At Our Whole Village, we plan meaningful vacations for families who want to create lifelong memories and show their kids the world in a more conscious and intentional manner.
We help families take meaningful vacations so that they can escape everyday life, show their kids the world and make lifelong memories - with care, confidence and peace of mind.
Your (free) guide to the top travel destinations for families with babies, teens and everyone in between.
America’s National Parks offer breathtaking beauty, diverse landscapes, and endless opportunities to observe plants and animals in their natural ecosystems. These destinations will encourage your family to get active in the Great Outdoors while learning vital lessons about wildlife conservation and American history. But how do you plan the perfect family trip? One that allows you plenty of time to explore a unique destination while keeping every member of your family entertained and happy? And which park(s) should you visit?
We’ve got you covered when it comes to planning the ideal family vacation. Keep reading for surefire tips on making your family national park vacations more memorable.
Depending on the national park you choose to visit, you’ll want to book your stay well in advance, whether you’re looking for full lodging or a reservation at a campground. While most national parks have first-come, first-served campsites, grabbing a spot can prove a cutthroat endeavor depending on the time of year. As for in-park lodging? It fills up well over a year in advance, especially if you’re looking to stay at one of the historic lodges.
For this reason, we recommend considering lodging outside of these areas where you won’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the national park scene 24/7. If looking for top notch accommodations, our favorite spots include the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, located adjacent to Grand Teton National Park and 60 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Or, if you’re after Southwest adventures, head to the Amangiri located in Canyon Point at Lake Powell, Utah. This excellent location puts you in easy driving distance to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Horseshoe Bend.
There are so many excellent reasons to invest in an annual National Park Pass. For $80, you gain access to all of America’s national parks as well as more than 2,000 federal recreation areas. The card provides entry for every passenger in your vehicle, and you can also know you’re giving back to the National Park System. What’s more, the pass lets you stay affordably outside the park.
Did you know that most national parks have very limited or non-existent cell phone service? In other words, you need to plan for unplugged travels. While there’s a definite charm associated with really getting away from it all, keep this in mind. Siri isn’t going to work, so don’t attempt to rely on it for maneuvering your way around these destinations. Instead, pack along paper maps or get Gaia GPS to download maps for offline use.
While it may be sunny and balmy where you live, many national parks are located at much higher elevations, meaning snow as late as July. For example, Glacier National Park’s iconic “Going to the Sun Road” often proves impassable until well into late July.
Other parks, such as Death Valley, are notorious for searing weather that’ll make you long to stay indoors during the summer months. Even parks like the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde can really bake during the summer. So, plan for short hikes early in the day, and don’t forget plenty of water and sunscreen. You’ll also want to bear in mind regional weather phenomena like hurricanes in places like the Everglades.
America’s national parks get really crowded during peak hours and seasons. For this reason, plan on starting your days early to beat the crowds. This will also allow you to avoid outdoor activities during the heat of the day. This simple tip will ensure you have a far more enjoyable experience and fewer photo bombings of your nature pics.
Each national park comes with endless activities, which can prove overwhelming for DIY family planners. What to do? Consider national park tours. There are many wonderful options available, tailored to the needs and ages of your children.
We can help find the most appropriate tour for your family depending on which park you want to visit, how active you want to be, what level of service you desire.
From staying at a ranch and experiencing the “wild west” in Zion to embarking on a multi-adventure tour of Acadia National Park in Maine, which includes hiking and biking through the Eastern Seaboard’s most stunning coastal landscapes, we will match you with one of our trusted suppliers for an unforgettable experience.
The National Park System contains many excellent ways to get to know park rangers. For example, kids (and adults!) can participate in the Junior Ranger Program. To get started, head to a ranger station and ask for a booklet. Depending on the participant’s age, the book explains how many activities to complete before sharing the answers with the ranger, getting sworn in as a Junior Park Ranger, and receiving an honorary badge.
Activities teach essential lessons about conservation while providing in-depth knowledge about each park. For example, the booklet for Yosemite includes litter collection activities and learning about bear-safe park practices. And the Death Valley booklet explores the fragile ecosystems of the desert, instilling in kids a greater appreciation for these arid landscapes. Besides Junior Ranger activities, we also highly recommend signing up for one or more ranger programs. These vary from short hikes with rangers to archaeological talks and even night sky observation.
When it comes to family National Park vacations, planning is essential. The most popular parks, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone, fill up quickly, and their accommodations are often booked out well in advance. As for destinations like Death Valley, consider a late fall or winter trip to beat the insane heat. Our favorite time of year to visit? Thanksgiving vacation when temperatures are mild, and the weather’s exceptional for hiking.
We specialize in family vacations, and we’d love to help you create the ideal itinerary for your family’s next adventure! An itinerary with the optimal mix of independent exploration, hands-on tours, a great accommodation, and outdoor adventures your family will savor. Let’s start planning!
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