Are you thinking about summer vacation and still haven't settled on a destination? Well my friends, I whole heartedly suggest checking out a National Park during your time off! Over the years we've visited a few and I can say from personal experience that the memories made there are precious and long lasting. Do you need convincing? Alright, here we go!
5 reasons to choose a national park for summer vacation
1. Half the fun is in just getting there
If you've never had the opportunity to take a good long road trip, there's no time like summer to try it out! We love the in-between places that make the journey really special. If possible, plan your schedule loose enough that you are able to stop at the many interesting towns, outlooks and national monuments en-route. While driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at the Hoover Dam which is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Honestly I wasn't initially interested in making a point of seeing this popular monument, but found it to be impressive and surprisingly quite beautiful. You really never know until you see a place for yourself! Visit the NPS Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Series to discover what landmarks and monuments you'll be passing on your way to your destination park!
2. Choose your budget
From tent camping to glamorous heritage resort locations, National Parks have options when it comes to planning a vacation budget. Each offers its own set of benefits, but the end result is the same. No matter what's in your wallet, mother nature holds the same wonders for us all equally. Isn't that beautiful?
Some ways to keep a summer vacation to a National Park from going off budget is to camp instead of staying in a hotel or resort. Plan on shopping ahead of time for provisions such as food and other essential supplies. Bringing your own meals and snacks will save you big time! If a helicopter or all terrain tour isn't within reach during this trip, opt for a free guided walking tour instead. And remember, photos are some of the best souvenirs that also happen to be free to take!
If you've been saving up for a really extravagant experience in a National Park, there are many fabulous options for you too! Lodges and resorts within official park boarders are often heritage sites as well. Staying within the walls of the historic Bright Angel Lodge of the Grand Canyon for example affords you a look back to the inception of what is now one of the oldest National Parks in North American history. Waking up to an incredible view, sitting back to a fine meal or taking a scenic hellicopter tour are just a few ways you can add a little extra sparkle or even romance to your park adventure.
3. Expand your mind, feed your soul
Expand your perception of the world itself and how you fit in it through witnessing the awesomeness of nature. Vacations to flashy water slide resorts, theme parks and shopping meccas are fun. We've had our share of good times during those kinds of getaways too and rarely have we regretted the experience. However, they aren't exactly what most would consider to be thought provoking environments. In fact, it was during a short trip to Las Vegas that I convinced Todd that we should leave for a full day to visit the Grand Canyon. What a contrast! Sometimes being made to feel small and insignificant is the most empowering sensation of all. It's such a poignant reminder of keeping your troubles in perspective, compared to the permanence of stone, sea and sky. We come to the realization that even the most seemingly permanent earthly creations are vulnerable to time. I'm telling you, returning home with these thoughts will serve you well for a long time to come. If you begin to loose sight, you know exactly where you can return to for a solid reminder.
4. Educational Experiences
It's not just for the kiddo's folks! A healthy mind of any age is always learning and building new connections. Being outside of your familiar environment and routine is a sure way to get those synapses firing up! You'll find many opportunities to learn about what makes each National Park special both ecologically and historically. Museums, interpretive centres, self-guided and guided trails all assist you in your quest for knowledge. As parents, we feel like superheroes when we get to discover something new with our kids. Visiting a National Park pretty much guarantees you'll all come home feeling more inquisitive and curious about the natural world. Run with it!
5. Un-interuppted Togetherness
The moment you notice the lack of cellular coverage, wifi or other tec distractions, the healing can begin. I have nothing against technology of course. After all, 7 years of blogging has taught me the benefits of connectedness. Yet, it has also made me acutely aware of how always being linked up can cause unwanted distance from those closest and most important in our lives. I think the best way to experience the wonder of a National Park is with a person or group of people you love. The time you share together learning, exploring and trying new things will be cherished long after summer is through. A lifetime of being able to share fond "Hey, remember that time" conversations is a good investment in any relationship, don't you think?
This post was inspired by the National Parks Service Find Your Park campaign which encourages visitors to share their favourite park at FindYourPark.com or by using #FindYourPark on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Every story uploaded to the site automatically enters the author into the Centennial Project Contest which has a ton of cool prizes, one of which is collaborating with a Find Your Park brand ambassador to build a passion project! We think it's a fantastic way to encourage people to take advantage of what wonders lie in our very own back yards. Check it out friends!
All Photos in this article taken by Jill & Todd Munro @ luneblog.com