Top alternatives to closed US national parks

Andy Murdock About Andy Murdock

The US government may be shut down, but don’t shut down your vacation plans just yet—you’ve got options. Try one of these top alternatives to popular US National Parks:

CLOSED: Gettysburg National Military Park

It’s the 150th anniversary of the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address—but right now, you can’t go. While many of the most significant Civil War sites are federal land, countless others are in state and county parks and are open for visitors. Near Gettysburg, try beautiful Caledonia State Park on the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Confederate army approached the Battle of Gettysburg (and later retreated) through Caledonia, and it’s a historic Underground Railroad site.

For added authenticity, stay in a Civil-War-era house.

1830s log cabin house at Clear Spring Mill, Dillsburg, Pennsylvania

1830s log cabin house at Clear Spring Mill

CLOSED: Yosemite National Park

2013 was a double-whammy year for Yosemite: the government shutdown came right on the heels of the Rim Fire, the largest recorded wildfire in the Sierra Nevada. But High Sierra grandeur isn’t totally out of reach. Hoping to visit a giant sequoia grove? Head to Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold, California. Keep going up Highway 4 to catch autumn in the highest reaches of the Sierra Nevada near Lake Alpine before the snow sets in.

Book a mountain hideaway in California Gold Country.

Giant sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a national park alternative

Giant sequoias at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

CLOSED: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

As disappointing as it is that Hawaii’s premier park is closed, YOU’RE IN HAWAII. You’ll get over it. But if you’re hankering for volcanic goodies on the Big Island, you’ve got options. Kazumura Cave, the longest and deepest lava tube system in the world, is just east of the National Park, and can be explored with the help of local guides. Stroll Lava Tree State Monument, a forest of lava columns where trees once stood. Finish with a dip at Ahalanui Park, in its volcano-heated natural pool.

Lava lovers look no further—book a stay near Volcano.

Mahinui Na Lani Treehouse at Kilauea Volcano, Big Island of Hawai'i, just east of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Mahinui Na Lani Treehouse at Kilauea Volcano, Big Island of Hawai’i

CLOSED: Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is closed. Well, almost. The Rockies don’t stop at the Canadian border, and the Canadian continuation of the park, Waterton Lakes National Park, is open for business. This is no second-fiddle park—the dramatic glacially carved landscape dotted with mountain goats and furry marmots is just as eye-poppingly amazing as on the US side. Just remember to pack your passport.

Stay on either side of the border for access to Waterton Lakes.

The Panabode guest house at Flint Rock Ranch, Pincher Creek, Alberta. One option for access to the national park.

The Panabode guest house at Flint Rock Ranch, Pincher Creek, Alberta

Speaking of Canada, why not just keep going, eh? Browse the best of Canada on Airbnb.


Andy Murdock About Andy Murdock

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  1. Joie

    Hi ~
    This is the website of New York State Senator Liz Krueger: She is the major proponent of the anti-Airbnb legislation in New York. She lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. I urge urge to publish this and have people contact her to let her know that Airbnb hosts are not slum lords, but hardworking people who could use a few extra bucks and want to share the great city of New York with visitors from all over. State Senator Krueger is, or course, a Democrat.
    Good luck to you!

  2. Rebecca

    Unfortunately Joshua Tree National Park is closed too, so we created an extensive list of “Other Things to do Near Joshua Tree. ” —

    Since creating this list, we’ve ventured out to a few locations that we had not been to yet and have had a blast! See – always a silver lining!

    - Rebecca Berggren
    RockHouse Retreat
    “Get-Away with Hot Tub Near Joshua Tree”