In this time of economic concern, with everybody watching every dime they spend, there are still many alternatives where you can take the family for a budget-friendly trip. Roadtrips, aside from the pain at the pump, are still the most affordable way to spend a week or two. One favorite roadtrip is a run to a national park.
This writer's favorite place to go for an affordable adventure is Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks. Sure I live 45 minutes away from Rocky Mountain Park and its beautiful, but between the lack or widllife and fishing opportunties, I still pack the family up for the 7- to 9-hour drive to the Wyoming parks.
There are some major ways you can save money in these parks if you are willing to rough it. For starters-- camp. Camping runs around $20 a night, even at Madison, Bridge Bay and Canyon in Yellowstone. Colter Bay Campground and Flagg Ranch also offer cheap camping in and around Grand Tetons. Make sure you make a reservation ahead of time too.
So, camping will run $20 or less a night and if you're like me, you'll bring the old food box and cooler loaded with breakfast items, a few meats to grill for dinner and pre-made sandwiches for roadside lunches vs. dropping $40 for the family everytime you need to eat in these parks. A $150 run to the grocery store the day before you leave will typically buy you 4- to 5-days in the park. That's a better deal than burgers and fries or a $25 rainbow trout in a nicer resturant in the area. Do the math, $40 at least times three is $120 in food, vs. $150 covering at least four days.
The only other expense would be a fishing license of course and maybe a treat for the kids--if they are good. Imagine, you go to a Disney Resort, drop $2,000 (sorry Mickey) on a trip easy for 4 days or go to a national park and spend maybe $500 for a week. As I found growing up taking regular road trips to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Glacier, it does pay to take a breat and go tropical or visit a resort every now and then, but save that trip to Hawaii when the economy is booming and your boss rewards your hardwork with a big, fat bonus.
Since I'm the National Fly Fishing Examiner, let me mention the fishing options in these two parks just in case you've never been. Yellowstone is home to Slough Creek, Firehole River, Yellowstone River, Lamar River, Soda Butte, Yellowstone Lake, Snake River, Gibbon River and numerous other rivers and creeks you have to get out a topo map to explore. Grand Teton National Park also offers numerous waters highlighted by the Snake River and Jackson Lake.
So, if you love the national parks and you've never been to these two gems or you have a young family and a tight budget, pack the kids into the minivan or SUV and head to a national park. Where else can you fly fish for 18- to 24-inch cutthroat, enjoy hearing wolves howl and spend less than $75 a day?