Best Entrance to Badlands National Park: Unique Things to Do

Badlands National Park is home to a variety of short hikes, scenic overlooks, and overnight accommodations. Knowing which entrance to Badlands National Park is best will help you to plan your trip and all the unique things you can do here!

Badlands National Park Views

Best Entrance to Badlands National Park

There are four separate entrances to Badlands National Park. The Northeast Entrance, Interior Entrance, Pinnacle Entrance, and the White River Entrance. Use the information provided to choose which entrance is best for your adventure based on which attractions are closest to it.

Badlands National Park Northeast Entrance 

The Northeast Entrance is easily accessed from I-90 and close to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. The Northeast Entrance is closest to a variety of very popular hikes and viewpoints. 

Big Badlands Overlook

Shortly after entering the park you’ll come across Big Badlands Overlook. Big Badlands Overlook provides the opportunity to view the eastern portion of the Badlands wall.

Image Credit: earth.google.com

Castle Trail

The Castle Trail is the longest maintained trail in Badlands National Park. It stretches 5.4 miles along the north edge of the Badland Wall. If you would enjoy weaving through a maze of spires, buttes, sod tables, and fins along an open prairie, this is the trail for you!

Door Trail

The Door Trail is an accessible .25 mile boardwalk that leads through a break in the Badlands Wall to a view of the Badlands. This break in the wall, known as “the Door”, allows visitors to walk through the natural passageway via a viewing platform. This easy hike introduced visitors to the rugged world that is the Badlands. 

Image Credit: Hikespeak.com

Notch Trail

The Notch Trail is one of the park’s most popular hikes for good reason! It’s short and manageable but full of excitement. An easy-to-follow trail will bring you to a long rope and wood ladder. Climb the ladder and continue along the trail until you reach the notch overlook. 

When you reach the north you’ll find yourself looking out over the badlands regions, the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail, and the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. 

Notch Trail Ladder Photo Credit: The Inner Frame

Window Trail

Take a short .3 mile walk to a break in the Badlands Wall. This view extends far beyond the parks eastern boundary. This easy hike takes place on an accessible wooden boardwalk. 

Badlands National Park Interior Entrance

Known as the main entrance to the park, the Interior Entrance is closest to the Cedar Pass Lodge and Ben Reifel Visitor Center. 

Ben Reifel Visitor Center

The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is the Badlands’ main facility in the North section of the park. You can spend 15 -60 minutes talking with rangers, exploring the museum exhibits and Fossil Preparation Lab, or shopping in the gift shop. From learning to purchasing, there’s truly something for everyone at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center.  

Fossil Lab at Ben Reifel Visitor Center

Cliff Shelf Nature Trail

A quick .5 mile loop with views across the great plains. Travel through a juniper forest along the Badlands Wall to the stairs that will lead you to the cliff shelf viewing area.

Check out the Notch from a new angle and enjoy far reaching views over prairie grasses in the White River Valley to the South. 

Photo Credit: Our Wander-filled Life

Cedar Pass Campground

Cedar Pass Campground is one of two developed campgrounds in Badlands National Park. Enjoy stunning sunsets, dark night skies, and beautiful sunrises from one of 96 scenic campsites.  

Campsites are walking distance from bathrooms and pay showers. Additionally, the campground is conveniently located near the amphitheater for night programs and the Cedar Pass Restaurant. Single campsites are available for reservation April through October, with the four group sites staying available all year round. 

Photo Credit: Flashpacking America

Cedar Pass Lodge

Pines cabins with breathtaking views of the Badlands. Cedar Pass Lodge provides eco-friendly cabins built to Gold Level LEED standards. Cabins are equipped with all the creature-comforts; heat and air conditioning, television, Mini Fridge and Microwave, and Coffee Makers are available for all guests. 

Photo Credit: Travel South Dakota

Fossil Exhibit Trail

The Fossil Exhibit Trail is a .4 mile accessible loop that focuses on education. Learn about the geology of the Badlands on a self-guided walk. The self-guided tour features fossil replicas and exhibits or extinct creatures that one lived when you stand! The exhibits are interesting and tactile, so please feel free to touch as you go.

This short trail will take you less than 10 minutes to complete. It’s perfect for both adults and children looking to learn more about the area they are exploring. 

Saddle Pass Trail

At a short and sweet .7 miles out and back, this trail is deceivingly tough. It may be less than a mile round trip, but it’s one of the steepest climbs in the park at about 300 feet of elevation gain in .35 miles.

On this trail, you’ll climb from the road up the Badlands wall to a stunning birds-eye-view of the White River Valley. 

This is my personal favorite and hands down, the coolest, trail in Badlands National Park. This trail will lead you over a bridge and up the crumbling rock formations from Badlands Loop Road to one of the highest points in the park! This trail also connects with the Castle Trail and the Medicine Roots Trail; we took the Medicine Root to Castle Trail loop from the Saddle Pass Trail. 

The Saddle Pass Trail is one of the highest accessible points in Badlands National Park!

White River Overlook

The White River Overlook provides an expansive view of the White River Badlands. This area gets its name due to the white sediment carried and deposited by erosion. You’ll notice rock formations known as the Castle to the West and views of the White River Valley to the South.  

One of Badlands’ Most Beautiful Overlooks

Badlands National Park Pinnacle Entrance

Accessed from the town of Wall, the Pinnacles Entrance provides access to the Sage Creek Area of the park.

Ancient Hunters Overlook

This geological slump provides a wet area in the otherwise dry landscape. THe Ancient Hunters Overlook provides visitors with the opportunity to observe an archaeological site at Badlands National Park. Evidence, such as bison bones and arrowheads, suggest this space may have been an ancient butchering location. 

Badlands Wilderness Overlook

Badlands Wilderness Overlook shows where the eroded rock formations transition into prairie lands. This is an area where Bison can often be found. It’s important to remember that these animals are not afraid of the road, vehicles, or people and they are dangerous. 

Take a Walk towards the Badlands Wilderness

Burns Basin Overlook

A welcoming overlook complete with boardwalk and bench! Named after the homestead of Wilson Burn, this basin was used to raise sheep in the early 20th century.

 

Photo Credit: NPS

Hay Butte Overlook

The Hay Butte Overlook displays a massive, grass-capped butte called – can you guess it? – Hay Butte. This is one of the major landmarks of the Sage Creek Wilderness Area. Bison and Bighorn Sheep are known to frequent this area! 

Homestead Overlook

This overlook displays and area where homesteading in the Badlands took place. When the Homesteading Act Laws were issued in te 1860s, many U.S. citizens took this opportunity to head West and do their best. In the harsh conditions of the Badlands, homesteading was not an easy task. 

Image Credit: Duncan.co

Pinnacles Overlook

Pinnacles Overlooks shows off the vastness of the Sage Creek Wilderness. On a clear day, visitors can see the Black Hills in the Distance. This overlook is a popular spot for Big Horn Sheep and is used as a lambing area. Visit this spot in Late April and Early May for a chance to see lambs traversing the steep, rocky slopes of the Badlands. 

Photo Credit: morethanjustparks.com

Roberts Prairie Dog Town

Have you ever seen a prairie dog? If the answer is no, you must stop here. Roberts Prairie Dog Town is the largest accessible viewing area in the park. Listen to the high-pitched squeaks and watch their puppy-like behavior from afar. 

Yellow Mounds Overlook

Yellow Mounds Overlook has some of the most beautiful colors and textures in Badlands National Park. The mounds were formed when the sea drained, leaving the mud exposed to air to solidify into fossil rock. This is a beautiful spot to catch a sunset in the park; golden hour really makes these colors light up! 

Photo Credit: Google Earth

Badlands National Park White River Entrance 

The White River entrance is the only entrance to the South Unit and the White River Visitor Center. 

White River Visitor Center

The White River Visitor Center is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation and offers visitors exhibits, restrooms, water, and an information desk with informative park rangers! Stop by to grab a map and learn about the Badlands and treaties in Lakota heritage. 

Photo Credit: NPS

Sheep Mountain Table

Sheep Mountain Table is a gorgeous lookout in South Unit of Badlands National Park. A dirt, 4-wheel drive road travels 5 miles into the Badlands wilderness to scenic overlook. For individuals who do not have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, hiking or mountain biking the road is an option! Traveling Sheep Mountain road in or just after a storm is not recommended. 

Image Credit: NPS

Badlands National Park FAQs

Where Should I Stay When I Visit the Badlands?

Free Camping: Buffalo Gap National Grassland or Sage Creek Campground in the Park

Camping: Cedar Pass Campground 

Hotel: Badlands Frontier Cabins and Best Western Plains Motel  in Wall and Badlands Motel and Campground in Interior & Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast in Interior. 

Free Camping at Buffalo Gap National Grass Lands

How Many Days Do I Need in Badlands National Park?

If you’re efficient, one full day in Badlands National Park should allow you to hit all the popular trails and overlooks. If you like to take your time or you’re traveling with young children I would suggest two days in the park. 

How Would You Spend One Day in the Badlands?

Sunrise Hike: Wake Up Early to hike the Window or Door Trail for sunrise. Not only is the overlook east facing, but you’ll avoid the crowds at this popular hike by arriving in the early AM.

Hike: Head over from your sunrise hike to the Notch Trail (same parking lot) to experience this cool trail before the crowds make it less enjoyable. 

Ben Reifel Visitor Center: Check out the visitor center! Watch the film, learn what to do if you find a fossil, and purchase your Badlands National Park Gear. 

Lunch Break: Eat lunch at the Conata Picnic Area and check out the Pig Dig Site. 

Saddle Pass Trail: Hike this gorgeous trail with some serious elevation gain right off the bat for amazing views of the Badlands!

Roberts Prairie Dog Town: If you’ve never seen prairie dogs before, take a trip to Roberts Prairie Dog Town! It’s likely for you to see bison and bighorn sheep during your time in the park. We drove by around sunset and the pups were out and about in full force!

Overlooks: There are so many overlooks in the Badlands and honestly, they all have very similar views. That’s not to say you shouldn’t check them out and explore the surrounding area though. Bring a few camp chairs and beverages to enjoy the sunset at an overlook of choice!

Can I Find A Fossil in Badlands National Park?

Finding a fossil while you’re exploring the Badlands is actually quite likely! You’re most likely to find a fossil in the Badlands after heavy rain. If you do find a fossil, you should report it to the Visitor Center.

The Visitor Center has all the information you need on what to do if you think you’ve found a fossil! The best time to find fossils in the Badlands is right after it rains. 

Where is the Closest Airport to the Badlands?

Rapid City Regional Airport is closest to the Badlands. 

What Native Land is Badlands National Park on?

The South Unit of Badlands National Park includes land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This land is owned by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and managed by the National Park Service under an agreement with the Tribe.

The Lakota people gave the Badlands its name. They dubbed the region the ‘mako sica’ or ‘bad lands’ because of its unforgiving terrain and lack of water. The Lakota consider the whole Black Hills region a sacred place, this includes the lands of Badlands National Park.

Photo Credit: blackhillsbadlands.com

What Else Can I Do In South Dakota?

If you’re heading out on a South Dakota Road Trip, you can’t miss these 6 spots! 

  • Black Hills
    The Black Hills are a small, isolated mountain range rising from the Great Plains. Aside from it’s famous towns, National Monuments, and even a National Park, the Black Hills are known for their many recreational opportunities in Western South Dakota.
  • Custer State Park
    71,000 acres of wilderness and wildlife in the Black Hills. Custer State Park is a great place to hike, swim, and more!
  • Devils Tower National Monument 
    Devils Tower is actually in Wyoming, but it’s fairly close to the South Dakota border and absolutely worth visiting if you have the time! 
  • Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
    US history junkies must stop here! The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site illustrates the history and significance of the Cold War, the arms race, and intercontinental ballistic missile development.
  • Mount Rushmore National Monument 
    Head here to see the faces of four incredibly influential presidents carved into a massive granite wall!
  • Wind Cave National Park
    The first cave to be designated a National Park! Known for its impressive, rare boxwork formations. Book a cave tour to explore 500 feet below the surface.
     

South Dakota has so much to offer to a family seeking adventure! Plan accordingly to enjoy a few of these great spots on your next road trip.

List of National Parks by State: Complete Travel Guides

Thirty states and two U.S. territories are home to a total of 63 National Parks. Knowing where to go and what to see when it comes to US National Parks is difficult. Here’s a list of National Parks list by state and the travel guides that will allow you to plan your dream National Park vacation!

Photo Credit: More Than Just Parks

United States National Parks by State

Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska

Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Katmai National Park, Alaska

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska

Lake Clark National Park, Alaska

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa

Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

California

Channel Islands National Park, California

Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Kings Canyon National Park, California

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Pinnacles National Park, California

Redwood National Park, California

Sequoia National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California

Ultimate 2 Day Itinerary Yosemite National Park: The Perfect Weekend Trip

Things to Do in Kings Canyon – Best Visit Guide

Yosemite National Park Viewpoints: See and Do Famous Things

Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Florida

Biscayne National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Everglades National Park, Florida

Visiting Everglades National Park: How to Plan the Ultimate Visit

11 Best Everglades Boat Tours – Unique Landscapes and Wildlife

Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Idaho

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Park

Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

8 Tips for Hiking Mount Katahdin: Learn from our Mistakes

Best Trails in Acadia National Park- Hiking for All Levels

Michigan

Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Minnesota

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Missouri

Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri

Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Nevada

Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

North Carolina

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Oregon

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

South Carolina

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee

Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Best Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks: Complete Camping Guide

Two Week Utah Itinerary – The National Parks and more

Incredible Hikes: The Best Views in Zion National Park

Best Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park – A Guide

Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park: The Ultimate Guide for 2022

Discover Arches National Park Hikes: The Best Trail Guide

Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands

Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington

West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia

Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

21 Best Hikes in Tetons – Trails in the National Park

10 Easy Ways to Avoid Yellowstone’s Crowds

Yellowstone’s Must-See Hydrothermal Features – Tallest Geyser In The World

10 Best Biking Trails In Yellowstone – Bike the National Parks

How to Spend One Day in the Grand Tetons

National Park Fun Facts/trivia!

California has the most National Parks, with 9. Alaska follows close behind with 8.

The newest national park is New River Gorge National Park established on Dec. 27, 2020.

Alaska has the most National Park Acreage.

Yellowstone is the oldest National Park, founded in 1872.

Three of the ten highest waterfalls in the world can be found in Yosemite National Park.

The Grand Canyon, in Grand Canyon National Park, is known as one of the seven wonders of the world.

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is the smallest National Park in the U.S.

Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina is the most visited with over 4 million visitors per year!

Denali National Park in Alaska has the widest range of elevations, from 200 feet in Yentna River to 20,302 feet at the summit of Mount McKinley.

Kobuk Valley National Park receives the least number of visitors at just 3,000 per year.

All of Alaska’s 8 National Parks are among the least visited in the Country.

Delaware is the only State without any National Monuments, Parks, or National Historic Site.

Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is the first cave to be named a national park in the world. 

California is home to the lowest point and the highest point in the contiguous United States. Both points can be found in U.S. National Parks.

Isle Royale National Park is the only major national park to close entirely for the winter because of the difficultly of travel and hazards of wilderness survival during Michigan’s winters.

New York is not home to any National Parks, but it does have a state park with more acreage than any National Park in the Contiguous United States, the Adirondack Park.

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Which National Park is the Best?

I can only speak on behalf of my personal experience, but I do have favorites when it comes to the National Parks!

Most Family Friendly National Park

Yellowstone National Park is amazing for families. There is something to do for everyone! There are short board walk hikes to gorgeous hydrothermal features, road pull offs with stunning views, and longer, full-day hikes for your family to experience.

Additionally, you can paddle, horse back ride, swim, and participate in wildlife viewing during your stay. You can’t get bored at Yellowstone. It’s an outdoor playground fit for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.

Wildlife viewing in Yellowstone is a must!

Best National Park for Dog Owners

Acadia National Park is one of the few National Parks that allows dogs on trail. Dogs in Acadia must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times. Additionally, dogs are not allowed on any ladder trails or in public water supplies. As always, service animals are an exception to these rules!

The National Park with the Most “Wow” Factor

Grand Tetons National Park has the most “Wow” factor of any park I’ve been to. The Grand Tetons tower over Jackson Hole with such prominence and they are absolutely breathtaking.

Grand Teton Views from our Campsite!

Best National Park in Utah

Canyonlands National Park is definitely the best National Park in Utah when you take into consideration views versus number of visitors. Once you take a look around you can’t help but wonder why it’s the least visited National Park in Utah. The views are breathtaking!

Best National Park to Visit in Winter

Everglades National Park is a perfect park to visit in winter. Florida’s winter weather is much more tolerable than the summer sunshine and you’re most likely to see wildlife wildlife from early December to April.

Everglades National Park in Florida is perfect for winter exploring!

Best National Park for Backpacking

Although there are a few great options, Yosemite takes the cake as the best National Park for Backpacking. Almost 95% of Yosemite National Park is designated wilderness, meaning there are ample opportunities for adventure and solitude within the park.

It’s important to mention the JMT, or the John Muir Trail, and the PCT, Pacific Crest Trail, both travel through Yosemite National Park. Over 2,000 people attemp these famous thru hikes each year.

Best National Park for Stargazing

Bryce Canyon National Park is among the best for stargazing. At just over 7,600 feet and far from the light pollution of civilization, camping at Bryce Canyon means you’ll be counting stars instead of sheep. This sanctuary for natural darkness has to be on your list if you love staring up at the night sky.


Thank you The National Park ServiceList of US National ParksAustin Adventures, and Time Magazine for these fun facts!

Ultimate 2 Day Itinerary Yosemite National Park: The Perfect Weekend Trip

The popular Yosemite National Park is nestled into California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Visitors flock to Tunnel View, the iconic vista of Yosemite Valley; the panoramic view of Bridalveil Fall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome can’t be beat. This majestic park truly has a little something for everyone and this 2 day itinerary of Yosemite National Park is the perfect weekend trip.

View of Half Dome, Vernal and Nevada Falls from Glacier Point in a 2 Day Itinerary Yosemite National Park
View from Glacier Point

Ultimate 2 Day Itinerary Yosemite National Park: Hikes and Sights

If you have two days in Yosemite, what should you hike? This really depends on your fitness level and what kind of hiking you prefer. I would try and squeeze as many trails in as possible – but I’m also a little crazy!

There is truly a trail for everyone at Yosemite National Park; here is how I would plan out my 2 days in Yosemite.

JMT.jpeg

Day 1: Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point

Spend your first day in the park exploring the iconic Yosemite Valley and the highly photographed Glacier Point. Start with Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Hike Vernal and Nevada Falls

My intense hiker friends should have this full trail, 6 miles and over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, completed by noon. My less intense hiking pals might want to stick to the shorter, less intense Vernal Falls Loop before returning to the car. Get an early start on day 1 to ensure you have enough time to see all the beautiful places.

Grab lunch (or eat a premade lunch) before hopping in the car and driving up to Glacier Point. You first stop will be the Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Trail Head. Choose one or both of these gorgeous, short hikes for gorgeous views of the valley, el Capitan, and Half Dome.

DIFFICULTY: CHALLENGING

DISTANCE: 6 Miles – 4.2 Miles

DESCRIPTION: This is a tough hike! Challenging but rewarding nonetheless. The first suggestion is to take the Mist Trail up and the John Muir Trail down.

The second suggestion is to start this hike at 6:00 AM. FOR REAL THOUGH… unless you like waiting in line on steep, stone steps up along the side of a misty waterfall, leave for this hike before the crowd begins to climb.

Vernal Falls with Rainbow in Yosemite National PArk
The Mist Falls View of Vernal Falls

We had no choice but to hike on a summer weekend and even starting at 9:00 AM we were waiting in lines of people up 600 stairs until we made it to the top of Vernal Falls; here the crowds thin out as the remaining 1.5 miles consist of some seriously strenuous switchbacks.

Once you reach the intersection for Half Dome you are home free and will be enjoying stunning views into the valley that are one hundred percent worth the wicked climb. Please cross the bridge and take the JMT back down to the valley floor; the trail is almost double in length but it is significantly less steep, it isn’t misty and full of people, and it allows for so many beautiful viewpoints along the way so don’t stop forget to stop and enjoy the view!

NEVADAfalls.jpg
View from the Top of Nevada Falls!

Hike Taft Point

Head west on Wawona Road to exit Yosemite Valley. Shortly after leaving the valley your first stop will be at Tunnel View parking lot. Stop to see the iconic view and then continue on to the Taft Point and Sentinel Dome Trailhead on your way up to Glacier Point.

DIFFICULTY: EASY – MODERATE

DISTANCE: 2.3 Miles

DESCRIPTION: An incredibly easy hike to the most perfect views of Yosemite Valley that overlook El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. Taft Point and its surrounding rock fissures provide panoramic views of the valley; make sure to take a gander at the vertical chasms that drop into a trench coursing down into Yosemite Valley but don’t get too close! Or do…

DCIM100GOPROGOPR1268.
Live Life on the Edge at Taft Point

Hike Sentinel Dome

Sentinel Dome is another short, easier hike that leaves from the same trailhead as Taft Point. A Short, steep ascent will bring you gorgeous panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. If you’re pressed for time or simply exhausted at this point in your day, leave this one out.

DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

DISTANCE: 2.2 Miles RT

DESCRIPTION: The hike to this granite dome, which lies on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, will provide you with miles and miles of stunning views in whatever direction you care to turn.

Looking west, you’ll see down Yosemite Valley and beyond to the Merced River canyon. To the north, you’ll see Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. To the east, you’ll see Nevada Falls, Half Dome and Clouds Rest, and an assortment of High Sierra peaks.

I never wanted to leave my spot atop Sentinel Dome; even if that spot changed countless times because I couldn’t pick which view I liked best.

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Sentinel Dome Provides One of the Best Views of Half Dome in the Park

Glacier Point

After hiking Sentinel Dome and/or Taft Point, drive the remainder of the road to Glacier Point. Bring dinner with you and watch the sunset here, you won’t be upset with your decision.

Day 2: Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Road

No matter where you’re staying, make sure you spend a day exploring the trails off of Tioga Road. The Tuolumne Meadow area of Yosemite National Park deserves a 2 Day Yosemite itinerary of its own.

Lembert Dome

Start your morning with a gorgeous hike up Lembert Domw

DIFFICULTY: MODERATE – CHALLENGING

DISTANCE: 2.8 Miles

DESCRIPTION: This hike is relatively easy, but do remember you are going to gain some elevation here towards the end! Once you make it to the open rock face you can determine what your ability level is for going further.

With young children, this is certainly a great place to stop and enjoy your view; as an adult with decent coordination you should head on to the tippy top. Be selective in your route, however, there are multiple lines you can take to your desired elevation; choose whichever one works best for you! Lembert Dome offers excellent views looking west across Tuolumne Meadows on top of simply being an enjoyable hike followed by an exciting climb.

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Cathedral Lake

DIFFICULTY: MODERATE – CHALLENGING

DISTANCE:

DESCRIPTION: A steady climb to Upper Cathedral Lake provides a stunning view that after a swampy crossing to a large rock shelf can be enjoyed along the shore of a beautiful lake.

The impressive granite-wrapped High Sierra lake is surrounded by Cathedral Peak in the east and by Echo and Tresidder Peaks along the southern shore, all of them over 10,000 feet in elevation!

This is a great place to swim, enjoy lunch, and grab some sunshine which is why I put it as your mid-day hike! Please plan to spend some time to hang out here. Swim, picnic, and revel in the beauty of this spot.

The hike up isn’t exceptionally steep or difficult, just a consistent climb. The mosquitoes (on trail, not near the lake) were pretty brutal so definitely plan accordingly for that!

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Tuolumne Meadow

DIFFICULTY: EASY

DISTANCE: Up to 3 Miles

DESCRIPTION: You can explore the meadow at first light or sunset. What a beautiful place to be as the light dances up over the towering rock faces to the east and an equally magical place to be as the sky turns from a soft cotton candy pink to fiery orange while the sun disappears over the dome-studded sub-alpine meadow section of the Tuolumne River.

This photo is from sunset, which is why I have it scheduled as your sunset hike on day 2! This is by far one of the best places to watch a Yosemite sunset. It was such a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the final bit of warmth for the day. You can make this hike as long as short as you’d like as gorgeous views are only steps from your vehicle.

Nearby you can find soda springs and Parsons Lodge. The Historic Parsons Memorial Lodge offers exhibits; check a schedule to see if there is one while you’re in town!

ToulSunset

Additional Yosemite Hiking Trails

Maybe you’ve already hiked one of the above mentioned trails for the 2 Day Itinerary Yosemite National Park. Or maybe you’re just looking for something with less elevation gain or a different view! No matter what you wind up choosing, you’re going to have the most adventurous two days in Yosemite National Park.

Mirror Lake Loop

DIFFICULTY: EASY

DISTANCE: 4 miles

DESCRIPTION: Bring your bathing suit for this one! A simple hike with no real elevation gain will bring you to one of Yosemite’s most popular swimming holes.

The full loop itself is 4 miles long if you make it to Tenaya Canyon and loop around, however, it is only 2.4 miles from the trailhead to the lake. It is heavily trafficked and full of swimmers in the warm summer months.

For my hiking partner and I, this hike was a waste of time. We prefer something more strenuous with greater reward but for people looking to cool off or hiking with children, this is a viable option. Close to the base of Half Dome, easily accessible and home to varying water depths.

Tuolumne Grove

DIFFICULTY: EASY – MODERATE

DISTANCE: 3 Miles

DESCRIPTION: The great part of this hike is that the trail to the grove is downhill. This grove contains a couple dozen mature Giant Sequoias, including the one you can walk through. If you haven’t already seen dozens of huge Sequoias in SEKI, don’t miss this hike!

Lower Yosemite Falls

DIFFICULTY: EASY

DISTANCE: 1 Mile

DESCRIPTION: An accessible paved walkway will bring you to the bottom of the falls. From here you can choose to stay on flat, solid ground or venture onto the large boulders littering the side of Yosemite Creek.

Despite signs warning of injury, you’ll see people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities doing some light rock scrambling to get as close to lower falls as they can. If you’re up for it and capable, I suggest doing the same. It’s incredible to get up close and personal with the 320 foot shortest section.

If you come prepared, you can swim in a beautiful pool of water right at the base of this colossal waterfall. We also experienced a handful of rock climbers in this space. It’s definitely one you shouldn’t miss out on! Yosemite Falls is a 2,425-foot tumbler, the highest waterfall in North America, that is so tall it has to take two rests before it’s done falling.

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Places to Stay in Yosemite National Park

First and foremost, where are you staying? Accommodations book QUICKLY here, especially during the summer busy season (Late May – September); they range from simple tent cabins at the High Sierra Camps and campsites, to deluxe rooms at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel.

Visit the Yosemite Hospitality website for full descriptions, prices, and online reservations. Reservations are available 366 days in advance and are strongly recommended, for ALL accommodations, especially from spring through fall and during holidays.

Speaking from my area of expertise and experience, camping at Yosemite is quite the experience. There are campgrounds that take reservations and campgrounds that are first come first serve only.  CLICK HERE for a well-organized chart explaining important campground information such as pricing, availability, running water, sites, pets, elevation, and, most importantly, opening dates.

Places to Stay in Yosemite Valley

  • The Ahwhanee
  • Camp 4 Campground
  • Curry Village
  • North & Upper Pines Campground
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge

Places to Stay in Yosemite West

  • Ahwahnichi Lodge
  • Yosemite Park Place
  • Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders Condominiums
  • Various Home Rentals

Accommodations Along Tioga Road

  • Crane Flat Campground
  • Tioga Pass Resort
  • Tuolumne Meadows Campground
  • Tuolumne Meadows Lodge
  • White Wolf Lodge

Important Information on Campgrounds

Many first come first serve campgrounds are not open from October through early spring; the opening of these sites depends heavily on the year’s snowpack. For example, in August of 2017, I traveled here expecting all the first come first serve campsites on Tioga Road to be open since their projected opening date was August 1st; on August 10th the only campsites open on Tioga Road were Tamarack Flat and Tuolumne Meadows.

In our case, arriving at 1:00 PM on a Thursday did not bode well for our chances at getting a site. We were two people away from securing one for ourselves, however, a kind gentleman and his family offered to share their site with us for the night in hopes of better luck the next day. Arriving to wait sleep in line at 4:45 AM only secured me the 6th open campsite available, but it was well worth the blacktop mattress for a weekend-long​ site.

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Approx 7:15AM on a Friday Morning, at Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station –  Summer ’17

Eating While in Yosemite National Park

There are plenty of restaurant and dining options throughout the park. Yosemite Valley has year-round dining options while these options are only available seasonally in Wawona, Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area (formerly Badger Pass), Glacier Point, White Wolf, and Tuolumne Meadows. Additionally, groceries are available all year in Yosemite Valley, Wawona, Crane Flat, and El Portal; groceries are available seasonally at Tuolumne Meadows.

We indulged twice while in Yosemite Valley and were not disappointed either time. At Half Dome village we enjoyed delicious burgers for a late lunch after a tough 10 mile morning. The following morning we devoured breakfast sandwiches from Degnan’s Cafe. Degnan’s was very busy but provided a good range of breakfast options and coffee along with a variety of delicious looking pastries and coolers full of drinks and prepackaged food items.

ThisIsCamp

For a 2 Day Itinerary in Yosemite National Park, I’d suggest packing a camp stove to cook at your site or at a picnic area with. Being able to eat an early breakfast, or a late dinner wherever you want is incredibly convenient when trying to see as much of the park as possible.

All campgrounds are equipped with a fire pit and grilling grate. With the help of tin foil and cooking equipment, the grilling grate converts into the perfect stove. Each campsite also has food lockers; these food lockers provide a great place to store food and any other items with scent (think deodorant, face wash, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, chapstick, sunblock, etc.) in a place that makes your stay safer for both you and the wildlife. We found that these lockers stayed cool throughout the day and wound up being incredibly convenient for all of our storage needs at our site.

Plan A 2 Day Itinerary Yosemite National Park Backpacking Trip

Considering Yosemite is composed of 95% designated wilderness land, it would not surprise me if many of my readers were hoping to obtain wilderness permits to further enjoy their stay in Yosemite. As someone who applied for one and was denied due to filled quotas four months in advance, be sure to apply for your wilderness permit exactly 6 months prior to when you would like to utilize it.

Wilderness permits are issued to a limited number of people for each trailhead in order to provide outstanding opportunities for solitude, as required by the Wilderness Act. A reservation typically costs $5 per confirmed reservation plus $5 per person unless you plan to hike Half Dome on your trip which will run you a bit more money.

the JMT, or John Muir Trail, is a famous long-distance trail in the Sierra Nevada. A good portion of it runs through Yosemite National Park. Spending a few days on this trail, even if you don’t hike the whole thing, is a great way to experience Yosemite’s backcountry.

Yosemite also contains nearly 70 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail as well. You can hike portions of the PCT from Tuolumne Meadows as a day hike or an overnight hike. This is another great way to meet really cool (and smell) people and see beautiful sights.

The beautiful Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite National Park

If you have trail questions or concerns during your stay you can stop at any of Yosemite’s multiple Welcome Centers/ Visitor Center and speak to friendly, knowledgeable staff. At the trailhead of many trails, you may find PSAR (Preventative Search and Rescue) volunteers who are scattered to help prevent illness and injuries but can also suggest hikes and provide directions. If you find a park ranger, talk to them! They know all of the most beautiful places in everyone’s favorite national park.

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Yosemite Trip

Yosemite is a beautiful place and you’ll have a lot of ground to cover. You will be sharing the 750,000+ acres of Yosemite National Parks with their 4 million annual visitors. Here’s the first two tips for a successful Yosemite visit:

  • Get Gas Beforehand
    Although there are gas stations within the park, gas is pricey! It’s 55 miles from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows, which means it’s likely you’ll need to fill up within the park. Plan accordingly to save yourself time and money.
  • Utilize Shuttles
    There are shuttle systems within the park to help save visitors time and money! No need to waste time and gas driving in circles for a parking spot. Check out the different shuttle options in the full post.

Check out the full article for all 11 Yosemite National Park tips.

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Heading to Yosemite? Don’t leave these suggestions behind. PIN ME! 


 

 

 

Visiting Everglades National Park: How to Plan the Ultimate Visit

The 1.5 million Everglades National Park has three entrances in three separate cities. It’s important for visitors to know what they want to do when visiting Everglades National Park. Use this guide to choose your favorite activities and plan your ultimate visit. Between the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, Flamingo Visitor Center, Shark Valley Visitor Center, and Gulf Coast Visitor Center, there’s nearly endless opportunities in this part of the Everglades.


Things to do Near Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center

The Ernest Coe Visitor Center is closest to the Homestead entrance of Everglades National Park. When visiting Everglades National Park, you will likely spend some time here as it is the most visited visitor center in the park. In this area of the park, you will find yourself closest to 3 of the Everglades’ most popular hiking trails, and in the perfect place to enjoy a slough slog. 

Camp at Long Pine Key Campground

Long Pine Key is open seasonally, during the dry season, or November through May. There are over 100 campsites for RVs and tents available. The campground has no electric or water hookups, but there are modern restrooms with flush toilets, a dishwashing station, and solar-powered hot-water showers. Each campsite is equipped with a grill and a picnic table! 

Hike the Anhinga Trail

Wind your way through a sawgrass marsh on one of the most popular trails in the Everglades. The trail is only .8 miles round trip, completely accessible, and is home to an abundance of wildlife. 

The reason so many people hike the Anhinga trail when visiting Everglades National Park is that they’re likely to see alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, softshell turtles, and more! You’re likely to experience more wildlife if you hike the trail in the winter months; dusk and dawn also provide great animal viewing opportunities.

Hiking the Anhinga Trail

Miami Brewing Company

Stop into Miami Brewing Company for a beer brewed in the Miami Countryside!  Located just 15 minutes from the park entrance, this might provide a great opportunity to try a few cold ones and enjoy some American fare. 

Paurotis Pond

Pit stop just off the main road to experience many species of birds during nesting season. Wading birds love Paurotis Pond, so watch them from one of the many picnic tables available to visitors at this location. 

Slough Slog

Slough slogging is a wet walk through the Everglades with a park ranger. Book your free tour at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center or by calling (305) 242-7700 no earlier than one week before the date you’re hoping to slog. 

You must wear closed-toe, lace-up shoes, and long pants. The wet walk through the slough departs from the Royal Palm Visitor Center every day between December and March. The Royal Palm Visitor Center is located at the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trailhead. 

Enjoy the View on the Pa-hay-okee Trail

This incredibly short, mostly accessible trail includes a boardwalk that will lead you to a shaded overlook. The view of the Everglades wilderness is well worth the .15 mile stroll. 

The boardwalk follows a gentle incline to the viewing platform with stairs that lead down to make a full loop. A loop is an option, but it is not necessary if stairs do not work for you! 

Pa-hay-okee Overlook Trail Views

Take a Short Walk on the Gumbo Limbo Trail

The Gumbo Limbo Trail can be found right next to the Anhinga Trail. This paved trail through a shaded hammock of Gumbo Trees is only a half-mile long and great for viewing the local flora.

Visit the Visitor Center

Visit the Ernest F. Coe visitor center for educational displays, orientation films, and informational brochures. Interesting collections of local artwork are often displayed in the visitor center as well. I love spending time in the Visitor’s Center to learn about the history, science, and culture of a space! 


Best Things to Do Near the Flamingo Visitor Center

Flamingo is located at the end of the Florida peninsula on the shores of Florida Bay. Once a remote fishing village, Flamingo is now home to the southernmost Visitor Center in the continental U.S. and is full of wonderful Florida wildlife. Birds, crocodiles, manatees, sharks, fish, dolphins, and dozens of uninhabited mangrove islands can all be found along Florida Bay. 

Boat Tours

Daily boat tours are available at the Flamingo marina. You can purchase tickets for the Backcountry or Bayside tour at the Marina Activities Booth or online through Flamingo Adventures. 

Explore the backcountry of the Everglades on a boat tour that ventures up the Buttonwood Canal. You’ll travel through Coot Bay and Tarpon Creek into Whitewater Bay while a naturalist shares information regarding the unique plant and animal life around you. Your other tour option is to explore the beautiful Florida Bay. This coastal adventure will also highlight the surrounding plant and wildlife as well as the rich history of Flamingo and Everglades National Park. 

Camp at the Flamingo Campground

You can camp at the Flamingo campground in a tent or RV. You can also stay in an “eco-tent” adjacent to the campground. This canvas cabin on a platform boasts comfortable beds, electricity, and a fan for $95 a night. Stay in an unfurnished tent and bring your gear for as little as $50 a night. 

Flamingo Marina

Stay on a houseboat in the Flamingo Marina! Stay on the dock for #350 a night or in White Water Bay for $400 a night. This might seem expensive for an evening, but what a unique experience! 

Hike the Snake Bight Trail

If you’re looking for a longer hike when visiting Everglades National Park, the Snake Bight Trail is a great option. Following a 1.6 mile trail through dozens of tropical tree species is a great way to spend your morning or afternoon! You’ll be rewarded at the end of the hike with a boardwalk where you can see many beautiful birds in Snake Bight (bay within a larger bay) during high tide. 

Paddle the Florida Bay

One of the most popular ways to explore Flamingo is to paddle, canoe or kayak, up the Buttonwood Canal. In the Buttonwood Canal, you are likely to see crocodiles and various bird species along the mangrove shoreline. 

If it isn’t too windy, I suggest you paddle Florida Bay. Explore the shoreline, both East and West of the marina. Honestly, the best way to see the Everglades is to paddle it! 

The Beautiful Florida Bay

 Inland Paddle

Take an inland paddle to truly experience the Everglades. Nine Mile pond is a popular marked trail through the mangroves and shallow lagoons near Flamingo. If you’re visiting Everglades National Park without a vessel, you can arrange to rent kayaks or canoes at the Flamingo Marina and they will transport them to Nine Mile Pond for you! 

Noble Hammock is another great paddle in the Flamino area. A 1.9-mile loop will bring you through a maze of mangrove tunnels and small ponds. Follow the 120 numbered PVC pipes that mark the trail; spotting the next PVC pipe is all part of the fun! 

Honestly, I think the best way to experience the Everglades is to paddle the river of grass. 

Visitor Center 

The Flamingo Visitor center is currently being rebuilt and reinforced. It’s set to open later this year (2022) and will have several exhibits including educational displays, artwork, informational brochures, and backcountry permits.

The visitor center is located right next to the marina which has a public boat ramp and a marina store.

Walk the Guy Bradley Trail

The Guy Bradley Trail connects the campground to the Visitor Center and Marina. Keep your eyes on the coast for gorgeous birds, old dock remains, and great pockets of beach to leave the trail and explore. Take a 1.2 mile, paved hike from the visitor center parking lot to the amphitheater and campground before heading back the same way you came. 

Views Along the Guy Bradley Trail when Visiting Everglades National Park

What To Do Near the Shark Valley Visitor Center

The Shark Valley Visitor Center is on the most popular entrances when visiting Everglades National Park. Because the tram ride and short hikes a great day trip from Miami, this is often a visitors first choice when exploring the Florida Everglades.

Airboat Tour Along the Tamiami Trail

Airboat rides are a popular way for visitors to explore the Everglades. Luckily, there are several companies located along the Tamiami Trail right alongside the Shark Valley entrance. Everglades Safari Park is one of the only airboat tours that travels inside of Everglades National Park.

Bobcat Boardwalk

Bobcat Boardwalk Trail is a .5 mile-long boardwalk located just behind the visitor center. This fully accessible trail meanders through a sawgrass slough lined with tropical hardwoods. It is likely that you’ll see wildlife on this trail, including, but not limited to, alligators and birds. 

Everglades Safari Park

Airboat tours, nature walks, and wildlife shows await at Everglades Safari Park. 

Otter Cave Hammock Trail

The Otter Cave Hammock Trailhead begins .5 miles behind the Shark Valley Visitor Center off the tram road. You can ride a bike to the trailhead as there are bike racks for storage. Travel a limestone path through a tropical hardwood forest with small footbridges that bring you over a stream. 

Shark Valley Tram Tour

The Everglades Shark Valley Tram Tour is one of the most popular attractions when visiting Everglades National Park. Learn about the ecology and history of the Everglades in a relaxed setting where, at the halfway point, you’ll be able to enjoy the view from the observation tower. The Shark Valley Observation Tower is the highest accessible point in Everglades National Park. 

Photo Credit: CapeCoralSusan.com

Things to Do Near the Gulf Coast Visitor Center

The Gulf Coast Visitor Center is the gateway to exploring the Ten Thousand Islands. The Ten Thousand Islands are a maze of mangrove islands and waterways that extends into Flamingo and Florida Bay. The current Gulf Coast Visitor Center is temporary as the original was destroyed in 2017 by hurricane Irma.  

Airboat Tours

Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours receives 4.8 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews. With Wooten’s you can glide across 259 private acres, watch a live Alligator show, or experience lions, tigers, otters, and gators in their animal sanctuary. 

Luckily, there’s a full list of airboat tours available to those visiting Everglades National Park. Find the perfect tour company for you and your family with this list. 

Fishing Charters

There are a number of fishing charters that leave from Everglades City, just north of the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. The Everglades City Fishing Charters is family wonder and operated and received 4.8 stars on Google. Fishhunt Charters and Captain Wayne receive 5 star, raving reviews across the board.

If you’re looking to catch some fish in Chokoloskee Bay, hiring a fishing charter during your Everglades stay is a great way to do it! 

Paddle the Islands 

It may take a few hours to paddle to and explore the popular Sandfly island, but it’s so worth it! There are a few different ways to experience the Ten Thousand Islands. There are a number of tour companies in Everglades City that you can book and/or rent boats through if you don’t have access to you own. Popular spots to explore include Turner River, Halfway Creek, and the East River.

If you are an experienced paddler, you can paddle to and camp on many of the islands. Three different styles of camping await! Chickee Sites, or platforms over water, are quite popular in this region. Ground and beach sites are also available throughout the islands. 

You can experience so much wildlife when visiting Everglades National Park

Fun Facts About Visiting Everglades National Park

  • The Everglades experiences over one million annual visitors each year.
  • Everglades National Park’s subtropical Wilderness is the largest in the United States.
  • Cape Sable, in the Florida Everglades, is the southernmost point of the United States mainland. 
  • The best time to visit Everglades National Park is in the Winter Season. 
  • Everglades is the third-largest national park in the contiguous United States after Death Valley and Yellowstone.
  • Within the four National Park areas of Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve and Fort Jefferson National Monument there are 16 endangered species. 
  • The Cyprus-Everglades regions of South Florida is where you are most likely to see a Florida Panther.

11 Best Everglades Boat Tours – Unique Landscapes and Wildlife

We’ve compiled a list of the top reviews for each of the best everglades boat tours.  Airboat tours of the Everglades are some of the best ways to experience the lush vegetation and wild animals of the Florida Everglades. Escape the bustle of Miami and explore the beautiful landscape of southern Florida on one of these 11 best airboat tours.

Everglades Boat Tours Near Earnest Coe Visitor Center

The Earnest Coe Visitor Center is is south-east most entrance of Everglades National Park. Here we share the 3 best Everglades boat tours near Earnest Coe Visitor Center.

Everglades Holiday Park Airboat Tours and Rides

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.4 stars with over 9,360 reviews

Everglades Holiday park is a 29 acre action park that offers a gator show and airboat tours. Board one of their state-of-the-art vessels for a 1-hour-long unforgettable airboat ride before experiencing a live alligator presentation featuring the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue Team. One of the best Everglade boat tours and all-around experiences in Southern Florida.

Top Google Reviews:

In Keith D’s 5-star review he shared how awesome “Captain Dillon was.” Mentioning he had a “Good sense of humor. [was] Very educational and will get you up close to the wildlife for some great pics.” He continued by sharing that the “Food was great. [He] Never had Gator before but, Damn it’s good.” Their experience topped off with “a great Gator show”. Keith and his “wife loved every moment of it.

Jamie shared that she “had a great time on the airboat ride, [her] Captain, Jody Ray, was fabulous and [she] thought [he] went above and beyond with his knowledge and history of the area, trees, and wildlife. Made it a really enjoyable time for everyone. The gator show was very good also, very entertaining and educational at the same time. Great for all ages. The park is a great place to bring the entire family for a fun day.”

Everglades Swamp Tours – Airboat Rides

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.9 stars with over 1.1K reviews

Everglades Swamp Tours has been offering Airboat experiences for over 60 years. Their knowledgeable guides guarantee the ride of a lifetime, full of education and wildlife. Everglades Swamp Tours is known for bringing you where no other swamp tour can! Their company goal is to provide unique, private or semi-private airboat rides and tours that leave visitors with more than just a memory.

Top Google Reviews:


Nicole K shared that “although [their party’s] tour time had to be changed due to a glitch in the website, [they] didn’t mind at all. This was one of the most fun experiences [they’ve] ever had. Thomas, [their] guide, was experienced and so knowledgeable. [They] saw so many different species of wildlife thanks to his keen eyes. There were turtles, snakes, birds of all varieties, fish jumping everywhere, and of course lots of alligators. The ecosystem was absolutely stunning! The ride was exhilarating and fast at times but [they] never once felt unsafe.” Nicole continues to thank Thomas and Everglades Swamp Tours for the amazing experience and memories. 

Kim K has great things to say about Everglades Swamp Tours. She shared that their flight was canceled and they had to reschedule; Everglades Swamp Tours was “very responsive and gave us no issues whatsoever to switch our reservation. Thankfully they still had the availability while we were in the area.” She and her boyfriend loved the tour! They “thought it was a great experience and well worth the cost. Tyler was an awesome tour guide who was incredibly knowledgeable of all things nature. [they]  saw so many alligators and more. Would recommend this tour and do it again!”

Macks Fish Camp – Gladesmen Airboat Tours

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.7 stars out of 371 reviews

Macks Fish Camp offers both private airboat tours and bass fishing. You must call ahead and reserve your boat in advance as the only negative reviews come from walk-ins who couldn’t book a tour. Take a private Everglades airboat tour with a 5th generation native gladesmen and expert guide for an experience you won’t forget! 

Top Google Reviews:

Gentleman’s Journey felt that their tour with Macks Fish Camp was an “absolute awesome experience!” It was in the “top 3 things we’ve ever done and could not have been with better folks! Feels like you get the whole Everglades to yourself and the guide has knowledge that goes on for days. Stop scrolling and book now!!”

Stephanie F and her family had an “amazing experience! Marshall was [their] airboat tour guide and was so knowledgeable about the Everglades ecosystem, plant life, history of the waterways, and answered all of our questions. He knew where the alligator nests were and pointed out the different wildlife. He also had some awesome stories to share about his family history, growing up swimming with alligators, and a one-eyed gator that lived under his mom’s house. It was really hot and he also had water and sunscreen to offer us too, which was much needed. I picked this experience over some touristy locations where they keep animals in cages and support local businesses who know and respect wildlife. You won’t be disappointed if you choose this!”

Best Everglades Airboat Tours near Shark Valley Visitor Center

The Shark Valley area of Everglades National Park offers a visitor center, hiking trails, a tram/bike to an observation platform, and a gift shop. There are a lot of boat tours available along Tamiami Trail, here are some of the best Everglades boat tours in this area.

Everglades Airboat Expeditions

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 stars of 460+ reviews!

Everglades Airboat Expeditions offers semi-private and private high-performance airboat tours. They also offer sunrise and sunset tour options with their private tours package. Their goal is to leave you in awe of the unique landscape with lasting memories of the Florida Everglades. It’s important to know that you’ll be meeting your tour guide right at a public ramp. In his 5-star review Steve M.shared that “it was a bit disconcerting pulling up to a public launch point with no branding other than a tiny sign stuck in the ground. I had been expecting a bigger presence for some reason.”

Top Google Reviews:

Chad L. thought that his tour guide, Ray, “was fantastic!! [Ray was] Knowledgeable, funny, [and] super nice. He found us some gators along with a mom with some babies. Definitely recommend this to anyone. Booking the service online was easy. They called shortly after we booked and then again in the morning to confirm.”

Mackenzie K thought “The guides were very knowledgeable and fun. They had a great sense of humor while sharing interesting facts about the alligators and their habitat. We were excited about how many alligators we saw on our one-hour trip. Our guide has a great eye to spot the gators, even when they’re up on the banks of the river hiding in the grass. We got to see a ton of babies that were born in August, which was an awesome surprise. This company gives you a more authentic experience than what we read about some of the other airboat companies in the area. We will 100% recommend them to any friend or family member traveling to the Everglades!”

Everglades Airboat Rides

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4.0 stars out of 30+ reviews

You will find the launch for Everglades Airboat Rides on the Tamiami Trail. From the reviews I’ve read and the lack of website, it appears as though this independent Airboat guide might not be a professional guide. I would be leery of this location and suggest it is not in the best Everglades boat tours grouping!

Top Google Reviews:

Anna K’s 3-star review read, “The ride should start at 3 pm but our driver went away and we started maybe at 3:20. I understand that 20 min is not so much but when you stand under the direct sun at 104 F this is not very pleasant. We also came 15 min before the ride to take front seats, so we’ve been waiting for half an hour which was quite challenging. And I think the whole ride took less than 30 min. We also expected to watch alligators as it was claimed but we see only one far away. Nevertheless, the ride itself was very fast and we felt some adrenalin which was cool.”

José V left a 2-star review stating it was a “nice trip of 25 minutes. We paid 20$ for a 30 minutes trip. The Airboat driver was claiming for a TIP since minute one. Was a very uncomfortable situation. By the way, we saw two (sleepy) alligators…”

Everglades Nature Tours

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.7 stars out of 290+ reviews!

Everglades Nature Tours is associated with the National Park Service and offers multiple types of tours. Choose from a semi-private airboat tour, a walking tour, the swamp buggy mud tour. This eco-naturalist company shares the raw Everglades beauty and knowledge with its’ visitors. 

Top Google Reviews:

Steven S. “had a blast taking the airboat tour. It was fun and very informative. Afterward, they offer a presentation showing different gators and answering questions. You can tell these people are passionate about what they do and they enjoy it. It also isn’t very expensive so I highly recommend this!!”

Whitney S. thought this was a great tour for her hard-to-please 6.5-year-old son! She shares that her  “family of 4 had a great time on [their] 1.5-hour semi-private tour with Lorenzo.” Her family “learned a great deal about the river, and the flora, fauna, and indigenous people of the Everglades region. This afternoon involved all 5 senses and kept my 6.5-year-old son (who loves video games) entertained and interested throughout.”

Everglades Safari Park

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.4 stars out of 5,090+ reviews

Join Everglades Safari Park’s expert captains on an unforgettable 30-40 minutes educational tour of the Everglades! This company allows you to travel inside of Everglades National Park on a private tour. They also offer a wildlife show and extensive gift shop. This is one of the best Everglades boat tours for people who are also loking for a wildlife show. Discover next-level family fun with this National Park Service authorized concessioner. 

Top Google Reviews:

Melanie K gave the Everglades Safari Park a 4-star review stating it  “was a fun experience for the entire family.  The time from beginning to end includes the ride, the short show, a picture with Snappy, and a walk on the grounds was perfect for our 10 and 12-year-old boys.  It was informative, fun, and even funny.  I highly recommend this place.”

If she could have improved her visit, “cleaner bathrooms would be nice, more available snacks in the restaurant would be nice, and the person at the check-in booth was unpleasant but maybe she was just having a bad day.  Enjoy this place and take in the amazing scenery.  Oh and don’t forget to leave with your picture souvenir.  We had fun with it and this picture is a reminder of our fun family vacation.”

This was Mark Z’s “third time in the Everglades and this was the best tour.” He appreciated the “friendly and knowledgeable staff. Actually saw active alligators in the wild (in January). Unlike other tours, this was an open-air boat, with no cage on top.  The pilot will let you stand up to take photos.  I highly recommend sunglasses (maybe even a Buff, or hoodie, the pilot will go full throttle a couple of times).  The show was a little lacking due to the Winter Season, the gators were not coming out of the water, and I respect the animal welfare displayed. This park has a raised (boardwalk-style) nature walk. We did see wildlife (American alligator, lizards, fish, birds,  and insects).   Restaurant (didn’t eat there…typical fare: deep-fried everything), and a gift shop.” The park is “U.S. National Park affiliated (discount for members). [and]  If you are Active Military or a Veteran bring I.D. for a discount.”

Tigertail Airboat Tours

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.8 stars out of 260+ reviews

Tigertail Airboat Tours specializes in guided tours through the Miccosukee Reservation close to Miami. As one of only 4 companies allowed to run in this area, you’re sure to have a unique experience. There are multiple tour options available; their walk-in tour is 30 minutes long and brings you to their private hammock where they care for and rehabilitate injured or nuisance wildlife. If you’re looking to experience a longer tour, be sure to call ahead and reserve your spot. 

Top Google Reviews:

When referencing their experience, E Calderone writes “Awesome!!! Fan boats are so much fun to ride around in and our guide was hilarious. Saw a few alligators as well as other birds in the area. There is a gift shop, an area to have photos taken of you and your family (or whoever you want), and after the fan boat ride, there is an outside area you can walk through that holds all kinds of reptiles and alligators. Pretty cool to see!”

Nancy F was in agreeance stating that their Tiger Tails Tour was “an amazing experience for [their] first trip to the Everglades! Humberto is so passionate about the animals and the habitat and the history of this place and the people who have inhabited it for millennia. And the opportunity to get REALLY close to the animals is fantastic. Wholeheartedly recommend this trip.”

Best Everglades Airboat Tours Close to the Gulf Coast Visitor Center

Some of the best Everglades boat tours belong to the Gulf Coast region of Everglades National Park. They offer some of the most unique tours and the best reviews.

Capt Mich’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.6 stars out of 460+ reviews

If you’re looking for a private airboat experience, Capt Mich’s is the company for you! Take a small boat tour in their private Airboat ride park to experience gators, birds, fish, snakes, and other Everglades friends!

Steph F writes, “Ummm hello??  Best time ever. We had Captain Dwayne and he was great. This was something I had on my bucket list and they made it spectacular. From the phone call talking to Teresa getting the reservation to being on the boat with Dwayne. Thanks again, guys. Have a great year!!!”

Brian B thought his experience was “well worth the money. [because] They give you BOTH grasslands and mangrove experiences.” His party was “out for about an hour.” He writes, “ Very friendly staff. Would highly recommend Captain Mitch’s.”

Jenny’s Eco Everglades Wilderness Tours

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5.0 stars out of 90+ reviews

Jenny’s Eco Everglades Wilderness Tours are a small-town family-owned and operated experience. The company is founded on the pure enthusiasm and pursuit of exploration and living in the Everglades. If you want to experience the biodiverse paradise of the Everglades with passionate and professionally trained naturalists, this is one of the best Everglades boat tours for you.

Top Google Reviews:

Kurt B. thought Jenny’s Eco Everglades Wilderness Tours were a great experience!  They said, “I booked a sunrise kayak tour with Jenny’s Eco Everglades Wilderness Tours because I wanted to experience the Everglades directly rather than from a boardwalk or the deck of an airboat.  Jenny was fantastic!  Her knowledge of the Everglades was extensive and her commentary on the plants and animals of the swamp greatly enriched the trip.  Her tour was easily the best part of my four days in the Everglades!  The sunrise tour also provided me with lots of opportunities to get some great photos in the early morning.”

Laura E. thinks that “Jenny offers a beautiful, serene sunrise kayaking trip. When we arrived, she had everything ready and helped make us feel comfortable and safe. Her passion for wildlife, water, and vegetation makes for an exciting trip of discovery.  We saw a blue heron, many egrets, a singing white-eyed vireo, red-winged blackbirds, a wild orchid, and a beautiful swimming alligator. The glassy water and cooler temperatures made it worth getting up early. Jenny’s Eco Tours is a superb experience and we highly recommend it.”

Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

4.8 stars out of 2,800+ reviews

Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours provide exciting rides, natural beauty, and educational fun for the whole family. You can glide across 259 private acres, watch a live Alligator show, or experience lions, tigers, otters, and gators in their animal sanctuary. Wooten’s is one of the best Everglades boat tours because it’s been around since 1953; that’s a whole lot of experience!

Top Google Reviews:

T R and their family did the airboat and swamp buggy tours with Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours. They wrote “They were both excellent! The tour guides shared a lot of history and knowledge and took us up close to the alligators. They had some lions and other animals as well. We watched an alligator show on the grounds and were able to hold a baby alligator as well. The whole experience was exciting! Highly recommend this location. The bugs weren’t bad when we were there. But I imagine they could be pretty bad so definitely be prepared with bug spray. Great for all ages!”

Candy S shared their trip was a blast, and that everything was spectacular! “All of the staff were very informative and great with our young boys.  Highly recommend upgrading to the private package for your group. Our airboat captain was awesome with our 4 and 6yr olds, and very patient.  We had some happy boys!”

What Kind of Wildlife Will I see on an Everglades Airboat Ride?

There is an abundance of wildlife in the Florida Everglades. People commonly see American Aligators, many species of bird, soft shell and sea turtles, deer, and fish. Animals less likely to been include the elusive Florida Panther, black bear, and bald eagles. 

Many tour companies offer a wildlife show at their location, however, the best airboat captains will make sure you see wild animals in their natural habitat on your tour. The best way to see this unique environment is by hiring an experienced captain for your airboat adventure.

Aside from wildlife, the incredible landscape is full of such unique plant life as well! You will learn so much about the fragility of this unique ecosystem that you’ll feel inspired to protect and preserve it. The best Everglades boat tours will share the importance of conservation with their guests!

Best Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks: Complete Camping Guide

Capitol Reef National Park is home to gorgeous rock formations, historic orchards, and slot canyons. See it all by staying close by at the best Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks and Campsites! Choose between RV Parks, free primitive sites, and developed campgrounds for your next camping trip. 

6 Best Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks

Duke’s RV Park

Duke’s is located about 30 minutes east of Capitol Reef National Park in Hanksville, Utah. Duke’s RV Park works hard to maintain clean and inviting accommodations for its guests. 

The slickrock campground is a mini oasis in the desert and a great basecamp for all of your Southern Utah travel. Duke’s is open year-round which makes it a great option for those RV traveling in the winter months. 

The RV Park and campground features pull-through, back-in, and trailer sites with shared campfire pits. Men’s and Women’s shower facilities are also available alongside coin-operated laundry. 

Photo Credit: Pitchup.com

If you are staying elsewhere, maybe at a primitive campsite, and would like to utilize Duke’s showers and/or RV dump station, you can! For $5 per person plus tax, these luxuries can be all yours. 

Fremont River RV Park

Located on Highway 24 between Capitol Reef National Park and Fishlake National Forest, Fremont River RV Park is the perfect place for adventure seeking campers. 

This Capitol Reef National Park RV Park has many RV, Van, and Tent Sites. The facility also offers coin-opperated laundry, and bathrooms with showers. 

They offer 60 and 70-foot pull-through and back-in full hook up sites with 20/30/50 amp electrical options. The sites are pet friendly and offer free WiFi to guests. 

Photo Credit: fremontriverv.com

Fremont River RV Park is located right in the middle of all the great local fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain bike riding, and ATV/UTV riding areas. Each site even has space to park an ATV or UTV. 

Offroad RV Resort

The brand new Offroad RV Resort is perfect for individuals looking for a lot of space. 

This Capitol Reef RV Park simulates boondocking while providing full hookups. No matter what site you have, the view is natural with no other buildings in sight. Escape civilization while still experiencing 50 amp power, filtered water, and full septic/sewer.

 

The newest Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks Offroad RV Resort sign among a rocky outcropping
Photo Credit: The Dyrt

As this RV park is brand new, they’re slowly expanding the number of sites and amenities. They are open for the 2022 season and look to be a great place to stay!

Sandcreek RV Park


Located 5 miles from the West Entrance, Sandcreek RV park offers pull-through, full hook-up 30/50 amp RV sites with sewer hook up and Spring Fed Water. 

There are RV sites, cabins, and tent sites available at Sandcreek RV Park. This RV park is cat and dog friendly as well! All they ask is that you clean up after you pet and keep them on leash. 

Photo Credit: Worldorgs.com

This husband and wife owned RV park has amazing gorgeous views! If you thinking the surrounding cliffs provide beautiful daytime views, just wait for the night sky. 

Thousand Lakes RV Park


Thousand Lakes RV Park offers a full-service RV park with 65-foot pull-through spaces. There are also shaded tent sites and 6-person cabins available.

Thousand Lakes RV Park serves chuck-wagon style BBQ dinners in their covered pavilion at night and muffins and coffee in the mornings. The facilities also include a pool, playground, basketball court, and a satellite hook-up. 

Photo Credit: Facebook

At Thousand Lakes RV Park, you will enjoy views of red rock mountains and sagebrush-covered plateaus from every site! This family-run business is here to help. Stop by their office for personal recommendations during your stay and truly enjoy your time in Southern Utah. 

Wonderland RV Park


Wonderland RV Parks is located three miles from Capitol Reef at the junction of Scenic Byway 24 and All American Highway 12. They are the closest full-service RV park to the National Park.  

They offer full-service spacious RV sites and outstanding amenities.

Photo Credit: go-utah

Wonderland RV Park is one of the few spaces with grassy, shaded spots and beautiful views in the heart of red rock country.

Free Primitive Campgrounds near Capitol Reef

BLM land


Just outside of the National Park’s East entrance lies BLM land that is perfect for free camping. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management. They oversee millions of acres throughout the United States for the enjoyment and benefit of present and future generations.



Dispersed, or primitive, camping on Public Land is free for all RV and tent campers. If you drive down Notom-Bullfrog Road, only miles from the Eastern entrance of Capitol Reef National Park, you’ll find ample opportunities to park the RV or set up camp.

Cathedral Valley Campground

This primitive campground boasts gorgeous views and no fee! It’s important to note that in order to access this campground, you will need a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle. 

Six first come first serve sites with picnic tables, and a fire grate sit at about 7,000 feet with views of Thousand Lake Mountain in the distance. There is a a pit toilet, but no running water is available at the campground.

Photo Credit: MobileRVing

Although this campground is open all year round, it may be inaccessible due to weather conditions. It’s a beautiful spot for those willing to camp in primitive conditions! 

Cedar Mesa Campground

Cedar Mesa Campground is one of the two Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks and Campsites located inside the park. If you travel about 23 miles south on Notom-Bullfrog Road you’ll find the small, remote, backcountry campground. 

This is a primitive, no-fee campground with 5 sites and a pit toilet. All sites include a picnic table and fire grate, however, there is no running water. 

Photo Credit: hipcamp

The sites are located at 5,500 feet above sea level in a large box canyon. They’re quite spacious and are the perfect place for a family to set up for adventures in Capitol Reef and the surrounding area. This campsite is just under 2 hours from Glen Canyon National Recreation Center. 

List of the Best Campgrounds near Capitol Reef National Park

Fruita Campground


Fruita Campground is an oasis within the desert along the Fremont River. It is the only developed campground located inside Capitol Reef National Park, this is your closet campground to all the action!



Fruita Campground offers 64 RV/Tent sites each including fire pits and picnic tables. Seven additional walk-in sites with a grill and a picnic table provide quiet spaces for guests seeking more solitude.

There is an RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance to Loops A and B. There are no water, sewage, or electrical hook-ups at individual sites. Restrooms feature running water and flush toilets, but no showers. Public showers and laundry facilities are available in Torrey, 11 miles west of the visitor center. 

The only full-service Capitol Reef National Park RV Park and camp ground inside of the park
Photo Credit: mobilerving

Sites at Fruita Campground are shaded and grassy, a welcomes change from the dry landscape. The fee for Capitol Reef National Park RV Parks and Camping at Fruita is $20 per night. 

Oak Creek Campground

Oak Creek Campground is located just off of Utah State Highway 12 between Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument.

At 8,800 feet, it’s a beautiful campground surrounded by Ponderosa Pines, Aspens, and mixed conifers. The campground is located near the highway, however, traffic is muffled by the babbling nearby creek. 

This gorgeous spot will cost you $16 for a single site or $32 for a group campsite. Tents and small trailers are recommended as trailer over 25 feet are not advised.

A great wooded campground between Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
Photo Credit: Grand Canyon Trust

Drinking water and vault toilets are available at Oak Creek Campground. This campground is open from late April/early May through October; keep in mind that the elevation of this campground will 

Sleepy Hollow Campground

Sleepy Hollow Campground is located just outside the Eastern entrance of Capitol Reef National Park in Caineville. 

It’s a small, older campground located 6 miles south of Mesa Market. Mesa Market is known for its sustainable agriculture practices and fresh-baked sourdough bread. 

Photo Credit: Womo-Abenteuer

The pull through sites have electric hook ups and many spaces are shaded by large Juniper trees. There are also spaces with no hookups and a few tent sites. Bathrooms and showers are included in your stay. The campground could use some TLV, however, it’s a clean, visually appealing hidden gem.

Sunglow Campground


Sunglow Campground in Fishlake National Forest is a quaint, inexpensive, and absolutely stunning place to stay when visiting Capitol Reef National Park.

The scenic red rock canyon surrounding the sites provides beautiful scenery. The campground provides a restroom, and freshwater spigot at each site; the stargazing was a phenomenal addition to an amazing campsite.

Photo Credit: Recreation.gov

This USFS campgrounds is located about 10 minutes from Capitol Reef’s Western park’s entrance and 5 minutes from restaurants, a general store, and the post office in Torrey or Bicknell, Utah. 

Singletree Campground

Singletree Campground is located 13 miles Southeast of Torrey on UT-24 among a Ponderosa Pine and Aspen forest. It’s one of the few forested campgrounds in the area.



It has 31 campsites. Campsites 1, 2, 3, 4 and  6 are considered “multi-use”.  The rest of the sites are single sites.  There are also two group sites available (A & B). 

All sites are level and can accommodate both tents and RVs. Each site includes a picnic table, fire ring, and fresh water spigot. There are flush toilets, a dump station, and WiFi available at this campground. 

Photo Credit: Grand Canyon Trust

The Campground provides gorgeous views of Capitol Reef and the Henry Mountains. Sitting at over 8,000 feet this campsite experiences beautiful fall colors and cooler temperatures. 

Best Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park 

Capitol Reef is a great place to hike for all skill levels. As one of the less popular National Parks in Utah, Capitol Reef is a hidden treasure. Here are some of the best hikes for intermediate hikers

  • Grand Wash Trail
    At 4.5 miles and a little over 500 feet of elevation gain, this is considered a moderate hike. It’s one of the most popular trails in the park for good reason. The canyon walls tower over you on either side, similar to a slot canyon, but you never get down to a squeeze. At it’s most narrow, the Grand Wash Trail is 15 feet wide.
  • Cassidy Arch
    The Cassidy Arch trail is 3.1 miles long and gains over 600 feet of elevation. This hike is a bit more strenuous than Grand Wash, but still considered moderate for most. The hike to the arch is fun with steep drop offs and rock scramble terrain.

Read the full blog post to experience ten of Capitol Reef’s best day hikes!

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Your Guide to the Best Universal Studios Orlando Rides List

The Universal Studios Orlando rides list is long. It’s way too difficult to try and hit all 50+ of Universal Orlando Resort’s amazing rides and attractions during your stay. It can be overwhelming to spend a day at the amusement park without knowing exactly what rides you want to try. A frustrating day in the park isn’t a fun one. That’s why I’m sharing the best Universal Studios Orlando Rides List for each category.

Our Universal Studios Orlando Rides List is broken down into 5 sections:

At any point in this article, hit ‘Ctrl’ + ‘f’ to sort the article by themed lands, height requirement, or thrill level.  

a photo of the universal globe on a cloudy summer day
The Best Rides At Universal Studios Orlando

Top Thrill Rides at Universal Studios Florida

Roller coaster enthusiasts, look no further. If thrill rides are at the top of your list, you’ve come to the right place! Universal Studios Orlando rides list offers several exhilarating options from your favorite movies, such as Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Marvel.

 

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Location: Islands of Adventure, Hogsmeade

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 51”

Thrill Level: Intense

Virtual Line Reservations

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is my personal favorite. With several amazing thrill rides, delicious dining options, and unique details, you really can’t go wrong. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is one of the new rides in the park and it does not disappoint.

Hop onto the motorbike or sidecar to join Hagrid in the wilds of the Forbidden Forest. Experience the wizarding world’s rarest creatures on Universal’s highly themed, most immersive coaster. 

Hagrid’s motorbike adventure has racked up quite a few statistics. For one, it includes the most launches of any roller coaster in the world. It’s also the first coaster in the U.S. to feature a free-fall vertical drop, and man is that drop unexpected! Additionally, at nearly a mile in length, it’s the longest roller coaster in Florida. 

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is the Best Ride at Universal Studios Orlando!

Jurassic World VelociCoaster

Location: Islands of Adventure, Jurassic World

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 51″

Thrill Level: Intense

The apex predator of rollercoasters is now open and ready for you to feel the rush of the hunt. Fly through the jungle on a high-speed dash through the raptor paddock. You’ll truly feel like you’re part of the pack as you ride one of the most surprising coasters ever made.

As one of Universal’s new attractions, the VelociCoaster was under construction during my last visit to the parks and even then it looked amazing. Universal Studios “ride the movies” motto has been brought to the next level on this one. They left no detail out when designing this amazing thrill ride. 

With each new coaster, Universal is breaking more records. VelociCoaster is Floridas fastest and tallest launch roller coaster and the most thrilling of Universal’s five theme parks worldwide. 

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Location: Universal Studios, Hollywood

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 51”

Thrill Level: Intense

What’s your favorite genre of music? You better know before you board this coaster… as you strap in you’ll pick the song you want to hear throughout the ride. With the music bumpin’ and adrenaline pumping, you’ll travel at a 90-degree angle to the first drop. 

My step-mom and I had a blast on the Rip Ride Rocket! The hardest part was choosing what we wanted to listen to. So you can better prepare, choose from Classic Rock/Metal, Rap/Hip Hop, Club/Electronica, Pop/Disco, or Country now. The best part? You won’t hear anyone else music during your ride. 

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Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts

Location: Universal Studios, Diagon Alley

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Virtual Line Reservations

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts combines so many amazing ride types into one. This ride combines a coaster, motion simulation, and a 3-D/4-D experience into one phenomenal adventure.

Make your way through Gringotts Bank to journey deep underground. Navigate the subterranean vaults and evade the wrath of Voldemort, Bellatrix, and the trolls to return safely to Diagon Alley.

Stick around to watch the fire-breathing dragon perched atop Gringotts expel a 3,580-degree flame. Use this guide to learn the secrets and experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in full during your stay.  

Enter the Dragon Guarded Gringotts if you Dare

Revenge of the Mummy

Location: Universal Studios Florida, New York

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 48”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Virtual Line Reservations

Flee from Imhotep, the evil mummy, on this dark ride. The ride is completely pitch black except for the flames you experience along the way. The coaster itself isn’t that intimidating, but not being able to see the track really adds an element of thrill. With impressive animatronics and special effects, this coaster ranks high on the best universal studios Orlando rides list.

This one scared my, then 9-year-old, brother a bit. I think the intense heat of the fire got to him; he asked us if the ride was broken (lol). He was hesitant to ride it again, so we went without him for a second go-round. 

Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall

Location: Islands of Adventure, Marvel Super Hero Island

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 52”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Will you let Doctor Doom suck the fear out of you and use it for evil? Well gosh, I hope not!

When the count down reaches 0, you will launch 185 feet into the air with your feet dangling and your heart racing. You’ll feel weightless as your bottom rises out of your seat before you slowly make your way back down to the loading platform. 

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The Incredible Hulk Coaster

Location: Islands of Adventure, Marvel Super Hero Island

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 54”

Thrill Level: Intense

In case you didn’t know, you volunteered to take part in Dr. Bruce Banner’s science experiment when you entered the park. Sit back, relax, and hold on tight as a blast of gamma radiation changes everything. Launch out of the tunnel at 67mph and hulk smash through the sky!

When I first rode this coaster back in the early 2000’s I was PETRIFIED. At about 10 or 11 years old, I genuinely thought the ride was malfunctioning and we needed to exit. Once I realized it was a launch coaster and all was well, I had the best ride! It was one of my favorite roller coasters for years.

Let’s Hulk Smash out Way through and Amazing Orlando Amusement Park!

3D and 4D Universal Studios Orlando Rides 

What are Universal Rides known for? Their amazing 3D and 4D technology. While most thrill rides take on the form of a traditional roller coaster, these 3D and 4D attractions will have you questioning everything you ever thought to be true about special effects and immersive experiences. You can’t have a Best Universal Studios Orlando Rides List without 3D and 4D rides!

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Location: Islands of Adventure, Hogsmeade

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 48”

Thrill Level: Intense

Virtual Line Reservations

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a scenic dark ride that uses serious technology to give you an incredible experience. Join Harry and his friends on a thrilling adventure as you soar above the castle grounds. Find yourself nearly scorched by a dragon, experience a bit of quidditch, have a few close encounters with dementors before landing safely back in your corridor.  

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, walking through the Hogwarts corridors might bring you to tears. I was truly close! The beauty is in the details and you won’t miss a single one. This ride is truly unlike any I’ve ever experienced! 

Hogwarts Castle, Universal Studios Island’s of Adventure

Transformers: The Ride-3D

Location: Universal Studios, Production Central

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 40”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Get ready for the greatest battle you’ll ever ride. Once you board your N*E*S*T* vehicle you’ll join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in an ultra-immersive thrill ride that blurs the line between fiction and reality. Fight to keep the AllSpark out of Megatron’s hands in an explosive battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. 

We loved this ride. It was so well done and felt so real! The movement of the ride is subtle, but the scenes are loud and realistic. This is important to keep in mind for small children. IF you think you can handle it, remember that the Autobots are counting on you, roll out.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon

Location: Universal Studios, New York

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 40”

Thrill Level: Traditional

Virtual Line Reservations

Am I in New York? Enter through 30 rock and instantly become immersed in the world of “The Tonight Show”. You will quite literally race Jimmy Fallon (and friends) through, below, and above New York City. Who will cross the finish line first? 

This was a fun one! Certainly good for riders of all thrill levels. The ‘boarding’ system for his one is really neat as well. You get a ticket for the show when you walk in. When your ticket color is called, you’ll enter the theater and take a seat. While you wait, you’ll be mingling with everyone else who’s waiting for the show, dancing with the panda, and maybe even playing a game. It’s such a unique way to get on a ride. 

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Skull Island, Reign of Kong

Location: Islands of Adventure, Skull Island

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 36”

Thrill Level: Intense

Virtual Line Reservations

Venture onto a mysterious island when you’ll need to brave the dangers of prehistoric predators. Board your jeep for a treacherous jungle expedition. When you think it’s all over, will Kong be the one to save you?

This ride was actually terrifying. It’s only a motion-simulated, 3-D/4-D dark ride, but its mature scenes are not for children. Not only are the caverns you walk through realistic and scary, but the ride itself was pretty intense. 

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man

Location: Islands of Adventure, Marvel Super Hero Island

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Join the world’s most famous web-slinger on a high-flying adventure to retried the stolen statue of liberty. Swing through the streets of New York, scale skyscrapers, and battle your favorite Marvel bad guys on this exciting 

The first time I ever went on this ride was in the first year or two of its opening (1999). It was so good that I rode it a second time without the glasses because my 10ish-year-old self couldn’t figure out how we fell 400 feet without being strapped in like a rollercoaster. 

The Simpsons Ride

Location: Universal Studios, Springfield

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 40”

Thrill Level: Intense

Join the Simpson on a family trip to Krusyland. In typical Simpson fashion, you’ll wind up careening through the park on an over-the-top exhilarating adventure. The preshow and queue areas are all really well done and realistic as well. The Simpson animation used was created specifically for the ride! 

I’m going to be honest here and say this one made me nauseous. I liked the concept a whole lot and thought the ride was well done – but it wasn’t for me. If, like me, you become nauseous after The Simpson Ride, head into Cletus’ Chicken Shack for a variety of cafeteria-style options. The Chicken and Waffles made me feel better in an instant! 

The lovely town of Springfield

Univeral’s Best Attractions for Small Children

Check out these kid-friendly attractions for your little ones! Whether they don’t meet the minimum height requirements or simply don’t love the thrill, these rides are bound to put a smile on any child’s face. These are arguably, the most important attractions on the best Universal Studios Orlando rides list!

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Location: Universal Studios, Production Central 

Height Requirements: Minimum Height 40”

Thrill Level: Traditional

Virtual Line Reservations

This ride is everything you would expect from Gru and his daughters! Take an unforgettable trip through Gru’s super-villain laboratory as a minion. You will feel all of the feels on this heartwarming and humorous trip. 

This was the very first ride of our trip and it was perfect to start out with. It was everything you expect a minions ride to be and more! My step-mom and I actually cried at the end, that’s how much they develop the story of the ride in just a few minutes. 

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem Post-Ride Photo Opportunity

Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl

Location: Universal Studios, Springfield

Height Requirement: Supervising Companion Required Under 48”

Thrill Level: Traditional

Join the drooling aliens from the Simpson for a spin. Pilot your flying saucer through space, spinning up and down as you try to zap Springfield residents with your laser beams. 

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Hogwarts Express

Location: Universal Studios, Diagon Alley and Island’s of Adventure, Hogsmeade

Height Requirements: Supervising Companion Required Under 48”

Thrill Level: Tame

Travel between Kings Cross Station at platform 9 ¾ in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade Station in Islands of Adventure. This isn’t your everyday train ride! Enjoy a different Harry Potter experience in each direction. 

It is important to note that a park-to-park ticket is required to ride the Hogwarts Express. It’s an awesome way to jump from one back end of the park to another. Walking to the front entrance and around can be time-consuming and significantly less fun than riding the Hogwarts express!

All Aboard, the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station Platform 93/4

Men in Black Alien Attack

Location: Universal Studios, World Expo

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Traditional

A great ride for the competitive family (like us!). Compete with the riders in your car to see who can zap the most aliens. There are over 120 different kinds of aliens on this ride, so you’re bound to hit a few! 

We had fun as a family of 4 on this ride! Especially because we are an ultra-competitive family of four. My father, the retired police officer, was the winner by a long shot. I was indefinitely second. 

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Caro-Seuss-el

Location: Island’s of Adventure, Seuss Landing

Height Requirements: Supervising Companion Required Under 48”

Thrill Level: Tame

Climb aboard a creative cast of Dr. Seuss’s characters! Make their ears wiggle, eyes blink, and head turn by pulling on the reigns or pushing the lever on their necks. This was the first carousel to feature creatures you could control! 

This is a fun one for any Dr. Seuss fans and anyone who considers themselves a child at heart! I loved running around Seuss Landing and even managed to snag a photo with my favorite character, the Lorax!

Sit atop fun Dr. Seuss Characters on the Caro-Seuss-el

The Cat in the Hat

Location: Island’s of Adventure, Seuss Landing

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 36”

Thrill Level: Traditional

Climb aboard your couch car and ride through the Dr. Seuss classic. Live each scene of the book through colorful characters, vivid sets, and crazy motion Twist and shout from room to room as you try to clean up before Mother gets home! 

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E.T. Adventure

Location: Universal Studios, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 34”

Thrill Level: Tame

Help E.T. save his dying planet! Fly through the night sky on your bicycle to E.T.’s home planet to experience otherworldly creatures. This adventurous, but gentle, ride is perfect for the whole family. 

This was my little brother’s favorite ride. If he has it his way, this would be ranked number one on our best Universal Studios Orlando rides list. Folks, this ride is older than me (I was born in 1992) and it was his favorite ride in the whole park. It is a classic adventure!

My brother’s favorite Universal Studios Orlando Ride

Storm Force Accelatron

Location: Islands of Adventure, Marvel Super Hero Island

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Traditional

The faster you spin, the more of Storm’s power you summon. This rides if not for the queasy! Once your board professor Xavier’s power generator you’ll be spinning as fast as you can to stop the evil Magneto from taking over the world. 

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One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Location: Island’s of Adventure, Seuss Landing

Height Requirements: Supervising Companion Required Under 48”

Thrill Level: Tame

Climb inside a flying fish! Maneuver your fish up, up, up and down, down, down as you gently circle the Seuss fountains. Pay attention to the song or you’re going to get wet! 

One Fish , Two Fish Up Up Up

The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride

Location: Universal Studios, World Expo

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 36”

Thrill Level: Tame

Get a bird’s eye view of Seuss Landing! While you wait to board your trolley, you’ll listen to a retelling of the Star Belly Sneeches. There are two tracks. One will continue with the story of the Sneeches while the other will go through the ABCs of your favorite Seuss stories.

My FAVORITE Dr. Seuss Character

Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster

Location: Universal Studios, Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 36”

Thrill Level: Thrilling (Kid Friendly)

Let the wacky Woody Woodpecker ease your little ones onto the track for the first time. The kid-friendly coaster swoops and turns through silly puns and corny jokes in Woody’s nut factory. All of the rollercoaster fun without any of the daredevil drops! 

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Water Rides and Water Slides at Universal Orlando

Volcano Bay is known for its epic water slide action and clean facility. Universal’s Islands of Adventure might not be a water park, but it is home to a few fan-favorite water rides as well! All too often, water rides and slides are left off the best Universal Studios Orlando rides list, but they’re some of the best in the country.

Jurassic Park River Adventure

Location: Islands of Adventure, Jurassic World

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

What begins as a leisurely float through Jurrasic Park turns into an exhilarating escape from prehistoric predators. This unexpected 85-foot drop is sure to make you scream in terror. 

My little brother (10 at the time) loved this ride. He went on to ride it three more times while my Dad and I dried off. I can’t say that I blame him. The animatronics are sweet and the drop leaves you with butterflies.

When it comes to the Best Universal Orlando Rides List, Jurassic World Doesn’t Disappoint

Honu of the Honu ika Moana

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 48”

Thrill Level: Intense

A five-passenger tube slide sends you speeding through an open flume before soaring up along two massive walls.

Ika Moana of the Honu ika Moana

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

The slightly less intense slide of the Honu ika Moana sisters. This multi-person tube slide will take you on a twisting, turning, flowing ride.

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Dudley Do-right’s Ripsaw Falls

Location: Islands of Adventure, Toon Lagoon

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 44”

Thrill Level: Thrilling 

Don’t let this lazy-looking log flume fool you. What begins as a lighthearted adventure with Dudley Do-Right, turns into a 75-foot drop that will leave you soaked. 

This ride was a blast for our family and I think our on-ride photo says it all. We were wearing ponchos because it was raining out, however, they did a decent job of keeping our upper half dry. The bottom of the boat will be wet so be prepared for soggy pants.

Family on Dudley Do-Right’s Rip Saw Falls

Kala & Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 48”

Thrill Level: Extreme

Wait patiently for twin trap doors to release you and your racing partner. You’ll end up plunging down intertwining tubes before splashing into the turquoise waters below.

Ko’okiri Body Plunge

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 48”

Thrill Level: Extreme

Take a 175-foot white knuckle plunge through a trap door. At a 70 degree angle, you’re bound to fly towards to ground at speeds much faster than I would personally prefer (lol).

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Krakatau Aqua Coaster

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Climb aboard your 4-person canoe and climb up and away, twisting and turning through the mists before plunging through a shimmering waterfall.

Photo Credit: UniversalOrlando.com

Kopiko Wai Winding River

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: N/A

Thrill Level: Tame

Take a slow ride through the tropical landscape of Universal’s Volcano Bay. Gentle surprises await as you explore the perimeter of the park.

Maku and Puihi Round Raft Rides

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42″

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Two separate multi-person tube rides. Maku slides through tunnels at high speeds before spinning around bowl-like formations and sucking you into a watery vortex. Puihi will take you through twists and turns in a dark cavern before dropping you into an immense funnel.

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Ohno & Ohyah Drop Slides

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 48”

Thrill Level: Intense

Twist and turn through serpentine tubes before plunging 6 feet into the awaiting pool.

Photo Credit: Orlando Informer

Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges

Location: Islands of Adventure, Toon Town

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Brave your way through raging rapids to say Popeye’s best girl! You’ll be soaked after this adventure, so be prepared!

Tonga and Raki of Taniwha Tubes

Location: Volcano Bay

Height Requirement: Minimum Height 42”

Thrill Level: Thrilling

Taniwha Tubes boasts 4 total single or double tube slides. The Tonga slides are green and slightly more gentle. If you’re looking for a bit more speed, try the blue slides of Raki. Either set of slides will have you winding your way to the pool at the bottom, but beware of mischievous tikis squirting you with water!

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Time Saving Tips for Universal Orlando

If you want to experience all of these amazing rides, you’ll have to make the most of your time. Here are 11 Universal Orlando Tips for First-Timers. 

Early Park Admission

Universal Orlando’s hotel guests receive early access to the parks. Volcano Bay early entry is 30 minutes and Island’s of Adventure and Universal Studios early entry is 1 hour. Avoid long waits by entering the park early and riding popular attractions first thing in the morning. 

Single Rider Line 

Utilize the single rider line! This is a good option if you’re the only one in your party who wants to ride. It’s also great for individuals looking to hop on for a second time!

The single rider line will cut your wait time n half. It’s a great way to ride an attraction more than once without wasting precious time in the parks. 

Child Swap

This is another great way to snag multiple rides with one wait time. If you’re in a group and have a child who doesn’t want to or can’t ride the attraction, utilize the Child Swap option. Have one adult wait with the child while the others ride. Afterward, have a different adult wait while the others ride a second time.

It would be unfair to make the solo adult ride by themselves, so take a family member with you! Alternate throughout the day to make the most of Child Swap and riding epic attractions.

Go see the entire list of First Timer Universal Orlando tips to make the most of your upcoming trip

Official Adirondacks Travel Guide – Best Things to Do (2022)

Explore the Adirondacks

Adirondacks Travel Guide by Town

Inlet

Inlet is a quaint little village along the Fulton Chain of lakes. It’s perfect for families as it has plenty of family-friendly attractions to keep you entertained. If I were going to suggest an area of the mountains for families with young children in this Adirondacks Travel Guide, the Inlet and Old Forge area are at the top of the list!

Things to Do in Inlet

  • Boating on the Lake
  • Cross Country Ski at Fern Park
    This free park is home to 20 miles worth of hiking, biking, and cross country skiing trails for everyone’s use. Additionally, the park hosts many festivals and houses a few sporting fields and a sledding hill as well.
  • Groomed Snowmobile Trail
    Miles and Miles or groomed snowmobile trails and wide open ice-covered lakes await.
  • Ice Skating at Fern Park
    Fern Park offers an indoor ice skating rink complete with warming hut and heated restrooms.
  • Plenty of Hiking Trails
    If you’re looking for a low land hike to a beautiful body of water, check out Sis and Bub Lake! If you’re looking to gain some elevation, Rocky or Black Bear Mountain are for you.

Sis and Bub Lake, Inlet

Where Should I Eat in Inlet?

  • Breakfast: Blue Line Coffee House
  • Lunch: Screamen Eagle
  • Dinner: The Lean To
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Where Should I Stay in Inlet?

  • Free Camping: Moose River Plains
  • Campground: Eight Lake Campground
  • Budget Hotel: The Woods Inn
  • Resort: Great Pines 
Stay at Great Pines Resort - the #1 Resort in the Adirondacks
Great Pines Resort, Inlet

Lake George

Lake George is known as the Queen of American Lakes. It’s pristine waters boast 109 miles of shoreline and over 300 islands. It’s location in the South Eastern part of the park makes is a frequent tourist destination.

What is there to do in Lake George?

  • Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course
    Experience over 1.5 miles of thrilling tree-top adventures! Adirondack Extreme is the largest aerial tree-top adventure park in the United States.
  • Boating on the Lake
    Rent a boat and take the family out on the lake or book a Lake George Shoreline cruise during your stay.
  • Bolton Landing Brewing Company
    Enjoy delicious wings and beers at the Bolton Landing Brewing Company after a good hike, bike, or ride!
  • Fort William Henry Museum
    Watch history come alive at Fort William Henry! Experience the sights and sounds of the fort during the French and Indian War.
  • Gurney Lane Recreation Center
    Gurney Lane Recreation Center is home to the areas best cross country ski and mountain biking trails. 
  • Six Flags Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor
    A two for one Six Flags amusement and water park. Six Flags Great Escape Lodge is also home to an indoor water park for year-round fun.  
  • Plenty of Hiking Trails
    There are so many hikes for all abilities in the Lake George area. Start simple with The Pinnacle and work your way up to the Lake George 12ster to earn a patch. 
  • Shopping at the Outlets
    The Factory Outlets at Lake George offer the latest apparel and gifts, the Factory Outlets are the ultimate stop for anyone who loves to shop!
  • Ski and Snowboard at West Mountain
    Take a quick 15 minute drive to West Mountain in Queensbury for house of alpine skiing and snowboarding fun. All 35 trails are lit, making night riding and fun option for all!
Volleyball Tournament at Million Dollar Beach, Lake George

Where are the Best Places to Eat in Lake George?

  • Breakfast: Caffe Vero
  • Lunch: Adirondack Pub and Brewery
  • Dinner: The Log Jam Restaurant
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Where Should I Stay in Lake George?

  • Free Camping: Dacy Clearing and Shelving Rock Road
  • Campground: Lake George Battleground State Campground
  • Budget Hotel: Super 8 by Wyndham Lake
  • Resort: The Sagamore Resort

Lake Placid

Lake Placid is a small mountain village nestled in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks. Tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike flock to Lake Placid all year long for its gorgeous scenery, many outdoor activities, and variety of accommodation options!

Things to Do in Lake Placid

  • Ausable Chasm
    Alright… so this might not be in Lake Placid, but a 45 minute drive will bring you to the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Choose your adventure as you hike, float, or climb your way through the chasm. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the shore of Lake Champlain overlooking Vermont. 
  • Cascade Cross Country Ski Center
    A Full service cross country ski lodge equipped with rentals, 10+ miles of trails, a restaurant and bar. 
  • High Falls Gorge
    Just outside of Lake Placid you can pay to explore High Falls Gorge. This 22-acre nature park features waterfalls, hiking trails, glass-floor walkways and more.
  • John Brown Historic Site
    Visit the home and grave site of abolitionist, John Brown. Enjoy gentle hiking trails and education information at this historic site.
     
  • Mirror Lake Activities
    Mirror Lake, in the center of town, is home to a number of great winter an summer activities. Toboggan and ice skate on Mirror lake in the winter and paddle and swim in the summer.
     
  • Mt. Van Hoevenberg
    Check out this popular are of the Adirondacks for a variety of amazing activities all year long. Ride the Cliff Coaster, take part in the Lake Placid Bobsled experience, Cross Country ski during winter and mountain bike during summer, discover skeleton and luge, and enjoy the interpretive nature center at Mr. Van Hoevenberg.
      
  • Winter Olympic Sites
    Check out the Winter Olympic Sites from the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Games. Check out Herb Brook Arena, the Olympic Jumping Complex, and the Olympic Museum during your stay.
  • Plenty of Hiking Trails
    Take it easy with local low land hikes to tackle New York State’s High Point, Mount Marcy. Only the experienced hiker should attempt the Adirondack High Peaks region. If the highest Mountain in New York isn’t quite your cup of tea, check out the Lake Placid 9er Challenge
  • Shopping on Main Street
    Main Street in Lake Placid is home to amazing shops and eateries. Be sure to check out all the local gear and souvenir shops.  
  • Ski or Snowboard Whiteface Mountain
    Ski/ride the greatest vertical drop in the East at Whiteface Mountain. In the warmer months, you can pay to drive up Whiteface’s toll road and enjoy 360-degree views of the Adirondack Mountains.
back of a girls head in Autumn facing heart lake
Heart Lake, Lake Placid

Where Should I Eat in Lake Placid?

  • Breakfast: The Breakfast Club
  • Lunch: Big Slide Brewery
  • Dinner: Smoke Signals
  • Dessert: Emma’s Creamery
A Guide to the Adirondack's Best Craft Beer
Craft Beer Flights at Big Slide Brewery

Where Should I Stay in Lake Placid?

  • Free Camping: South Meadow
  • Campground: Lake Placid/ Whiteface Mountain KOA
  • Budget Hotel: Town House Lodge
  • Resort: Whiteface Lodge
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Long Lake

A low-key, affordable Adirondack vacation destination full of nature and aquatic activities for the whole family. Long Lake is the perfect location in this Adirondacks Travel Guide for anyone looking for a laid back mountain vacation on the water.

Things to Do in Long Lake

  • Adirondack Experience
    Check out exhibits dedicated to the region’s natural & cultural history, including hands-on areas for kids at the Adirondack Experience Museum. 
  • Boating
    Long Lake Marina offers rentals as well as a place for you to launch your own boat.
  • Hiking in Long Lake
    Buttermilk Falls and Owl Head Fire Tower are two of Long Lake’s most popular hikes. Castle Rock and Blue Mountain Lake Fire Tower are a short drive away!
  • Paddling 
    Between Long Lake, Forked Lake, Raquette Lake, and Blue Mountain Lake, you have the opportunity to experience miles and miles of paddling fun! Camp on islands and float peacefully down the Marion River. 
  • Scenic Flight
    Take a scenic flight through the Adirondacks from the Long Lake Sagamore Seaplane Base. 

Where Should I Eat in Long Lake?

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  • Breakfast: Long Lake Diner
  • Lunch: Adirondack Growl and Grub
  • Dinner: Long View Lodge Restaurant
  • Dessert: Custards Last Stand

Where Should I Stay in Long Lake?

  • Free Camping: N/A
  • Campground: Lake Eaton Campground
  • Cabins: Long Lake Cottages
  • Hotel: Long Lake Lodge


North Creek

North Creek is  a small mountain town in the heart of the Adirondacks  full of unique Adirondack adventures. Boasting the largest ski resort in New York State, raging white water rafting opportunities, and numerous hiking opportunities, North Creek is on every adventurers bucket list. 

What can I Do in North Creek?

  • Cross-Country Ski at Garnet Hill and Gore Mountain
    Gore Mountain is one of the most popular ski resorts on the East Coast. What most people don’t know about Gore is that they also offer a Nordic Ski Center. Between Gore and Garnet Hill, you have over 50 mies of Cross Country ski trails at your disposal. 
  • Hiking Trails near North Creek
    Popular hiking trails in the North Creek area include Moxham Mountain, Thirteenth Lake, Peaked Mountain, and OK Slip Falls. Aside from these frequented trails, there are number of small pond and lake hikes in the area.
  • Mountain Biking
    Gear up for extreme downhill mountain biking fun at Gore Mountain! Only experienced riders should take on the challenging lift-serviced terrain.  If you’re looking to work for your down hills, check out the North Creek Ski Bowl Mountain Bike Trails.
  • North Creek Depot Museum
    Explore North Creeks Role in American History at the North Creek Depot Museum. 
  • Rafting with North Creek Rafting Company
    Take a day or overnight rafting trip in early Spring to experience whitewater on one of 3 Adirondack rivers. 
  • Revolution Rail Co
    Take a rail biking tour of the Adirondacks along the Hudson River. Pedal your cart with three others for 6 miles of beautiful Adirondack fun.
      
  • Ski and Snowboard Gore Mountain
    Experience the greatest amount of skiable acreage in the North East and Gore Mountain. With 14 lifts ad over 100 trails, Gore will not disappoint the skier or snowboarder in your family. 
The Top Adirodack Ski Resort, Gore Mountain!
Gore Mountain Summit, North Creek

Where Should I Eat in North Creek?

  • Breakfast: Cafe Sarah
  • Lunch: Becks Tavern
  • Dinner: Marsha’s Family Restaurant
  • Dessert: Barkeaters Chocolates
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Where Should I Stay in North Creek?

  • Free Camping: Thirteenth Lake
  • Hostel: Heads in Beds
  • Bed and Breakfast: Goose Pond Inn 
  • Resort: Garnet Hill Lodge

Old Forge

Old Forge is known at the Adirondack Base Camp. It’s a great location for families to experience all of what the Adirondacks have to offer. Whether you stay close to town our use it as a hub to explore further out, Old Forge is an amazing vacation destination for all.

Things to Do in Old Forge

  • Adirondack Scenic Railroad
    Choose from a number of different riding experiences to explore the beautiful scenery of the Central Adirondacks by rail.
  • Boating on 4th Lake
    The Fulton Chain of Lakes provides endless boating fun for locals and visiting families alike. 
  • Calypso’s Cove 
    Spend the day, or the afternoon, playing arcade games, rock climbing, racing go-karts, and more at Calypso’s Cove.
  • Cross Country Ski at McCauley Mountain
    Head on over to McCauley Mountain for miles of intermediate and beginner cross country ski trails.
  • Fulton Chain Brewery
    Check out a local collection of craft beers at Fulton Chain Brewery. You have to try their most popular, and fan favorite Go Fluff Yourself while you’re visiting! 
  • Groomed Snowmobile Trails
    In the winter months Old Forge (and Inlet) are heavily trafficked by snowmobiles. 
  • Hiking Trails for all 4 Seasons
    Old Forge is home to a variety of gorgeous hiking trails for all ability levels.
  • Mini Golf
    Play 18 holes and enjoy some ice cream at Nutty Putt Miniature Golf on the weekends in April and 5-days a week mid-June. 
  • Moose River Farm
    Check out the local llama’s for a fun filled day at Moose River Farm. 
  • Mountain Biking at McCauley Mountain
    McCauley Mountain is home to over 15 miles of professionally built and maintained single track and flow trails. No lift access here (at least not yet) so yuou’ll be responsible for pedaling to the trails of your choice. There’s terrain for every type of rider at MccCauley! 
  • Paddle the many Lakes, Rivers, and Streams
    Rent or bring your own watercraft to explore the many lakes, ponds, and rivers in the Old Forge area.
  • Rail Bike Adventures
    Pedal your rail bike through the gorgeous foliage of the Adirondacks from Thendara station to Carter station.
  • Ski or Snowboard McCauley Mountain
    Small town price and crowds with big mountain vibes! McCauley is a great place to learn and to hone your skills.
  • Thendara Golf Club
    Play a round in the mountains!  Thendara golf club is a beautiful 18 hole, Par 72 championship golf course.
  • Water Safari 
    With a combination of water and amusements rides, the fun never stops at New York’s largest water park.
Adirondacks Travel Guide Best Mountain Biking Spots - McCauley Mountain!
McCauley Mountain Biking, Old Forge

Where Should I Eat in Old Forge?

  • Breakfast: Waltz Diner
  • Lunch: Ozzies 
  • Dinner: Frankies Taste of Italy
  • Dessert: Dough a Deer
Fulton Chain Brewing Company
Fulton Chain Brewing Company, Old Forge

Where Should I Stay in Old Forge?

  • Free Camping: McKeever Road Sites
  • Campground: Nick’s Lake Campground
  • Budget Hotel: Clark’s Beach Motel 
  • Resort: Water’s Edge Inn
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Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake is an All American small town that’s sure to make you feel at home. The village of Saranac Lake is located a stones throw from Lake Placid, however, it’s generally much more low key and slow paced than its winter Olympic hosting neighbor. Saranac Lake is the closest town to Lake Placid featured in this Adirondacks Travel Guide; it’s a great option for families looking to experience Lake Placid and save a little money.

Things to Do in Saranac Lake

  • Adirondack Carousel
    A unique attraction that provides entertainment, art, and education for all ages through some old fashioned fun.
  • Boating on Flower Lake
    Flower Lake is perfect for an evening boat cruise, a morning paddle, a quick dip, or some fishing! It’s a beautiful place to enjoy right in town all summer long.
  • Mt. Pisgah Ski Center
    A small town mountain owned and operated by the Village of Saranac Lake. Mt. Pisgah is an all season mountain that offers downhill skiing and snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing in the winter. In the summer, the trails turn to mountain biking!
     
  • Plenty of Hiking Trails
    Take the opportunity to complete the Saranac Lake 6er Hiking Challenge during your stay. Ring the bell in town to signal your completion and earn a patch!
  • Saranac Laboratory Museum
    In 1884, Saranac Lake was the location for the first lab built in the United States to study Tuberculosis. This museum documents the journey.
  • Shopping Downtown
    There are a number of different unique shops to ponder in Saranac Lake.
View from Summit of Saranac 6er St. Regis
St. Regis Fire Tower, Saranac Lake

Best Places to Eat in Saranac Lake?

Breakfast: Origin Coffee
Lunch: Bitters and Bones 
Dinner: La Bella Ristorante
Dessert: Donnelly’s Soft Ice Cream

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Where Should I Stay in Saranac Lake?

Free Camping: Jones Pond
Campground: Saranac Lake Islands Campground
Budget Hotel: Best Western Saranac Lake
Resort: Franklin Manor Bed & Breakfast

The View from Jones Pond Campsites

Speculator

Speculator is an all-season vacationland for the true outdoorsman (and woman). It’s also the least traveled and the least populated town in this Adirondacks Travel Guide. If you are looking for a relaxed holiday in the woods, Speculator is a great option for you and your family.

Things to Do in Speculator

  • Boating and Paddling
    Boating and paddling on Lake Pleasant and the surrounding lakes, rivers, and streams is a popular summer activity.
  • Fishing
    Fish on Lake Pleasant all year long in Speculator! Try your luck at snagging a small mouth bass, large mouth bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, brown bullhead, yellow perch, chain pickerel, rock bass, and walleye. 
  • Groomed Snowmobile Trails
    Speculator and Hamilton County offer over 750 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails all winter long. It’s the most popular winter activity in Speculator.
  • Speculator Area Hiking Trails
    There are a few notable trails in the Speculator area! Beginners should check out the Auger Loop Trail while advance hikers should take a shot at Snowy Mountain Fire Tower! If you consider yourself somewhere in the middle, try Echo Cliffs in nearby Piseco or Wakely Fire Tower (the tallest fire tower in New York State).
  • Ski and Snowboard at Oak Mountain
    My favorite Adirondack Alpine Ski and Snowboarding area! Oak is amazing for beginners and those seeking challenging terrain. It’s also the location of my upcoming wedding and I couldn’t be more excited.

Where Should I Eat in Speculator?

Breakfast: Sunrise Diner
Lunch: Acorn Pub and Eatery 
Dinner: Inn at Speculator
Dessert: King of the Frosties

Where Should I Stay in Speculator?

Free Camping: Mason Lake
Campground: Moffit Beach Campground
Budget Hotel: Melody Lodge
Resort: Irondequoit Inn

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Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake may not be home to the tallest mountains or largest lakes, but it does boast some of the darkest night skies in the North East. It’s one of the few locations in this Adirondacks Travel Guide that will have you interacting with and learning about the Adirondacks in a whole new way.

Top Things to Do in Tupper Lake

  • Boating on the Lake
    Tupper Lake is perfect for a relaxed evening boat ride or a morning of fishing. Big Tupper Lake is 9 miles in length and offers 28 miles of shoreline to explore!
     
  • Hiking Trails
    Spend your time working towards the Tupper Lake Triad and earn a patch for hiking Mt. Arab, Goodnow, and Coney Mountain. 
  • Paddling
  • Raquette River Brewing
    A quaint Adirondack brewery with a food truck (or two in the summer months) that’s dog friendly!
  • The Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory 
    The Adirondack Sky Center is a non-profit that inspires people to discover and explore the “Wilderness Above” through curiosity, observation and scientific investigation.
  • Swimming
    Take a swim at Tupper Lake’s hidden gem, Little Wolf Beach.
  • Wild Center and Wild Walk
    An incredibly hands on natural history center focused on the connecting people with the Adirondacks. 
Travel to the Wild Center in the Adirondack Park
The Wild Walk at The Wild Center, Tupper Lake

Where Should I Eat in Tupper Lake?

  • Breakfast: Lumberjack Inn
  • Lunch: The Hub
  • Dinner: Main Street Restaurant 
  • Dessert: The Washboard/ Donut Shoppe
Beers and Fireplaces
Cabin Vibes at Raquette River Brewing

Where Should I Stay in Tupper Lake?

  • Free Camping: Horseshoe Lake
  • Campground: Little Wolf Beach
  • Budget Hotel: Northwood Cabins
  • Resort: The Point
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Adirondack Travel Frequently Asked Questions

The Adirondacks are such a large space, it’s no wonder people have so many questions about the park. Here are some of the most frequently asked Adirondacks Travel Guide questions.

  • Where is the Adirondack Park Located?
    The Adirondack Park’s southern boundary is located about 4 hours North of New York City. Meanwhile, it’s northern boarder is just over 100 miles from the Canadian border.
  • When is the Best Time to Visit the Adirondacks?
    This depends entirely on what you’re looking for! Summer provides perfect weather for boating, swimming, and paddling. The Fall month’s are prime leaf peepin’ time whether you’re driving the scenic roads or hiking to a stunning location. The winter provides a snowmobile paradise and awesome conditions for alpine and nordic skiing. Trout opening day in in April, making the Spring prime fishing time in the ADK.

Access the full Adirondack Park FAQ article for detailed answers to these questions and more. Utilize this Adirondacks Travel Guide and the many Adirondack focused blog posts I’ve shared to plan your upcoming trip!

Your Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Food Brands in 2022

If you’re on a backpacking trip, all you need is a heating element and water to create a hot meal with enough calories and nutritious value to carry you through to the next day. Here’s a list of the best freeze-dried backpacking food from the top meal brands in 2022.  

Freeze-dried and dehydrated food is perfect for outdoor activities. Dehydrated meals are perfect for the trail because they are lightweight, nutritious, and don’t take up much space. 

Best Lightweight Backpacking Meals for Special Dietary Options

These meal companies provide the very best lightweight backpacking meals for being with specific dietary needs.

AlpineAire Backpacking Meals is full of healthy ingredients!

AlpineAire Meals

  • freeze-dried and dehydrated

 AlpineAire Meals creates dishes such as Al Pastor with Cilantro Lime Rice, Cheese Enchilada Ranchero, and Tuscan Grilled Chicken, with all-natural ingredients. Unfortunately, these healthy ingredients don’t always agree with the taste buds. With that in mind, Alpineaire does offer a plethora of special dietary options such as low-sodium, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and all-natural.

If you care less about taste and more about ingredients and nutritional value, Alpineaire meals might be the best freeze-dried backpacking food for you. Their packaging provides clear and concise information on ingredients, serving size, and nutrition. 

With a relatively low price and many dietary options, AlpineAire may be the best option for someone who has dietary restrictions on the trail!

Top Alpineaire Meals

  • Cinnamon Apple Crisp
  • Forever Young Mac & Cheese
  • Tuscan Grilled Chicken Alfredo
  • Grilled Chicken Jambalaya
Next Mile Meals are great Keto Friendly backpacking meals

Next Mile Meals ($9-$14)

  • freeze-dried and dehydrated

If you follow a Ketogenic diet, this is the best freeze-dried backpacking food company for you! Experience day-to-day variety while meeting your macronutrient and nutrition goals. 

This small, family-run business was created on a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail! Looking for the ability to hike the trail while following a Keto diet inspired Jessie to make her meals for the adventure. Next Mile Meals only uses the highest-quality meats, vegetables, and cheeses.

May carb-eating customers like to add their own rice or ramen to each bag. This strategy cuts overall costs as well as cost per calorie. Next Mile Meals strives to bring great-tasting backpacking meals that are high in protein and fats to their outdoor community! 

Best Keto Backpacking Meals

Outdoor Herbivore is the best freeze dried backpacking food for vegan and vegetarian hikers

Outdoor Herbivore ($8-$16)

  • freeze-dried and dehydrated

The best freeze-dried backpacking food for the vegetarian and vegan backpacker! Outdoor Herbivore’s meals are made with whole food ingredients using a combination of organic freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients. Over 85% of their ingredients originate in the United States! There’s nothing like a locally produced meal. 

If you’re looking for a meal with lower sodium content, Outdoor Herbivore uses a wide variety of dried herbs and spices to pack a ton of flavor without the high salt content. 

Best Outdoor Herbivore Meals

Sit back and relax with the best freeze dried backpacking food on the market!
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Best Budget Backpacking Meals

Hungry hikers seeking high calorie to cost ratio should take a look at these backpacker meal companies.

Backpacker’s Pantry ($6-$13)

  • freeze-dried and dehydrated

Backpacker’s Pantry has been in the business of making dehydrated meals for decades. They are still among the most recognizable backpacking food brands in the industry with one of the largest selections of backcountry meals on the market.

They have a meal for every palate and dietary need with a great taste. There are many gluten-free, vegan, and organic options as well as worldly flavors. Jamaican Jerk Rice with Chicken, Kathmandu Curry, and Pad Thai are among the most popular meals from Backpackers Pantry. Additionally, all Backpacker’s Pantry meals are MSG-free and have a shelf life of 7 years.

Favorite Backpackers Pantry Meals

Mountain House ($9-$11)

  • freeze-dried

Mountain House is one of the best freeze-dried backpacking food options for good reason. They’ll provide you with the calories and nutrients you need to sustain your adventure. Although these meals are often high in sodium and preservatives, they remain a reliable, lightweight backcountry source of nutrition. 

You aren’t going to find all-natural, organic ingredients in a Mountain House pouch, but you will receive the calories you need to keep adventuring. Mountain House has a high calorie-to-weight ratio and a low price. It’s the perfect budget freeze friends backpacking food option.

With a 30-year taste guarantee, Mountain House is a great option for buying now and eating much later. The long shelf life of Mountain House makes it a great product to stock up on for your various backpacking trips while keeping a stash for disaster preparedness. Mountain house is an affordable and reliable freeze-dried backpacking food company.

Mountain House Backpacking Entrees

Best Mountain House Meals

Peak Refuel ($13)

  • freeze-dried

Peak Refuel meals pack a lot of calories in their double serving pouch. This makes them an incredibly affordable option for backcountry dinner for two. 

Peak Refuel Meals are freeze-dried, not dehydrated. This means that they will rehydrate in less time and with less water than dehydrated meals. A delicious meal that’s ready in 15 minutes? Sign me up! Peak Refuel has some of the best breakfast options on the market.

My fiancé and I love Peak Refuel meals in the backcountry because it means we can share a cheap, easy meal that will fill us up and fuel us for adventure! With that in mind, it might not be ideal for solo adventures. All Peak Refuel’s meals come in double servings. At nearly 1,000 calories a pouch, that might be too much for a solo adventurer to finish in one sitting. 

Favorite Peak Refuel Meals

Eat good food ik beautiful places…
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Ethically Sourced Freeze Dried Backpacking Food

Backpacking food companies that are ethically sourced utilize a sustainable and responsible approach to supply chain management and sourcing their ingredients. Fair wage, environmental impacts, and social influence are taken

Fernweh Food Company ($9-$15)

  • dehydrated

Fernweh Food Company is known for its thoughtfully produced and packaged provisions, designed to nourish the adventurer in all of us. The brand is committed to supporting local and sources a huge variety of fresh produce from small farms in the Portland area.

Their goal is to create bulk dehydrated meals with low-impact packaging. Their adventure foods are sold in 100% compostable packaging when possible. When not possible, they’re sold in Omnidegradable Packaging, which is made of materials that decompose wherever there are naturally-occurring microbes. 

Fernweh Food Company also sells a few of its meals in bulk! And they’re working on adding to the list. This is helpful for people traveling in a large group and people who like to cook in their own containers. 

Fernweh Food Company Favorites

Good to-Go ($10 – $15)

  • dehydrated

Good To-Go’s missing is to provide healthy meals on the go and they do just that! Good To-Go strives to offer meals that suit all diets. All of their products are gluten-free, low in sodium, and made with no preservatives. There are also several vegan and vegetarian.

Good To-Go meals are made in Maine by Iron Chef competitor, Jennifer Scism. Her healthy, homemade meals are a true hit in the outdoors! 

Good To-Go practices zero-waste production and leans heavily on sustainable food sourcing. All ingredients are gluten-free and most come from certified organic farms. The remaining ingredients are largely organic but do not come from certified farms. After a long day of hiking, knowing you’re eating a meal that’s environmentally conscious will make dinner taste that much better!

Good To-Go meals relies on sustainable food sourcing and zero waste production of their meals.

My Good To-Go Favorites

  • Granola
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Thai Curry
  • Chicken Pho

 Heather’s Choice ($10 – $15)

  • dehydrated

Heather’s Choice has the best ingredient list of all the dehydrated dried backpacking food. This small company puts their meals together using high-powered foods such as 100% grass-fed bison and elk and wild-caught sockeye salmon.

There may not be a ton of options when selecting a Heather’s Choice meal, but the quality is amazing. Many dinner options offer 40 grams of protein per serving with real meat options. Due to the amount of meat-focused options, Heather’s Choice isn’t the best option for a vegetarian diet.

Additionally, Heather’s Choice has 8 flavors of protein-packed, delicious packaroons. Packaroons are coconut macaroons for your backpack! These will quickly become your new favorite high-calorie backpacking snack and/or dessert. 

Heather’s Choice is known for their delicious meals and clean ingredients list.

Favorite Heather’s Choice Meals

 

Lightweight dehydrated meals with gorgeous views

Environmentally Conscious Backpacking Meal Companies 

These companies are aware of their impact on the environment. They’re the best backing meals when it comes to sustainability and environmental awareness.

Packit Gourmet ($11 – $13)

  • freeze-dried

This family-run business loves the outdoors just as much as you do! After years of dehydrating their own backpacking meals, they’ve decided to share their homemade dehydrated meals with the masses. 

Packit Gourmet is a one-stop-shop for outdoor enthusiasts. They offer both hot and cold water meals as well as freeze-dried groceries. There are 113 pages of trail groceries on the Packit Gourmet website.

We’re all familiar with hot water backpacking meals, but cold prep entrees are perfect for stove-less camping and backpacking trips! It’s amazing to have a good meal that doesn’t require a stove. Additionally, the option to purchase groceries so you can build your own meals allows you to be creative and cater to your own needs and taste preferences. 

Packit Gourmet Meals offers both hot and cold just add water backpacking meals

Favorite Packit Gourmet Meals

Wild Zora ($13)

  • freeze-dried

Wild Zora is committed to using only the highest quality, responsibly sourced ingredients. This woman-owned, family-run business strives to provide healthy, delicious, and convenient products to the outdoor community 

These paleo-friendly meals are gluten-free and rich in protein. With an impressive ingredient list, Wild Zora Paleo Meals to go are a great option for health-conscious adventurers. 

At $13 for one serving, Wild Zora is on the more expensive side. If you’re looking for food that’s made with love and clean ingredients, then the price tag might not be too important to you! 

Wild Zora Family Favorites 

Patagonia Provisions ($7-$13)

  • dehydrated

Yes, the same Patagonia our favorite puffy jacket and outdoor gear comes from. known for their environmental consciousness, it’s no shock that their food branch, Patagonia Provisions, fits the same mold!

Patagonia’s Provisions includes a variety of snacks and side dishes. Although their menu is small, each meal or snack’s ingredients and taste are both at the top of their game. Additionally, they carry products from other companies that share their love of the environment. 

Although Patagonia Provisions is a freeze-dried backpacking food company, their meals are not “cook in pouch” style. You have to use a pot and stove to cook these meals. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for many campers, however, carrying a stove and pot large enough to cook a meal in can be tough when backpacking. 

Patagonia Provisions, the food branch of our favorite, outdoor clothing line!

Best Patagonia Provisions Meals

No-Cook Backpacking Meals 

Let’s take quick and easy to the next level with a meal that requires no cooking and no preparation.  

Greenbelly’s Delicious Meal Bars

Greenbelly Meals ($11 – $13)

  • Energy bar

If you’re looking for a ready-to-eat meal that provides the nutrition and calories you need in the backcountry, Greenbelly Meal Bars are a great choice. They’re faster and lighter than just add water meals and likely become your next backpacking staple. 

You will appreciate the nutrition label and taste of Greenbelly Meals. These gluten-free bars have a fluffy rice crispy texture with chunks of fruits and nuts. Each pouch comes with two of these bars, totaling 650 calories and over 25% of your daily carbohydrates, protein, sodium, fat, and fiber. 

Greenbelly also boasts a product called mud meal. Mud Meal is an all-natural drinkable meal that includes 400 calories, over 21 grams of protein, and 20 grams of fat with only 4 grams of sugar. Add two heaping spoons to 6-10 ounces of water to stay fueled for the long haul! 

Best Greenbelly Meal Flavors

Backpacking Meal Planning Ideas

There are so many different options from so many different brands, but sometimes, spicing it up a bit can be a great addition to add to your total calories and taste. There are a few ideas that have worked best for me in the past, and I’m here to share them with you.

  • Pack a tortilla, hot sauce, and avocado to turn your Mountain House breakfast skillet into a hearty, energy-filled breakfast burrito.
  • Bring along Mac and Cheese to add to Red Chili style dishes
  • Add a good carb source like rice, quinoa, or faro to meat and veggie-heavy meals
  • Purchase a vegan or vegetarian meal and add your own meat source to pack on the protein
Spice up your just add water backpacking meal with some extras!

What is the difference between Dehydrated and Freeze dried?

Although dehydrated and freeze-dried foods both retain a high nutritional value, they have noticeable differences. 

Freeze-dried foods have a longer shelf life, lower moisture content, and often taste better than dehydrated foods. Additionally, freeze-dried foods rehydrate faster and also retain their original shape, texture, and color. The variety of foods that can be freeze-dried is greater than what can be dehydrated.

When a food item is dehydrated, heat and airflow are used to remove moisture from the item. Freeze-drying food uses a combination of extremely low temperatures, vacuum sealing, and heat to accomplish sublimation to remove moisture.

 Creating dehydrated foods in a household kitchen is an affordable possibility with the right equipment. The freeze-drying process often requires commercial equipment. Luckily, either method will leave you with a shelf-stable option that will fuel you for whatever adventure you choose! 

How should I use my freeze-dried meals?

Although some people purchase freeze-dried meals for emergency preparedness, most people invest for their next big hiking trip.

I utilize freeze-dried backpacking meals for my National Park Road Trips, Adirondack Camping Trips, and always have a few stored away just in case. While road tripping, it’s very convenient to have a quick meal option both at your campsite and while you’re traveling from one destination to the next.