vacationing at national parks

The U.S. National Parks, especially during peak foliage season in the fall, deliver some splendid stateside options to the current dilemmas of “if” and “where” to vacation over the next several months.

I recommend you head out West and begin your adventure in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This charming town transports you back to the Wild West and pioneering days with its quaint inns, saloons and shops. In the fall, there is the annual 12-day arts festival where the local artisans display their wares.

Our next stop is just over the state border – in West Yellowstone, Idaho. Centrally located, you can take separate day trips to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. While floating down Grand Teton’s Snake River, be on the lookout for moose and grizzly bears along the riverbanks. The park also has magnificent views of towering peaks and mountain meadows. On the following day, journey to the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. Famous for its Old Faithful geyser and turquoise hot springs, the wildlife here includes bison and elk.

The next morning, head south to Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah and the spiritual center for the Mormon religion. Visit Temple Square to take in the world’s largest collection of genealogical and historical records.

A couple of hundred miles south of Salt Lake City is Bryce Canyon. Once there, Inspiration Point provides a phenomenal panoramic view into the Bryce Amphitheater, the world’s largest and most colorful natural amphitheater. Revel in the Silent City with its hoodoos (rock formations) and the Rim at Sunrise lookout point for more magnificent views of the hoodoos.

Our next national park experience is Zion, a paradise refuge surrounded by towering red cliffs and sculptural rock formations. The narrated tram ride through Zion Canyon offers spectacular scenery – soaring canyon walls and emerald pools along the Virgin River.

The historic rail town of Williams, Arizona provides a picture-perfect home base when visiting the final national park on our list, the Grand Canyon. This town has the Cameron Trading post where you can browse local Navajo handmade crafts and merchandise.

The absolute best way to travel from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon Railway. One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is one mile deep, 277 miles long, and up to 18 miles wide. There are multiple awe-inspiring views of the canyon from Desert Point, Mather Point, Yavapai Point and Grandview Point.

Take a guided tour with one of the park rangers from the visitor’s center. Also, there are programs and activities specially designed for the [grand]kid explorers on their journey in the park.

Several tour companies specialize in travel to the National Parks including Globus, Collette, Trafalgar and Tauck. This moment in time is a great opportunity to map out your adventure with family and friends.

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