I knew the answer before I even asked the question.
“Hey guys, want to go to the Grand Canyon on Saturday for the National Park’s 100th anniversary?”
“That’s too far.”
“I’m so glad I’m going to be gone,” said our hockey playing son, who has to be in California with his team this weekend.
“I’m not doing that.”
Sigh. The family fun weekend memory making struggle is real.
That’s why you do a 7 month family sabbatical around the USA and hit as many National Parks as you can before your kids become teenagers! We had our foursome exactly where we wanted them in 2014, when we wore out our National Park pass traveling from state to state by RV.
Today marks the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary and for those of you with kids under the age of 13, I’m begging you to stop what you’re doing and take advantage of the centennial celebration this weekend! Head to the nearest park and take advantage of free admission this weekend! Nature, history and adventure do the body good.
Better yet, plan a fall vacation to some of these favorites of ours. If you’ve got a 4th grader, you’re in luck! Every Kid in a Park is a program for all 4th grade American students enabling them and their family members to enter parks for free throughout the school year. Take advantage of this fun opportunity!
Here are 8 of our National Park Service Faves
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – North Carolina and Tennessee
2. Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
Are you familiar with Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks? We only hit two of them and hope to knock out the other three next year to celebrate our triplets’ 16th birthday. They won’t be able to say no to that milestone purposeful trip!
3. Zion National Park – Utah
4. Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
Currently, fire has unfortunately closed the main thoroughfare between Jackson and Yellowstone National Park. The fire has burned about 42 square miles since was ignited by lightning on Aug. 8. So sad!
5. Glacier National Park – Montana
Glacier National Park is out of this world! Despite the rainy weather and cooler temperatures, this park was absolutely stunning.
Get your kids involved in the Junior Ranger program, where they can earn badges or patches by filling out workbooks at each National Park for free.
Our kids have quite the collection of earned badges and have many fun memories attached to each one.
6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico
Carlsbad Caverns was one of a few caves we hit along our tour of the US. Try to go when the “Bat Flight” program happens every evening from Memorial Day through October at 7 p.m.
Or take a candlelit guided tour through the cave for a unique experience!
7. Mount Rushmore National Memorial – South Dakota
8. Devils Tower National Monument – Wyoming
Devils Tower is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from Mount Rushmore.
Happy 100 years to the National Park Service! These parks and many others brought much joy to our lives and I hope you get the chance to go experience as many as you can too!
What are your favorites?