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Best US National Parks To Visit With Kids

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When it comes to a family vacation, there’s no better way of spending it with your kids than outside, relishing in the great outdoors. There’s just so much fresh air, open space, and amazing places to visit. Maybe you’re thinking of camping underneath the stars on this one, or planning on going horseback riding, and whitewater rafting? The activities are plenty, which can make choosing a national park to visit overwhelming, so today we are sharing the Best National Parks to visit with kids in the United States.

kids at Grand Canyon
Photo: Pixabay

National Parks with Kids – Our Top Picks

Scattered all throughout the country, there are US National Parks that offer the activites mentioned above and more. If you’re worried about keeping your kids entertained, we have several parks that will deliver. Check out some of the best national parks that you’ll want to visit with your kids.  

Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) 

At the Grand Canyon National Park, you can venture the rims from any direction, but if you’re visiting during winter, just keep in mind that the North Rim will be closed, while the South Rim is open year-round. From the South Rim, you can drive the Desert View Drive, a 25-mile road that has excellent views of both the canyon and the Colorado River. 

There’s camping throughout the area and also one of the best places to take your kids stargazing (make sure you book well ahead of time). If your children are a little older, the park has whitewater rafting and horseback riding available as well. 

Acadia National Park (Maine) 

What’s nice about visiting Acadia National Park, is that a majority of the iconic and popular destinations are extremely accessible off of Park Loop Road. The views are nothing less than fantastic, while there’s plenty of activities throughout the park to keep your kids from becoming restless. 

Arcadia National Park in fall

Make sure to visit Jordan Pond, where there’s a hiking, canoeing, kayaking, as well as a restaurant. The park has several picnic spots, carriage rides, and sunset spots you won’t want to miss. There’s also Echo Lake and Sand Beach, along the ocean, where swimming is permitted. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee, North Carolina) 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park happens to be the number one most visited national park in America, with over 11 million visitors every year. There are several activities there for families, such as hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, climbing to the top of Clingmans Dome or biking, and wildlife seeing at Cades Cove

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho) 

Yellowstone National Park is definitely one of the best national parks that you can take your kids to. That’s because there’s so much to see and do, that little adventurers can’t possibly be bored. What’s not to get excited about Old Faithful shooting water nearly 200 feet into the sky, or watching bison and grizzly in Lamar or Hayden Valley?  

Yellowstone Lake

There’s plenty of hiking trails, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, biking, campsites and don’t forget to get your kids signed up to become a junior ranger.      

Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) 

While most travelers are taking their kids to the national park located just to the north, don’t hesitate to take yours to Grand Teton National Park. You’ll be able to enjoy the amazing mountain reflections off Jenny Lake and have the chance to take a boat ride across it. 

We encourage your family to hike up Inspiration Point, where you’ll catch several glimpses of the lake as you climb a trail that’s not too steep. Be careful with smaller children as you reach the top. You’ll also want to take your kids through the Elk Flats to see herds of bison and moose at Schwabacher Landing.    

TIP: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park are easily combined into one trip, and offer a pass that is good for both parks at a reduced rate.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) 

How about towering the world at 12,000 feet with your kids at Rocky Mountain National Park? When you visit, plan on traveling the scenic Trail Ridge Road for stunning displays of snow-covered mountains and witnessing bighorn sheep, herds of elk and other wildlife. The park also has several family-friendly hikes and plenty of ranger-led programs that kids will enjoy.  

Death Valley National Park (California)

If your family has never been to Death Valley National Park, you’re all missing out on an other-worldly experience and also some of the hottest temperatures in the western hemisphere. 

The landscape is incredible, while a walk across the borax field is humbling and puts into perspective just how low of elevation you are. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take your family camping in the pleasant night air underneath the stars. 

Photo: Pixabay

Have you ever heard of fish living out in the desert? Your children will be fascinated at Salt Creek, where pupfish lays their eggs, while they remain dormant all summertime long in a dried-up creek bed. Then during the winter, when the water begins to run off, they start the cycle of evading extinction all over again.   

Everglades National Park 

Everglades National Park is another good choice because of the many things to see and do as a family. While you may have speculated it in the past to be nothing more than a gigantic swamp, you’d be wrong. 

Your children and you will get a kick out of riding on an airboat tour amongst the mangrove jungles. This is the best way to travel and see so much in this amazing ecosystem. The park also has areas for biking, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. You’ll also see plenty of wildlife, especially alligators and crocodiles.   

Glacier National Park (Montana) 

Your family won’t believe the beauty and remoteness that you’ll experience in the vast Glacier National Park. Along with the scenery, there are several family activities that should get your kids excited. My family is heading there in a few weeks and we can’t wait!

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The park has plenty of hiking trails, where the Trail of Cedars is suitable for families, but if you have older children, we strongly recommend you hiking to Grinnell Glacier for epic views. 

Your children will love the clear waters and the multi-colored rocks that cover the floor of Lake Mcdonald, where they have the chance to kayak or travel the water by standup paddleboards. Going to the Sun Road is a scenic highway where you might spot wildlife in the valleys or mountains as you go.   

These are several US National Parks for kids that you’re going to want to visit. Which of these do you look forward to visiting most in the near future? If you’ve already visited any one of these with children, tell us about your experience and what your family enjoyed most about the park. 

Best National Parks with Kids – Go For Free!

Did you know that you are able to visit National Parks for FREE!

Through out the year, the National parks offer several days of free entry to the public. 

In addition, children entering the fourth grade can sign up for Every Kid In A Park and enjoy a full year of free entry for them. Oh, and parents and siblings can tag along too! My oldest is entering the fourth grade and we are super excited to take advantage of this program this year.

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