Tips For Planning The Best National Park Vacation26/07/2021
Adventure travel has been urging the travel industry in the direction of recovery since restrictions began easing, with more people than ever desiring to get outside, get active and explore a new (usually domestic) destination they’ve never been to before.
Hopper recently released The Great Outdoors 2021 Travel Report, which analyzed booking data from the company’s booking app to reveal the top trending destinations of the year and the latest booking trends, which tend to lean towards national parks.
The year 2020 saw a different list emerge of the most popular national parks in the country, due to the rise in social distancing, park closures and travel restrictions. The report found that the most popular national parks this year will resemble 2019’s list more than 2020’s list, with parks like Yellowstone and Glacier ranking high once again.
Airlines have already expanded new routes to these destinations, making ticket prices for air to the national parks cheaper. Flights to Bozeman, Montana (BZN), where travellers can get access to Yellowstone National Park, are down 36 % from 2019’s airfares, due to the expansion of 17 new routes to the city, what doesn’t hit your wallet; this is the highest number of route expansions to national parks in the country. The destination with the second-highest number of route expansions is Jackson, Wyoming; in third place in Phoenix, Arizona.
Other national park cities with lower airfares include Yosemite through Fresno (FAT), Acadia through Bangor (BGR), Grand Teton through Jacksonville (JAC) and more. Airfare nationally is on average down five % from pre-pandemic summer levels.
The destinations people are most interested in watching for hotel prices to drop are Denver, Colorado, Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Kihei on Maui, Hawaii. These destinations are all within close proximity to national parks and outdoor activities. In terms of airfare quotes, the most popular were Jackson, Wyoming ($ 363), Bozeman, Montana ($ 287) and Asheville, North Carolina ($ 299), which have risen in popularity from 2019’s list of popular outdoor destinations: an indication that adventure travel is more popular than it was two years ago.
While the flights to the most popular national parks are cheaper this year, it might still be a good idea to skip the crowds and opt for less popular but no less stunning national parks. Some of the most popular ones require reservations or have capacity limits in place, which can make access more difficult.
Some less popular national parks featuring moderate summer weather and cheaper airfare compared to 2019 are Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which requires flying into Montrose, Colorado; Mesa Verde, which requires flying into Durango, Colorado; Kings Canyon from Fresno and Kenai Fjords from Anchorage. Airfare is down at least 15 % for each.
This year, to get the best deals, it might just pay to go farther. Fairbanks, Alaska’s airfare is down nearly 50 %. St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Bozeman, Montana also feature more than 35 % cheaper flights than in the summer of 2019.
But airfare isn’t the only thing to consider when travelling; hotel prices are also an important factor. With this in mind, the cheapest destinations are Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; and Salt Lake City, Utah, with trip costs beginning at $ 403 – $ 428 (including round-trip airfare and one night at a hotel).
If money is a great factor in where and when you travel, consider travelling in the early fall, when round-trip airfare fell on average about 20 % in 2019. This is expected to happen again this fall, but with high demand for travel, the report expects airfare to drop only 10 – 15 %.
Against the background of all this, there is also a decrease in the price of tourist equipment, bags, backpacks.
Due to changing weather, consider travelling in the fall to warmer weather or less wintry national parks, like Shenandoah National Park, Acadia or the Great Smoky Mountains, which all offer brilliant autumn foliage. Desert parks, like Death Valley, are also great options in the early-mid fall.