As many parts of the country starts to open back up, tourist hotspots cautiously follow — and after months of mitigation efforts, many Americans are itching for a vacation.
Experts agree that outdoor activities carry significantly less risk than indoor ones.1 If you’re looking to get away, you’re in luck; parks are beginning to open on a park-by-park basis. Consider visiting these five national parks or beach towns that will be open to tourists this summer.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Smoky Mountains are a favorite amongst park visitors, being the most visited national park in 2019.2 The park lies between North Carolina and Tennessee, spans over 500,000 acres and boasts an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking sights. Visitors can hike, bike, fish, ride horses and camp among other activities.
Full information about the national park is available on its website, but all trails are currently open to the public. Certain visitor centers and campgrounds are open, including the popular Cades Cove and Anthony Creek Horse Camp.3
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is a red-rocked tourist destination in Utah, about four hours out from Las Vegas. It’s notorious for its many viewpoints overseeing the canyon and guided horseback rides.
Similar to the Great Smoky Mountains, many locations at Bryce Canyon are opening with a phased approach. The main road, viewpoints and most trails are available to visitors. Lodging and shuttles are opening with safety precautions, and campgrounds are available by reservation.4
3. Everglades National Park
The Everglades in Florida, along with other Floridian national parks, resumed commercial operations at the beginning of June. The national park is the third largest, with ample opportunities for water recreation such as canoeing, kayaking and boating. Its subtropical climate also makes it a perfect destination for nature lovers.
Currently, the park has reopened its Shark Valley and Gulf Coast visitor areas, as well as certain backcountry wilderness camping sites. Guided tours and services are resuming at reduced capacity. Before you visit, be sure to check the website for availability and reservation options.5
4. Assateague Island National Seashore
This beach destination between Maryland and Virginia is ideal for adventurous campers. Visitors to Assateague Island can camp right on the beach and witness wild horses during their stay. You can take hikes, kayak or surf fish, all while enjoying the serenity of the shore.
Reservations are required to camp at Assateague Island through November 15th. In addition, there are presently no lifeguards on duty, so visitors should partake in water activities at their own risk.6
5. Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands is an oceanside national park spanning over five Californian islands. Each island has its own unique landscape. There’s no shortage of possibilities at this national park: you can camp, snorkel, explore caves and even go whale watching.
The islands are open to visitors during the day as well as overnight, and boat transportation between islands has resumed with safety precautions. If you’re interested in any activities that require extra equipment, it’s advised to contact partnered rental institutions in advance.7
While it’s exciting to return to some degree of normalcy, it’s still important to remain cautious as you travel. Follow the safety guidelines put in place and plan accordingly. Now’s the time to get outdoors—enjoy the summer and make sure you do it safely.