Some of my family’s best parent – teen bonding has occurred during our vacations together. And with spring finally arriving, it is time to start planning summer vacations. Three of our favorite family summer vacations have been trips to National Parks.
My family’s favorite National Parks are Acadia National Park in Maine on the ocean and Bryce National Park in Utah, like a mini Grand Canyon made of orange sand. Our favorite memory was when we were driving in Montana to Glacier National Park and our rental car was attacked by a swarm of locusts. Luckily all the windows were closed!
Travel writer and photographer, James Kaiser has 5 Reason why National Parks are PERFECT for family vacations (and I completely agree with all of them):
America’s national parks are an absolute bargain. Not only are they home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, visiting them costs next to nothing. A week-long pass to most parks costs $20 for an entire family, and campsites cost about $15 per day. (Or, if camping’s not your thing, you can stay at a reasonably priced hotel.) Still not convinced? The most popular activities—ranger tours, hiking trails, campfire talks—are all free! Next to staying at your rich uncle’s summer house, there isn’t a better travel bargain in America.
Most Americans live within a day’s drive of a national park. From Acadia in Maine, to the Everglades in Florida, to the smorgasbord of national parks in the West, chances are there’s a national park near you. And finding a nearby park has never been easier. Just go to the National Park Service’s “Find A Park” webpage to start planning your next vacation.
3. Physical Activity
Going to the gym is boring. Hiking along the rim of the Grand Canyon or next to a rainbow-filled waterfall in Yosemite is a breathtaking experience. In fact, given all the outdoor adventures available in national parks—hiking, biking, rafting, rock climbing—it’s hard not to be active on vacation. And the best part: it doesn’t feel like exercise, it feels like fun!
National parks are amazing places to learn about history, science, and nature. It’s one thing to hear about archaeology or biology in a classroom. It’s another to actually experience those things firsthand. Visiting a desert palm oasis once inhabited by the Cahuilla tribe in Joshua Tree or gazing upon a herd of bison in Yellowstone really brings the classroom to life. And who knows? It might just provide the intellectual spark your child needs to get excited about learning.
5. Quality Time … Unplugged
National parks are a great place to ditch your technology, get in touch with nature, and spend some quality time together as a family. And the best part: you don’t have to fight with your kids to turn off their iPhones. Most parks are located in remote areas with poor or spotty cell phone reception. Unplugging has never been easier!
If you are thinking that your teens or tweens won’t like hiking or appreciate the beauty of the scenery, that is exactly what I thought. But, believe it or not, my sons surprised me. They really got into the hiking and we also took boat rides and explored. I did my research beforehand and always found an amusement park or something I knew they would love, to add to the trip.
So what are you waiting for? Check out my blog post about the U.S. National Park Service Website – you can learn everything you need to know about the parks there. James Kaiser has written guidebooks on Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park and others that I have linked to above. Make those memories now before it is too late.