20 Unique Non-Cheesy Gifts for National Park Lovers (2023)

This isn’t another list of scratch-off maps, calendars, posters, or an America the Beautiful pass—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those options, but how about something that’s not usually found in a gift shop? These are my go-to national park gifts that make great gifts for the holidays and other special occasions.

Linda Ly
Unique non-cheesy gifts for national park lovers

As the author of several books on outdoor cooking and camp cooking—including one that’s solely focused on national park food—you could say that my love for the national parks runs incredibly deep. To date, I’ve visited nearly 30 national parks and dozens of national parkways, monuments, seashores, and other National Park Service units all over the country.

I’ve hiked, biked, backpacked, camped, climbed, canoed, kayaked, rafted, creek-walked, Onewheeled—and yes, eaten plenty—on my adventures through the national parks, so you can trust my judgment when it comes to finding a unique and non-cheesy gift for the national park lover in your life.

This isn’t another list of scratch-off maps, calendars, posters, or an America the Beautiful pass—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those options, but how about something that’s not usually found in a gift shop?

These are my go-to national park gifts. Some that I own, some that I’ve gifted, and all that I have my eye on. They make great gifts not only for the holidays, but year-round for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other special occasions as well.

For more gift ideas, check out my updated guides for 18 Awesome Adventure Gifts for the Outdoor Lover, 37 Genius Gifts for Gardeners They’ll Really Dig—Handpicked by a Gardener, and 26 Perfect Stocking Stuffers for Gardeners Under $25.

Disclosure: If you shop from my article or make a purchase through one of my links, I may receive commissions on some of the products I recommend.

The best national park gifts for adventurers and armchair travelers

The National Parks Cookbook

1. The National Parks Cookbook – Let’s start with my top recommendation that I think belongs in every national park lover’s kitchen—and maybe I’m a bit biased here (hehe) but this cookbook would even feel at home on a coffeetable.

I wrote The National Parks Cookbook over an entire summer of traveling the parks with my family: visiting the iconic lodges, sampling the local cuisine, and interviewing the chefs behind signature dishes like Yellowstone’s Roosevelt baked beans and Yosemite’s boysenberry pie.

But recipes (over 70 of them!) aren’t the only things you’ll find in this book. Immerse yourself in national park history, spectacular landscape photography, and tidbits about the flora and fauna found in some of your favorite parks.

This is the perfect gift for someone who loves food and loves to cook, yes, but also anyone who wants to relive their favorite memories, plan their next trip, or daydream of where they want to go.

Bar glasses with topographic impressions of national park mountains

2. Whiskey Peaks Iconic Mountain Bar Glasses – While we’re talking kitchen here, how about a set of these sophisticated glasses for whiskey, cocktails, or even just to make a sparkling water feel fancier?

The handblown glass tumblers feature topographic impressions of some of the world’s greatest mountains, including the Rockies, Grand Teton, and a set of iconic Pacific Northwest peaks. I have a previous version of these glasses with an impression of Mt. Bachelor, and they’ve held up remarkably well.

Half Dome decanter for whiskey

3. Half Dome Decanter – From the same designer of the bar glasses above is this elegant decanter featuring a topo impression of Half Dome on the bottom.

The handblown glass vessel holds 34 ounces of your favorite whiskey and will definitely elevate any bar cart or tabletop. Add a pair of the matching glasses for a truly unique gift!

Limited edition national park wooden crate with fatwood fire starters

4. Limited Edition National Parks Fatwood Crate – This cherrywood crate includes 13 pounds of fatwood fire starters would sit handsomely next to any fireplace, wood stove, chiminea, or fire pit.

Fatwood sticks are 100 percent natural fire starters made from pine tree resin. They start fast and burn hot, even when they’re wet, and are an easy way to get a fire going at home or at the campsite.

National park scented candles in camping tins

5. National Park Scented Candles – Candles may not be the most original gift, but no one can deny how useful they are and it’s always worth keeping a few fancy ones on hand for last-minute thank you gifts or host/hostess gifts—especially ones as attractive and unique as these.

The camping-inspired tins feature charmingly retro labels and hand-poured soy wax that evokes the familiar smells of your favorite national parks.

Think sea salt and driftwood for Acadia; red sandstone, copaiba balsam, and sandalwood for Arches; huckleberry, bergamot, balsam fir, and vanilla for Glacier; evergreen, cypress, eucalyptus, and smoke for Olympic; desert lavender, sage, and dried herbs for Zion; and it goes on with 16 aromatic profiles to choose from.

Paddywax national park scented candles

6. Paddywax National Park Candles – The best national park gifts don’t always have to scream “national parks” on their packaging. These divine-smelling candles are subtle in their association, with modern-looking textured vessels in soft, muted colors and neutrals.

The scents are all inspired by the parks, from cottonwood and oak (Yosemite) to cactus flower and fern (Grand Canyon). What I especially like about these candles is the cool wooden wick that gives the flame a crackling, campfire-like flicker.

This is one of my favorite candle brands, and I love their non-park versions, too (like the Form Collection, which comes in reusable ceramic jars etched with modern designs, or the Alpine Collection, which comes in enamelware pots reminiscent of camp mugs).

Paddywax also makes these hanging car air fresheners that are national-park inspired, with scents that include sagebrush and fir (Yellowstone) and maplewood and moss (Great Smoky Mountains). Do people still use these? I’m not sure, but as a frequent mom chauffeur, I’d definitely tuck one of these in my “kid car” to freshen it up! I think it’s a fun stocking stuffer, if not a bit too practical, ha!

National park puffy blanket

7. Rumpl Puffy Blanket – This is my favorite outdoor blanket for everything from picnicking to camping. It’s super lightweight, ultra packable, and incredibly warm for how portable it is.

The designs are colorful and beautiful, depicting various scenes from Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Denali, and Grand Canyon. I keep one in the car for winter tailgating and wearing around the fire!

National park adventure towel

8. Rumpl Adventure Towel – The maker of my favorite outdoor blanket (above) also makes this lightweight adventure towel in a range of national park-inspired designs.

This is the type of towel you throw in your gym bag, take to yoga, or just stash in your car for impromptu trips to the beach, lake, or splash pad. It’s not the thick, cozy towel you might use at home, and that’s the whole point: It takes up less space so it’s easy to tote along, and the material also repels sand, pet hair, and stains. I love this for outings!

Pendleton national park blankets

9. Pendleton Wool Blanket – Pendleton’s passion for national parks goes way back—to the early 1900s! The maker supports the National Park Foundation and honors America’s national parks with a collection of distinctive wool blankets that are still woven in their Pacific Northwest mills.

The designs are classic Pendleton and fit into many styles of decor. You can choose from various sizes of blankets, including twin, full, queen, and throw blankets.

National park packing cubes

10. Packing Cubes – I’m not kidding when I say packing cubes have been a game changer on my trips! I have packing cubes in an array of sizes and shapes and they make it so easy to fit a week’s worth of clothes into a simple carry-on.

This national park-themed set has all the features you’d want in the perfect packing cube: ultra light weight, compressibility, and durability. You get seven pieces in total, including cubes for clothes, shoes, accessories, and laundry.

Scenic Science of the National Parks book gift set with explorer's day pack and bandana

11. Scenic Science of the National Parks gift set – This gift set is perfect for a national park enthusiast or outdoor lover!

First, they get an explorer’s guide to geological, botanical, and wildlife secrets of the national parks with insider tips on 60 locales. They also get a day hike supply pack with compact canisters filled with wilderness must-haves for a day on the trails. And to top it off, a versatile bandana to help keep the sun off or cool them down at the river.

Botanical national park grow kits

12. Grow Your Own National Park Botanicals Kit – These unique grow kits contain everything you need to cultivate a living memento of your favorite national park: a glass vessel, soil, and seeds.

The Olympic kit, for example, allows you to grow a Sitka spruce seedling. If the awe-inspiring Sequoias of Yosemite have you yearning to go back, try your hand at growing a baby redwood seedling. Lush ‘Emerald Falls’ dichondra can be found in Zion’s Hanging Gardens, and now you can grow your very own on a windowsill!

Subpark Parks book

13. Subpar Parks – The first time I saw this book in a store, I had a good laugh. The book is based on the artwork of graphic designer (and author) Amber Share, who took all the one-star reviews of national parks from places like Trip Advisor, and turned the best quotes into snarky illustrations.

There’s also a little bit of history and fun facts on each park, making it an appealing book for any national park’s most impressed visitor!

National Parks of the USA book

14. National Parks of the USA – I own this beautiful book and have also given it as gifts to my friends’ kids. It’s ideal for ages 5 to 13, though even as an adult, I found it highly engaging with its lovely illustrations and captivating details on the parks.

I only wish the author had included all the parks in this book (she featured 21 of them), but that would’ve made it a giant volume, considering its intended reader. Still, if you know any little ones who are enamored with national parks, this is the perfect gift for them! I also recommend the National Parks of the USA Activity Book by the same author. (You can even get them both as a “Road Trip Learning Set” here.)

Field Notes memo books featuring national parks

15. Field Notes – A couple years ago I was given a set of these small notebooks in my business networking group, and didn’t think much of them… just another memo pad, right?

But I’ve found these little books to be so utterly useful in my daily life that I now have one in my car, RV, bag, laptop bag, kitchen, junk drawer, and many other places where I often need to jot down a quick note. They’re small (about the size of an index card) and come with graph paper inside.

I absolutely love the national park series and have most of the designs (but still collecting more!). Best of all, this is a made-in-USA product, which I’m fully on board with.

National park vintage puzzle

16. Vintage National Parks Puzzle – Cavallini & Co. makes beautiful puzzles, and this vintage-style 1000-piece puzzle is no exception.

The final product is a montage of several retro-style posters depicting the national parks. If they already have this set, I also like these 1,000-piece puzzles depicting various individual parks.

National park playing cards in an embossed wooden case

17. Wood-Encased Playing Cards – Any outdoor enthusiast likely already has a set of playing cards tucked in their pack or RV, but I especially love this set that comes in an embossed wooden collector’s box.

The high-quality cards feature beautiful artwork of the national parks. If you’re looking to gift a “national parks game night” package, I suggest pairing these cards with one of the board games below!

National park special edition of Monopoly

18. Monopoly – National Parks – If you’re a fan of the cutthroat real estate game, you’ll love the National Parks Edition which lets you buy, sell, and trade stunning landscapes like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite.

The custom tokens include a ranger hat, tent, canoe, bison, camera, and hiking boot; Chance Cards are now Battlefield Parks Cards; and Community Chest Cards are reimagined as Historic Site cards. A portion of proceeds benefits the National Park Foundation.

Yahtzee national parks travel edition

19. Yahtzee – National Parks Travel Edition – Speaking of classic board games, how about a National Parks Edition of the popular dice game Yahtzee?

Like the original version, you roll a set of dice to complete the best score on your scorecard. But this special edition features fun national park symbols like a deer, tent, canoe, hiker, pine trees, and binoculars, making it easier for younger kids (who can’t quite do math yet) to play alongside.

This would make a great gift to bring in the RV or to the campsite after a day out hiking! A portion of the purchase price of the game is donated to the National Park Foundation.

20. Insulated Water Bottle – There are plenty of water bottles with national park designs on them, but I especially like this one for how elegant it is.

Each stainless steel bottle is engraved with iconic features of popular parks, including Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Redwood, and Arches. The bottle is double vacuum-sealed to keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, and it comes with a handy straw lid and a durable strap so you can tote it on a hike.

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