If you’re heading on a trip this year with your children then I highly recommend considering a visit to a national park. There are a variety of activities that you can do in our countries national parks including hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching. National parks provide a safe, educational and fun way to spend time with your kids that the whole family is bound to love. The following article will give you 10 of the best national parks to visit so that you can plan your next family vacation.
1.Acadia National Park
This national park is located in Maine and it’s just about the most relaxed national park you can visit. If you have little kids then this is a great option for you! The hikes are short and easy and there’s plenty of slower-paced activities such as carriage rides, picnics and beautiful scenery. There are plenty of biking trails and a pink sand beach. You can even sign up for a family quest where you complete activities throughout the park which can be a great way to take in the sights.
2.Shenandoah National Park
Located in Virginia, Shenandoah National Park has it all. Mountains, valleys, a river, wildflowers in the spring and beautiful fall colors in the autumn this park is breathtaking. There is a good mix of hikes, the majority of which are suited to older children and teenagers. One of the hikes takes you past six waterfalls over its five-mile length. If you’re looking for longer hikes, adventure and beauty then this is the perfect park for you.
3.Zion National Park
If you’re headed to Utah then a visit to Zion National Park is worth a trip. This is one of the busiest and most popular parks in the United States. It can get so busy that you have to take a park shuttle in order to get to the trails. This makes the park better suited to older children who have a little more patience. There are plenty of pools and private swimming holes to enjoy as well as a daring hike for the adventurous along a 16-mile gorge known as The Narrows.
4.Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Roosevelt travelled to South Dakota in order to hunt Bison back in 1883 and he found to his dismay that due to overhunting and disease there was very little bison left. Now, thanks to recovery efforts, the Bison are back and one of the largest herds can be found in the park bearing his name. If you want to see the amazing variety of wildlife in this park you should go for a tour on horseback. However, if you have smaller children they can also enjoy this park by joining the Badland’s Club so they can complete activities with the possibility of earning a badge from the park rangers.
5.Yellowstone National Park
Located on the borders of Wyoming and Montana, Yellowstone is the oldest of the National Parks. Its sprawling landscape is home to herds of elk, deer, buffalo, moose and even wolves. There are several geysers in the park, including Ol’Faithful. Younger kids will enjoy becoming Young Scientists as they complete activities in order to get a souvenir at the end of the visit and older children will enjoy the fishing and wildlife that can be found in the Hayden Valley,
6.Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado is home to the Rocky Mountains and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Hiking is the name of the game here with over 300 miles of trails through the forest, up mountains and with beautiful views of crystal clear lakes. You can see Bighorn Sheep on the mountain ranges here as well as mountain goats, fuzzy marmots, elk and moose.
7.Arches and Canyonlands National Park
Another fantastic national park located in Utah, Arches and Canyonlands National park is perfect for all ages of children. There’s a very short hike to a natural rock arch known as the Sand Dunes Arch that features a large sandpit below for smaller children to play in. Older kids will enjoy the Delicate Arch Trail with it’s challenging, sometimes slippery footing that is popular with lizards. The park is filled with sand-covered trails and gigantic natural rock formations and arches that can only be appreciated in person.
8.Death Valley National Park
The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are fun for all ages. You can climb up and slide down the dunes for hours of enjoyment. At 282 feet below sea level, the Badwater Salt Flats are full of unique patterns and large chunks of salt that will delight your kids. The Devil’s Golf Course features large salt rock formations and Zabriskie Point gives you a breathtaking spot to rest and take in the view. The landscape, terrain and weather can all be extreme so be cautious when you’re exploring this park.
9.Everglades National Park
Different from every other park on this list, the Everglades National Park is a unique ecosystem that is best explored via its multitude of waterways. If you have smaller kids or a large family then an airboat ride through the marsh waters and thick mangrove trees. The birds and wildlife are like nothing else in the United States and they include a large number of alligators. You can experience the thrill of adventure while remaining safe when you visit the Shark Valley Visitor’s centre or spend some time on an alligator farm.
10.Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is much more than just an impressive overlook into the depths of the canyon. To truly experience the Grand Canyon you need to actually go inside of it Whether you’re hiking or traveling on the back of a mule, the landscape along the canyon is worth a more in-depth look. The best time to visit is in the fall when the temperatures are lower and the canyon is drier. Young children will enjoy an online visit to the Sesame Street Explorers National Park for some videos and hands-on activities with Elmo that will help them get ready for their trip to the Grand Canyon.
No matter which park you chose from the above list, your family will enjoy their trip and you’ll all come away with an appreciation for the natural beauty of the United States as well as memories of your adventure that will last a lifetime.