We’ve heard this story before. You’ve got everyone else crossed off your list, the holiday shopping is nearly done. Except for that one, tricky-to-buy-for family member. What are the best gifts for a national park lover?
You’re in luck. Today we’re sharing our 9 best gift ideas for every #parkchaser on your list. From passes to posters, from vacations to donations, we’ve collected the top gift ideas to help you find the perfect gift.
A note about this post: Some of the posts links in this post are affiliate links. Park Chasers is an Amazon Affiliate. By purchasing items through these links, you provide Park Chasers with financial support to create this content. Thanks for supporting our goal to visit all the national parks!
1. National Park Annual Pass
If you’re visiting your first park or your 400th park, one gift you should consider is the Interagency Access Pass. These national park passes, also known as “America the Beautiful” passes, cover the entrance fees to national parks and other federal lands for a year.
For around $80, your pass covers entrance fees to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites around the United States. It includes not only pays for entries into the National Park Service, but also gives you access to lands and waters of the Fisheries and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Bureau of Reclamation.
There are different annual passes for adults, seniors, military and disabled Americans. To find out which pass is the best gift for a national park lover you know, check out our Ultimate Guide to National Park Passes.
2. National Park Passport Book
Our second stocking-stuffer gift for a national park lover is the Passport to Your National Parks. It’s one of the first things we purchased when we started #parkchasing years ago. Produced by Eastern National and found in almost every bookstore in the NPS, our passport book has become one of the most treasured objects in our entire house.
Started in 1986, the passport program was designed to help travelers document their national park visits and celebrate major milestones in the park system’s history.
The premise is simple: First, you purchase the passport online or in a National Park Service bookstore location. Then at each NPS unit, you visit, collect the passport cancellation stamp marking your location and the date of your visit. Once you own the Passport, every passport stamp is free at each NPS site. The initial purchase of the book is all you need to create your own national park history.
The NPS passports come in several different styles, including Classic, Collector’s Edition, Explorer Edition, and a Junior Ranger version. To find out which one is the right passport for the national park enthusiast on your shopping list, check out our guide: How to Choose the Best National Park Passport for Your Next Adventures.
3. National Park Photography Classes
Earlier this year, we did an entire series on “How to Take Better National Park Photos.” For a national park enthusiast, there’s nothing worse than traveling to a new park, snapping all sorts of pictures, and finding that none of them turned out how you liked when you arrive back home.
This year, consider purchasing a national park photography workshop or class–what we think is one of the best gifts for a national park lover. Not only will it give your loved one a chance to learn more about their camera and how to take better photos, but they’ll also get to spend time outdoors in some of their favorite places.
To get started, contact your local national park unit and inquire about photography classes held at the site. If there aren’t any, try your local outdoor/camping gear store and your local camera store. Places like REI sometimes offer photography classes throughout the year.
We also recommend checking out National Parks at Night. They offer in-depth night photography workshops by some world-class professional photographers:
4. A Historic National Park Lodge Stay
Ever wish you could roll out of bed and look right out at the Grand Canyon? Want to give the gift of viewing Old Faithful from your hotel window? Our next recommendation for the best gifts for a national park lover is a stay in one of the many historic national park lodges.
This is the perfect time of year to book reservations or purchase a gift card for next season’s lodge stays. Many of the historic lodges were built in the early 1900s and offer the chance to experience the park system from a unique perspective. Guaranteed to warm the hearts of history buffs and national park enthusiasts both.
Check out these national parks with historic lodges for your holiday shopping ideas:
- Cedar Pass Lodge, Badlands National Park
- Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park
- Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park
- Chateau at Oregon Caves, Oregon Caves National Monument
- Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon National Park
- Crater Lake Lodge, Crater Lake National Park
- Zion Lodge, Zion National Park
5. T-Shirts, Gear and More
We can bet that the national park enthusiasts you know have at least one or two favorite national park t-shirts and coffee mugs. The ones that get used on lazy weekend mornings and bring back memories of past national park trips.
If you’re planning to buy t-shirts or other national park swag, this year we recommend you purchase them from Parks Project. Their online store one of the largest collections of unique national park-themed merch including men’s and women’s clothes, accessories, housewares, and gifts.
Best part? If you make a purchase through Parks Project, they’ll donate a portion of the proceeds to one of over 50 different conservation projects throughout the National Park Service.
The employees of Parks Project also contribute thousands of volunteer hours each year to projects in national parks. To find out more about where your holiday shopping dollars will be donated back check out: Parks Projects Contributions.
6. National Park Books
“Good as it is to inherit a library, it is better to collect one.”
― Augustine Birrell
If your national park enthusiast is also a bookworm, there is no shortage of options for coffee table books, travel guides, and national park stories to put under the tree. Our collection of national park books gets used over and over again for trip planning and to help friends and family plan their upcoming trips.
Want to know the latest and greatest national park books that make the best gifts for a national park lover? Every year, Park Chasers updates our list of Best National Park Books to Buy a Park Chaser, and the Best National Park Books for Kids. Check out our list of recommendations for books for this year.
7. WPA Replica Posters
It’s no secret that our house is covered in replica Works Progress Administration era national park posters. We’ve been collecting these from our favorite parks for years and love how they mix in with our other art and home decor.
There are hundreds of different designs and websites to purchase WPA-style national park art work from. If you’re looking for an affordable, yet personal gift for a #parkchaser, check out these sites:
- Parks Project (see #5 above)
- Just Go Travel Studios (fully customizable using one of your vacation photos – see their Park Chaser Profile on our site from 2018!)
- Ranger Doug’s Enterprises
- 61 American National Parks from Anderson Design Group
8. Make a donation to protect the parks.
Maybe your #parkchaser already has the books, t-shirts, and gear they need. If you’d rather spend your dollars giving back than getting more ‘stuff’ consider making a contribution in the name of your loved one, to one of the many different charitable organizations that support the national parks.
What better gift to give your national park enthusiast than by donating funds to your local park’s conservation association. The National Park Foundation and the National Park Conservation Association are two other organizations that take honorary contributions.
For a complete list of the National Park Service Philanthropic partners, visit: Become a Friend of the NPS.
9. Book your next vacation.
If you’ve gone through our entire list of gifts for a national park lover and still haven’t found that perfect present, why not book your friend or family member their next national park vacation? Choose a warm sunny spot in Saguaro National Park to beat the winter chill. Book a plane ticket and send your spouse on their Hawaii Volcanoes or Denali National Park dream vacation. Giving a vacation builds memories that are worth far more than any stocking stuffer or token gift you can buy.
Need help with trip planning? Let us plan your next trip with our customized itineraries and national park vacation planner.