Traveling to new destinations can be hard when you’re towing a couple of kids and a tight budget. To overcome this, my family camped. A lot. My family camped so much, we could have been some type of Ranger family; we would pack up the van in less than an hour and be ready to go on the road before the sun even came up. Upon arriving, my brother would set up the tent, I would unload the food, and my dad would start the fire. It was a team effort. Well, except for my mom. She just relaxed.
Looking back, these camping trips were some of the best vacations I ever had with my family. The adventures were educational and fun, and we were always in a beautiful environment. And in the hopes that you’ll have as good a time in the Great Outdoors as I did, I leave you with this short list of National Parks offering great family camping opportunities. Each has something different to offer, but all provide a great setting to enjoy quality time with your family.
1. Yosemite National Park
I’m a bit biased, because I’ve camped in Yosemite for the past seven years. It’s the most gorgeous place to camp, and there’s something there for everyone. If you want to do a sort of “intro to camping”, there are established campgrounds within the park (check here), or if your family is feeling a bit more adventurous, you can hike in a couple of miles and set up camp in the backcountry. Another great thing about Yosemite is that, even though it’s a large park, you can still see all of the major park sites from the main roads.
2. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park spans over 1,000,000 acres and two mountain ranges. It even includes more than 130 lakes! People have said over and over again that upon entering the park, they get a rush of excitement and feel genuinely awestruck. There are great lookout points on Sun Road and the park is full of that kind of scenery that lures people back over and over again. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a family of mountain goats or a herd of sheep.
3. Yellowstone National Park
Geysers! Mud pots! Waterfalls! First named “Roche Jaune” or “Yellow River” by the French, this park has grown to be one of the most recognized national parks. The scenery is beautiful and the camping is very accessible. They have over 10 campgrounds and reservations can be made here. Make your reservations early though–the park fills up quick!
4. Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountain National Park is a great getaway for families. They put a specific focus on kids and have developed great programs to get children involved with the outdoors. From Junior Ranger programs to Scout Ranger programs, there are a number of different options to keep the kids entertained! For more information, please look here.
5. Acadia National Park
Located right off the coast of Maine, this national park provides two different campgrounds that are within a 10-minute walk of the ocean. There are a variety of trails, including a few that even accommodate strollers. If for some reason the kids get tired of the park, you can take a boat trip to the nearby Cranberry Isles. And with both backcountry and vast ocean views, this National Park is one you won’t want to miss.
This summer, take a break from the indoors and head outside to heat up some s’mores and tell a couple of stories around the fire. Your kids will be sure to remember it forever.
Image Credits (Top to Bottom): Yosemite National Park by Flickr user Georg Lester; Glacier National Park by Flickr user Ken Lund; Yellowstone National Park by Flickr user C.G.P. Grey; Rocky Mountain National Park by Flickr user Nature; Acadia National park by Flickr user bitslammer.
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