My idea of a perfect vacation involves a bottomless bag of GORP (Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts), pristine trails, and breathtaking scenery.
Places with no cell reception. Views and vistas uninterrupted by power lines and skyscrapers.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns got it right when he christened the national parks ‘America’s Best Idea.’
You don’t have to be a hardcore hiker or committed camper. Young or old, DINK or MWK, a trip to one of America’s national parks is the perfect way to unplug, unwind, and restore your spirit.
The rewards are immeasurable, but here are five reasons to consider a national park for your next vacation.
With 59 national parks, you don’t have to venture far from your backyard. Leave your passport at home and take advantage of the best America has to offer.
Hopscotch down the East Coast, starting in Maine’s Acadia and ending in the Florida Keys’ Dry Tortugas. Venture from Washington to Oregon to California for hiking, fishing, and surfing. Explore unparalleled parks and spectacular terrains in between.
Or, cash in those frequent flier miles and hit bucket-list parks in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands.
Compared to the major clams you’ll shell out for admission to the Happiest Place on Earth, entrance fees to national parks range from $20-$25 for a seven-day pass for the entire family.
Some parks, like the Great Smoky Mountains, don’t charge an entrance fee. You can also take advantage of fee-free weekends and events throughout the year.
With gas prices and airfare on the rise, a long weekend or mini-vacation to a park is the perfect way to escape the grid without breaking the bank.
3. Choose Your Own Adventure
Whether you journey into the backcountry for quiet nights under the stars or contentedly view the panoramas from the passenger seat, there’s a park to fit your adventure.
Parks cater to children of all ages, with demonstrations, guided hikes, and programs to encourage budding naturalists.
Adrenaline junkies get their fix on technical climbs, subterranean treks, roaring rapids, and more. Solitude seekers venture off the beaten path and feel like they’re the last people on the planet.
For the more laid-back, a drive along Going to the Sun Road in Glacier or Skyline Drive in Shenandoah will take your breath away.
4. Untouched Splendor
National parks were created to preserve and protect America’s most beautiful natural treasures.
Magnificent views wait around every bend in the road or twist in the trail.
Rocky coastlines. Soaring peaks. Unfathomable canyons. Slumbering volcanoes. Punctual geysers.
Nowhere in the world will you find a collection of such diversity and beauty, largely untouched by man and staunchly safeguarded for future generations.
5. Treasured Time Together
There’s nothing like a challenging hike, s’mores by the campfire, or a wildlife sighting to bring family together.
Couples share tender moments on the trail. Little ones squeal as they dip their toes in icy waters. Even the moodiest teens feel inspired when they scale a peak and look back to see how far they’ve come.
Ditch the distractions, turn off the devices, and embark on an adventure you’ll remember for years to come.
Nature has a way of recharging our batteries. We leave the rat race behind and forget our never-ending to-do list. We slow down, soak up the scenery, and open our hearts and minds to new adventures and possibilities.
America’s National Parks provide the stunning backdrop to this transformation. Open year round, they’re waiting for you.
ABOUT NICOLE: Nicole Goodman is a full-time working mother of two. She is the caffeine-driven mind behind Work in Sweats Mama and a contributor to The Mother of All Meltdowns. After business hours, you’ll find her chasing her fearless two-year-old, verbally sparring with her precocious four-year-old, avoiding housework, seeking an endorphin high on long runs, and slurping down gigantic fountain Cokes.
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