FITNESS IN THE NATIONAL PARKS

ROYCE FONSECA

I’m an avid outdoorsy person. I love nature, adventuring and sharing the places I visit through my photography. We are always on road trips and of course during those times I have to find balance in work and fitness. Since we are primarily in National Parks and Forests, I have found that running or hiking in places such as these are both inspiring and breathtaking. This blog will give you some tips on the trails to take for both beginners and advanced runners in a few of our gorgeous National Parks.

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WY

I recently visited this park and the first thing I did was go for a run! I couldn’t help myself, the views are stunning and the Teton’s are massive. Who wouldn’t want to run in this place?! There were quite a few cyclists and runners getting their fitness on out there, it was awesome.

My favorite trail was to Jenny Lake. From the first parking lot in the park this trail is 5.5 miles to Jenny Lake. My favorite part about this trail was the section where you are looking straight at the mountain running towards it. I’m surprised I didn’t trip looking up at the mountains the entire time in awe! This trail is currently going through renovations, make sure and check the status of the trail before heading out there.

Another great spot to run is near Jackson Lake, a road called Pacific Creek Road. There’s pretty much no traffic on this road and it has some rolling hills. Even though it’s not your typical trail it offers great views of the meadows and the Tetons around every bend. I loved this run because it was off the beaten path and extremely quiet out there. Honestly, there’s nothing better than being able to run in nature when it’s extremely quiet.

All over the park they have signs to carry bear spray, definitely do that. You are in Grizzly country here and it’s better to be safe. Other wildlife you will come across are Moose, Elk and Buffalo.

It get’s a bit chilly here, make sure and pack a lite jacket with you on the trail. My favorite is my Giant’s Race pull-over. It’s lightweight and easy to pack.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA

This park is my all time favorite and a great place for running. There is an abundance of trails here that you can take year round and the views are incredible. Here’s just few that I suggest:

⁃       Valley Loop Trail (all levels): about 11.5 miles. This trail passes along El Capitan, Yosemite Fall, Bridalveil Fall, the meadows and Half Dome Village. This is a fun trail to run or walk giving you a full view of the must see views in the park. If you’re going to run this trail it’s suggested that you start early to avoid the high amount of traffic.

⁃       Valley Floor to Glacier Point Trail (strenuous): this trail is called 4 mile trail, however it is about 5 miles up with an elevation gain of 3,200 feet. This is an awesome trail and fantastic for trail running! This trail is seasonal and when opened there can still be ice and snow on the trail so proceed with caution. Make sure and pack some water with you if you aren’t used to running without. In the off season the store is closed at Glacier Point, so packable water is a good idea to take. The descent down takes half the time and it’s a blast to run down!

⁃       Mist Trail to the John Muir Trail (all levels) – this trail is epic in Yosemite. When you hike up the Mist Trail, you can connect to the John Muir Trail above Vernal Fall. Getting there you have to climb hundreds of granite steps – but its worth it! I really love this trail because you are high up above the waterfalls and the views are spectacular of the valley. You can run the connecting portion (John Muir Trail) back down to the valley.

I encourage you to wear bright clothing during the day and a light or something reflective at night. Because the park is very high in tourism (vehicles) it’s better to be safe out there and make yourself visible. Also be prepared to encounter wildlife here.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY & MT

Yellowstone or Jellystone…whatever you call it…it’s INCREDISTONE! I arrived here thinking it would be one of my top places to take a run in. However, that is not the case…it is actually my favorite place to hike and photograph in! While this park is THE park of parks (our first National Park), it’s not the safest place for runners in my opinion. This park is filled with wildlife around every single corner including Grizzly and Black Bear. Just during our trip there we had seen a total of 12 bears. Don’t let this deter you though, there are some really awesome trails there and in groups (which is encouraged and posted on signs) are worth it!

Since we visited the park at the beginning of the season many of the trails were closed. However, we were able to hit some trails in Mammoth Hot Springs and they were incredible. My favorite in that area was Beaver Ponds Loop, it’s gorgeous. But honestly every part of this park is gorgeous and there’s always something new to see. You can’t go wrong with any hike here. Be cautious and make sure you stay on the trails, there are geysers and springs all over – they are magnificent to look at!

OUTDOOR GEAR SUGGESTIONS

Shoes:

If you’re in the market for some trail running shoes I would suggest trying out the Altra King MT trail runners. I race in them and they are extremely durable and great for the trails. The grip on them is extremely well designed…you will have trust in these shoes! https://www.altrarunning.com/women/king-mt-15

If you’re looking for a day hiker, check out Ridgemont Outfitters. They are so comfortable, durable and stylish. I’ve ran downhill in Yosemite in their boots and I’ve never had any issues. Check out their Monti Hi for ankle support – my favorite! https://ridgemontoutfitters.com

Hydration:

Outdoor products makes a fantastic hydration pack. It’s small, lightweight and fits like a glove to your body. https://www.outdoorproducts.com/hydration/hydration-packs/h20-performance-hydr-pack.html

If you experience muscle cramps, I suggest trying out Pickle Juice sport (that’s right – Pickle Juice – grandma was right!). You can easily pack these bottles in your hydration pack or fit one in your pocket. They have been a life saver for me on those hot days when your 10 miles in and cramping up. https://www.picklepower.com Use Discount Code: EVENT20

Socks:

Ladies – if you wear compression socks, check out Lily Trotters! They offer a great product for women and they have really cute styles. I’ve worn them in long distance races and obstacle course racing and they are very durable. https://www.lilytrotters.com Use Discount Code: LTAMRF

Get out there and visit our National Parks! Happy Trails!

Royce Fonseca

Giant Race Ambassador

@casunshine0508

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