Unexpected Adventure

3 Trips for the Solo Adventurer

There's no doubt that experiencing your national parks with friends and family is an exciting way to reconnect, but there's also something to be said for striking out on your own.

Sometimes the beauty and solitude of nature are best appreciated all by yourself – just be sure to prepare appropriately and share your detailed itinerary with friends and family before heading out the door to enjoy some of the best places in America for a solo journey!

New River Gorge National River

West Virginia
Adventure is Out There

Adventure waits around every bend of West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River, which, as one of the oldest rivers on the continent, cuts a path through 70,000 acres of wilderness. The New River is best known for its whitewater rafting and kayaking opportunities, and you'll find sections suitable for rafters of all skill levels, from the mild rapids on the upper river to the pummeling Class III and IV rapids farther downstream.

Going solo on the New River requires extreme caution. Always wear a life jacket, don't overestimate your activities, and make sure somebody in the outside world knows your itinerary before you go. Above all, understand that the river is unpredictable, and treat it with respect.

Things to Do

  • Biking
  • Arts & Culture
  • Birdwatching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing

Grand Teton National Park

Wyoming
Escape to the Mountains

Grand Teton National Park was made for wanderers, and whether you plan to travel by car or on foot, there's a path for you. Scenic driving routes crisscross the Wyoming landscape like cobwebs, providing easy access to the park's stunning mountain vistas and lush valleys. Be sure to stop at the visitor center for a park map. If you have the time, you can even follow the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway into neighboring Yellowstone National Park.

For those who prefer to get off the road, hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park provide almost endless options, ranging from short day hikes to extended backpacking trips. Just don't expect it to be easy – rugged terrain, high elevations, and changing weather all but ensure a challenging hike – and don't forget you're in bear country. Be sure to brush up on bear safety before you leave the trailhead. If you plan to stay overnight, camping accommodations range from primitive backcountry campsites to developed roadside campgrounds for tents and RVs.

Things to Do

  • Biking
  • Arts & Culture
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Children's Programs

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Colorado
The Skies the Limit

There's a solitude in the dark night skies of Great Sand Dunes National Park that can be found almost nowhere else. Some of the lowest light pollution in the nation gives this Colorado park some of the clearest night skies around, which means you'll see stars you never even knew were there. The experience might make you feel small, or it might make you feel a connection to the universe you've never experienced before. Either way, the beauty is undeniable.

You'll also find plenty to do during the daytime hours, from hiking and horseback riding to sandboarding and sand sledding. Taking a dip in Medano Creek is particularly refreshing on a hot desert day, and the creek also provides a habitat for the rare Rio Grande cutthroat trout. Camping is available in the park, and lodges and cabins are nearby.

Things to Do

  • Biking
  • Arts & Culture
  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Children's Programs
  • Climbing

Just because you're going solo on your national park journey this summer, that doesn't mean you can't share your memories. Check out our latest infographic for more national park trip ideas!

Woman holding a camera walking in a field
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