by Matt, Nov 2021
Hi fellow traveler! I hope your 2021 summer was exciting! If you’re like us, you’ve had it up to here with COVID, but hopefully, you got out of the house and explored our amazing world this year.
For me, this year was incredibly special for a few reasons.
First, we visited great places, like Disney World, the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Washington, DC, and the Black Hills.
But even more exciting, I quit my job of 16 years to work on our business full-time!
AND I OWE IT ALL TO YOU! Thank you for watching our videos, reading our articles, leaving comments, purchasing our guides, saying hi to us when you saw us while traveling, or whatever else you did to support us. Whatever you have done, we appreciate YOU for being with us.
Our goal from the beginning was to help you have great trips out West. And we’re just getting started!
The National Parks were PACKED this year
As predicted, the National Parks were slammed this year!
With everyone tired of being cooped up, and with the uncertainty of visiting Europe, many people opted instead to come out West to the great American National Parks.
Add the “baby boomer” effect and visitation records are being set at most of the national parks. Boomers are retired and ready for travel!
Sidenote: I worked for the Social Security Administration for 16 years, and now many of my customers are traveling Baby Boomers! So I’ve always had a special connection with boomers, including my parents!
Are the parks TOO CROWDED?
In spite of what you might hear from the media, I believe the reports of the national parks’ demise are premature.
First, people felt the same way in the 1950s and 60s when visitation increased at a rate FAR outpacing the current rate. The World War II Generation nearly overwhelmed the parks in the post-war years when the economy was good and the automobile was becoming ubiquitous.
Second, parks have always been adjusting to the increasing crowds. The early focus of the parks was to build roads for visitors to access. Ever since the 1970s, they’ve focused on alternate solutions. For example, Zion and Bryce have been using shuttles to transport visitors for over 20 years.
What will the future bring?
The future will certainly bring CHANGE. Many parks experimented with reservations and ticketed entry systems this year. And Yellowstone even rolled out a self-driving shuttle named TEDDY this year!
It’s a pilot program but could be a sign of things to come. Make sure to visit park websites before you go so you know the latest changes they are implementing.
Should you still visit the national parks?
We still had a great time visiting our national parks this year!
Honestly, we barely noticed the extra crowds. Perhaps it was because we were prepared — we’ve been visiting these parks long enough we know the general trends.
Perhaps it was our expectations. We expected the worst and we packed our patience.
Get your reservations for next year
Lodging reservations for the national parks typically open 13 months in advance, so next year might be booked already. You can check back regularly for cancellations, or consider booking accommodations near the parks.
Camping reservations typically open six months in advance, so you may need to get on this immediately!
It’s also a good idea to consider restaurant reservations well in advance.
Have a plan
We’ve been visiting the national parks for years, and we still need to prepare for our trips. Benefit from our experience by reading our articles and watching our videos.
We also have guides for Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Glacier.
By springtime, we should have Bryce, Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills, and Washington DC.
Consider visiting less crowded places
The national parks are just the tip of the iceberg in the West — they’re the most visible, but there is so much more around them!
This year we rode ATVs, Jeeps, and eBikes in the desert southwest. We visited cities like Las Vegas, St George, Utah, and Cody, Wyoming.
2021 Holiday Gift Guide
NOW is the time to start Christmas shopping because product shortages are expected. We’ve put together a super-awesome Holiday Gift Guide for the Traveler in your life! Here are a few items, but make sure to check out the full list as well.
A blanket is PERFECT for those long road trips out West!
Want the last blanket you’ll ever need to own? Buy a Minky Couture. This Utah company is just starting to get discovered by people outside of Utah — be the first one in your neighborhood with one of these!
One of our viewers ordered one with our 45% off code and said “I surprised my wife and got her a Minky and it came in the mail yesterday. As blanket lovers, this is the best one we own now. I picked out a Taffy Pink Hugs Grande. Thanks for the recommendation and the code. No doubt I’ll have to order my daughter one for Christmas.”
Use the code ROCKIES45 to get 45% off!
National Park Lotions and Candles
I discovered the most AMAZING candles, lotions, and air fresheners at a store near me. They’re made by Good Well Supply Co of Seattle, and they have scents for each national park!
I kid you not, the Yellowstone candle will make you feel like you’re walking around in the forest.
National Park Posters
I discovered these while driving around this year, and I love the nostalgic look and the classic cars features in them. They are designed and printed by John Clark, a photographer and artist.
Find them at his Scenic Hwys website. I already have the Grand Canyon hanging up in my office.
If you’re visiting Yellowstone or Grand Teton, I highly recommend getting a pair of binoculars. These parks are some of the best places to see wildlife in the lower 48 states, and people come from all over the world to do so.
Trust me on this, it will make your wildlife experience MUCH better. Bison will walk right up by your car at times, but for bears, coyotes, or wolves, you need binoculars or even a scope.
Check out our Holiday Gift Guide for the Traveler for many more great ideas!
Video of the Month
This month’s video is a travel guide all about Bryce Canyon, one of the lesser-crowded parks (hint-hint!). Bryce Canyon is one of our most beloved places and has been since we were little kids.
Article of the Month
This month’s article is the gruesome-sounding but ever-interesting topic: How many people have died in the Grand Canyon? You’d be surprised at the number one way people die in the Grand Canyon.
I’m busy working on more YouTube videos, articles, itineraries, and audio guides. I’ll have to work really hard all winter long to keep my mind off the fact that I’m not traveling!
I CAN’T WAIT for 2022!
Have a GREAT Thanksgiving. See you next month.