Recommended Family Trips
Our recommended family trips are great opportunities for families with school age children to travel as a family, enjoy amazing hiking destinations, and to feel confident that what you're embarking on is appropriate for your family. The main criteria we use to determine a good family trip are the difficulty of the hiking (easy to moderate), the weight of the backpacks (10-20 pounds), and flexibility with itineraries. Active, strong children 12 and older can certainly enjoy additional trips, so these are merely suggestions. Finally, appropriateness of a trip is subjective and should be determined on a case by case basis by evaluating the nature and demands of the trip, and the fitness and experience of your family.
Please note: we require children to be 12 years of age or older to join scheduled group trips; families with children younger than 12 are asked to book private trips.
Feel free to give us a ring at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) with any questions!
More About Family Trips
The Wildland Approach to Family Trips
We do not have family-specific trips other than a few specialty options like our Havasupai Waterfalls Family Spring Break Tour, Observation Peak Backpacking Trip in Yellowstone, and our Portered Creeks & Peaks Trek in the Smokies. However, we do have trips we feel better lend themselves to families than other trips. On this page we list our recommended family trips, which means trips we feel are appropriate for an average family with school age children.
Many families and kids, however, are more than capable of doing nearly any of our trips, including in some cases Level 5 Difficulty trips. Having said that, on backpacking trips especially, it's important to make conservative decisions. Hiking with a 25-45 pound backpack is very different than hiking without one, especially for many kids and teenagers, so we recommend erring on the safe side to start and selecting trips that are less difficult than what you believe your family can ultimately handle.
Families with kids 12 and older can join scheduled tours, which are departures with mixed groups and solo travelers. Families with kids younger than 12 are asked to book private tours.
Considerations of Hiking with Kids
There are many points to consider when booking a trip for your family:
- Pack Weights on Backpacking Trips: Backpacking trips require hiking with a 25-45 pound backpack, depending on the length of the trip. Many kids can do great at hiking, but hiking with weights like this is far more difficult. Sometimes parents are able to carry the bulk of the gear for the kids, but this is rare and not normally reliable. Instead, if you'd like to do a backcountry trip but are concerned with your kids' ability to hike with weight, we recommend booking a portered trip or a llama trek.
- Length of Trip: If your family is new to hiking, trekking or backpacking, it might be wise to start with a shorter trip in the 3-4 day range. If you do go with a longer trip, consider doing an inn-based tour or camping tour, both of which are less committing than a long backcountry trip. On the other hand, if your family has plenty of experience hiking and backpacking, then a longer trip of 5-7 days is highly recommended. Particularly a Wildland llama trek of a longer length is a spectacular choice.
- Summer Heat in the Desert: Hiking in the desert in the summer is a difficult prospect for anyone, much less kids and teenagers. This includes summer trips in Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Southern Utah, Sedona and Southern California. Some hike, like our Havasu Falls Tour offer wonderful swimming which helps to cool off, but the hiking is still often in very hot temperatures. In general, we recommend doing summer family trips in the mountains, and sticking to fall, winter and spring for desert trips.
- Dietary Requirements and Allergies: allergies are on the rise in general, and serious dietary restrictions are more and more common and important. For this reason, we can cater to almost any special diets. We also recommend carrying an Epi-pen if you or your family members have had allergic reactions in the past.