Sharing the great outdoors with your kids is one of the best parts of being a parent, especially here in the Mountain West. From high alpine lakes to camping in the red rock deserts of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, the camping experiences here are second to none.

 

With a lot of kids, though, it seems to take a bit of time to help them warm up to the idea of loving the outdoors. These five tips will help speed that process up so you can spend more time out in the wilderness, sharing your passions with your family and kids.

Get a Camper

Kids may love a tent in the backyard, but when it comes to a tent in the middle of a forest—away from WiFi, lights, and the safety of a locked house—they may not be so keen on the idea.

 

A camper is a great way to convince everyone to spend a little more time outdoors. With all the amenities of home, it’s hard to say no to a relaxing weekend in a quiet stand of trees next to a lake with a camper and good food on the stove.

 

You may think they’re too expensive to really be feasible options, but campers are pretty affordable on the used market. And rates are really good on trailer and camper loans, too, so you can always finance the adventure if that works better.

Teach them to catch snakes

This sounds like something that, if you’re a father, would likely land you in hot water with your wife. After all, what mother wants her kids catching snakes?

 

The funny thing is, most snakes you see in the mountains aren’t poisonous, and catching them is a fun, time-consuming task that’s pretty rewarding if you finally catch one. Garter and gopher snakes are common in the Rocky Mountains, and aside from a sharp bite, they’re harmless.

Go fishing

Just about everyone has memories of getting up well before the crack of dawn to go fishing with dad and grandpa. Hours of sitting by the lake, watching your pole, and not catching a thing were pretty boring. It was the few split seconds when you actually caught a fish, though, that made the experience worth the wait.

 

Taking your kids fishing – especially on small mountain streams with hungry trout – is a great way to get them looking forward to camping.

Spotting wildlife

If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ve likely been stuck in a line of cars, backed up for a mile or so, because some animal is near the road and everyone wants a picture.

 

We take deer, elk, and moose sightings for granted out in the Rockies, but for younger kids seeing animals like these is something they won’t forget. Teaching your kids how to look for and find wildlife will have them begging you to take them camping again soon.

Marshmallows

You have to save the best for last. Roasting marshmallows over a campfire is a time-honored tradition that, if nothing else works, will help your kids warm up to the outdoor lifestyle.

 

Taking kids camping and getting them to love doing it takes patience, time, and a lot of love. The end result, though, is worth it.

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