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  >    >  Virtual Meetup on US National Parks (June 1st)

Hi everyone! So happy to see everyone again today talking about such a GREAT topic of US National Parks, especially since they are such a hot spot topic during this crazy year. Here is the summary of our discussion (and the updates on park reopening schedules). As usual, PLEASE comment or add your own suggestion of story directly on this forum! This is an OPEN forum for all of you to post questions, comments and stories of your own! πŸ˜€

But first, as usual…

This Week’s Announcements:

1. Next virtual meetup scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th from 5-6pm EST and the topic will be everything AUSTRALIA! Sign up at the bottom of this page using the calendar if you’d like to attend.

2. Our upcoming trips (weekend ones and trips to National Parks both) are POSTED and UPDATED for the summer and fall. Sign up at the bottom of this page to express interest in any one or more of them. Remember, this is NOT a commitment but just an “I’d like to know more and be updated on the happenings with a particular trip.” The sooner I have a head count on possible interests, the sooner I can get more detailed plans and costs out to everyone so you all can decide if you’d like to go! πŸ™‚

3. I now have a video that thoroughly explains how to navigate our site and what all you can do on it and where. I have even listed times to jump to if you are only looking for specific parts. You can see our latest video about halfway down our ABOUT page. You can also view it on YouTube (but the time stamps aren’t on that one).

4. Here is our newest media page where you can access links to all of our blogs, podcasts and videos all in one centralized spot!

5. As usual, anyone who attends any of our virtual meetups get 50% off EVERY fun private event on our “Travel in the Home” and “Covid 19 Escape” page! If you forgot the promo code, just contact me and I will remind you! πŸ™‚ It’s a thank you for all of you awesome participants that make being a business owner so fun!

6. Purple Hood Adventures now partners with G Adventures and I’m personally SUPER stoked about this! Check out all of their amazing travel deals and discounts!!!Β 


And NOW…Here are our Virtual Meetup Notes on US National Parks:


Here are the current top rated US National Parks as well as top things to see and do there (I wrote about the top 8 in detail and then touched upon the top 10 but then I listed some more hidden gems and personal favorite and our meetup members’ favorite parks after that):


1. Yellowstone (Wyoming): This is the world’s 1st national park! It is known for its volcanic activity, geysers, geothermal activity, mud volcanoes, waterfalls, mountains, canyons and wildlife. There are especially a lot of bison and they are not shy about walking down the road and blocking traffic! It’s pretty funny actually. They even have a beer there called Road Block with a picture of bison blocking the road! πŸ˜€

Top sites there and things to do:

-Old Faithful (a geyser that erupts at certain predictable increments of time)

-Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

-Mammoth Falls and Hot Springs

-Grand Prismatic Spring

Reopening plan: This began on May 18th but as of yet, many sites and roads won’t open again until later on in the plan.

Best time to visit: April-May and September-October. Beware it is pretty cold at the higher elevations so if you camp in a tent in April like we did, bring your warm blankets!

[caption id="attachment_11178" align="aligncenter" width="282"] Here is one of the bison I talked about from our visit there back in 2016![/caption]


2. Yosemite (California): I went there personally this past November and I must say that although the peak season is summer and many of the falls are reduced or nonexistent, I highly recommend going in the fall anyway because the foliage is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Also, there are fewer crowds and lines for the shuttle bus and most things ARE still doable and visible anyway. Yosemite is known for its waterfalls. rock formations, valleys, overlooks and views.

Top sites there and things to do:

-Half Dome

-El Capitan

-Vernal Falls (my personal favorite)

-Yosemite Falls (this is the one that may be dry in the fall)

-Bridalveil Falls

-Glacier Point

Reopening plan: Also currently closed but plan to reopen in early June. No shuttle services between trail heads are expected to run this season.

Best time to visit:May and September are best to try to cut down on at least some crowds while maximizing things to see.

[caption id="attachment_11180" align="aligncenter" width="344"] Just a pic I took on my phone in November from Yosemite![/caption]


3. Glacier National Park (Montana): WE HAVE A TRIP PLANNED FOR HERE: September 1st-7th, 2020 (over Labor Day weekend)! Fill out the form of interest at the bottom of this page if you are interested and you might like to know more (remember this is not a commitment but just an “I’m interested” kind of thing!).

This National Park is known for its mountains and water, especially. It includes over 700 lakes and 3 mountain ranges. It’s known for its beautiful views and hiking trails. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is named for the remnants of glacier from the ice age. It borders Canada and the US both and it is known as the “crown of the continent.”

Top sites there and things to do:

-Trail of Cedars

-Grinnel Glacier


-Lake McDonald

-St. Mary Lake

-Apgar Nature Center

-Iceberg Trail

-Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Reopening plan: Also looking to reopen in June. Again, no shuttles in the park are expected to run.

Best time to visit: July, August, September

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="329"]What is a Clear View Worth? (U.S. National Park Service) I did not take this one but this about sums up Glacier National Park![/caption]


4. Grand Canyon (Northern Arizona): We will also be making a trip here in the future as an organized group as requested by some of our members. No dates posted for this yet and will likely be next year.

This national Park is known for its huge canyons and the Colorado River which extends for 277 miles. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fun fact: You can take a DONKEY (yes, a DONKEY) down to the bottom of the canyon. Anyone heard of this or done this?!

Top sites there and things to do:

-North Rim

-Rim Trail

-Grand Canyon Village

-Havasu Falls

-Bright Angel Trail

-Colorado River rafting

-North Kaibab Trail

-Canyon Skywalk

Reopening plan: phases began on May 29th and phase one will end on June 4th. During this, some areas will be open for visiting from 4am to 2pm only. Beginning on June 5th, more will begin to open (like the South Rim which will be open 24/7).

Best time to visit: March-May and September-November

[caption id="attachment_11181" align="aligncenter" width="309"] I took this one watching sunset over the grand canyon a couple of years ago.[/caption]


5. Zion National Park (southwest Utah): This is my PERSONAL favorite US National Park and my business “Purple Hood Adventures” is named after it! I bought a purple wind breaker from Zion and I wear it everywhere and the jacket sums up a lot of really good things in my life and I consider it very special as I wear it on my travels around the world!

Zion means “refuge” in Hebrew (fun fact!)

Zion is known for its beautiful hiking trails, rivers, night skies and canyons. It is great for rock climbing and camping as well. Note: I recommend visiting Bryce Canyon along with this during your trip! It’s only an hour and 25 minutes away and you shouldn’t miss it!!

Top sites there and things to do:

-Angel Landing (this is a really hard trail and involves a lot of switchbacks and chains and cliffs to get across it!)

-The Narrows

-Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

-Canyon Overlook Trail

-Observation Point

-Watchman Trail

-Pa’rus Trail (an easier hike)

-Weeping Rock

-Lower Emerald Pools

Reopening plan: Reopening began on May 13th. Again, no shuttles running at the park. Many trails remain closed right now but will continue to reopen as the summer goes on.

Best time to visit: April-May and September-October when temperatures range from around 60-90 degrees F.

[caption id="attachment_11182" align="aligncenter" width="381"] Yes, that is me up there on that rock in my purple windbreaker from the park it came from![/caption]


6. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming): I recommend visiting this at the same time as Yellowstone. This is around the Jackson Hole Valley area and it is known for its snow-topped peaks, Teton Mountains and Jackson Lakes. It is great for hiking, kayaking and rafting opportunities. There is also a lot of wild life like grizzlies, antelopes and bison there.

Top sites there and things to do:

-Jenny Lake

-Snake River

-Grand Teton

-Jackson Hole (I saw my first Hawaii license plate here!)

Reopening plan: Reopening began on May 18th.

Best time to visit: May-September

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350"]Grand Teton National Park - Free photo on Pixabay I know, right?![/caption]


7. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (on the Big Island): Known for KΔ«lauea and Mauna Loa which are two active volcanoes and they continuously erupt!Β  You can apparently take a helicopter over them and it is stunning, as mentioned from one of our meetup participants! But beware it can get hot there! Just a forewarning!

Top sites there and things to do:

-Kealakomo Overlook

-Crater Rim Drive

-Jaggar Museum

-Chain of Craters Road (it goes over lava!)

Reopening plan: Reopening phase began May 20th.

Best time to visit: Well, there is a peak season which is June-August and the “low season” is April-early June and after Labor Day. Apparently, I found out it can get very HOT there in the summer months so be prepared if you go then! But I’m not sure if that means summer is necessarily better to visit during or if it is just because that is a more popular vacation time. Thoughts, anyone? Anyone been here? I have not yet.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="375"]Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's August 2017 Events - Hawai'i ... I didn’t take this (this is a free picture on Google) but this looks AWESOME![/caption]


8. Arches National Park (Moab, Utah): This is also one of my personal favorite places I have been! It is known for its sandstone arches and rock formations. I HIGHLY recommend star gazing. We stayed after dark and looked at the billions and billions of stars in the sky. It is AWESOME for star gazing!!

Top sites there and things to do:

-Delicate Arch

-Balanced Rock

-Fiery Furnace

-Double Arch


Reopening plan: This park actually reopened this past Friday and closed again 3 hours later due to crowds! BUT it’s back open with a more staggering plan. It has a timed entry now, I believe.

Best time to visit: April-May and September-October

[caption id="attachment_11183" align="aligncenter" width="324"] Yes, that is AGAIN me up there in my purple jacket at Arches National Park. I love to climb rocks apparently![/caption] [caption id="attachment_11184" align="aligncenter" width="352"] OK but for real! This is Arches NP! And yes, that is also me under there! Lol![/caption]


9. Rocky Mountain National Park (only 70 minutes from Denver, Colorado). It is known for its lakes and mountains. I HAVE A PLANNED TRIP HERE THIS SUMMER. It is our FIRST trip and planned for the dates of July 25th-July 31st to Denver and also Colorado Springs and we will visit this park as well as other national parks and great land formations! To express interest in this trip, fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page again and I will send you details once I get an updated head count!

We also have a physical meetup planned for a hike at Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park on July 12th if you are in the area! Sign up for all physical meetups here!

Reopening plan: It’s already reopening but less busy right now I read!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="387"]Scenic Mountains in the Morning at Rocky Mountains National Park ... Here is Rocky Mountain National Park (I also did not take this photo)[/caption]


10. Acadia National Park (Maine): Primarily on Mount Desert Island. It is characterized by woodland rocky beaches and granite peaks like the popular Cadillac Mountain. You can see moose, bear, whales and bird here and it is pretty close to Bar Harbor!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="348"]National Park Getaway: Acadia National Park (U.S. National Park ... Also have not been there and did not take this but looks gorgeous![/caption]


Other Honorable Mention Parks That are Some of my Personal and our Group Member Favorites. Also, here are some more we will visit this year as a group that you can join if you’d like:

1. Great Smoky Mountain National Park (in Tennessee and North Carolina): WE HAVE A PLANNED TRIP HERE October 1st-4th for a weekend! Sign up at the bottom to show interest again and I will send you more info! Again, this is not a commitment but an express of possible interest!

2. Daniel Boone National Forest (Kentucky): WE ARE GOING TO RED RIVER GORGE the weekend of September 25th-27th for another weekend trip! Again, sign up at the bottom of this page to hear more! πŸ™‚

3. Olympic National Park (Washington)

4. Everglades (Florida)

5. Denali (Alaska)

6. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

7. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia): I’m about to visit a fellow meetup member there to explore in a couple of weeks!! So excited!

8. Badlands (South Dakota)

9. Crater Lake and Mount Hood (Oregon-OK that was 2!)

10. Death Valley (California)

11. Canyonlands (Utah)

12. Antelope Canyon (Arizona): This is that popular photographed swirly rock and run picture you always see!

13. Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico): AMAZING!

14. Indiana Dunes (Indiana)

To sum it all up, there are national parks ALL over but my favorite areas are around the Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico Vicinity. Some national parks are great for hiking while others are great for a history lesson and monument viewing. Take your pick!

If you have ANYTHING else YOU’D like to share whether it be pictures of your own, questions, comments, stories, recommendations or WHATEVER, feel free to comment on this or post your own right here on this forum!! So happy to have everyone and have a wonderful evening! I hope to see some of you on our trips this summer and fall!


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