As of right now, the strategies to operate safely vary by park, so check with your destination first. (In April of 2021, the NPS released a new, free app, available for iOS and Android devices, that has up-to-date information for the 423 parks in the system. Wirecutter trends writer Elissa Sanci used it, and a few other apps, to visit 14 national parks last year. ) For some parks, facilities may be closed or have limited hours and/or capacities Campgrounds may have limited availability, and even some park roads may be out of service or require reservations for entry. Wearing a mask is still required on all forms of public transportation within parks; masking policies elsewhere in each park will vary depending on COVID-19 levels in the surrounding communities.
All of this means that it’s still a good idea to assume your car will be your base camp, too. We’ve put together a list of our favorite gear for on-the-go handwashing, cleaning up, and eating alfresco.
Editor’s note: When we were updating this article for spring 2022, some local surges in COVID-19 infections were occuring. We urge you to be mindful about venturing out on the road, especially if you live in an area that is seeing such surges. If you’re eligible for a booster (first or second), get it before you go.