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Great Adventures: Thrill-Filled Family Vacations

We rounded up some unforgettable family vacations that offer families real-life thrills: swim with dolphins, ride the rapids, or go where the buffalo roam free.

Peg Rosen

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Yellowstone Association Institute
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Yellowstone Association Institute, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Magical Moment: Experience Yellowstone's wilderness and wildlife up close and personal.

Nonstop Action: The Yellowstone Association Institute's lodging and learning programs offer four-night adventures (10 to 14 participants) that include hikes and naturalist-led outings to the park's famed geysers (unless otherwise noted, most trips require that kids be at least 12 years old and accompanied by an adult). Or you can hike through back country populated by moose, elk, and wolves. Round out your trip with a three-day stay at Signal Mountain Lodge, the only lakefront accommodations in nearby Grand Teton National Park, situated on mountain-rimmed Jackson Lake. Explore the pristine lake by boat, sign up for a raft trip on the Snake River, or drive 30 miles south into the bustling resort town of Jackson.

Bonus Attraction: The Yellowstone Association Institute recently introduced a four-day, four-night, families-only adventure for the winter. You'll explore the park on a special snowcoach and spend your days on skis and snowshoes, tracking herds of pronghorn, antelope, and bison, and reveling in the beauty of Yellowstone's vast white expanses.

Admission: Four-night Yellowstone Association Institute summer family packages start at $609 per adult, $379 per child for kids 8-12, and include accommodations, breakfast and box lunches, most activities, and transportation within the park; other programs are offered for families with older children. Four-night winter packages start at $615 per adult and $425 for kids 8 and older (307-344-5566; yellowstoneassociation.org). At Signal Mountain Lodge, a one-room log cabin with 2 double beds and a pull-out couch starts at $147 per night. One-bedroom waterfront retreats start at $222 per night (307-543-2831).

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