this area enough, although it highlights the Redwoods. Lake Jamal did say it also protects the wreck coastline as well. And so it’s just a very scenic park. And if you’re on your way up to the Oregon coast, this is a great national park to visit on your way up there.
3 (23m 37s):
Number six on our list is going to be North Cascade’s National Park located in Washington state. Brittany and I visited this Park Park in September of 2020. You Kim had actually left at that point in time cuz this was an OG Squad trip. Even with Zena we did Olympic and Mount Rainier National Park, which is also in the state of Washington, but they are not free. We continued on, did North Cascades and Glacier North Cascades is free because another situation highway running right through it. But this is like jagged mountain area that I really, really loved in North Cascades. And I highly recommend if you are in the Seattle area taking the time to go here to North Cascades.
1 (24m 20s):
It’s very remote but very scenic. They have glaciers, they have waterfalls, they have turquoise lakes, they have mountain scenery, they have it all. Like there’s so much to see within this park, even if you’re not a hiker. We went to one of the overlooks and it was called Diablo Lake, Vista Point and Diablo Lake, if you look at it and we’re gonna post pictures on our website, the water is a bright turquoise blue. It is so bright, it’s so beautiful. Definitely a place in the park that you don’t wanna miss. And then one of my favorite hikes that we did in this park was called Cascade Pass. You have to go on this unpaved road to the trailhead. It’s like 16 miles down this unpaved road.
1 (25m 1s):
3 (25m 1s):
It’s right, takes forever, takes forever to get down there
1 (25m 3s):
An hour Jamal’s like you know Jamal and his attitude sometimes he’s like wow you really know how to pick these hikes don’t you? It’s like one of the ones where he felt like you could get robbed and like no one would find your body.
3 (25m 17s):
Well this is how remote this is. Even though like a major highway runs through here and that’s why this park is actually free. If you read and do a lot of research on this park, there is a very big problem of cars that trailheads getting broken into or stolen and your items being taken from you because it’s so remote that not a lot of people are really like enforcing it or whatever trails that you wanna do are so far off the main highway itself. Right. You really have that secluded area if you were a robber to do stuff like that. So then I knowing that and I’m in my mind I’m just like we’re out in the middle of nowhere, I see no freaking cars like whatsoever during going down a 16 mile dirt road. Who knows if we’re gonna get jacked or something like that.
3 (25m 59s):
And then we get to the trailhead. So many fucking cars, I don’t even know where they came from, did not see a goddamn car driving on that road to it. But there is a campground down there. But point being the Cascade Pass trail was really awesome. My favorite one 6.5 mile round trip. We saw some wild mountain goats on this one. We missed the mama and her baby cubs that yeah, the bears that were there. Somebody told us, oh they’re right ahead. And by the time we got there they were gone. We didn’t see them. Bummer. I know, I know. But really enjoyed this national park and it’s free. Don’t let that bad mentality that I just described that I had in my head dissuade you from going.
2 (26m 38s):
And this one might not be one that you’ll want to go to on National National Park Day or the first day of National Park Week in April because it is very, very close to Canada. You guys went in September and so you were able to see and do things, but you had said that there were roads closed during even late into spring because of snow.
1 (26m 58s):
Yeah, absolutely. Because it’s so far north. Yeah there’s a lot of snow up there. And so this national park has a shore summer season where everything’s accessible. So number seven on our list is Channel Islands National Park and this national park is actually located off of the coast of California. It’s actually made up of five different islands that are clumped together and they’re off the coast of California and you’re like the Santa Barbara and Ventura region and they’re really, really cool and they’re not very often visited because of the location of it. You have to take a boat to get to the island
3 (27m 35s):
Of course. So either you have to have your own boat fly in a little water plane that’ll land you out there or take a guided tour that’s chartered out there on a boat itself. So again, free national park but could gonna cost money to get out there. But entrance itself is free. Now Brittany and I would love to go back and do more of the islands. We only did one island, which was Ana Kappa Island. It’s located 12 miles off the coast and the closest island to the coast. And what a unique view when you’re there to actually be on an island so far out and look back and see like mainland California, California and everything like that. It was really, really cool. But what’s unique about Ana Kappa Island is it’s the island where actually all the seagulls nest.
3 (28m 19s):
So any Siegels I do too. But during nesting season it was quite interesting to really just see them all there and person and guide who took us out there basically said what’s really interesting is yeah there’s four other islands, the birds don’t even use those ones to nest for whatever reason they all like come here, which was odd. And they have a lighthouse that’s out there on that island too and where you actually dock before you have to climb the stairs and everything to get up to surface level because again it’s an island out in the ocean. It’s not like a sandy island, it’s jagged rocks, right? There’s a giant kelp forest that’s down there that if you brought your bathing suit you can snorkel. So each of the islands has something unique and different to them and I would really love to go and explore more out there.
3 (29m 4s):
But what a unique perspective to enjoy wildlife. And I’m not talking just the birds cuz I know the other islands have great snorkeling and s scooping and lots of dolphins and whales around in that area also. But what a unique way to see wildlife in the estuary of those islands and then look back and see mainland California.
1 (29m 21s):
I will say my favorite thing on the island is there’s a short hike called Inspiration point hike and it’s a figure eight shaped hike and it leads you to a point where you can see other portions of Ana Kappa Island and all of the other islands like in a line. And so it’s just a really scenic point. Plus on top of that you can look to the right and see the California coastline so you can just like really take it all in. When you Google search channel islands, the view from inspiration point is what most commonly comes up. Oh like that’s what you’re going to see. There’s also a lighthouse on the island but you can’t climb up it or touch it because it has a fog horn and it’s so loud that it can cause permanent hearing damage.
1 (30m 1s):
So you can see it but you can’t like go up to
3 (30m 4s):
It and a little tip if you do go to this island or any of the other ones, more particular anacapa, there is no shade, there’s constant sun exposure. So definitely be sure to have your sunscreen dress in layers, wear a hat and you know if you’re gonna swim in the water, enjoy your time out there. I wanna go to the other islands and swim where there’s a little bit more wildlife out in that region too. I think that would be really fun to go back. So do check out the Channel islands number eight on our list is going to be Great Basin National Park which is located in Nevada. This is Nevada’s only National Park and Brittany and I visited here in 2018 and this is super remote. I mean if you’ve been to Nevada you’ve probably maybe only been to Reno, Tahoe or Vegas and those are the conglomerates of where there’s actually anything, if you drive anywhere else in Nevada it is sparse, like sparse and nothing.
3 (30m 58s):
So you gotta drive through a lot of nothingness to get here. But it is well worth the visit to Great Basin.
1 (31m 4s):
Like literally you drive through nothing. Like I kept thinking if our car broke down I don’t even know what to do because there is nothing around. But Great Basin National Park was super cool. It is super remote but it’s known for its ancient Bristol cone pines, which is one of the oldest organisms in the world and it has the Lehman caves, it also has a glacier within the park. So we were going primarily for Lehman caves.
2 (31m 32s):
Did you say it has a glacier?
1 (31m 34s):
Yeah, Wheeler peak glacier.
2 (31m 36s):
A frozen glacier.
1 (31m 37s):
Well we didn’t see it
3 (31m 39s):
But it’s on an elevation of 13,000 feet plus. Oh. So it’s definitely high up.
2 (31m 46s):
Well that’s confusing cuz it says great basin.
3 (31m 50s):
Yeah but like the everywhere east of the Sierra Nevadas to that region and even like into Utah is called basin because it’s like, and ironically it’s not flat, I mean we’re talking this elevation but it’s like usually flat high elevation and yes there’s some mountains and stuff like thrown in between but that’s why that whole area is geographically like called a basin because that area is the great basin but you’re at high elevations at that point in time with again mountains thrown in between. So it does have that glacier, the old trees that we’re talking about, I mean some of the oldest living organisms on earth. That’s crazy. And then within the mountain itself there is the Lehman Cave where you can see stalagmites stites and take the tour within.
3 (32m 36s):
Now the tour cave does require a paid reservation because it is a ranger guided tour. But at the same time, you know even if you didn’t do the cave you can enjoy your visit to Great Basin doing the other free stuff.
1 (32m 49s):
Yeah, we went in April and a lot of the times when you think you’re going to Nevada it’s pretty hot. Most of the year in April there was snow in the area and the hike that we wanted to do, which was the Lehman Creek trail, we had to turn back at one point because we were going into knee deep snow. Hmm. Yeah it was definitely worth visiting. We had a really good time. I’d wanna go back and check out more of it but we just haven’t been able to go back yet. But Lehman Caves, we were the first like guided cave tours we’ve ever been able to do and really started our appreciation and love for caves and our cave. Them caves. Caves are
3 (33m 23s):
Awesome. Caves are really awesome. And you wanna talk about dramatic landscape Kim? I mean I know you’re so shocked when we’re talking like glacier out there. If you actually look at where great basin is on a map, it’s very close to the Utah border and as a matter of fact, as you’re coming out of the park, you’ll take a road that runs north to south that’s kind of parallel to the straight line that is the Nevada Utah border. And then you just look over into Utah and all of a sudden it’s like kind of flat farmland really in that area. And then you look the other way and then look at this mountain and all this like jagged kind of like desert mountain vibes and things. It’s really unique. And so that added a cool aspect to it also. But again, out in the middle of nowhere,
1 (34m 4s):
Number nine on our list is New River Gorge National Park. It’s one of America’s newer national Parks. We visited in May in 2021 and at that point in time they hadn’t even changed the signs yet to say National Park yet. It was still like what National
3 (34m 20s):
Forward national recreation
1 (34m 21s):
Area or national recreation area. So it was a national park but they hadn’t changed the signs yet. And this is located in West Virginia. It’s the only national park in West Virginia and it’s amazing. Like it is so scenic. What most people th see or think of when they think about this national park is there is a huge bridge that spans the the river and the gorge area and that is like one of the most photographed bridges in this part of the USA. And it’s just going over this beautiful river. This river we were able to go whitewater rafting on. That’s not free but there’s a lot of hiking, there’s a forest around it.
1 (35m 2s):
I hear it’s a really good spot to visit in fall because of all of the fall colors. Oh yeah forest. So there’s a lot to see and do within this
3 (35m 10s):
National, well it was a national recreation area again before it became a national park. And I love how you describe it. You said there’s a bridge that goes over this river. Well the bridge goes over the new river and it goes over the large gorge, hence the name New River Gorge. Right. But I really want to go back because when we went we did the whitewater rafting, which was fucking epic. Like epic to do. And like Britney said cost money to do but anywhere else in the park that actually has hiking, we didn’t really get to do, cause our focus was to do the whitewater rafting. All that is going to be free for you. Certain times of the year they close down the bridge to car traffic and they make it like a little festival where they have vendors and things on it.
3 (35m 52s):
And you can even look online and see a lot of times when they close the bridge they have a lot of people that will do base jumping off of the bridge and they’ll even set it up to where they have a catapult and they’ll catapult people like off the bridge and launch them and do this. Oh yeah. And I would love to go when they have that event where they close down the bridge, it’s like bridge day. Bridge day is what Bridge Day called bridge day. Would
2 (36m 14s):
You base jump?
3 (36m 15s):
Fuck no I wouldn’t face jump but I would love to watch some people actually do it. But I’m sure people have probably seen an image of this bridge before and just not realized what it is or where it is. But it’s very significant because when they completed it, it made like a normal two hour drive, two and a half hour drive to get to like some other part of like West Virginia accessible in like five minutes. You know because you would have to go down the gorge on little narrow roads, go on a small bridge that crossed the river way below the thousand foot plus gorge and like work your way back up. So it made it quite simple for people to do. So it became famous because of that also.
3 (36m 55s):
But really fun national park and I’m not, I’m just gonna say it, I never thought I’d have so much fun in West Virginia.
2 (37m 3s):
I’m just hearing that song play in my head that West Virginia song,
1 (37m 7s):
Sing it for us.
2 (37m 8s):
It’s like West Virginia.
3 (37m 13s):
I’ve never heard that one.
2 (37m 15s):
There isn’t word stupid
1 (37m 17s):
3 (37m 19s):
Well think about the rest of lyrics and we’ll move on to number 10, which is going to be Biscayne National Park in one of your favorite states. Kim, Florida.
2 (37m 28s):
Oh hell yeah. Florida ending on a high note.
1 (37m 31s):
But you haven’t been to Biscayne.
2 (37m 33s):
I know I’ve been near it in and around it. Okay.
1 (37m 36s):
Okay. Well Jamal and I went in made 2019. It’s located in Florida like Jamal said, and it’s only 45 minutes outside of Miami. So it’s definitely an easy day trip if you’re in the Miami area. And what’s really cool about it is 95% of the national park is water. So there’s really no entrance fee because it’s mostly water. But in order to experience what’s on the water, you’re gonna probably have to pay to do some of the activities like snorkel, paddleboard, go on a boat, canoe kayak or go like scuba diving unless you have your own boat of course.
3 (38m 11s):
Right. And we had a full previous episode on this episode 49 talking about Biscayne. But like you said Britney, 95% of it is on water. So if you have your boat own boat you could go out otherwise pay for a vendor who’s gonna take you out, do snorkeling, kayaking, whatever it is that you want to do. But in this area, cuz quite honestly Florida waters are tropical waters not too far off as The Bahamas when they have all the beautiful coral, nice warm temperatured water and you’re gonna experience the same here. And what a great place to actually go and snorkel. We didn’t see any on this side but in this area you can potentially see manatees also. But we had great, great snorkeling in this area just seeing the wild sea life and it was just absolutely beautiful.
3 (38m 58s):
And here you are just doing this right outside of Miami.
1 (39m 1s):
There were many jellyfish in the water though, so we got stung a few times.
2 (39m 6s):
And was there any peeing involved
1 (39m 9s):
3 (39m 10s):
Very subtle, very subtle stings from jellyfish that were no larger than the size of a quarter. So like you can feel the like a little thing hit you and a little tingle and burn but it wasn’t like, oh I’m in excruciating pain. You got over it eventually. But that was in the area we were in. But really underrated park. And I would highly recommend, I mean if you are in Miami, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do this because one, it’s free. Two go to a national park and you’re gonna be doing water activities when you’re there anyway probably right? Why not do this?
2 (39m 43s):
Next time I go to Miami I’m gonna hit
1 (39m 45s):
This place up. Yeah, it’s definitely worth a visit for sure. And that is the 10 that we have for you today. But there are other free national Parks that we didn’t mention in this episode. There are several free in Alaska and the American Samoa but we haven’t been to them so we didn’t list them today. And there are other fee free days to visit any national park. Martin Luther King Jr Day is a free day, the anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act, which is an August of the free day National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day. You can visit any national park.
2 (40m 18s):
Hell yeah. Plan your trip around this and really fucking
3 (40m 21s):
Hard. Oh yeah, I mean you paid for it with your tax dollars. Go to the free national Parks here. I mean you’re gonna love them.
1 (40m 27s):
And I learned this too, that the National Parks are free for military or veterans so you can get a free park path for that. And then if you buy the $80 annual pass, you get the free Parks for the rolling year. And Jamal your mom, she bought a senior lifetime pass.
3 (40m 44s):
Yeah. Why? I don’t think they’re still offering it but at one point they were offering a lifetime pass for seniors to buy it and she bought it for like 20 bucks.
1 (40m 52s):
They’ve raised the price to 80,
3 (40m 54s):
They’ve raised the price to 80. But at one time, not too long ago, maybe three years ago, my mom has a four Life National Park pass that she got as a senior citizen for $20. But even now as it stands 80 for life, I mean we pay 80 every year to utilize it but we go to the national Parks enough but 80 for life. You know when I turn 65 I’m gonna get it. When
2 (41m 14s):
You turn 65 you’re gonna be a ranger out there working. I
3 (41m 17s):
I would love to be a ranger. They don’t pay ’em enough. Otherwise I would maybe think different career path because my heart and soul would be at peace working in any one of the national Parks. I think it’d be really cool.
1 (41m 27s):
Kim, it’s your favorite time of the episode. It’s
2 (41m 31s):
Questions of the week. All right, number one question we have, which other free national park do you want to visit? Next one that you have not visited yet.
1 (41m 48s):
Easy one for me. I hope I’m saying this right. It’s Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. It’s where mountains, ice and ocean meet. So there’s like a ton of whale watching and glaciers supposed to be super beautiful at Scenic. So that’s definitely high on my
3 (42m 6s):
List. You say Kenai, I thought it was Kenai how you would pronounce it. Kenai.
2 (42m 9s):
I can confirm.
3 (42m 10s):
You can confirm it’s Kenai. Yeah, mine would probably be the same. Any one of the free ones in Alaska. I really want to go out there and experience it. And again, because of its remoteness obviously they’re free for you to go ahead and enjoy. But I think that would be a really cool one cuz I’m trying to think of what other domestic ones here, like on the main 48 that there are that are free and I can’t think of any others that are on this list that we didn’t mention unless
2 (42m 36s):
Is kept my free in
3 (42m 37s):
Alaska. I don’t know if it is, but if it is, that’s maybe number one. Cause I want to go there and see the bears when they’re feas on the salmon and the river.
2 (42m 45s):
Yes, that would be really cool. I would love to go to the US Virgin Islands. Oh that’s a good one. I love beaches, I love the Caribbean. I love vacations like that. What
3 (42m 55s):
About your alley Kim
2 (42m 56s):
Sea turtles? Hello? That’s all me. I really should have been on that one if it wasn’t for that covid argument.
3 (43m 4s):
Well that’s a story for another time, but funny one nonetheless. But you know another good reason for us to go back because I would love to go back cuz when we were there you can catch ferries that would actually take you to the British Virgin Islands, which are not too far off because Covid was still going, they were actually close. So I would love to go there. So quite honestly, like if we threw out Virgin Islands again, I could be about it. Alright, I could be about it. Question number two. If you had to recommend a national park not go to, which would they be and why?
1 (43m 35s):
Dang, that’s a hard-hitting question but I’d have to say Cuyahoga National
3 (43m 40s):
Book. And I know what, it’s kind of ironic since we listed it here as one of the free ones and it is, but I feel like we gave a very good disclaimer when we were talking about it, why we felt misled on it. And I think we went during the wrong time. And what we’re reading is probably from outsiders visiting because it is kind of a local’s place. I mean it is between two major cities. I bet people in Akron Cleveland know how to get to those locations that you see those Google images on that look a lot cooler than the places that we saw. So because of that, maybe I’d actually put that, you
2 (44m 14s):
Know, even though you all have not given it the rave review, I still wanna go. I want to go during fall. I wanna see those colors. I, I wanna believe what you see in Google images is possible to see there. And
3 (44m 27s):
I believe it is. We just went during a bad time and we’re led astray with whatever, whatever research that we saw. And some idiot, I’m just gonna say it, who was like, avoid the waterfall, go to the ledges. What? The waterfall was way better. So,
2 (44m 40s):
Well maybe that was part of the plan.
3 (44m 42s):
Oh, trying to discourage us. Huh? Keep going with the waterfall. Private. Okay. Kim.
1 (44m 47s):
Is there a national park that you’ve been to that you would say you could pass on?
2 (44m 52s):
I’m trying to think of one that was kind of like meh.
3 (44m 56s):
I could think of one that’s meh. That might be an unpopular opinion. Joshua Tree.
2 (45m 0s):
Joshua Tree. Hmm. Yeah, I mean I wouldn’t discourage anybody from going if they haven’t visited yet.
3 (45m 6s):
2 (45m 7s):
I. I’ve been to it once and like I’m not dying to go back.
3 (45m 10s):
See I feel like why a lot of people like it is a lot of people from LA go out there for like camping and looking at the store, which is not like a a bad thing whatsoever. But I think it gets a lot of popularity because of that. And it’s kind of like a nice desert nature. Escape from the hustle and bustle. That’s la But a lot of rock climbers actually go there cuz you could do a lot of bouldering. Yeah, so as popular cuz of those things. But otherwise they just as a general person, like going to a national park where they’re not doing any one of those things, they just didn’t do it for me. So I would say Josh would.
2 (45m 41s):
That’s fair. Well squats, get out there. Get into the Parks, fuck ’em hard with a free day. Fuck ’em hard. And thanks again for tuning into our episode this week. Follow us on Instagram, TikTok YouTube, anywhere you can be. We are. And send us in your questions
3 (45m 56s):
Of the week. If you found the information this episode to be useful or if you thought we were just playing funny, please be sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too. And as always, please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune it in every travel Tuesday for new episodes.
2 (46m 10s):
1 (46m 11s):
Tuned for next week’s episode. We have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for
3 (46m 15s):
You. Bye everybody. Bye.