National Park Tips for First-time Visitors

National Parks have inspired so many of my collections. We have over 120 National Park Cat’s Meows and continue working with the parks adding new pieces throughout the year. 


I’ve had the privilege of visiting many of our nation's parks from coast to coast. And, two of my favorite National Parks are Zion and Joshua Tree in Utah and Southern California.

Wind-blown me excited to explore Arches National Park, Moab, Utah


In today’s Purrsday blog, I want to share with you some of the tips I wish I would have known when I started traveling to the parks.

I know these tips will really help you out when you travel to any of our 63 National Parks. 


TIP 1: First stop at each park needs to be the visitor center and bookstore/museum. 

Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah

Depending on the size of the park, there may be several visitor buildings. Make sure to acquaint yourself with what each one offers for the visitor experience.


National Parks Passports available at all U.S. National Parks.National Parks Passports available at all U.S. National Parks.
National Parks Passports available at all U.S. National Parks.
Junior Rangers Program, like the Passports, are available at most National Parks.
Junior Rangers Program, like the Passports, are available at most National Parks.


There you can purchase a Passport book in the visitor center bookstore and start filling it with park cancellation stamps. You can find the stamping station within the visitor center, just ask if you don’t see it.

Oh, and don't forget the Junior Rangers Program! 


My biggest Passport tip: I’ve been filling my Passport book since 1997. Even if you forget to carry your book with you, simply stamp a blank piece of paper, then cut it out and paste it in your Passport when you get home.



TIP 2: Grab up the free park map and any other free literature offered in the visitor center. 

picking up free brochures and map while at a U.S. National Park is a must
Believe me, I have a file cabinet full of National Park brochures!


I also stamp all the maps and literature I pick up during that visit. It’s fun to see the past dates and remember little things about that trip when I look back through my literature.


I take time to read through the literature and get a good overview of the park with the map. If I can, I’ll find a little cafe nook or park bench to relax and absorb all the details. The National Parks do a great job of providing detailed maps that are very informative.


Once you’ve looked everything over, you’ll feel like you already know the park before you take your first step into exploring.


My biggest Park map tip: Grab a pen, and make comments on the map as you travel through the park. You'll appreciate the notes when you get home!



TIP 3: Take in as many of the Park Ranger demonstrations as you can. 

Ranger programs at Yellowstone National Park.Ranger programs at Yellowstone National Park. this ranger is helping my grandson test the temperature of one of the many springs
Ranger programs at Yellowstone National Park.


Ask at the visitor center for the events of the day. (Some may be presented right there in the visitor center, and other demonstrations may be out within the park.) 


I also take in the kid's demos. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about the park! Park rangers are your friends, so don’t be afraid to stop them to ask questions.



TIP 4: Don’t miss the museums within the visitor centers ranging from small to extensive. (Some museums are stand-alone buildings.)

Cat's Meow replica of Albright Visitor's Center, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Albright Visitor's Center, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming


Even if museums are not your thing… you must not miss spending time in a National Park museum. They provide history of the land, people, environment, wildlife and so much more. You can spend more time delving into the things that interest you and skim over the rest. I don't think you'll be disappointed. Plus, it's an enjoyable visit for visitors of all abilities.


My biggest museum tip: I like to visit the museums during my travels through the park, or at the end of my day. I’ve found if I visit a museum first, I don’t have any context of the park to really soak in the information provided. But, by the end of the day, I can relate my time out in the park to what I’m seeing and reading in the museum.



Leave a comment below or head on over to Instagram or Facebook and let us know if these tips were helpful. We’d also love to know how many National Parks you've been to. 


Purrs, Faline, Casper, and The Cat’s Meow Crew


We handcraft all of our keepsakes in Ohio from ¾” thick wood with detailed front designs and written descriptions on the back. They can be set neatly on a shelf, desk, or narrow ledge such as wainscoting, window, or door trim.

Group them with other Cat’s Meows to create your own little Village!

Look for Casper, our black cat mascot, sitting or reclining within the design. He's the sign of an authentic Cat's Meow souvenir replica.



If you are new here, I am Faline Jones, creator and founder

Make sure you join our email list to get notified when a new blog is released.

When you join our list you also get exclusive discounts and updates on collections before anyone else! It’s definitely a fun place to be.

Sign up for our Mewsletter and move into the best neighborhood in our Village. You'll get your paws on monthly purrivileges including "insider" news and savings.


Check your inbox for a Welcome email with a SAVINGS code. Go dumpster diving if you don't find it.


We respect your email privacy


Faline, and of course, Casper


Via Elaine Spencer Babcock in Facebook comment: We spend part of the winter in Indio, CA, near Joshua Tree and go there often to hike. It is a special place. Enjoyed your tips in the newsletter - we do all those. See the film at the visitor’s center, if there is one. A good overview and history of the park. Take a hike with a ranger, they are a wealth of knowledge. We visited Pinnacles National Park in California this month and it is a small gem. That was the 25th park we have visited and I have the passport book, started in 2009, and several stamps are pasted in!
Purrfect tip, Elaine! Yes, spending time watching the films at the visitor centers offers a wealth of information while you relax! Thanks for the Pinnacles NP tip! And, keep on hiking!

Add new comment

Comment Policy

Please join the conversation! We like long and thoughtful communication. Once you submit a comment, it will be reviewed by our staff before it is approved.