Find Your Wild Side on a National Park Trip

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
July 16, 2020

America’s national parks are some of the only places where you can still feel like a true explorer as you watch the big sky expand above you, surround yourself with nature, and connect to simplicity. Every park has its signature landscapes, climates, flora, and fauna, which can make it difficult to choose which one is right for your escape.

We’ve got you covered. Light a fire, brush up on your John Muir quotes, and dive into our picks on where to head, sorted by region. And before you pack up your trail mix and hit the road, make sure that the place you’re headed out to enjoy is open — many of the parks are still in phased reopening due to travel restrictions. 

Parks of the West: Rock Fortresses, Geothermal Springs, and Alpine Lakes

River surrounded by trees and red rocks at Zion National Park in Utah
Zion National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park

Sit overlooking thousands of rock formations and watch the light catch so many shades of red at Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, roughly an hour-and-a-half drive apart. These parks are home to otherworldly desert landscapes, narrow slot canyons, river oases, wildlife, and more. For a sunset with postcard views, drive to Bryce Canyon’s Sunset Point and enjoy a moment of peace after a day of adventure.

Our Hiking Pick: Zion Narrows Riverside Walk is an easy way to get close to the water and experience the park’s colorful canyons. Peekaboo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon is a challenging climb that offers views of mesmerizing rock formations.

Stay Here: Find your perfect cozy getaway near Zion (in St. George, Hurricane, or Kanab) or Bryce (Northview, Duck Creek Village, and Escalante). 

Arches National Park

Hitting the trail in Arches National Park is a little like walking on another planet. Over 2,000 rock arches live inside the park waiting to be explored, and beholding these real-life phenomena in person is unforgettable. Seek sun by day as you view the world anew through the lens of an arch, then gaze up to a night sky dense with stars.

Our Hiking Pick: There’s a reason the Delicate Arch is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It’s a more challenging climb, but you’ll be rewarded with views of a massive arch that frames the desert terrain. 

Stay Here: Find an Evolve vacation home in Moab, the gateway to Arches filled with whimsical charm. 

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park

At Yellowstone National Park, geothermal features such as Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring send off dramatic plumes of steam and spray, and you can spot bison, elk, moose, and wolves all year round. But this popular park also has more quiet outdoor areas where you can find sanctuary amid towering waterfalls and rivers, like Undine Falls

Our Hiking Pick: Midway Geyser Basin Trail lets you take one hike and get up close with two geysers. 

Stay Here: Find a home you’ll love in peaceful Montana towns like Big Sky, Pray, and Red Lodge.

Rocky Mountain National Park

To visit Rocky Mountain National Park is to experience the heart of Colorado: the grandeur of mountains capped with snow, winding roads that open up to vistas that stun the senses, and crisp, cool alpine lakes in the center of it all. Turn on some local bluegrass and take a drive up Trail Ridge Road into the mountains. Hike out to waterfalls like Alberta Falls, or enjoy a leisurely walk out to Bear Lake.

Our Hiking Pick: Emerald Lake offers pristine lake views for a moderate climb. 

Stay Here: Experience small town charm in Estes Park, home to adorable candy shops and eateries or the scenic Grand Lake

Glacier National Park 

Glacier National Park in Montana is another world — you can drive or hike to your heart’s content and experience the park’s rugged mountains, forests, and lakes. Look out at mountain goats, bighorn sheep, glaciers, and sprawling verdant hills from the famous Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Once you’re ready to stretch your legs, take the hike out to Avalanche Lake to watch the mountains reflect off the water or head to the crystal-clear Lake McDonald

Our Hiking Pick: Bighorn Sheep might greet you as you walk along Hidden Lake Trail, one of the most-loved stops in the park. As with any of these suggestions, do check to make sure the trail is open before your visit.

Stay Here: Find a vacation home near Glacier in Kalispell, where you’ll soon be curling up to look at some of the best photos you’ve ever snapped.

Yosemite National Park

Scenie meadows cut between massive rock formations in Yosemite National Park, known as the Yosemite Tunnel View
Yosemite Tunnel View

Wander into California’s Yosemite National Park to experience a magnitude of beauty: towering waterfalls, meadows that roll out into the horizon, and giant sequoias. In a word, Yosemite is classic — and hosts the views that might come to your mind when you think of iconic nature photography and old black and whites of the mountains. The park is extremely popular in the summer, and September and May can be ideal times to visit. In those months, temperatures are still mild and roads are generally open so that you can experience the park’s sites and trails such as the views at Half Dome and Glacier Point. Want to get a feel for Yosemite before your trip? Check out the documentary Free Solo, which follows a professional rock climber in his free solo climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan. 

Our Hiking Pick: Visit the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias to experience the largest trees you’ve ever laid eyes on.

Stay Here: Find a vacation home in Mammoth or Groveland that’s the perfect woodland retreat.

Parks of the Northwest: Surreal Wildflower Meadows and Beach Views

Purple wildflowers in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington
Wildflowers at Mt. Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Step right into a real-life fairytale as you wander lush forests, snow-covered peaks, and fields of alpine wildflowers. Visit the Pacific Northwest’s Mount Rainier National Park to see the Paradise area, where purple and red flowers blossom to frame the Tatoosh Mountains, or stop by Sunrise, the highest point in the park accessible by vehicle, complete with cascading views that pay off the drive. 

Our Hiking Pick: On the Grove of Patriarchs Loop, you can gain stunning views of the forest without big elevation gains. 

Stay Here: Find a vacation home in Packwood, or opt for the big city life in the greater Seattle area

Olympic National Park 

At Olympic National Park on Washington’s west coast, you can admire the Pacific from mist-covered beaches, and hike (or drive) to magnificent views at Hurricane Ridge, which could be mistaken for Switzerland on a clear day. To experience a lush rainforest without ever leaving the states, traipse among ancient trees in the Hoh Rainforest

Our Hiking Pick: Hike to Sol Duc Falls for an enchanting afternoon.

Stay Here: Discover vacation rentals that fit your group in Port Angeles, Port Townsend, or Hoodsport

Parks of the Southeast: Wildlife Encounters, Foliage, and Picture Perfect Sunsets

A trail surrounded by lush, mossy growth in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
View of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Everglades National Park

Journey into the wetlands of South Florida’s Everglades National Park to experience the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Find yourself surrounded by layers of green forest and marsh as you look to wildlife, or catch a glimpse of manatees and turtles on an airboat or Shark Valley tram.

Our Hiking Pick: The Anhinga Trail highlights the best wildlife in the park and is perfect for a quick stop and hikers of all levels.

Stay Here: View some of our favorite vacation homes near the Everglades, including Miami, Fort Myers, and Naples properties.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A wonderland of wildflowers is waiting for you at Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which is home to more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants and wildflowers that make a show here every spring. Discover their beauty — and local wildlife as well — from the Cades Cove loop road or visit Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park. 

Our Hiking Pick: Though it’s a bit more of a hike out, Mouse Creek Falls via Big Creek Trail offers an easy grade and idyllic waterfall views.

Stay Here: View some of our favorite vacation rental homes available near Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, or Gatlinburg.

Hot Springs National Park

Walk through a geothermal wonderland with over 47 springs (that come out at an average temperature of 143 degrees). Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is a place to hike and experience this natural phenomenon up close, but you can’t actually bathe in these springs due to their extreme temperatures. Don’t fret — a relaxing soak at Bathhouse Row or the Buckstaff Boathouse awaits you after a long day of hiking. 

Our Hiking Pick: Sunset Trail takes you through some of the more remote areas of the park so you can soak in the views without the crowds. But don’t go too far out, because this trail is out and back. 

Stay Here: These vacation homes in Hot Springs will put you in the vicinity of the park and give you a relaxing place to unwind.

Shenandoah National Park 

Shenandoah National Park is a place to rejoice in views of the night sky, experience the height of fall foliage, and take unforgettable drives, like the celebrated Skyline Drive.  Choose from over 500 miles of trails, including one of our favorites, Dark Hollow Falls.

Our Hiking Pick: Bearfence Viewpoint is the one of the best places in the park to enjoy a well-earned snack with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Stay Here: Choose one of these Evolve homes and rest easy in Massanutten.

Parks of the Northeast: Seashore Flavor and Dreamy Drives

Rocky coastline at Acadia National Park in Maine
Shore at Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Feel the ocean mist as you ascend the coastal hiking trails at Maine’s Acadia National Park. The park, which is lovingly referred to as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” is a reveled place to experience East Coast charm. Come fall, make your way up Park Loop Road to get a front-row seat to the tapestry of changing colors, complete with views of the bay. Reach the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the North Atlantic, for a sunrise impossible to capture on film. In warmer months, you can view the park by kayaking or canoeing Jordan Pond’s crystal-clear waters or hear the clap of the tide at Thunder Hole

Our Hiking Pick: Jordan Pond Loop Trail is a beginner-friendly way to behold Acadia’s quintessential coastal views.

Stay Here: Evolve’s vacation rental homes will give you the perfect base for your Maine adventure.

Stay Evolve

After a day on your feet, a hot shower and a place you can enjoy the view is a must. Evolve has vacation homes near these national parks and beyond — and our Rest Easy Promise gives you the confidence that every home will be as good as you saw online. 


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