It’s National Park Week
, so I’m reminding you to get out there and enjoy our country’s public treasures. I just went to Joshua Tree National Park
two weeks ago, where the namesake Seussian trees had sprouted big cones of pale green blooms. The entrances to the park were flanked by carpets of pale yellow and purple wildflowers, a sight as stunning as the now-departed poppy blooms of Lake Elsinore
. The cholla cactus garden, with its spiky teddy-bear charm, had a lot of selfie-stick carrying visitors trying to catch the last of the desert sunset, but climbing the boulders at Jumbo Rocks without another soul in sight reminded me that if you can’t get to the moon, this is the next best place.
At Joshua Tree, you have to carry in your own water. If you’re camping for a weekend with another person, the 7-gallon Reliance Aqua-Tainer
from our emergency gear guide
should hold enough so you don’t have to buy jugs of water outside of the park (thus reducing plastic waste). Its compact, square shape is great for packing in the back of the car. For day hikes, I’m a fan of the insulated Hydro Flask 40oz Wide Mouth
, the XL version of our insulated bottle
recommendation, which keeps water cool all day without being excessively bulky.
If you’re new to hiking, a good pair of hiking boots can make a big difference by supporting your ankle and giving you strong grip on slippery terrain. I’m a big La Sportiva fan (we recommend the women's La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX
as a runner-up in our guide to the best hiking boots
). I don’t own the Trango model, but I can attest to the out-of-the-box comfort of the pair I have owned for a few years. Size up or stay true to size—never size down—to give your toes somewhere to go when you’re walking downhill.
I also own the REI Co-op Camp Dome 4
we recommend in our guide to the best car-camping tent for two people
. It’s nice to have a bit of room when you’re sharing with one or two others, and I love how easy and intuitive it is to put together, even if it’s been a while since I took it out.
Most national park campgrounds can be reserved up to six months in advance at Recreation.gov,
and weekends have a tendency to fill up quickly at the popular spots. There are also plenty of first come, first served spots, but near busy areas, you may need to go on a Thursday if you want to claim a spot for the weekend.
Find the parks in your state here
. Unplug and commune IRL with people (or animals or books or fire or rocks, whatever you’re into offscreen). And for Woodrow Wilson
’s sake, don’t wreck the land for the ’gram
. The future thanks you.