Active travel in the great outdoors

We share some of our favourite things to do in America's incredible national parks.

A visit to one of the 58 protected national parks in the United States is part of the cultural fibre of the great American childhood. The wood-panelled station wagon, long summer camps, evenings toasting s’mores by the fire… Every year, over 280 million day trippers, campers, hikers and cyclists pay homage to the breathtaking landscape and overwhelming beauty of these wonders of nature. Here we’ve shared activities to get you out cycling, hiking and stargazing in five of these majestic parks.

Biking Yosemite

What better way to experience the soaring sequoias and looming mountains of California’s Yosemite National Park than weaving your way along 19kms of paved bicycle trails? While cycling is also permitted on the main roads throughout Yosemite, these dedicated trails carve a path for cyclists to take in the magnificent landscape of Yosemite Valley. Fairly flat with only occasional inclines, cruising around the valley floor is relatively easy and the flowing Merced River provides a picturesque picnic spot for lunch.

Hiking the Grand Canyon

The rugged landscape and isolated wilderness of the Grand Canyon, Arizona is both challenging and thrilling to explore on foot. Immense and overwhelming, a hiking trip into the canyon requires detailed planning and careful consideration of ability, weather conditions and travel time. Sarah Shier, Preventative Search and Rescue Ranger at the Grand Canyon always ensures her rucksack is packed with the following essentials for any length hike – water and electrolytes, food and salty snacks, torch, first aid kit, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, raincoat, spray bottle and a good attitude. The park’s South Rim entry provides year-round access while the quieter North Rim is best visited between mid May to mid October.

Paddling in Everglades National Park

A sub-tropical wilderness, Everglades National Park in Florida receives over one million visitors each year and there’s no better way to take in its magnificent wildlife than paddling through freshwater marshes and mangrove forests. Canoe and kayak trails through the park vary between several hours to several days and you can apply for permits to set up overnight camp. Expect the occasional alligator sighting, wading birds, tropical hardwood hammocks and mosquitoes – don’t forget the repellent.

Winter sports at Cuyahoga Valley

The only national park in the state of Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is just thirty minutes drive from Cleveland and Akron. Don’t let its close proximity to these big cities deter you, this park provides a refuge from the urban landscape, rich in animal life, waterfalls, rolling hills and steep ravines. Come winter, thick snow blankets the park and visitors flock to sled, tube, ice fish, ski and snowshoe in Cuyahoga. Start off your day’s activities at the Winter Sports Center at Kendall Lake Shelter, easy distance to ski trails, tubing areas and sledding spots. The centre runs when snow is four inches or deeper and is open daily in January and February and has snow shoe and cross country ski hire available.

Stargazing in Bryce Canyon

High elevation, dry climate and minimal light pollution make the dark skies of Southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon one of the best spots on earth for stargazing. The Dark Rangers of Bryce Canyon – volunteer astronomers and park rangers – educate visitors on stargazing, offer green laser constellation tours and hold planisphere workshops at the annual Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival. An astronomy program is held 104 nights of the year, and the best time to visit is when the canyon is darkest – during a new moon or the week prior to a new moon. Before the sun sets, the mysterious hoodoos, tall spires of rocks, provide an eerie, otherworldly landscape to explore.

Insure your health when you travel with Medibank Travel Insurance. 

Recommended reading - Protecting your vision

Lifestyle

23 facts about your eyes

Take a look at some of the unknowns of your most precious sense.

Read more
Experts

5 ways to protect your eyes this summer

Don't let the summer sun damage your eyes – OPSM shares some top tips for keeping your eyes safe

Read more
Experts

Caring for aging eyes

Understanding how our vision changes as we get older, and how to keep our eyes in good condition.

Read more
Experts

Food for healthy eyes

Ophthalmologist Dr Eric Mayer gives us some food for thought on nourishing our eyes.

Read more
Experts

Hayfever treatment

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis afflicts up to 40% of Australians.

Read more
Experts

How to care for contact lenses

Keep those contacts clean! Here's how to avoid common complications with your lenses.

Read more
Community

Amazing eye facts

Optometrists Association Australia provides reasons why you should visit an optometrist.

Read more
Lifestyle

6 creative developments in health tech

Sci-fi or reality? The latest innovations in the brave new world of health tech are unbelievable.

Read more
Advice

Protect your eyes on the run

All you need to know about protecting your eyes as you clock up the kilometres.

Read more
Experts

Sun safety: How to protect your eyes

Your vision is unique - Opthamologist Gerard Sutton explains how and why you should protect it.

Read more
Experts

How to prevent eye injuries

Keep those eyes safe during sport. The Vision Eye Institute shares some expert advice

Read more
Experts

Myopia: Myths and facts about short-sightedness

What’s the best way to manage myopia? Professor Kathryn Rose explains the facts of short-sightedness

Read more
Lifestyle

Sight set on eye health

Aussie rocker Kirk Pengilly discusses eye health, specs and health challenges of touring.

Read more
Lifestyle

The history of glasses

Where would we be without glasses? Nick Snelling takes a close look at the evolution of eyewear.

Read more
Community

The role of an optometrist

Optometrist Julia Kapov explains how an optometrist can help you on your journey to better health.

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.