Planning a visit to one of the many national parks or federally protected lands? You’ll be in good company. Visiting these spaces is more popular than ever before.

So how do you make sure the company isn’t too good? How do you avoid the crowded spots, still get to have that bucket list trip and make the most of the journey?

Matt and Karen Smith are national park travel experts because they’ve been there, done that, and share their journey in their podcast “Dear Bob and Sue” and books of the same title. Their show is packed with practical, clear advice on visiting the parks, and in this episode of Humans Outside they bring that help here.

In this episode hear:

  • The biggest mistakes national park visitors make
  • The wonderful parks experience you might be missing
  • The best way to avoid big crowds

Listen now!

[3:01] Matt and Karen’s favorite outdoor spaces

[6:38] How they got into visiting national parks

[11:30] What is it about the national parks that we love so much?

[13:26] How the heck can you afford that?

[16:46] Biggest national parks mistakes they see

[21:31] Their favorite parks

[25:41] How to avoid seeing too many people

[32:33] Where you really should go

[34:23] Their best tips for making the most of any national park trips

[40:00] Matt and Karen’s favorite outdoor memory

What would happen if you spent a handful of hours attempting to do every available outdoor activity in a certain area?

That’s the question I asked before a Do All The Things day I just did with a friend. We loaded up our cars with outfit changes, equipment and nowhere near enough snacks, and headed into Hatcher Pass for a packed five hours of outdoor fun.

Here’s what happened.

[:35] The siren song of a challenge, even it’s just one day

[1:09] Can we even do all the things?!

[2:16] A tiny edit, and then we set forth

[2:26] (Don’t get me started on my people and these ski passes)

[2:52] Here starts the activity check-check-check

[5:17] A few takeaways from attempting to do all of the things

The thing I like most about podcasting? It’s the connections (Outdoor Diary)

With four years of running this podcast behind me, I’ve been thinking about what I have learned from this journey and the many, many guests I’ve interviewed.

Inspiration. Thought-provoking lessons. A change in perspective. All of my interviews and outdoor hours have left a mark on me.

But this year, those are not my favorite takeaways. Instead? It’s all about connections like the ones I talk about in this episode of my Outdoor Diary.

Listen now!

[:35] Four years = a lot of takeaways

[1:33] But my favorite thing right now? Connections

[1:35] And here’s a bunch of my favorite examples, near and far

[3:15] My other favorite connections? It’s you, of course.

When life comes at you hard — pain, trauma, injury, loss, grief — the outdoors is there just waiting for you to use it for healing. You just have to go outside.

That’s what Denali Strabel, a semi-professional mountain runner and life-long Alaskan has found as she navigates the wide variety of victories and challenges life has thrown at her. From addiction to the loss of her identical twin sister, Rubye, Denali knows that by keeping the mountains a part of her, she can move through pain.

In this episode Denali gifts us a rare window into what it’s like to actively move through grief after loss while still in the thick of it as she’s daily making the decision to heal and move.

Hear Denali share how the mountains, ocean and running have been key in helping her with this challenge and so many others — and learn how you, too, can lean on heading into nature to get through the hard stuff.

Listen now.

[3:20] Denali Strabel’s favorite outdoor space

[5:45] Denali’s outdoor story

[8:35] What it’s like to grow up in Seward

[12:31] About Mount Marathon

[16:05] Using nature to recover

[22:25] The importance of reconnecting with the outdoors

[29:53] All about Rubye Blake, Denali’s identical twin sister

[35:44] What it’s like to lose a twin

[44:22] Advice for dealing with grief when you’re in the thick of it

[53:44] Denali’s favorite outdoor memory

It’s a question I’ve heard several times over my more than 2,300-day outdoor streak: ‘what do you do if you’re sick?’

Since I’ve never missed a day, and I’ve definitely been sick more than once, you can easily guess that I still go outside. And fortunately the benefits I find there — even though getting out in it takes extra effort — make it all worth it. Of course they do.

In this episode I talk about how (and why) I get outside even when I’m sick and down for the count. Listen now!

[:35] You can tell when I’m sick — probably

[:59] But then you might assume this

[2:11] I gotta get out there, but it’s winter, so…

[2:37] The best thing about the 20-minute minimum

[3:10] Plus, then I’m grateful