There are loads of reasons to take your kids to a national park. Disney World? Check. Disney Land? Check. Universal Studios. Check. Knotts Berry Farm? Check. Busch Gardens? Check. Six Flags? Check. You’ve basically done the amusement parks and you’re looking for something new. Perhaps, you went to Disney World a few years ago and really don’t care to relive waiting in two hour long lines in 97 degree heat, or you went when the kids had February break and kept running into people you knew from back home. It didn’t feel like a vacation, and you really wanted to get away. Instead, it ended up your teenage son hanging out at the pool with the girl he has a crush on from school who also happened to go to Florida for break. While there’s nothing wrong with amusement parks, and they can be a ton of fun, provided the weather is nice and you’re up for it, why not give your children, and yourself, a more meaningful summer vacation this year? Here are ten reasons to take your kids to a national park.
1. See Animals in Their Natural Habitat
Even your reluctant “I really don’t care” sixteen year old will have a smile on her face as she sees animals living their lives in their own natural habitats. To see them on TV is one thing, but to see them in real life is another. You’ll all see how they act differently than when they are in zoos. You never know when you’ll have to brake and wait in the middle of the road because a donkey is nursing her baby. Now, that’s something you don’t see every day and one of the top reasons to take your kids to a national park.
2. A New Environment Awakens the Senses
Whether it’s to Yellowstone in Wyoming or Montana, Saguaro National Park in Arizona, Acadia National Park in Maine, Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, or one of the many other parks you choose, it’s a completely brand new experience for their senses. Trust me, the first time you ever see the Grand Canyon you’ll just be stuck there totally spellbound. It’s absolutely amazing. The Grand Canyon also has more lightning strike it than any other place on earth. Stay in the nice cabin-like hotel on the property on the south rim and enjoy the tours in the day, presentations at night, and perhaps a storm from the safety and comfort of your hotel room.
Please be advised the Grand Canyon has very few guardrails. While you do see people putting their legs over the edge please avoid doing this. All it takes is one sneeze to lose your balance or one trip over your shoelace to kill you. I strongly advise waiting until your children are either very calm and well behaved or older due to the lack of guardrails in such a perilous place. If you do choose the Grand Canyon please keep your child or children in strollers even up to the age of seven. You’ll see why I am so adamant when you get there.
3. Live the Diversity of the United States
We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world once you get out there into nature away from the urban and suburban parts. Being such an expansive country we also are fortunate to have such diverse geography. Upstate New York is a lot different than the Ozarks and the Ozarks are quite different from the beauty of northern California. Whether you choose a National Park close to you or one a plane ride away get ready to see your kids gasp and awe at the splendor.
4. It’s Healthy to Be in Nature
Our children today are too often disconnected from nature. It’s time to leave the technology (sure bring a cell phone for safety, but that’s it. Don’t be on it unless you really need) and that goes for you too. In nature, you’ll be disconnected but you’ll never feel more connected. Did you know electrons from the earth on bare feet are good for you?
5. You and Your Kids Learn New Things
Enjoy how much you’ll learn at a national park be it from life experiences, people also on vacation, park rangers, the museums, descriptions on map trails and more. You’ll learn so much, but the best part is your kids won’t even realize they’re learning. They’ll be thinking they’re only having fun, and that type of learning is what everyone remembers best.
6. Help Protect Our Environment by Visiting It
When you visit a national park you learn how to help protect the environment of the area and you make a contribution to protecting and beautifying our country.
7. They’re Perfect for Adrenaline Junkies
If you’re a very athletic, thrill-seeking family, nothing is better than rappelling or white water rafting in a national park. You don’t need to, but it’s optional for those who want to do it in some of the parks.
8. National Parks Are Affordable
Especially if there is one in your state, national parks are very inexpensive. They are well equipped and if you stay around the designated tourist areas, that never feel swarmed like an amusement park at Christmas or summer vacation and there’s access to a restaurant or restaurants.
9. Learn about the Local Native American Culture
Many national parks are in or near Native American soil. There are hundreds of Native American tribes, each with their own language, history, culture, traditional clothing style, art, and more. It’s good for your kids, and you, to interact and learn from America’s first people.
10. Learn American History by Living It
Each park has its own history of how and why it started, and how it was geographically formed. It’s one thing to read about it in a textbook in school. It’s quite another to live it.