The best national park for sunrises and sunsets

Your national-park-traveling mentors, Bri and Danny, offer some outdoor adventure tips.

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Interested in getting outside and seeing more of the world’s natural beauty? Meet Bri and Danny. Their experience exploring some of the most beautiful places on earth can help you better discover the outdoors.

Bri and Danny are spending 2021 a little closer to home, exploring 52 outdoor areas in 52 weeks. They’ll make it to a few national parks, but that’s not their focus this year. They plan to spend most of those weeks at smaller, state and local parks, closer to their home in Western Pennsylvania. They are on a mission to show the world that seeing the beauty of the outdoors doesn’t require a cross-country road trip, or an expensive plane ticket. It’s probably closer and more accessible than you think.

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Advice from Your Mentor

What is your best travel planning hack?

Google Maps is a popular tool for helping us get from point A to point B, but it has a lot of lesser-known features as well. Bri and Danny use Google Maps to create custom maps where they place a pin for every restaurant, coffee shop, and campground they plan to visit. Planning this way helps them visualize how far apart destinations are and also makes it a lot easier to find other nearby points of interest. Try it out here!

Do you have a favorite U.S. National Park?

Glacier National Park is their favorite for all the reasons you’ll read about below! They also love North Cascades for views and Sequoia because the trees are just larger than you can comprehend. To Bri and Danny, national parks are liminal, seeming to sit somewhere between reality and spiritual.

Our favorite thing is to feel like we’re so small in comparison to what is out there in the world, but at the same time know that we’re not insignificant.

Any suggestions for traveling with pets?

Bri and Danny have two dogs and a cat, and one of the first things they do when planning travel is figure out who is going to watch their pets. This past summer they took their dogs on a national parks road trip. Unfortunately, pets aren’t allowed on most trails in national parks for the safety of the dog, the owner, and the wildlife. Bri and Danny did learn that national forests allow dogs on most hiking trails, and these are often found nearby national parks.

Destination Spotlight: Glacier National Park

The Northwest United States is full of natural beauty, but Glacier National Park may be the crown jewel of them all. It’s a wilderness, full of wildlife and breathtaking views, but that wilderness is also incredibly accessible to all visitors, no matter your preferred level of physical activity. The park has over 700 miles of hiking trails, with one for every difficulty level, but if hiking isn’t your thing, driving through the park can be just as awe-inspiring as traversing it by foot.

Why Glacier?

I had always grown up dreaming of turquoise alpine lakes with alpine trees and snow-capped mountains. When we decided to take our first trip I didn’t know where that was, so I did a Google image search and realized it was Montana.

Bri realized that Glacier National Park was exactly the place she had been dreaming about most of her life, so they started planning. Glacier is also somewhere entirely different than Western Pennsylvania, where Bri and Danny live. One of the reasons they travel is to see places and people that they don’t encounter in their everyday life. Glacier definitely met that criteria.

Can’t Miss List

Sunrise at Two Medicine Lake

Two Medicine Lake is literally surrounded by towering mountains. Bri and Danny love watching sunrise here, and it tops their list of sunrise spots in the park. Don’t forget, that recommendation comes from the couple who literally plans their trip around when the sun rises and falls (more on that below).

Sunset at Bowman Lake

You’ll find Bowman Lake off the beaten path in the pretty remote northwest section of the park. The lake has some dramatic mountain views and one of the least-crowded campgrounds in the park.

Beer With a View

Bri and Danny were shocked when they walked into the lodge at Glacier National Park and were offered beer they could drink while enjoying the mountain views. Alcohol isn’t allowed in the parks around Western Pennsylvania, where Bri and Danny live. If you come from somewhere with the same rules, take advantage of your brew-with-a-view when visiting Glacier.

Travel Tip

Check out Hike734. Jake has hiked all 734 miles of trails in Glacier, and has created his own rating system based on difficulty and a host of other factors. Bri and Danny have purchased and used his maps on their hikes throughout the park. You can find his Glacier day hikes ratings here!

You don’t need to do long hikes in Glacier to be by yourself on a shore with mountains in the background and a moose in the lake.

Planning Advice

Look up the sunrise and sunset times for each day of your trip and write them down somewhere. Watching the light dance across a lake in the morning and the sun set behind a mountain in the evening are Bri and Danny’s favorite moments of every day. Sunrise and sunset times might be very different in Glacier than where you live. Knowing the times in advance can help you be in the best possible spot to take in that magical moment.

Follow Your Mentors

In addition to the beautiful photography on their Instagram account, Bri and Danny provide daily updates on their school bus renovation project. Yeah, you heard that right! These two are currently renovating a school bus into a home on wheels (aka skoolie). Don’t be surprised if you follow them and find yourself on Craigslist the next day looking for used busses.

Instagram: @unearthednature


Want to leave a message for Bri and Danny? Have some great national park travel advice? Drop a note in the comments below!

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🇫🇷 Last week’s mentor is a luxury traveler who flies for free. Read all about Dave and his love of French food, culture, and language! 🇫🇷

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