20 Ways to Map Your Journey

Mapping your journey can go in many different directions. Whether heading to a national park or staying in your neighborhood, find suggestions to map trips, history, nature, or your own story.

Spread of national park brochures

NPS / Matt Turner

1. Grab a Map

If you are visiting in person, most parks have maps on their official park brochures and websites. Some parks also have ADA-accessible maps for visitors with vision impairments. Find even more map options to explore parks across the country.

2. App Your Journey

Download the free NPS App for interactive maps to use while visiting national parks. Many parks include places of interest, self-guided tours, and suggested trip itineraries included on their maps.

3. Share #YourParkStory

Each person has their own special connections with places in national parks or in communities where National Park Service programs and partners help preserve places of nature, culture, and recreation. Follow National Park Service staff’s park stories on social media using #YourParkStory and share your own using #MyParkStory.

4. Set a Personal Goal

Make a personal checklist of national parks that you will visit this year and track your progress. Choose a history or nature topic, recreation or fitness goals, every park in your state, or a set number, then set off on your adventure.

A group of passport cancellation stamps for national parks

NPS Photo

5. Collect Passport Stamps

The Passport To Your National Parks® program is offered by our official partner America’s National Parks to encourage visiting national parks and preserving memories. How many can you find? (Tip: Use the NPS App to find passport stamps in national parks.)

6. Start a Travel Journal

Compile your pictures, souvenirs, brochures, maps, photos, videos, and stories to chronicle your journeys to national parks. Use them to make a written journal, scrapbook, blog, or series of social media posts.

7. Make a Your Own Map

Are you a mapmaker? The NPMap suite of web map tools enables National Park Service employees and partners to tell the story of the nation's most cherished places using innovative mapping techniques and technologies. Not a mapmaker? Learn more about mapping and cartography to give it a try.

8. Get Started with Some Trip Ideas

Not sure where to start planning a trip to parks? Browse self-guided trip ideas and things to do prepared by rangers to help plan a trip that maximizes your visit tailored to your available time and interests. 

Historic photo of couple overlooking a valley paired with a contemporary version

Photos courtesy of A. Fawcett (left) and Jen Johnson (right)

9. Share Then with Now

Pull out the old family photos from your childhood or from your parents and grandparents to recreate some memories magic. Revisit places that were family favorites and try to recreate historic photos today.

10. Try Finding Your Way

Finding your way without a phone or GPS is a skill. Learn how to use old-fashioned paper maps to navigate reading the landscape or marked landmarks. Make your own compass and practice using it in your yard or neighborhood before you try a bigger adventure like backpacking in Alaska.

11. Take a Virtual Trip

Not visiting a national park in person? We’ve got you covered with ways to Find Your Virtual Park to stay connected with parks and other places of natural and cultural importance across the country.

12. Connect History

Discover our shared heritage with travel itineraries focused on history topics that you can use for in-person or virtual trips. Explore thousands of places significant to American history and culture in national parks and communities on the National Register of Historic Places.

Vintage photocard showing man standing on rock next to lake
Postcard of Fishing Cone

Asahel Curtis, 1928 (Yellowstone National Park postcard collection)

13. Send a Postcard

Sending postcards to family and friends has been a tradition since national parks were created. Mail a postcard or share digital postcards to track your trips. Send a postcard to Arches National Park's Community Artist in the Park and you may get one back!

14. Create Your Own Postcards

Use memories from your trips to national parks to create your own unique postcards of national parks. Be creative with what you use to make 2-dimensional or digital postcards, maybe even creating a game or postcard exchange with family and friends.

15. Map Games

Create your own game based on locations, maps, topics of interest, or other features in parks, such as interesting sights and sounds. Games can be played verbally, in writing, on devices, or on social media. Share your game on social media for others to try.

16. Navigate Lesson Plans

Whether learning from home or in a classroom, visit the Educators Portal to find lesson plans and other educational materials using maps or mapping to learn about history and nature. 

Section of a map titled Monarch Migration Map with a section of the US with monarchs on it

NPS Image

17. Follow Nature

Explore nature in national parks, such as like learning about hundreds of migratory species that make annual journeys across land, water, and sky.

18. Map It for Science

Become a citizen scientist to help with professional research collecting data in a park or in your own yard. You can contribute geographic information to many projects, including backyard bird counts and photo-identifying species in locations with an app.

19. Meet Park Mappers

Collecting geographic and spatial information is important for many National Park Service parks and programs. Mapping in national parks is done by National Park Service employees, interns, volunteers, and researchers.

20. Map Research Projects

Mapping is used in many ways by the National Park Service and partners related to safety, planning, and understanding nature and history. Find map resources and thematic map resources.

Last updated: January 17, 2023