One of my (Amy’s) personal goals for 2019 is to spend less time dwelling on the 24 hour news cycle, and more time filling my brain with the amazing and exciting content that other National Park lovers are creating. I had break up with my phone not too long ago and am working on finding some better forms of media to spend my time with.
Luckily, there are so many blogs, Instagrams, and podcasts dedicated to the national parks now. We love being inspired by other’s trips and would much rather read about cool travel plans than government shutdowns or trade wars.
It’s 2019 so we probably don’t have to sell you on the perks of podcasts. But they are a big part of our longer road trips and when we’re logging time in the airport or at the gym. Sometimes we’ll turn on an episode while making dinner or when we’re done being in front of a screen for the day.
So tune your smart speaker or plug in your earbuds. Today we’re sharing our votes for the best national park podcasts to listen to in 2019.
The Best National Park Podcasts for 2019
Gaze at the National Parks
Top of our list of best national park podcasts for 2019 is one that arrived on the national park scene in September 2018. Born from their amazing Instagram feed of the same name, avid hikers Dustin Ballard and Michael Ryan share their experiences in the most popular national parks. Episodes either recap a recent trip or cover fun topics related to hiking and spending time outdoors. Every episode has us hysterically laughing (we especially love the “commercial breaks!”) and itching to get back on the trail.
Start with their December 31, 2018 episode, “Trail Mix: Government Shutdown Breakdown”. It brilliantly re-caps the structure, funding, and impacts of a government shutdown on the National Park Service.
**Note: iTunes attaches a parental advisory to some of the Gaze at the National Parks episodes. While we love their humor, we could see how it might not be appropriate for all ages.
America’s National Parks Podcast
Also debuting in 2018, America’s National Parks podcast quickly became popular among national park fans. Sponsored by L.L. Bean, the podcast episodes remind us of “60-Minutes” style news stories about the parks. Some of the stories feature historical records about the parks, others share more current events topics. Either way, each episode is carefully curated, researched, and always full of new facts we didn’t know about the parks.
A great listen for a long car ride or an evening glass of wine!
Podcasts with Park Rangers
When Virtual Kamper came out with Podcasts with Park Rangers in 2018 we were stoked. Over and over, our encounters with park rangers rank high as some of our best memories in the national parks. In each episode, host Lucas VK (who has an amazing radio voice!) introduces us to an interpretive park ranger who describes the park they work in and what they love about their job as a park ranger. We also love that the podcast is supported by a Patreon community of other like-minded, national park fans.
In late October Podcasts with Park Rangers featured Ranger Katie, who we’d just met on our tour of Oregon Caves National Monument! So much fun to hear a familiar voice on a podcast we love!
We’ve shared our admiration for Cole and Elizabeth Donelson on Park Chasers before and continue to love their site. Their podcast “Switchbacks” has been a mainstay on our iTunes since our blogs began roughly the same time.
During the National Park Centennial celebration, Cole and Elizabeth left full time careers to visit all 59 National Parks in one calendar year. Recently, they completed an extended tour through Europe and Africa and are sharing some stories there as well.
The episodes can get a bit long for one sitting, but we find ourselves coming back to their solid travel advice time and again.
Wild Ideas Worth Living
While not exclusively national parks, this REI-sponsored podcast had to show up on our list. It’s one of our favorites. In each episode, outdoor adventurist Shelby Stanger conducts an interview with an incredible guest who shares their story of how the outdoors, adventures, (and sometimes national parks!) shapes who they have become.
The guests are outstanding, the interview questions are sincere and don’t leave you with that ‘canned’ podcast feel. Some of our favorite episodes: Aspen Matis’s on hiking the PCT, Alex Honnold on his free-solo climb of El Cap, and ultrarunner Scott Jurek.
We love being inspired to try new things by the ‘wild ideas’ of the guests on this show.
Everybody’s National Parks
This is the most recent addition to our national parks podcast list. We’re just a few episodes into the podcast, but hosts Brian and Danielle have a great energy. The trip reports share some great advice and they’ve had some terrific guests from the National Park Service.
We’re just a few episodes into their show, but looking forward to hearing their perspective in 2019. We bet it will be on the best national park podcasts list for next year also!