It’s the home stretch for kids in grade school as we close in on another summer. That means now is the time to plan your family trip! If you live in the U.S., you know that those amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties are more than just pretty lyrics in patriotic songs; they’re sung for a reason! This country is huge! Can you believe that most Americans haven’t seen the majority of the 50 states in their own country? There’s plenty to explore right here at home and if you’ve had traveling on your brain, consider taking a journey across the good ole’ U.S. of A. to explore some of the nation’s most beautiful National Parks. This is an especially great idea for active, fun loving families who have a healthy appreciation of the great outdoors. Here’s a list of some great parks to consider for a family road trip this summer.
Grand Canyon National Park
We can call this one an “oldie but goodie.” It’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think road trip - for a reason! The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking. Drive along the 25 mile stretch of road along the Desert View Drive which runs along the canyon’s edge and offers views of the Colorado River. It’s also a great place for stargazing and an amazing camping destination. Some of the best views are the blazing sunsets and sunups.
Check out the Junior Ranger Program for kids and the Trail of Time at Yavapai point; there’s also river rafting for adventure seekers. The Grand canyon is an amazing photo opp for your family - think family portrait quality! Coordinate a fun family portrait during sun-up or sundown and even plan a matching outfit with your family - or maybe mommy and daughter match while daddy and son match! Or try family tees with everyone’s name custom printed on the front for a beautiful family memory for years to come.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the #1 most visited National Park in the U.S. and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For most of the Eastern U.S. residents, the park can be reached in less than a day’s drive which is perfect for families with kids. It features many stunning hikes, waterfalls, and trails. Clingman’s Dome is a great spot for sunsets, biking is best done through Cades Cove and at night, the park comes alive with magical fireflies that light the place up! Side note, this is also an amazing park to visit during the late Fall when all the trees turn bright shades of yellow, red, orange and green.
Yellowstone National Park
Another famous classic is Yellowstone. It is probably one of the most entertaining and action packed parks. From exploding geysers like Old Faithful to rainbow waterfalls to colorful hot springs and vibrant wildlife, there’s so much to look at.
Yosemite National Park
So this park is best known for the rock climbing - and unless your 6 to 10 year old is Evel Knievel, it might not seem that family friendly. But it actually has a ton of kid friendly trails to Mirror Lake and Bridalveil Fall along with jaw dropping sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove. There’s also Junior Ranger activities and a badge program along with all around dazzling views of granite mountaintops. Another great photo opp for the family - through on some cute athleisure like some floral leggings and a cute top for a family picture that is almost too stunning to believe.
And so many more….
There are a ton of other great parks that deserve honorable mentions. There’s Mount Rainier in the Northwest - it’s the nation’s fifth oldest park and has an array of family friendly hikes and amazing panoramic mountain views as well as beautiful waterfalls and old growth forests. There’s also Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island - it hosts 2 of the world’s most active volcanoes and is a great place for kids to explore and learn. The landscapes include lava fields, sulphur banks, steam vents, craters and lush tropical forests. Go searching for some elk in Rocky Mountain National Park - just under 2 hours from Colorado - with peaks rising over 12,000 feet yielding amazing views. Or go check out Zion National Park in southwest Utah. This stunning park is distinguished by steep red cliffs, scenic drives, beautiful forest trails and so much more.