This morning were on a call with experts from around the country on the topic of road-trips and which locations would be safe to visit. The attendees included representatives from the National Park Service (NPS) as well as private campsite representatives, travel writers and experts from the RV and campervan industry.
Here is the quick version of what's a good idea vs not so good idea:
The big well known National Parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone, for example, are expected to get quite busy, despite admission restrictions and limited services.
Social distancing will likely be difficult on trails in the popular areas - lots of hikers passing in close proximity to one another.
There will be limited staff working at these parks (as the parks will be open on a limited/phased basis), so facilities such as restrooms and restaurants etc may not all be open.
Some parks like Zion rely on shuttles to transport visitors around the popular areas. This isn't ideal for social distancing.
Playgrounds and pools in or near many parks will be shut.
What we recommend for your upcoming road trip or park visit (the good ideas!):
Visit the lesser known parks. For example, go to King's Canyon instead of Yosemite. King's Canyon is one of the most under appreciated wonders of California - it has something for everyone. It won't be nearly as crowded as places like Yosemite, so fewer people = available campsites and better social distancing.
Get off the beaten path. By this we mean, take to the dirt roads and lesser known routes. There are thousands of these around California and they offer equally good (if not better) scenery than the heavily traffic'd popular tourist routes. At Funki Adventures, we have a list of forest trails, unpaved tracks and routes that get you away from the masses.
Camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. There are thousands and thousands of acres of BLM land out there and its FREE to camp on. With campsites costing between $40 to $100 per night (plus the booking fees), camping for free allows you to save hundreds of dollars, which can be spent on important stuff like steak, beer, wine and ice cream.
The California Coast has many hidden gems. While every campsite and hotel along the 101 will be booked solid from Labor Day onwards, the plentiful secret trails and off-road camp sites offer amazing adventures, stunning places to sleep and again - most are absolutely free. You just need to know where to look...
Closer to San Diego, towns like Julian and Idyllwild have so much to offer. The temperature in summer in these areas is perfect too, due to their high elevation. Both offer free dispersed camping, in addition to private campsites for those looking for some additional amenities.
Funki Adventures are building trip plans to specifically cater for Post Covid-19 road trips. We know there will be crowding at popular spots. We expect a significantly higher demand at traditional campsites this year.
As a result, we are tailoring our trip plans to help you get away from the crowds, stay in stunning locations and really get to discover some amazing parts of California whether you want to visit the desert, the mountains or take a coastal trek up to Big Sur.
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