How to Plan Your National Park Family Adventure

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The keys to making the most of your bucket-list vacation

Posted by: Xanterra on June 1, 2017

An adventure tour operator will coordinate numerous activities that the kids will enjoy, and also make sure that the parents are happy, so that everyone in the family gets the best of the best when it comes to experiencing a national park.

It’s time for you to plan your family vacation, where memories will be made, and you’ll be talking about all the adventures that were had for years to come. National parks are often on the bucket list for family trips; but actually choosing which park, scheduling the time to travel,and planning details from transportation, to lodging, to the different sights and activities, can all be exceptionally daunting to even the most skilled traveler. Where does one even begin?

First, involve everyone in your family that will be traveling. Give your kids choices, and add in some responsibilities. Ask questions like:

  • What was your favorite family vacation in the past and why?
  • What are you most looking forward to on vacation? Biking, hiking, rafting, horseback riding, etc.
  • If you could try something you have never done before, what would it be?

It’s also important to think about when you can schedule your vacation around school schedules, sports, camp, and work. Pick as many dates as possible, and don’t overlook early summer options. That can often be a great time with fewer crowds and better weather.

Austin Adventures

When thinking about when you want to go and how much you want to spend, accommodations are a key factor. In-park accommodations are extremely difficult to come by, especially during the summer months. This is where the benefits of traveling with an adventure tour operator come into play. They can get you access to these exquisite in-park accommodations, so you won’t be traveling in and out of the park at the end of each day. Your budget will ultimately decide when and where you can stay, but just know that there are alternative options if you don’t find what you’re looking for right off the bat.

Transportation is another important factor in vacation planning. Will you be driving or flying? How will you be getting around in the parks? Road trips are always a good time, but maybe not so much for the younger children.

Go over your family’s wish list. Which parks offer which activities? Are you looking for horseback riding, zip lining, whitewater rafting, hiking, or wildlife watching? Again, this is where you can turn to an adventure tour operator; they will coordinate numerous activities that the kids will enjoy, and also make sure that the parents are happy, so that everyone in the family gets the best of the best when it comes to experiencing a national park. Not to mention, the tour guide can impart knowledge about the national parks that will stick with your children forever.

Once everything is booked and planned out, it’s time for the real fun! Your national park adventure vacation awaits. Challenge everyone in your family to learn a few things about the park. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures, but focus on making memories that will last a lifetime!

Family at yellowstone

How to eXplore

There are many resources out there to help you plan the perfect national park family adventure. The question is, do you have time? If you do, a good starting point is to figure out who operates the lodging and activities in the national park you’re interested in. For instance, Xanterra Parks & Resorts operates the lodging, dining and acitivities in many of the iconic national parks. Start with lodging and work your way through the trip.

If you’re short on time and you just want an expert to help you, try an adventure tour operator like Austin Adventures. A leader in national park and active small-group vacations for both families and adults, Austin Adventures has been recognized as one of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Tour Operators multiple times, and can take away the stress of planning a complex, unique and memorable vacation.

For example, they can coordinate the ultimate adventure where you’re rafting the Yellowstone River, hiking amid the Spanish Peaks, and horseback riding with genuine cowboys in Big Sky Country. Throughout this dream Yellowstone Family vacation package, enjoy Austin’s signature touch of inspired, thoughtful service. For more information on Austin Adventures’ family adventures, visit austinadventures.com or call 800-757-1540.

For more travel experiences in Beautiful Places on Earth® available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.


Written by: Hayley Sparre

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