Family Adventure in America’s National Parks

A family tour from National Parks Revealed gives children an opportunity to hike the Grand Canyon’s rim, or float down the calm section of the Colorado River.

A family tour from National Parks Revealed gives children an opportunity to hike the Grand Canyon’s rim, or float down the calm section of the Colorado River.

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, meaning the parks will be extremely welcoming in 2016 with special events like art exhibits in Tumacácori National Historical Park in Arizona and wild tracking for kids in Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont (just a sample of this month’s events). Another plus? This year from September through August, all fourth-grade students, including those being home-schooled, can receive an annual park pass, allowing them and family members (one private vehicle) free entry into any National Park Service site. For more information on the special pass, visit every kidinapark.gov. However, with all the national parks to choose from it can be hard to select just a few of the national treasures to visit. Luxury Travel Advisor has narrowed down your itinerary search, consider these trips that are bound to thrill both parents and children alike.

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Tauck’s “Cowboy Country” trip will educate families about the U.S. presidents on Mount Rushmore.

Tauck’s “Cowboy Country” trip will educate families about the U.S. presidents on Mount Rushmore.

National Parks Revealed creates custom, private tours to some of the most-renowned national parks — think fan favorites like Zion, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. We suggest booking either “The Natural Wonders of California for Families” or “The Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families” tours. The natural wonders tour is a 10-day, nine-night adventure through six National and State Park areas as well as a coveted morning in Big Sur. The trip begins with a flight into San Francisco and an overnight at the Farmhouse Inn, which is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and popular spa. In the morning, it’s off to the village of Pt. Reyes Station and the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The highlight for the kids will be spotting the tule elk, which frequent the area. The family will spend day three in Redwoods State Park, where a private guide will educate the whole group on the tallest trees on earth (grab the camera.) Day four and five will be spent exploring the awe-inspiring Yosemite National Park. Among the highlights will be gazing at waterfalls and the high country in Tuolumne Meadows, known to be one of the most visible meadows to past pioneers. That’s not all, the youngsters will get another dose of pioneer life when they walk with an actor in costume that plays John Muir, the original pioneer that discovered Yosemite, in Yosemite Valley. The walk with Muir is an optional experience, but we feel a very memorable one. Other highlights of this trip include a wildlife cruise on Monterey Bay to see seals, scenic drives on the famous Highway 1 and viewing the ocean cliffs of Big Sur. Guests will stay at Chateau du Sureau, Carmel Valley Ranch and at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara. Note: This tour is crafted to be a self-drive experience.

The Half Dome is one of the most recognized landmarks in Yosemite, rising nearly 5,000 feet above the Valley floor.Pictured: The Half Dome is one of the most recognized landmarks in Yosemite, rising nearly 5,000 feet above the Valley floor.

The second popular family tour from National Parks Revealed is “The Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families.” This 10-day experience includes a look at Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon. If you have little ones interested in astronomy, dinosaurs or horseback riding then this is a home-run option. First, the gang will fly into Phoenix. It is possible to complete this tour with a rental car or a private car with a driver/guide. As for the activities, older children will enjoy spending a morning on a four-wheel drive in Sedona Canyon Country and stargazing with a local astronomer. The other exciting opportunities include hiking the Grand Canyon’s rim, floating down the calm section of the Colorado River, a hike to see fossilized evidence of dinosaurs and riding horses through Zion National Park. Guests will stay at four- and five-star properties along the way, including Enchantment Resort, Amangiri resort and Zion Mountain Ranch. Advisors should contact Mark Campbell ([email protected]), chief operating officer.

Tauck’s family trip, “Cowboy Country,” takes visitors on a tour of the Yellowstone National Park.Pictured: Tauck’s family trip, “Cowboy Country,” takes visitors on a tour of the Yellowstone National Park.

We couldn’t mention a trip about the national parks without offering advice on how to visit perhaps the most popular park, Yellowstone. Tauck is inviting clients with children on the family trip, “Cowboy Country,” part of the Tauck Bridges program. Guests will stay at the Jackson Lake Lodge inside the Grand Tetons National Park. Around the park, family members will visit glaciers and view the peaks of the mountains and dense forest. A rafting trip down the Snake River to look for wildlife, including eagles, beavers and elk is one of the ultimate experiences on this trip. On day three, the group will arrive at Yellowstone National Park and head for one of its most spectacular sites, Old Faithful Geyser, which spews water 184 feet into the air every 90 minutes. We bet the children won’t stop talking about it after they see it. There will be more time to see Yellowstone’s geological sites the next day. The group can visit Fountain Paint Pot, a group of colorful bubbling mud pots that are worth a visit despite the off-putting description, trust us. Children will also learn about the park’s wildlife from an expert at The Institute of the Yellowstone Association. After leaving Yellowstone, we think tweens will enjoy getting a taste of life out West when they visit an authentic ranch in the Bighorn Mountains. The family will ride horses, get a rope demonstration and have a cookhouse lunch. And no family trip would be complete without a little education about the American presidents on Mount Rushmore, which everyone will visit along with the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills. Note: This package includes accommodations and some meals along the way. Advisors can call 1-800-788-7885 or contact Katharine Bonner ([email protected]).

Visitors opting for “The Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families” tour can complete the 10-day experience with a guide.Fun in the American South

Looking to do a national park trip with the family in the American South? Trek Travel, a creator of luxury cycling tours, is able to create a custom itinerary for families at Blackberry Farm, a luxury resort located on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kids can participate in activities on the farm at camp Blackberry, which includes scavenger hunts, outdoor movies, canoeing and more. Then the family can venture into the National Park and take in the sites on a leisurely bike tour. Custom pricing applies; contact Lindsay Juley ([email protected]).

Pictured: Visitors opting for “The Grand Canyon & Its Neighbors for Families” tour can complete the 10-day experience with a guide.

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