Brooks has partnered with Great Runs, the ultimate guide to the best places to run in cities and destinations worldwide. As part of this, Great Runs has developed running guides for most of the major National Parks in the United States; each guide recommends the best routes in the National Parks, including routes in cities and other locations run by the National Parks.
If you’re looking to explore National Parks and the outdoors on your next run, here are Great Runs’ tips for exploring new places near you.
1. Consult Great Runs
2. Stay Near Running Spots
If you’re trying to get a run in while on a trip, try to plan in advance so your accommodations are within a mile or two of an interesting running spot.
3. Find the Running Lane
If in a National Park, and planning on running on one of the popular “driving” or “park loop” roads, make sure there’s a decent shoulder or lane for running.
4. Get in touch with the Running Store
Another hint is that in nearly every major city in the world, there are centrally located running stores that host free group runs (we list them in each city in Great Runs!). Also, a growing number of organizations offer guided running tours in a city, so you can see the sights and meet other runners!
5. Look for Water
Look for a path along the water. Nearly every city has a major river or lake that’s a running favorite, and these spots are always scenic and festive. Runners tend to be creatures of habit, so adding some variety helps with motivation and prevents boredom.
To get you inspired, here are four awesome National Parks across the country that you can check out if you live nearby or the next time you travel. Find more parks to explore at www.greatruns.com. Learn more about Brooks’ commitment to parks and outdoor spaces here.
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is one of those special national parks located within an easy drive from a city. The centerpiece of the park is 14,000 high Mount Rainier, a glaciated peak that is also an active volcano. We love Mount Rainier NP for its variety: gorgeous valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, old-growth forest and more than 25 glaciers. Sections of some of Rainier’s wonderful hiking trails are also great for running: the Wonderland Trail near Longmire; the PCT near Tipsoo Lake, at the eastern end of the Park; and the subalpine meadows of the Sourdough Ridge Trail, accessible from the Sunrise Visitor Center. Some of the smaller side roads, such as Westside Road, the Carbon River Trail, and White River Rd./Sunrise Rd., are also great for running.
For a complete guide to running in Mount Rainier National Park, click here.
Great Smoky National Park
America’s most visited national park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky is known for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture. Enjoy spring wildflowers or gorgeous autumn colors along the 800 miles of trails through the woods, with many opportunities for wildlife viewing. For running, the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road is paved and pleasantly shaded, passing several 19th century homesteads. Bonus: it’s closed to cars on Wednesday and Sunday mornings from May-September. We also love the hilly challenge of Greenbrier Cove, a 6-mile gravel road off the beaten path. Try it in spring for great wildflower viewing!
For a complete guide to running in Great Smoky National Park, click here.
Yellowstone National Park
The world’s first national park, Yellowstone has it all: dramatic mountains, forests, lakes and an abundance of wildlife. Plus colorful hot springs, mudpots and geysers, oh my! We’ve featured a couple of runs in the Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, and Fishing Bridge areas, including routes near Yellowstone’s famous geysers. Tell your friends you’ve run in the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth’s northern temperate zone.
For a complete guide to running in Yellowstone National Park, click here. Please see a ranger’s caution note related to running in Yellowstone National Park.
Yosemite National Park
Waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, and a vast wilderness area form this large national park in on the western slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Most visitors spend their time in Yosemite Valley, which features 12 miles of paved bike and walking paths through scenic meadows and the beautiful pine forests that are great for running. We also love the Yosemite Valley Loop trail, a gentle trail run showcasing much of the park’s variety. We’ve also put together a route in Tuolumne Meadows — the other hub of Yosemite National Park — along a meandering river with rugged mountain peaks and glacially carved domes as a backdrop.
For a complete guide to running in Yosemite National Park, click here.