• National Park Visitors

Thinking about visiting a National Park?

The Durango Train is the perfect activity to kick start your roadtrip with its abundant access to national parks, monuments, and beautiful sights! You can easily make Durango your basecamp, your starting point, or an additional stop for your road trip with the help of all the information on this page. From Travel Tips to Itineraries, we making planning your adventure to the Durango Train along with national parks easy!

Visiting national parks is a great way to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of the United States while enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. There are over 400 national parks in the U.S., each with its unique features and attractions. It’s a fantastic way to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors while learning about the history and culture of the United States. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoors enthusiast or a first-time visitor, there is something for everyone in the diverse and beautiful national parks of the U.S..

Travel Tips

The best and smoothest travels are those made with some preparation. Here are some travel tips to help you make the most memorable trip.

  • What to Pack


    What type of clothes you pack for your trip will depend on the time of year you visit. Generally, we suggest packing layers since that can easily be removed or added. In addition, hiking shoes with good traction are wise if you plan on exploring some of the trails that many parks offer. Lastly, we suggest packing sturdy jacket for the year-round wind that occurs at higher altitudes.

    Portable Charger

    A portable charger is always great to have as backup for when your phone or any other devices run out of battery. They are especially great for when you are on a long drive. 

    First-Aid Kit

    When it comes to a national parks trip, especially if you choose to camp, it is crucial to have a first-aid kit. Minor scrapes, cuts, and bumps are inevitable when adventuring, so you will need Antibiotic ointment, bandages, gauze, and other basic supplies to treat them. It is also helpful to bring preventative supplies, like insect and mosquito repellent.


    A GPS or GPS map is great for giving you directions when you are driving or on a hike, but it can be difficult to have access to cell service when you’re in the wilderness. This is why it is important to also have a map. You can find them at any national park visitor or welcome center when you arrive. 

    Universal Plug

    If you are traveling from out of the country, it is important to bring a plug that works in the United States, or a universal plug that will work in any country you plan to visit.

  • How to Plan

    1. Make an Itinerary

    There are many national parks and sights to see nearby The Durango Train so it is important to start by deciding where you would like to visit. Luckily, we’ve made it easier by creating a few itineraries you can choose from. These itineraries have suggested stops mapped out for you with how many miles you will have to drive, what time of year to go, and how long you should spend on your trip.

    2. Make a Map

    Again, we have done this step for you in our itineraries. Each one has every stopped mapped out for you! 

    3. Plan Your Time

    Once you have an idea of where you are going, you’ll need to decide how much time you’d like to spend at each stop. Each itinerary has given you a suggested trip time, but you can always spend more time at each stop if you’d like. You’ll need to consider how long it takes to drive to and from each stop. It is easiest to do this stop by stop. 

    4. Plan Your Vehicle 

    You’ll want to start by deciding if you are driving your vehicle from your home or renting one from the airport. If you choose to rent a car, we suggest reserving your car at least four to six weeks in advance from the airport you will arrive. If you choose to get an RV, you’ll have to find an independant operator, as you can’t rent them at most airports. 

    5. Decide Where To Stay

    With deciding how long you still stay at each stop, you’ll also have to decide where you will sleep. Make sure you make your hotel or camping reservations early. In some of the more crowded national parks, like Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone, you may only be allows to stay in the park overnight with reservations. Reservations for many national park campsites and lodges almost all open 3-6 months in advance. Additionally, the most popular campsites sell out within seconds of going online, so plan early!

  • Road Trip Tips

    1. Make a Packing List

    Every great road trip starts with a packing list. Luckily, we’ve already created one for you! Go to the “What to Pack’ section for help. 

    2. Make a Playlist

    What’s a road trip without a road trip playlist? Make sure to download your favorite songs to keep you singing for miles. Another great option is to have some podcasts downloaded to help make the time go by. 

    3. Never Delay Bathroom or Gas Breaks

    You never want to find yourself without gas or a bathroom. Emergency stops on mountainous roads can sometimes be dangerous, or even impossible. Additionally, in the the desert or in the mountain, you may be without cell signal to find your next gas station. Make sure to plan accordingly!

    4. Make Pit Stops

    Sometimes the best stops are the unexpected ones. Try to take lots of pit stops to stretch your legs and give yourselves a break! These out stops are often overlooked small towns, historical sites, and scenic overlooks. It’s nice to break up your long drives with a pit stop to go on a scenic hike and have lunch. 

  • Hiking Essentials

    A Backpack

    A backpack is also important when hiking to keep your food, water, and emergency items. If you’re planning to hike a shorter distance (under a few miles), a 15 liter pack is likely all you need. If you’re wanting to go on a longer hike that will take more than a few hours, or weather is a factor, then we recommend a 30 or 45 liter backpack. 

    A First-Aid Kit

    It is very important to have a first-aid kit in your backpack. There are many affordable pre-assembles first-aid kits that will have everything you need, but you can always adjust it based on how long you’ll be out and how large your group it. We suggest adding bug spray and hydrocortisone cream to your kit to help with bug bites too.

    Trail Shoes

    You don’t necessarily need trail-specific shoes, but it is helpful, especially for longer and more difficult hikes. Trail shoes or hiking boots will offer more support than your regular sneakers. Additionally, some are waterproof and have rubber soles to prevent slipping on rocks and other weather conditions.

    Moisture-Wicking Clothes and Layers

    Layers are very important when hiking, because the weather can change quickly and it allows you to be prepared for all conditions. Additionally, you won’t want to bring cotton clothing because it doesn’t breathe well, takes longer to dry, and doesn’t insulate heat. Moisture-wicking clothes are the best for hiking. 

    A Hydration Bladder or Water Bottle

    If your backpack is designed for it, a hydration bladder is a great companion. If not, any water bottle will do, but we suggest something lightweight and affordable. 

    Plenty of Food/Snacks

    Hiking can make you very hungry, so make sure to pack lots of food! You’ll need to replenish all the calories you’re burning, so pack snacks that are high in protein, like nuts or jerky. 

    A Knife of Multi-Tool

    Some kind of knife of multi-tool is essential for hiking trips. They are helpful in many situations, like first-aid, gear repair, and food preparation. 

    A Headlamp

    A headlamp is great for hiking because it keeps your hands free for other items. Even if your hike is not planned to go in to the night, it’s always good to pack it just in case. You may end up staying later than you expect.

    A Map or GPS

    A physical GPS or GPS app is very important to keeping you on the right track, but you should also always carry a physical map. You may lose cell service or your devices, so it’s always good to have a back up. 

    Sun Protection

    Because you are outside, you should always have some kind of sun protection. Especially on a hike, you are often on higher elevation and closer to the sun. We suggest, bringing sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen in your backpack. 

  • International Visitors

    Here are some things to consider for your vacation if you are visiting from outside of the United States.


    The weather in the United States changes often and the climate is very diverse, so make sure to understand the weather and season you are traveling in to have the proper clothing. You make be going to metropolitan cities to high elevated mountains with below freezing weather at night. 

    Camera Equipment

    The United States is one of the most unique places with lots of different sceneries. From mountains and forests to deserts and open roads, you’ll have a trip of lifetime, so be prepared to take lots of photos. We recommend brining a cell phone with a camera or a SLR camera to get some great photos. 

    Print and Save Documents Online 

    We suggest printing out all of your documents online and keeping them all together in one place. This is great to have as a back up in case things get lost in your email, you lose service, or your phone dies. 

    Cell Phone

    Make sure to check with your local cell phone provider about coverage and plans before you visit the United States. Keep in mind that most national parks have limited to no cell service. You can also buy a pre-paid phone plan once you get in to the United States for local calls. Additionally, many places, like coffee shops and hotels, offer free WiFi. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are National Parks Open All Year?

This depends on the park. Most national parks are open year-round, but may have some closed entrances due to weather or construction. The best way to find out about specific opening hours and road closures is to visit the specific park page on the NPS website.

Are There Rules for Visiting National Parks?

Yes, there are general rules when visiting national parks. The official rules can be found on the official national park website. It is also important to note that some rules change seasonally. For example, campfire regulations may fluctuate depending on drought conditions and the risk of wildfires.

Do the National Parks Have Guided Tours?

Yes, each national park offers guided tours that are hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) or by certified guides. You can find more information about guided tours at each park’s visitor and welcome center.

Where Can I Get Official Park Maps?

Many national parks have digital, downloadable versions of park maps, as well as, copies in visitor and welcome centers.

Can I Drive In To A National Park and Is There a Fee?

Most of the national parks are accessible by car, RV or bus. When you enter the park, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee, which is usually between $20-$40 per vehicle. Depending on the park and season, park passes may be valid for up to seven days. If you plan to visit several national parks, we recommend you buy the America the Beautiful Pass for $80.

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