You might have heard stories or read articles recently about huge attendance at our national parks. And why not? Apparently, plenty of people decided that during a pandemic, domestic travel highlighting the outdoors is a good option. Or perhaps travelers wanted to check visits to these treasures off their bucket lists. No matter the reason, I’m delighted that people are eager to experience the parks—though I’d strongly advise going in the off-season.
For our cover story this month, National Parks Near O.C. (Page 60), we selected the places within an eight-hour drive of here. Lucky for all of us, some of the best parks in the country fall into that category! I’ve been to many of the parks we feature, but I hold a particular fondness for Zion National Park. That was the first place I went tent camping, for our daughter’s first camping trip when she was 2. Zion is totally conducive to first-time or reluctant campers: The campground is beautiful, it’s an easy walk to a store if you forget anything, and the upgraded bathrooms are great. Plus the temperatures from spring through fall stay mild at night, so it’s not too taxing for weather wimps like me. Staying in the park means you can savor the amazing views throughout the early morning and late evening hours, too.
If you’re lucky enough to visit a park with a historic lodge, be sure to duck inside for a while. Sipping sunset drinks at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite or indulging in a meal at the
Grand Canyon’s El Tovar are worthwhile ways to experience the gorgeous settings, even if you can’t spend the night there. You might find yourself transported to another era, when folks sat by the large fireplaces and shared tales of a day in the park, without ever checking their phones. We could all use a taste of that.