10 Cool Things For Kids In North Idaho

It’s that time of year to start thinking about road trips and family travels for the coming spring and summer. There are few better places to find fun with your kids than North Idaho.

The northern panhandle of Idaho is my family’s stomping ground. Over the years, we’ve discovered a great number of cool and exciting places to take the kids. So, when people ask what there is to do around here, I always have a ready list of sights and activities that will make any family vacation a memorable one.

Ten Cool Things For Kids In North Idaho

1. World’s Longest Gondola Ride

Silver Mountain Gondola

In the town of Kellogg, you can board the longest gondola in the world for a 20 minute ride to the Mountain Haus terminal at the top of Silver Mountain, a climb of 3400 vertical feet. In the winter, you’ll find some of the best ski runs around, but in the summer you can hike the nature trails, go mountain biking, or ride the chair lifts for more scenic beauty even higher up the mountain. Continue reading

10 Cool Things For Kids in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the crown jewel of our National Park System. It was the first of its kind, and remains the most unique and diverse wilderness experience that you will find in this country.

It’s also an extremely cool place for kids.

But with almost 3500 square miles of lakes, geysers, canyons, and hot springs, there’s too much to see in one short stay. So, after four visits to Yellowstone, and consultation with my own children, I have compiled the following list of park sights and activities that will make your family trip an especially memorable one.

Ten Cool Things For Kids (and Grown-Ups) in Yellowstone National Park:

1. Dragon’s Mouth Spring

Dragon's Mouth Spring

How can you resist telling your kids that a dragon lives in a cave near a mud volcano? It doesn’t take much imagination to think that this cavern, with its growls and thumps, and spitting steam, might just hold a real dragon.

2. Fishing Cone

Yellowstone Fishing Cone

It’s probably just a tall tale, but the story goes that the early trappers and explorers would catch fish in Yellowstone Lake, swing them directly into the Fishing Cone geyser just off shore, and have a meal of boiled fish in just minutes. “Hook and cook,” they called it. Like the dragon cave, another cool sight that will fire up the imagination.

3. Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Inn lobby as seen from Bat's Alley; Jim Peaco; October 2003

What kid won’t love the largest log hotel in the world? Just walk inside the 100-year-old Inn’s lobby, with its four stories of lodgepole pine balconies and 500-ton stone fireplace, and your kids might just want to sit for awhile. Preferably in one of the many handmade wood rocking chairs. Better yet, stay in one of the Inn’s rooms. Prices are reasonable, and the food in the dining room is first-class.
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Time Travel

It’s January, but my mind’s on June.

We have to make our summer travel plans now because my wife’s work schedule for the next eight months will be set in stone by March. For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing various family vacation options. It always seems odd to be planning out most of the summer a full six months ahead of time.

It’s not just the days off that have to be reserved. If we have any hope of getting a decent hotel at a popular destination, then bookings have to be made now. At National Parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, and Olympic, the best accomodations are pretty much gone by the end of February. I’ve already discovered that Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn and Cabins are sold out through September.

So, in addition to everything else I have on my mind these days, I’m also flipping through maps, studying travel websites, talking to travel agents, and highlighting specific days and weeks on the calendar.

It’s like a military campaign. Even our spontaneous day trips will be planned in advance!

Last summer we missed out on an out-of-state family wedding because of short notice. My wife couldn’t make the last-minute changes to her schedule and we were sadly absent from the event. We’ve always told people, if you’re going to get married, or have a baby, or plan a family reunion, we’d better hear about it six months beforehand so the date can go on a vacation request form.

The nice thing about all of this is that I can stop worrying about it in a few weeks. Our summer travel plans will be set and I can get back to the winter and spring projects that seem to be occupying every minute of my free time. By June I’ll need a vacation!