Best National Parks for Your Next Family Vacation
There are 406 National Parks and while they are all worth a visit there are some standouts. Summer is the busiest time of year at the parks and if you can visit during spring or summer you will avoid a lot of the congestion and overcrowding that occurs during peak season. Even if you do travel during summer vacation, these parks are vast enough that a short hike will get you away from the throngs of people. If you are looking to make some memories with your family while you enjoy our country’s vast beauty there are plenty of fantastic options. If your children are ages 5-13 they will be able to participate in the Junior Rangers program at each of these parks and learn even more about the topography and biology of the parks. The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone are so well known that we’ve decided not to include them in order to focus on some lesser known but still amazing National Parks. Each of these three parks is near enough to major cities that you can combine a visit with another trip.
Shenandoah National Park - located only 75 miles from the nation’s capital this 200,000-acre park in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a popular add-on to a sightseeing trip to Washington, DC. The park has the added benefit of being an excellent fall destination with the changing of the leaves. There are many scenic overlooks from the Skyline Drive and plenty of good spots for hiking. If you do plan to hike, take a trail to one of the many waterfalls such as Dark Hollow Falls. For an added price there are tours available at the Luray Caverns that are worth checking out.
A short drive from Denver will get you to Rocky Mountain National Park and all of its natural splendor. This park encompasses 415-square miles and offers plenty of sights and activities. There are plenty of hikes that are suitable for a day trip, or if you want to extend your stay over several days you will have plenty to see and do. From the glorious Rockies to the wildlife such as elk, bighorn sheep, and marmot, this beautiful park will take your breath away. The entrance to Estes Park is adjacent to the Stanley Hotel where the Shining was filmed and the topiary gardens there are a favorite spot for visitors to the area.
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is often described as resembling a moon scape. This beautiful area filled with arches and other rock foundations is the perfect destination for a family camping trip. The Queens Garden and the Navajo Loop trails provide hiking opportunities for family members of every athletic level. If the idea of desert camping is not a good fit with your family, stop into Ruby’s Inn at the entrance to the park. Horseback riding and ATV tours are also available at Ruby’s.
A trip to one of the amazing National Parks is the perfect family trip itinerary, and the memories are sure to last a lifetime.