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Yellowstone National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures. At no other park in the country will you find such a wealth of history alongside a splendid array of pristine nature. If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone, or even looked at the information available about it, you’ll know that planning a family camping trip can be a bit overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to even start with all the opportunities available at the park, let alone preparing for the challenges of simply camping with children. To help make planning your epic camping adventure just a little easier, we’ve collected a few tips and hints.
Yellowstone is huge. It’s impossible to see everything the park has to offer on a single vacation. Most experts advise three days minimum just to cover all the highlights, and even then you’re touring the park on a tight schedule without any time to really soak up the natural beauty. It is best to pick one or two major attractions and then find a camping space nearby. That way you can still see some of the highlights, but still have time to just enjoy your family in the great outdoors.
Getting deep into Yellowstone can be tricky if you’re bringing along smaller children who aren’t able to carry a backpack, but it isn’t impossible. Obviously horseback is one way to go, and another, more exotic option is to pack a llama with all your gear and supplies. Yellowstone Safari Co has created a unique opportunity for larger families and claims that anyone, including kids, can lead a fully packed llama on a hiking trail after just a few minutes of instruction.
That goes for the planning and packing stages of your trip as well. Get kids involved in packing their own bags with lists you’ve prepared, have them help plan the menu if you bring your own food, and let them pick out attractions that interest them. Aside from obvious favorites like Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s variety of features means there is something for everyone, from Old West cookouts and stagecoach rides, to mining for gold, gems or dinosaur bones. Legend says there could even be dragons! Getting kids involved will help keep them excited for the trip even during the longer, more boring portions of travel.
It’s tempting to toss in that one portable video game to stave off boredom, but resist the temptation. Whey you’re outside, be outside. If you’re worried that the natives might get restless, bring along a few low-tech toys and games to keep kids moving in the wide-open spaces. Hacky sacks, frisbees, and paddle balls don’t take up much room but can be surprisingly entertaining. If they need some incentive to kick things around the campsite, try making coffee can ice cream!