How National Parks Make Positive Family Memories

The parks are a sunny, connecting annual destination for my dad, my sister and me. 

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Family vacation at Grand Canyon National Park

My dad retired three years ago, and to celebrate, he took my sister and me on a father-daughters trip to the Grand Canyon and two other national parks in Arizona and the Navajo Nation. We had such a wonderful time that we decided to make it an annual tradition. Last year, we went to Mesa Verde National Park; last month, we visited to Death Valley National Park. We’ve already started brainstorming next year’s adventure.

The national parks are famous for their majestic natural beauty—and also for their ability to bring families together in a positive, memory-making way. Different from other types of family vacations, the parks tend to leave an impression on visitors’ hearts. Here are three of the many reasons for that:

1.  They are truly “away” places.
Most of the national parks we’ve visited are difficult to reach, and wi-fi is spotty at best once there. This is a very good thing. Life rarely affords parents and grown children the opportunity to be together in a special place without any distractions or demands from work or family. I can easily look past the inconvenience of limited communication with the outside world and embrace the pleasure of spending uninterrupted—and uninterruptable—time with my dad and sister.

Read More: Planning a Trip to a National Park

2.  They pair new memories with old ones.
Our initial Grand Canyon trip was a re-creation of a trip we had done together in the late 1980s, when I was a young teenager. My dad brought along a stack of photos from that earlier trip, and we delighted in re-enacting poses and making fun of our acid-washed jeans and other dated fashions. The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder—returning there with the memories of the impression it made on our younger selves only enhanced the already-spectacular experience. 

3.  They enrich our view of the world.
Each visit to a national park renews my wonder over how immense and powerful the natural world is, from the star-speckled sky over Death Valley to the river-etched depths of the Grand Canyon. These places are alive. They are still being made. They deserve our respect and protection. Their history is our responsibility to learn and process. To behold this enormity with my dad and sister only deepens the meaning of our time together, making it profoundly thought-provoking…alongside being just plain fun. 

Have you visited national parks with your family? What positive memories do you have from your trips? 

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