When people outside of the United States ask for the best sights to visit when traveling to our country, national parks are the first places that come to mind.

Yellowstone’s geyser-filled landscape feels like another world. We were lucky to catch its beehive geyser in action.

Sure, there are lots of big beautiful cities to visit. But nothing says America more than our national park system.

We plan our travel year around visiting at least one of them.

Hardest part – choosing a park

The decision is a tough one. It’s hard to venture out to new parks because we want to see more of the ones we’ve just left. But every time we add a park to our collection, we’re rewarded with a unique adventure.

As we tell ourselves, “They don’t just designate any place a national park. It’s got to be special.” As advertised, national parks always deliver an extraordinary experience.

Plan to stay inside the park for the best experience

If you’re going to invest the time going to one of these adult- and kid-friendly playgrounds, plan to stay in the park. There’s nothing better than being there when most of the visitors have left. And it’s pretty darn affordable – whether camping or staying in a lodge.

The views and Swiss-chalet design of Many Glacier Hotel make it our favorite accommodation in Glacier National Park.

As the world’s largest log-constructed hotel, Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park draws lots of visitors. To fully appreciate its charm, book one of the rooms with a private bath in the older part of the hotel.

With the canyon just a stone’s throw from El Tovar, it’s the place to stay in Grand Canyon National Park.

Emphasis on the ‘planning’ part

There’s one catch. Set your calendar to book your stay up to 13 months in advance. You’ll want to ask the park when it opens its bookings for the following year and mark your calendar.

In some cases, you’ll need to make a deposit of a night’s stay, but most parks offer generous cancellation policies. Typically they only require between a few weeks’ or days’ notice of cancellation for a full refund.

It may require some well-in-advance planning, but I promise you’ll be greatly rewarded for your efforts. Just consider all that extra time you’ll have to plan for and look forward to the trip.

What’s your advice for making the most of a national park visit?