Growing up, summer vacation always meant at least a weekend or longer trip to a national park. It was important for my parents to expose me to as much nature as possible, and I know now as an adult that I want to do the same with my daughter. While some people may think that these trips should be saved for an older age, I’m here to say that a good ol' fashioned road trip to a national park should be something to share with kids of all ages! Read on for my tips for a great family trip to Zion National Park.
Stay clean and stay at a hotel!
First, and foremost, you don’t have to camp! If I’m being honest, the idea of tents and screaming babies actually mortifies me, not to mention dealing with midnight diaper changes in the dark!!! But that’s not the only way to get where you want to go on a road trip to a national park. Instead, look for hotel options that are right outside the park gates! For example, the Hampton Inn right outside of Zion National Park is the perfect way to visit the park with the family! Trade in a sleeping bag for a clean and fresh Hampton bed, and enjoy having someone else cook you a hot breakfast each day for free! Heck, they even have “On the Run” breakfast bags during weekdays, so if you want to head out for some early hours exploring, you and the kids can eat in the car! Oh, and they have coffee and tea available 24/7, which is never available at my campsite for some odd reason.
Make best friends with the rangers!
All national parks come equipped with amazing rangers, who are there to help you enjoy every inch of the park! And in high season, they also have a dazzling array of programming available to educate and inform everyone on the wildlife and history of the area. Before you leave home, check the park map and guide for a list of times and places for all of the ranger-led activities and plan your day around them! Sometimes kids enjoy hearing more about what’s around them from a stranger than just Mom and Dad. Also don’t forget to stop in the nature and visitors' centers for even more educational opportunities!
Pick short hikes/adventures!
Chances are that even your most adventurous child might get extra tired on a long day or visit to the park, so stick with shorter trails and excursions and enhance everyone’s enjoyment. Instead, pack a picnic lunch (i.e., those awesome “On the Run” breakfast bags I talked about before!) to enjoy midway on the trek, and take more time enjoying the scenery instead of just adding up the miles.
Give everyone a camera and a notebook.
These trips are where lifelong memories are formed, so help your kids out by equipping them with memory catchers such as cameras and notebooks. Give them a list of scavenger hunt items to photograph throughout the trip, or allow them extra time to sketch and capture the wildflowers. It’s a great way for everyone to relax and really take in the spectacles around them, and doubles as a great memory saver!
A visit to nature shouldn’t be stressful or crazy, especially when you’re bringing kids along! So take some extra time out to just ease off the gas pedal of life and look around. If that means heading back to the hotel early to relax or enjoy the pool, so be it! It’s not cheating you out of experiencing the splendor of nature, but actually allowing you to remain sane in it!
So if you’re ready to hop out and explore the National Parks with your kids on a road trip, head to NPF Kids and see what’s out there for you and your family!
This post was sponsored by Hampton Hotels