Homeschooling? No, RoadSchooling!
An unexpected thing happens when wandering around these magnificent National Parks with your kids. They learn tons of really important stuff! You've probably heard of Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined in Richard Louv's hit book, "Last Child in the Woods". The idea is that kids need to connect with nature and that bad things happen -- to them and our society -- when they don't. (This lame synopsis was NOT approved by Mr. Louv.) So get out here! It feels good, helps your kids develop an appreciation for the outdoors, and may even help with "real" schoolwork when you get back home. It's all here: history, geography, geology, biology. And, with just a little imagination, math and literature fit nicely into the gaps.
For full-time homeschoolers, go for a multi-week adventure and do it during the spring or fall shoulder seasons. Why?
These family road trips earn our highest smarts-per-gallon ratings.
11 to 14 Nights | from $6,925 for a family of four
For those who crave mountain scenery and don't mind doing some hiking, you'll visit some of the west's most incredible landscapes on this trip. Get up close to one of Glacier National Park's 27 glaciers by boat and foot. Tour in a historic Red Jammer Bus, or take a cultural tour with the Blackfeet Indian tribe, who've been watching over this area for centuries. Visit Yellowstone, America's first national park, with its geysers, bubbling mudpots, steam vents and waterfalls. The wildlife watching is diverse, with good chances of seeing bears, elk, bison, deer, mountain goats and big horn sheep, along with eagles and other birds of prey. A day with your own private guide will give you a look at "hidden" Yellowstone. Head into Grand Teton National Park & Jackson, Wyoming for rafting, canoeing, rodeos and more. Return to Billings via the incredible Beartooth Highway Scenic Drive.
11 to 14 Nights | from $5,000 for a family of four
With close to two weeks, you'll be able to get into some of this area's most favorite and spectacular scenery. Explore beautiful Zion Canyon, watch the sunset on Bryce's hoodoos. Play on Lake Powell beneath towering sandstone cliffs, then gaze over the edge of the Grand Canyon. You'll start and end your trip in glitzy Las Vegas.
11 to 14 Nights | from $5,100 for a family of four
This trip is designed for prople who want to see some of America's history, from forts to huge rock carvings of historical figures. You'll see the tracks of the pioneers who risked it all to get to Oregon by covered wagon. Then it's off to the Black Hills, exploring mammoth sites and caves along the way. Watch the lights turn on at Mount Rushmore, view the work-in-progress at Crazy Horse monument. Then witness some of nature's finest works at Badlands and Devils Tower. Catch Frontier Days in Cheyenne (last weekend in July) or visit Fort Fetterman near Douglas.
11 to 14 Nights | from $6,200 for a family of four
Visit four of the spectacular national parks in Western Canada - Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho. Starting in the foothills in Calgary, you'll spend your time inside the parks. High rugged mountains, glaciers, waterfalls (including one of the highest waterfalls in Canada) and outstanding wildlife viewing are the highlights. Drive the incredible Icefields Parkway which connects the parks and towns of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. You can choose to do some great alpine hikes, raft, canoe, soak in hot springs, horseback ride, walk on the edge of a glacier, take a flightseeing tour over the huge icefields, or just take in the scenery and abundant wildlife viewing.
11 to 14 Nights | from $5,350 for a family of four
Take a behind the scenes tour of Pike Place Market in Seattle, then watch for migrating whales and other marine life on the ferry ride from the mainland to Olympic Peninsula. The scenery is incredibly diverse from glaciers to ancient rainforests to seastacks on the Pacific Ocean. Try sea kayaking or relax on a scenic raft trip through the rainforest. Hike in a lava tube created by the last explosion of Mt. St. Helen's and witness this renewed active volcano, or take a flightseeing tour over Mt. Rainier.
11 to 14 Nights | from $5,250 for a family of four
Take your time exploring some of the Sierra Nevada Mountains' finest scenery on this tour. Impressive waterfalls, towering cliffs, rounded domes, and massive monoliths await you in Yosemite. The drive over Tioga Pass takes you to ghost towns, tufa (too-fah) formations and hot springs on your way to spectacular Lake Tahoe. Activities like kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, boat tours, whitewater rafting and mountain biking are plentiful. Return to San Francisco via Sutter's Mill, birthplace of the 1849 California Gold Rush.