How to Spend a Weekend in Joshua Tree National Park

Located in the Southern California Desert, Joshua Tree National Park comprises parts of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, two distinct desert ecosystems residing at different altitudes. Named for the iconic Joshua Tree which is prevalent in the region, you’ll want to make sure to hit all the highlights during your weekend visit to this unique national park!

What to Do

Hiking

Hike to Keys View to see a spectacular sunrise or sunset at the iconic overlook. Jumbo Rocks is another popular hike in the park due to its fascinating giant rock formations. Joshua Tree boasts many exciting hiking trails, like Lost Palms Oasis Trail and Ryan Mountain Trail. 

Cottonwood Springs

This delightful desert oasis is the perfect respite from the heat of Joshua Tree National Park. Rife with birds and willows, you’ll certainly enjoy a visit to these natural springs.

Rock Climbing

One of the world’s most popular areas for rock climbing, there are plenty of established rock climbing routes in the park.

Stargazing

The dark night skies make Joshua Tree National Park optimal for stargazing and astronomy.

Photography

The dramatic desert geography in this national park makes for incredible photos, drawing photographers from all over to this scenic landscape.

Where to Stay 

You won’t find any hotels within the park itself, but there are plenty of overnight accommodation options in the nearby towns of Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree. There are also several campgrounds located inside the park, though they tend to fill up quickly so making a reservation ahead of time is encouraged.

When to Go 

Spring and fall are the most ideal seasons to visit, though hot, clear days with low humidity characterize this park year round. Winter days tend to be a bit cooler and winter nights are freezing cold. Fall and spring experience the mildest daytime temperatures while summer temperatures remain hot day and night. 

How to Get There

Palm Springs International Airport is the closest airport to the park, though Los Angeles and San Diego are both only road trips away. Driving to Joshua Tree is also a good option as the park lies only 140 miles east of Los Angeles.

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How to Spend a Weekend in Everglades National Park

Located in South Florida, Everglades National Park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects more than 1.5 million acres. Home to the American crocodile, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee, the Everglades are known for their abundant wildlife which you’ll experience on any of the park’s many guided tours.

What to Do

Guided tours

There are a variety of ranger led tours offered in Everglades National Park that are worth checking out to see and understand all that the park has to offer. There are also plenty of boat tours and wildlife viewing tours to best experience the unique flora and fauna of the park.

Kayak and canoe rentals

Available at Flamingo Marina, kayaking and canoeing is a great way to explore the park by water. There are plenty of canoe trails that wind through the park’s unique marshes and waterways. 

Hiking

The Everglades has a bunch of hiking trails which are great for viewing flora and fauna. The Anhinga Trail in particular is a great trail for wildlife viewing, especially during the dry season.

Fishing

You’ll need a permit to go fishing in the Everglades and it’s best to hire a guide to spend a day fishing out on the water, as there are few places to fish from the shore. You can expect to catch tarpon, bonefish, redfish, snook, snapper, and sea trout. 

Wildlife Viewing

The Everglades is a spectacular place for wildlife viewing, so you’ll definitely want to spend time during your weekend checking out the rare animal life. This region is known for its manatee and crocodile viewing in particular. 

Where to Stay

There are no indoor lodging accommodations within the park besides eco tents, located at Flamingo Campground. Your only other options for lodging within the park itself are two drive-in campgrounds, both of which can accommodate tents and RVs.

When to Go

You’ll want to avoid visiting Everglades National Park during the wet season, which runs from June to October, as many of the park’s facilities will be closed and the majority of activities will not be available. Dry season sees a full range of tours and activities and all park facilities will be open, making this the ideal time for a visit.  

How to Get There

If you plan to fly, the closest airport to fly into is Miami International Airport. If you plan to drive, take either Route 41 which runs west, or Route 1 which runs south. Once you arrive in the park, the best way to get around is to drive. 

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How to Spend a Weekend in Grand Canyon National Park

Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of the United States’ most iconic national parks. Carved out over millions of years by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is now one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The largest canyon on earth, people come from all over the world to experience the majesty of this fantastic monument. If you’re headed to the Grand Canyon for the weekend, you’ll want to hit the highlights to make the most of your trip.

What to Do

South Rim

The South Rim is the most popular part of the Grand Canyon as it’s easily accessible and offers magnificent views of the canyon and Colorado River. For that reason, the South Rim attractions can get a bit crowded. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is also located here, which you can stop into to view a 20 minute informational video, and enjoy the shop and cafe. 

North Rim

Located on the other side of the Grand Canyon, the North Rim offers phenomenal views of the canyon but is more remote and therefore less visited. North Rim roads are only open during the summer, so make note of that when planning your trip. The major viewpoints here are Bright Angel Point, Cape Royal, and Point Imperial. There is a North Rim Visitor Center here as well. 

Havasupai Indian Reservation and Hualapai Indian Reservation

These two Indian reservations are located in the western and southwestern regions of the canyon and can be interesting for a visit. There are no day hikes allowed on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, but you can make a reservation to stay in one of the lodges there overnight. On a trip to the Havasu Canyon here, you will experience fantastic waterfalls. 

The Hualapai Indian Reservation offers a variety of organized tours and activities, including river rafting trips, pontoon rides on Lake Mead, and helicopter tours to various West Rim canyon viewpoints.

Hiking

There are a variety of hiking trails ranging in difficulty throughout Grand Canyon National Park. Some of the park’s most popular trails and vistas include the following: Bright Angel Trail, Rim Trail, Havasu Falls, West Rim Trail, South Kaibab Trail, and Mather Point. 

Whitewater Rafting

A popular activity in the Grand Canyon, summertime whitewater rafting trips down the Colorado River depart daily from Lee’s Ferry. The majority of these trips are multi-day but there are several tour companies providing single-day rafting tours. 

Flightseeing

A great way to experience the Grand Canyon is by flight! Airplane and helicopter tours are widely available, both from Tusayan at the Grand Canyon Airport and from Las Vegas.

Mule Rides

Mule rides are a popular way to explore the Grand Canyon from the inside. Mule trips operate from the South Rim year round, but must be booked well in advance as they tend to fill up quickly. 

Where to Stay

There are several lodges located inside Grand Canyon National Park where you can book your overnight accommodations. The South Rim offers a variety of lodges and hotels in Grand Canyon Village, and the town of Tusayan also has several accommodation options for Grand Canyon visitors. The North Rim also offers one lodge accommodation, which you should book far in advance. Phantom Ranch, which is located inside the canyon on the Colorado River, is another great lodging option and can be accessed by mule, raft, or on foot. 

Camping is another popular option for where to stay in Grand Canyon National Park. There are plenty of available campgrounds at both the North and South Rims, however reservations are necessary well in advance. 

How to Get There

The nearest airports to the Grand Canyon are in Flagstaff, AZ; Phoenix, AZ; and Las Vegas, NV. From there, it’s best to rent a car and drive yourself to whichever part of the Grand Canyon you’re planning to visit during your trip. You can also opt for a guided tour which will pick you up, drive you to the canyon, and show you the highlights. 

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How to Spend a Weekend in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is one of the most picturesque US national parks. From the jagged peaks of the Teton Range to Wyoming’s vast plains, a weekend visit to this park and the surrounding area will give you a comprehensive feel for Grand Teton National Park and a true taste of the Old West.

What to Do

If you only have a weekend to spend in Grand Teton National Park, you’ll want to make sure to hit the highlights. Plan to fly into Jackson, Wyoming, and then drive to and around the park from there.

42 Mile Scenic Loop Drive

Drive along this picturesque loop to get a feel for the area and take in some breathtaking views, stopping for photo ops as you please. You’re likely to see some of the area’s native wildlife along your way! 

Jenny Lake Hike

One of the most iconic destinations in the park, Jenny Lake is a must for weekend visitors. Hiking the 7.7 mile Jenny Lake Trail loop will take you around the lake, offering gorgeous views the entire time. You’ll also have the opportunity to swim and rent canoes or kayaks here. Be wary that this area can get very crowded during peak season.

Hidden Falls

A quick 1.3-mile round trip hike from Jenny Lake, either hike or take the shuttle boat from Jenny Lake to get to Hidden Falls. These massive, powerful falls will leave you speechless and are well worth a visit during the weekend. 

Jackson Lake Cruise

Spend an hour or two on a scenic Jackson Lake cruise for spectacular views of Mount Moran and the surrounding area. You’ll also learn a bit about the history, geology, and folklore native to the region. 

Colter Bay Village

A great way to get a feel for the Old West, spend a few hours touring parts of the park on horseback from Colter Bay Village. Located on Jackson Lake, enjoy beautiful views, swim, kayak, hike, and fish here as well. If time allows, also check out the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum for a dose of Native American history.

Rafting on the Snake River

Take the morning or afternoon to raft down the winding Snake River. Scenic white water rafting trips are available at different points all along the river and will offer you views of Grand Teton National Park from a new perspective.

Taggart Lake

Head to Taggart Lake for spectacular views and a quick, easy, and rewarding hike. This scenic hike is the perfect way to spend an afternoon during the weekend and you can even stop for a swim here, too!

Mormon’s Row

Take a quick but necessary visit to Mormon Row to view the famed Moulton Barn, a remnant of this historic pioneer settlement framed by the gorgeous Teton Range. You’re likely to encounter plenty of wildlife in this area, so be sure to keep a safe distance when taking photos!

Menor’s Ferry Historic District

Home to the iconic Chapel of the Transfiguration, head over to Menor’s Ferry for views of the breathtaking Tetons through the chapel’s large viewing window. The chapel is still functioning, and typically holds Sunday services.

Explore Jackson Hole

Brimming with ski resorts, Jackson Hole offers some of the country’s best skiing and winter activities. In the summer, head over to the town of Jackson for charming shops and restaurants, as well as a visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art.


Where to Stay

You have several options for where to stay both in and near Grand Teton National Park. 

Jackson Hole

Stay either in the town of Jackson or at one of Jackson Hole’s many mountain resorts, which are also open for overnight accommodation during the summer.

Colter Bay Village

Colter Bay Village is located in Grand Teton National Park on Jackson Lake and offers a variety of accommodations, from hotels to lodges to cabins to camping. 

Camping

There are lots of options for camping in and around Grand Teton, both for traditional campsites and RVs. If you choose to camp in this scenic area make sure to reserve your campsite ahead of time as they tend to book up quickly and far in advance. 

Park Lodges

There are several lodges within the park itself that offer both overnight accommodation and activities. Some of the more popular lodges in the park include Jackson Lake Lodge and Jenny Lake Lodge.


How to Get Around

The best way to get around Grand Teton National Park is driving between hiking trails, as distances can be far and rugged. However, it is possible to hike or bike around the park, but it’s not for the faint of heart!

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Camping in Grand Teton National Park