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Old 03-25-2018, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bluescreen73 View Post
Great Sand Dunes NP & Preserve
Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP
Mesa Verde NP
Rocky Mountain NP
Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Mueller
Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Golden Gate Canyon
Colorado Parks & Wildlife - State Forest

Not as scenic, but ok for swimming:
Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Chatfield
Colorado Parks & Wildlife - Cherry Creek

Glendo State Park
Guernsey State Park

South Dakota:
Custer State Park - Custer's a good hopping off point for the rest of The Black Hills - Mt. Rushmore, Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, Deadwood, and (a little further west) Devil's Tower, WY. Some will mention Crazy Horse. Meh. Way overpriced and not worth it.

Arches NP
Canyonlands NP
Zion NP
Bryce Canyon NP

Bear in mind that the most prime camping sites in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are typically booked 6 months in advance. Some places have a small number of walk-up sites that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You'll have better luck with those sites during the week.

The Black Hills/Badlands are very family friendly. It does get busy in the summer, but it's not too obnoxious as long as you don't come in early August (Sturgis Rally).

Custer State Park is great. However, there was a huge wildfire in December that burned half the park, so the scenery is a bit different than it was. The bison herd is doing well, but the begging burros were all injured in the fire and are in recovery. Needles Highway is a very pretty drive and there are great hiking trails. The hike to Black Elk Peak from Sylvan Lake is probably my favorite.

Mount Rushmore is worth a stop. I enjoy Crazy Horse,but unless you are there the first weekend of June or the weekend of the Buffalo Roundup at the end of September, you can only see it from a distance. On those two weekends, there is a Volksmarch that allows you to hike up onto the carving itself. I highly recommend it.

The northern Black Hills are also very pretty, with Spearfish Canyon and Deadwood. There are plenty of attractions, museums, etc geared toward families. One of my favorite "touristy" things to do is ride the 1880 Train, which goes between Hill City and Keystone. There are also plenty of lakes where you can camp, swim, kayak.

Some other great attractions are Wind Cave and Jewel Cave.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:46 AM
Location: Wonderland
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Originally Posted by SunGrins View Post
I always enjoyed NC. We'd get a place on the beach for a while, visit Ashville or Winston Salem, there's a couple Revolutionary War battlefields, Smoky Mountains NP, Appalachian Trail, take a car ferry to the Outer Banks, go fishing or wreck diving, and visit colonial New Bern and Tryon Palace. There's something for adults and kids -- should keep you busy.
I second this and also I'll add that in the NC mountains (which are lovely) you also have Cade's Cove, Cherokee (with it's very interesting outdoor play about the Trail of Tears), ziplining, you name it.

Virginia has basically the same amenities when it comes to the Smoky Mountains, the beach, islands, Revolutionary history, the Appalachian Trail, and it's also got the Historic Triangle - Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

One region that's often overlooked is the Ouachita National Forest and Mountains in west Arkansas. Now if you want to get a LOT less touristy, that's a great spot. Good camping spots, cabins, white water rafting, hiking, diamond digging (and people really do find diamonds and other semi precious stones), trail riding, fishing, caving, ziplining, etc. It's truly more outdoors only (a lot less focus on history), but makes for a great family vacation. And the small town of Hot Springs is close by and it's a fun little getaway with a very walkable and charming downtown.

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Old 03-26-2018, 09:48 AM
Location: On the Great South Bay
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Default Best family vacations with fun outdoors activities

Originally Posted by yosemite View Post
We’re looking for recommendations for family friendly vacations that offer a lot of outdoors activities. Ideally, spots that are less touristy, less crowded— more good old fashioned fun activities you’d find in state parks (which we recognize will at times be busy to an extent). Kids are pre-teens and teens. Thanks!

You might want to try the Lake George and nearby Saratoga Springs area of New York.

Besides the beauty of the lakes and surrounding mountains, there are a ton of things to do. There are several water parks and also the Six Flags Great Escape. There are steamboat rides on the lake or you can rent your own boat. There are outlet centers and local shopping in the villages and Saratoga Springs. There are colonial forts and battlefields that kids like to explore like Fort William Henry (Last of the Mohicans) and Fort Ticonderoga. You can even drive to the top of a small mountain or you can go deeper into the Adirondacks.

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