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Experience the Beauty of National Parks this Earth Day

When I was a boy, my father took my brothers and me to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Coming from England, the wonder of Yellowstone had a profound impact on me – never before had I seen such incredible natural phenomena!

Now that I am a grown man and have children of my own, I realize how special this experience must have been for my dad. Hikes around the crystal waters of Jenny Lake, a visit to Old Faithful Geyser and searches for grazing bison were so much more than just a vacation, they were the creation of invaluable family memories. It’s this unique combination that led to the founding ofNatural Retreats, nearly a decade ago. Based on this, it’s no wonder that my Top 5 Earth Day Travel Destinations center around family-friendly vacation spots, all in close proximity to incredible National Parks.

1. South Fork Lodge & Teton Springs Lodge, Idaho
These sister Natural Retreats lodges offer the ultimate family vacation. South Fork is a premier fly fishing lodge on the Snake River where our award winning guide team will make fishing on the South Fork a truly unforgettable experience. Teton Springs Lodge was voted the best hotel in Idaho for the past 4 years and offers everything from incredible golf courses to a splash-worthy swimming pool, to a luxurious spa – all at the foot of the majestic Tetons. Both lodges are a short drive from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

2. Homestead Preserve, Virginia
Whether you’re after a vigorous hike, a quiet place to fish or a picturesque porch on which to relax, our collection of homes at Homestead Preserve has everything you need for an idyllic Virginia getaway. With the Allegheny Mountains as their backdrop, our exclusive collection of Handpicked Homes can be found throughout the Warm Springs and Hot Springs communities, offering truly memorable family experiences. A daytrip to nearby Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive rounds out an unforgettable family visit.

3. CairnGorm Mountain, Scotland
I have often said that there is no more beautiful place in the world than Scotland and CairnGorm Mountain, located within Cairngorm National Park, is no exception. In the winter months, CairnGorm is Britain’s premier ski and snowboard destination and in the summer, the mountain and surrounding national park becomes a hub of activity as visitors take advantage of the lovely hiking and mountain biking trails. With the only funicular in all of Scotland, everyone can enjoy the view from the top, traveling nearly 1100 meters in only four minutes!

4. Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Toxaway and the surrounding area is right out of a storybook. Take a walk in the over one million protected acres of National Forest and discover why this area is nicknamed the Land of Waterfalls. Lake Toxaway itself is a crystal clear mountain lake and our lovely collection of Handpicked Homes, many on the lake itself, provides the perfect jumping off point to explore this magical area – including the nearby Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

5. Yorkshire Dales, England
This spot is extremely special to me, as it’s where I grew up and where the concept of Natural Retreats was born. Having grown up on the edge of a National Park, I was inspired to provide accommodations so that visiting families would have an opportunity to experience the area as I did. The rugged moors, stone hamlets, and imposing castles make a visit to this English countryside complete and our award-winning eco-friendly lodges serve as the perfect place from which to experience the Dales.

Originally published on Boomer Travel Patrol on April 9, 2015.