Depending on who you talk to, we’re still either deep in recession or we’ve bottomed and it’s going to be a slow recovery. Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, it’s safe to say that family vacation budgets are likely to be tight through the summer of 2010, which means there’s no better time than your Christmas break to start planning for an economical family camping vacation in one of these great parks, this summer.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon isn’t really a canyon at all but, as you can see in this photo, a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved out of the soft limestone rock by frost-wedging and rain. Bryce Canyon is a small park and not nearly as popular as its larger cousin, Zion National Park, some 50-miles to the west. There are two campgrounds in Bryce Canyon, North and Sunset, with 199 campsites.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
At 106,372 acres, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers a myriad of varied terrain and features to see, including its popular volcanic gas-vents, mud pots and boiling pools. There are eight campgrounds within the park, including Almanor, Christie, Eagle, Gurnsey Creek, Hat Creek, McCarthy Point, Merrill and West Eagle. This winter is already shaping up to be an heavy snow year, so some roads and facilities in the park may not open until late July
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Explore the tallest sand dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park, in Colorado. There are a lot of outdoor activities on and around the dunes, including getting wet in Medano Creek. Of course, since the dunes are the main attraction here, you can also dust off those snowboards and catch some of the finest sand in the country. Pinyon Flats Campground has 88 campsites and there are other camping options outside the park.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park, in southwest Texas, is one of the last remaining wild corners of the United States and is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the country. The varied terrain of the park ranges from an elevation of 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande River, to 7,800 feet in the Chisos Mountains. There are three campgrounds in the park, including Cottonwood, Chisos Basin and Rio Grande Village.
Congaree National Park
Hike, paddle, or just relax among the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest left in North America. You won’t run into any RVs in Congaree, or even any roads, so if it’s a secluded backcountry adventure that you’re seeking, this is the place. There are several primitive campgrounds available in the park and dispersed camping is allowed 200 feet from trails and water sources.