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Trip Planning

9 Unique Activities In National Parks

When I think of National Parks, I think of beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and epic hikes. But if you take a look around, you’ll find that there are a ton of other activities, too. The more we explore, the more we find. Here are 9 unique activities you should check out.

Sandboard at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

You can hike up the tallest sand dunes in this park, but the fun part is coming down! Rent a sandboard and zoom down before climbing back up for another ride. Keep in mind that you will have to rent the boards outside of the park. See more here.

Climb Into Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park has some of the most remarkable geography. There are countless viewpoints where you can see the cliff dwellings from above, but if you book a tour, you can climb into them and stand where people did thousands of years ago. See more here.

Take a Dip in a Boiling River at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Not marked on any map, the Boiling River has become a popular attraction at Yellowstone National Park. Take a dip in the river where it meets a natural hot spring for a one-of-a-kind experience. You can stop by the Mammoth Hot Springs Visitor Center to get directions and rules to ensure your safety.

Kayak through Caves at Channel Islands National Park, California

Just outside of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, you’ll find the beautiful waters of the Channel Islands. One of the best ways to see the islands is a kayak tour that will take you through some of the sea caves. See more here.

Boulder at Joshua Tree National Park, California

Most people think of Joshua Tree National Park as full of giant rocks, a desert landscape, and, of course, Joshua Trees. After we recently got into climbing, we realized that the park is a giant playground! There are a ton of bouldering routes and good climbing routes, too. Even if you don’t climb, just follow some of the trails (especially in the Hidden Valley area) and watch the climbers scale the giant boulders. During the cooler months, you’ll find hundreds of climbers flocking to the park. See more here.

Stand Up Paddle Board at Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald is one of the most beautiful and easily accessible spots at Glacier National Park. You can sit near the water’s edge to enjoy the views, or rent a stand up paddle board and get a closer look. No worries if you’ve never done it before, it’s much easier than it looks and it never hurts to take a dip in the refreshing water. See more here.

Sled at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

We loved exploring White Sands National Monument. The dunes are an amazing backdrop for photos, but the most unique experience there is grabbing a sled and going for a ride. The white sand makes it feel like a winter wonderland, but here you get to wear shorts and a t-shirt. See more here.

Tide Pool at Cabrillo National Monument, California

We had no idea what tide pooling was until we moved to San Diego, but it’s a great activity for the whole family. During low tide, you can walk out and get a glimpse of the world that exists below the surface. It’s amazing to see what kind of sea life lives at the edge of their world and ours. See more here.

Become a Junior Ranger at any National Park

If you’re not a kid, this one is still for you! We had seen the Junior Ranger program at parks during our visits, but it wasn’t until recently that we learned that it’s not just for kids. Anyone, at any age, can become a Junior Ranger. It’s an amazing program where you get to learn more about the parks through activities, and once you’re done, a Ranger will swear you in and you get a badge!

We can’t wait to see what other unique activities are out there at the National Parks. They really make for the most memorable experiences! Be sure to follow along on our adventures here and let us know what unique activities you’ve experienced in National Parks in the comments below.

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Local Adventurer

Esther & Jacob of are photographers, videographers, and bloggers. They believe that adventure can be found anywhere, and their blog focuses on finding adventures both near and far. They are ATLiens who have been on the move in their RV, trying to discover the world one new city at a time: LA in 2013, Las Vegas in 2014, San Diego in 2015. Most recently, they spent three months living on the road in an Airstream.