Are you planning your next vacation? Take a look at the top questions parents have about family national park trips answered.

How Far in Advance Should You Plan Your Vacation?

The answer to this question depends on what you want to do during your trip and where you plan on staying. If your national park visit is a day trip that involves activities such as hiking or biking, you may not need much advance planning. But if your family getaway includes an overnight stay at the park's campground, you'll need to reserve a site well before your planned visit dates.

Some national park campgrounds require or recommend reservations. This means if you wait until the month of your vacation (or even a few months before), you may not get a site or the site you want.

Other parks use a first-come-first-serve system. Parks that use this system don't take reservations. If you want the reassurance of a reservation, but don't want to base your park choice on this option, explore local area (non-park) campgrounds. Like national park campgrounds that require reservations, you should plan for this type of overnight outdoor stay several months before your trip.

How Do You Make Camping Reservations at a National Park?

Before you attempt to reserve a campsite, make sure the park offers overnight camping for guests. Many national parks have this option, but some don't or may not have the type of camping your family enjoys. Visit the park's website or call to learn more about camping options. National parks may have drive-in or hike-in sites. Families with infants or younger children may prefer a drive-in site.

To reserve a site at your campground of choice, visit the National Park Service's website for the specific park. The website will provide you with information on closures or seasonal opening information, whether the park allows camping, if you'll need to make reservations, and what types of sites (and how many) are available.

What Activities Are Available at National Parks?

You can do more than camp at a national park. Specific activities vary by park. Most parks have an impressive array of options that include everything from hiking and biking to fishing, swimming, and other water sports. Along with these types of recreational activities, some parks offer plenty of nature watching, historical, and sight-seeing opportunities.

Like camping, you may need to reserve a recreational or other activity. Visit the park's website before your visit to learn more about things to do during your vacation and whether you need to make a reservation.