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Budget Travel At The Country's National Parks

Aug 25, 2008
When it comes to traveling on a budget, few things are as cost effective as pitching a tent in the wilderness of your favorite national park.

The tent campsites at national parks and state parks are among the least expensive to be found, and many intrepid travelers spend summer after summer hiking, fishing and enjoying the scenery at our country's magnificent national parks.

Just because you are roughing it in the wilderness, however, does not mean that you will need to do no planning.

The least expensive and most desirable tent campgrounds at popular national parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion and Yellowstone, often fill up quickly in the popular summer months, so it pays to book as far ahead as possible.

The internet makes the process of both finding and booking a campsite much easier, since most national parks have their own web sites, and their own reservations system.

Travel agents can also make reservations, for tent campsites, cabins and national park hotel properties.

And that brings us to our next subject. Not all national park travel involves camping in the wilderness. There are a number of cabins and hotel rooms available in almost every national park, and some of them are quite affordable.

As a matter of fact, unless you go far upscale, it is often less expensive to stay within the park than to book a motel or hotel in an adjoining community. And of course staying in the park is more convenient as well.

It is of course important to do plenty of research when booking any type of lodging at a national park, be it the most basic tent site or the most upscale hotel room.

One thing that it is a definite must is a knowledge of the weather at the time of the year you plan to visit.

When planning a visit to a national park, it is important to remember that such parks are often located in the mountains, and the weather conditions at these elevations can be quite different from that found at sea level.

For example, there are parts of Yosemite national park that never lose snow cover, and autumn and even late summer visitors should not be surprised to encounter a fresh coating of snow in some parts of the park.

The accessibility of the campground is another consideration. Many of the least expensive camp sites at major national parks are quite remote, and considerable hiking and backpacking may be required to reach these locations.

It is vital to inquire about such considerations when booking the reservation, and it may be necessary to make some compromises between price and convenience, especially if you are not an accomplished outdoorsman.

There is no doubt that camping or staying in a national park can be a relaxing, exhilarating and magical experience. As with any budget travel, however, it is important to thoroughly research your destination, and to shop around for the best deal you can find.
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