Did you know that practically anywhere you stand in the United Sates, you are less than 100 miles from a designated national park, monument, shoreline, trail or historic site? You are just that close to perhaps your next awesome vacation! That’s because national parks have all the makings to be wonderful family vacations, outdoor adventurers’ playgrounds, history buffs’ adventure lands, and budget-minded travelers’ destinations.
U.S. National Parks offer so much! Amazing displays of beauty, places of incredible adventures, and sites of fascinating history lessons can all be yours with a wonderful, wallet-friendly national park vacation. We’ve created unforgettable family experiences, shared countless cherished moments, in national parks. You can too!
5 Reasons We Love National Parks
Here are five reasons why U.S. National Parks have been the focal point of many family-favorite vacations, and an infographic to help jumpstart your own national park adventure. Go on. Be inspired. Create your own unforgettable national park experiences. You won’t regret it.
1. The Natural Beauty & Wildlife Sightings
U.S. National Parks are filled with Mother Nature’s handiwork at her finest. Witness natural phenomenons like mile-wide canyons, dramatic cascading waterfalls, thermal geysers shooting to the sky, hoodoos spiraling from the ground, and pristine glaciers sparkling beneath the sun, all inside national parks.
Then there’s the wildlife that lives within all this incredible natural beauty. Wild horses, bison, moose, wolves, bears, mountain goats, bald eagles, condors and more call national park lands their home. And we’ve seen them! A lone wolf and herds of bison in Yellowstone. Wild horses in Chincoteague. Bear and moose in Glacier. Condors in the Grand Canyon.
2. The Outdoor Adventures
Enjoy the great outdoors? Crave adventure? You’ll find both in national parks. Hiking, biking, swimming, wildlife viewing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and camping. All this, and even more outdoor adventures are just waiting for you to experience. National parks truly are an outdoor enthusiast’s playground!
Take a page from our own outdoor national park adventures! We’ve spent days hiking in Glacier. Skied past sleeping bison in Yellowstone. Climbed Half-Dome in Yosemite. Biked Acadia’s grand Carriage Roads. Stood beneath the Grand Canyon’s North Rim for an evening’s sunset. Gone fishing in the Shenandoahs. Enough to wear the kids out every time!
3. The Amazing History & Archeology
What do prehistoric dinosaur remains, ancient Native American cliff dwellings, Revolutionary War battlefields, Civil War re-enactments, and 19th century mines all have in common? They can all be experienced in a national park! Spend a day, or several days, exploring historical national parks where this nation’s past comes roaring back to life.
We’ve learned about the life of Civil War soldiers at Gettysburg. Walked Washington DC’s National Mall and memorials. Listened in Independence Hall and stood next to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Gone underground in a copper mine in Keeweenaw National Historic Park. Witnessed fossilized dinosaur remains at Dinosaur National Monument. Been amazed by the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde. Who knew learning could be such fun?
4. The Budget Friendly Entrance Fees
Where can a family of four enjoy seven fun, adventurous days for only $10 to $25? National parks are where! The most expensive 7-day park pass for a fee-based national park is $25. Most are less than that. And that’s per car, not per person! Then there are the free destinations, like Washington DC’s National Mall, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Utah’s Hovenweep National Monument.
An even better deal for national park frequent flyers is the America The Beautiful Pass, where $80 provides access to all fee-based national and federal lands for one year. With this $80 pass, we explored Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, Arches, Canyonlands, Aztec Ruins, and Shenandoah National Parks. Yep. National parks are budget-friendly vacation destinations!
5. The Park Ranger Programs
Most national parks offer a plethora of ranger-lead park programs, many of which are free to park visitors. Got kids in tow? Sign them up for a Junior Ranger Program, where they’ll be off exploring natural and historic wonders in programs geared towards a child’s point of view.
Park Ranger programs are excellent opportunities to explore a park with those who know it best. Our family has gone on a fossil walk and engaged in ecology discussions in The Grand Canyon. Explored tidal marshes in Acadia. Experienced a small group tour of a rarely open ancient cliff dwelling in Mesa Verde. Hiked in Arches. Panned for gold in The Badlands. All through park ranger programs.
Wow! Who knew so much beauty, so much adventure, so much history, could be found in U.S. National Parks? And all at family friendly, budget-minded prices! We do, and now you do too.
Find Your Next National Park Adventure!
Are you ready to find your own national park adventure? Wondering where to go? Check out this Infographic for a selection of national parks to fuel your thoughts. Then head on over to the U.S. National Park System and Find Your Park for tools to plan that next adventure! So what are you waiting for?
Next Up On Our National Park Adventures
Each year our goal is to include at least one new national park experience in our travels. So what’s next up for us? Hmmm. Good question! We are keeping our options open, with several parks in consideration.
Will it be a winter adventure into Utah’s Zion and Bryce National Parks? Or Spring Break hiking in Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains? Maybe we will finally achieve a long-awaited summer adventure in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, perhaps the least visited national park of them all! Certainly won’t be crowded there.
What’s Your Favorite U.S. National Park?
We’ve been to quite a few national parks over the years, including several on this Infographic. We loved our experiences in Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. However, our most favorite parks aren’t even listed in the Infographic! Arches, Glacier and Mesa Verde National Parks remain our top three, and are parks we would return to again.
I’ve told you my favorite national parks, and which ones we hope to experience next. Now share yours! Do you enjoy vacations in U.S. National Parks? What’s been your favorite national park? Which national parks do you hope to explore in the near future? Do share!
Images via C.Biederman.