Looking for a fun, inexpensive place to travel with the family this summer? Then look no further than our National Parks. Chances are there is one near you!
These great parks offer family friendly activities, such as the "Junior Ranger" program for the kids. This program is for kids ages 7 to 13 and features a handbook that is completed during your stay. The "ranger" in your family must complete the booklet, collect a bag of trash, and attend a guided program to earn their Junior Ranger patch.
All of these parks offers great educational opportunities. Scenic drives, camping, hiking, and guided tours will help bring out the nature lover in each member of your family.
Rocky Mountain National Park
This park offers an assortment of kid-friendly trails, such as Bear Lake Loop, an easy 0.6 mile walk around a high-mountain lake with peak views. Wanting a fun new way of getting around? How about horseback riding. Rocky Mountain National Park offers hundreds of miles of horse trails and there are numerous great businesses that offers stables and rentals.
You should also consider rafting or floating. Above average rainfall this year has meant a longer season and better whitewater throughout the entire summer.
Shenandoah National Park
This Virginia spot's website may say it best. "This is Shenandoah National Park – the home of Skyline Drive and endless natural beauty. Here you can leave it all behind for a day, a weekend or a perfect week of unplugging from the everyday and reconnecting with the outdoors."
Entrance to the park from March through November is just $15 per vehicle.
This park, like the others, offers camping, hiking, and great views of nature. On specific dates, however, you can also get something extra, a tour of the stars, with their "Night Skies Program". Join amateur astronomer Jim Richberg and Tom Kennedy, at the Big Meadows area (mile 51.3), as they provide an overview about America’s vanishing night skies and tips on controlling light pollution. You'll have access to various sizes and types of telescopes, including one of the largest amateur telescopes on the East Coast.
Denali National Park
This park contains 6 millions acres of land. To give you an idea of what that means, this park and preserve is bigger than the state of Massachusetts. Now while this Alaskan park may be a bit of a journey for most Americans, it offers some of the most breathtaking views of all the parks. Since it was establishment in 1917 to conserve wildlife, the park has become known for its devotion to learning and science.
Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America at 20,320 feet, is also located in Denali National Park.
Be prepared for the weather, however. The average summer temperatures in the park range from 33 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. And snow can fall at any time.
Acadia National Park
This Maine park boasts more shoreline than any other national park. Take your children onto the water for a real treat: puffin and whale watching. Besides these great animals, you'll probably get a peak at seals, bald eagles, porpoises, dolphins, and falcons.
Are you a real water lover? This park offers superb opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and windsurfing. There are harbors and bays around Mount Desert Island for you to explore.
Yosemite National Park
This California park's 747,956 acres, or 1,169 square miles, are home to hundreds of wildlife species and thousands of Yosemite plants. It is located just 4 hours from San Francisco.
Rock climbing is a popular activity at Yosemite. Classes on rock climbing are offered by area groups.
Looking for ways to stay out of the car? Consider biking in Yosemite. There are 12 miles of paved paths, and bicycles are allowed on all roadways.
To find out more about the National Park near you, just visit the National Park Service website.