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5 Best National Parks for Family Vacations

Sven | Mar 22, 2022

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That time of year is quickly approaching. The country begins to thaw from a long winter, and we get the itch — its time to cure cabin fever!

As you plan for a vacation, have you considered national parks as destinations? Using statistical data from the National Parks Service, we compiled a list of the top five most popular national parks. If taking a road trip with your family sounds like a blast, this list will help you choose the destination that is right for you.

National Park Reservations

Because of their popularity, these parks are increasingly requiring reservations. Beginning in the 2022 summer high-season, for example, Rocky Mountain National Park will welcome visitors based on a timed entry permit system. Permits are expected to sell out quickly, so be sure to plan ahead.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Are you a nature lover? This park’s biological diversity sets it apart from others in the United States. Scientists have documented some 17,000 species of animals and plants but estimate there’s 30,000 to 80,000 different kinds of plants and wildlife living in the park’s 800 square miles in southern Appalachia.

There are also recreation choices galore in this national park. Bicycling, camping, and hiking are among the most common activities.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees more annual visitors than any other national park. This is a testament to its beauty as well as ease of access. The park is within easy driving distance of several cities, making it a simple family road trip, especially if you live in the eastern United States.


Grand Canyon National Park

If you and the kids are natural history nuts, this national park is for you. It’s an amateur archeologist’s dream. The oldest human artifacts found are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. As you descend into the canyon, chiseled by the Colorado River over millions of years, your hike is a walk through antiquity.

Is archeology not your thing? No problem. What about touring the North or South Rim by mule? Of course, these are popular attractions, so the national park recommends making reservations at least 13 months in advance. While the South Rim is open year-round, the North Rim is open from mid-May through mid-October.


Rocky Mountain National Park

In these mountains, you’ll likely climb to some of the highest points in the United States. Imagine that view! The top third of the park encompasses the alpine tundra, a windswept land above the trees.

And this park is truly full of family experiences. For the kids, there’s the Junior Rangers program, which can also be found at other parks. Your children will have fun discovering the natural world while learning why we need to protect the special treasures found in our national parks.


Yosemite National Park

The majestic lands of Yosemite inspired some of Ansel Adams’ most iconic photographs. No wonder it’s one of the most-visited U.S. national parks. As with all national parks, camping is common, but a backdrop of granite cliffs, glaciers, and grand meadows sets it above all the rest. Plus, just imagine summer afternoon lunches shaded by a sequoia canopy. With 1,200 square miles of park land, you’ll wear holes in your boots from hiking. 


Be sure to check out the Happy Isles Art and Nature Center, family-friendly space with natural history exhibits, interactive displays, and art workshops. It’s also the starting point for several short trails, perfect for young hikers with short legs.


Yellowstone National Park

Last on our list, but surely not least in beauty, is Yellowstone. What makes this national treasure unique from all others? Geysers! There are more here than anywhere else on the planet. And preserving these were the main reason the land was preserved in 1872.

Your kids might also like to earn their Young Scientist patch. Pick up the booklet at the Canyon Visitor Education Center or Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and help them solve science mysteries around the park.


Benefits of the Wild

Did you know there’s tremendous benefit from an excursion into the wild? We often hear how time spent outdoors can improve mental and physical health. When you're outside, you move more, which is good for the body. But time spent in nature has also been shown to reduce stress and improve your mood.

On top of these individual health benefits, a trip to the great outdoors can benefit your family. A study by Jill Overholt, a professor in the Outdoor Leadership Department at Warren Wilson College, found “when parents and their children engage in an activity that is new and challenging to both of them, they often experienced an ‘equalizing’ of their relationship, where parents and children depended on one another more equally, perhaps for the first time in their lives.” Hiking, fishing, setting up camp — all have challenges Minecraft and Super Mario Brothers just can’t duplicate.

When you plan for your summer vacation, visiting a national park may be just what the doctor ordered. Just don’t forget to hit the road without some protection. Trip insurance will keep you and your family safe so you can focus on letting the good times roll.

Learn more about Seven Corners travel insurance, including Get Away USA, which allows you to design your own plan and gives you the flexibility to choose the protection you need, whether you’re road-tripping to your favorite park, flying, or need coverage for both.


QUESTIONS?

Check with your travel insurance agent to learn more or feel free to contact our sales team at sales@sevencorners.com or 800-335-0611.


 

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