Family Vacations, Summer 1997
The Magnificent Seven
Unfortunately, when it comes to planning the Great National Park Campout of the 1990s, most modern parents fall victim to mental timewarp: They pack up the kids and pull out of the driveway, clicking off mental Vue-Master memories of the same trip, 1960s-style. Critical error: Abort, abort, abort! Consider the differences: Back then, all you had to do was show up and remember the bug spray. Duplicating the same, warm-memory trip today requires near Desert Storm-like strategy, equipment, and bravado. Not that you can't still trek into Yellowstone in August and have an unforgettable antelope encounter. Or drive through Glacier in July and come grill-to-snout with a moose. Or ride a mule into the Grand Canyon in June and return with major enlightenment and only minor bowleggedness. Grasping all these outdoor golden rings is exactly like it was when you were a kid--except that 4,000 times as many people are trying to do the very same thing at the very same time.
Do not let this dissuade you. The national park vacation of yesterday can still be had today; it just requires a bit more creativity--and sound advice. The following crowd-avoidance tips from seasoned national-parkers should help you with the advice part. But the leadership part is up to you. Just as it was in the sixties, the successful national-parkathon of the nineties is
all in the hands of the folks in the front seat. No pressure or anything, but you're it.