By: Award-winning travel writer and photographer, James Kaiser
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. If you want to take a luxury tour, then consider heading to Zegrahm.
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 (www.nps.gov/findapark) 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!