KeeKee's Big Adventures Family Travel Podcast
KeeKee's Big Adventures Family Travel Podcast
Family National Park Vacations with Austin Adventures

Kasey Morrissey, president of Austin Adventures, joins us on this episode. As experts in small-group family National Park vacations, she shares details on their expert-led trips and most popular itineraries.

For more family vacation inspiration, check out all the podcast episodes. Adventure Awaits!Family National Park Vacations with Austin Adventures

Tell Us About Austin Adventures

We are experts in small-group family adventure travel. We offer all-inclusive, guided, active, multi-sport group vacation packages mostly focused on travel in North America and in and around the National Parks.

All our family tours start on a Sunday and end on a Friday. They mostly take place during the summer just because that’s when kids are on summer vacation.

We’re a family business started by my dad, his last name is Austin. I got to go on the trips as a kid, and I still remember those experiences. Then I guided the tours and managed our guide team, so I worked every aspect of the business.Family National Park Vacations in Yellowstone

What does an all-inclusive, guided, active, multi-sport group vacation mean?

All-inclusive means your lodging, meals, transportation, guides, activities, and equipment are all taken care of for you. And you don’t have to worry about booking any of it. You just get yourself to the departure destination, and we book everything else. The route and activities have already been chosen. Literally, you don’t have to do any work. Parents can sit back and relax and enjoy the vacation.

We run active vacations: hiking, biking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and anything that gets us out of a vehicle and into the natural world around us by doing fun things that kids will love.

Multi-sport means we’re combining lots of activities into one trip. So it’s not just a biking-only adventure, which might get a little boring for kids. It’s not just hiking. We might zipline in the morning one day and bike in the afternoon, and then we might go on a long hike the next day with different options of distances for families who might have kids that want to hike less or more.

Guided means that you’ll have two to three expert guides with you that know these areas like the back of their hand. They know the best activities to do. They know the best routes that will optimize your time. They have backup plans if something is closed. They know what to do as a plan B through Z.

They can also whip up an incredible picnic out of the back of their trailer. The guides are making the things you see come to life. And they are just plain fun individuals. They take much of the pressure off parents delivering that good time.

Group vacation package means we’re booking multiple families onto group trips, so up to 18 guests with three guides. That’s considered small group travel compared to the big bus tours out there.Family National Park Vacations with Austin Adventures

Other Benefits of Guided Group Vacations

You get to meet other like-minded families who also want to travel in natural areas. In matching families, we try and steer families with similar-age kids together. So we’ll get three or four eight-year-olds on a trip, and they just have a ball together. And it’s it takes a lot of pressure off the parents too.

It’s also good for budgeting purposes. You get to take all the fixed costs of traveling in a van, and the gas costs and spread it across a bigger group. You’re not paying nearly as much. It’s a really good value.

We Make National Park Vacations Easy

Our U.S. National Parks are the best thing ever, but planning a trip can take so much time and effort.

When you start to do the planning, it just becomes really overwhelming because the National Park properties are all booked up. Then you don’t know where to stay. Or there are just so many things to do on TripAdvisor or in the trail books, and you don’t know what to choose. So, it just becomes really overwhelming, and you’re like, you know what? I’ll just put this off for another year, and we won’t worry about it.

That’s where we come in, as we’re the experts and have been running trips in these areas for 30 years.

If we were going to see Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, we would get there a completely different way than everyone else. The normal way to go see Old Faithful is to drive up in your vehicle with your family, and you’re driving around the parking lot for 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot. It goes off about every 90 minutes, so you’re on a time frame here trying to catch it.Family National Park Vacations with Austin AdventuresWe would go to a trailhead that’s maybe a mile and a half away. We’re going to hike in this back way past these hidden hot springs that not a lot of people get to see because they don’t know they’re there. In the backcountry, we’re going to be learning about the lodgepole pine trees as we go along, and then we’ll eventually hike into Old Faithful.

Then the other magical thing is you don’t even have to hike back to the van. The van is going to be driven by another guide that comes and parks behind the scenes, and they’re going to set up a lunch for you. So as soon as you see Old Faithful go off, because our guides have been in radio contact about when it’s going to happen, and they’re making sure you show up at the right time. You just walk over to lunch, you sit down, and you don’t have to go stand in line with the 150 people going over to the cafeteria.National Park Vacations

Our Most Popular Itinerary: Yellowstone Family Vacation

Yellowstone is one of our most popular. You fly in and out of Bozeman, Montana. Your guide picks you up on Sunday morning, and they’ll take you to your first activity. And over the next six days, you’re going through three major areas in and around Yellowstone.

We start by going through the Gallatin Canyon, this beautiful river-carved canyon, where we’ll do some of our activities outside the park. We start off with ziplining which is a great way to start the trip off with a bonding experience.

Then we head into the park through the west entrance at West Yellowstone, and we stay at the Old Faithful Inn, the historic lodging in the park, which is amazing and hard to get into. We’ll eat at the Old Faithful dining room, which is pretty famous. And then, we will make our way through the park, hiking and exploring. We’ll see Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, which is the third largest hot spring in the world.

We’ll go to Lake Yellowstone, North America’s largest lake above 7,000 feet. It looks like a giant ocean and is very cold at 42 degrees. And we sometimes will do a polar bear plunge if the kids are brave enough, which is fun.

Then we’ll see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs. We’ll go over to Lamar Valley to look for wolves, bears, coyotes, foxes, and bald eagles. We take our spotting scopes and our binoculars, so you don’t have to invest in or bring the equipment.
Family National Park Vacations with Austin AdventuresThen we’ll exit the park out of the north entrance, which is the original entrance of Yellowstone. So you get to see the big famous Roosevelt Arch.

And we go into the town of Gardner and stay there for a night, which is a fun rafting town. They have five or six different rafting companies in this little town. So, of course, we’ll go rafting down the Yellowstone River while there.

We end the tour with some horseback riding in a place called Paradise Valley, which is our third major area. We go horseback riding there with some fourth-generation ranchers.

Then we end back in Bozeman, so it’s just a giant loop. We stay in the park for three nights and outside the park for two nights.

Families get to the end and say, wow, I never would have been able to fit in as much as we did.National Park Vacations for Families in Yellowstone

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Thank you for joining us, Kasey!

Visit the Austin Adventures website for more information and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

For more family vacation inspiration, tune in to all the podcast episodes.  Adventure Awaits!