With so many of us changing the way we travel this summer, the National Parks have been more popular than ever.
A few years ago the thought of a vacation in a National Park did not appeal to me at all. My company sent me (reluctantly) to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to scope out hotels for a sales event. The moment I stepped off the plane I regretted all the years I considered middle America “flyover states”. Grand Teton National Park was like nothing I ever experienced and I knew I had to make it a mission to discover the rest of these gems in our own country.
Because I currently only have that one check marked on my National Park passport I spoke to some of my friends and asked them what they thought were the best parks to visit with kids.
Buy The America the Beautiful National Park Annual Pass
If you are planning on visiting more than one park this year you may want to consider purchasing the National Park Annual Pass. For $80 you are able to purchase the pass and gain access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day-use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.
Park fees for Yosemite National Park alone are $35!
Junior Park Ranger Program
The United States National Parks offers a Junior Park Ranger Program for kids. You can purchase a workbook (around $6-$7) at the Visitors Center for your child to work on throughout your trip. The workbook includes fun, learning activities that a 7 to 10 year- old would be able to complete independently (maybe with a little help from mom or dad).
Also in the workbook is a requirement to attend a class being offered by a Park Ranger. Oftentimes a Park Ranger will be in front of the Visitors Center offering a short 10-15 minutes class for kids. You can also get a complete list of the day’s events from the Visitors Center.
After completing the requirements, kids return their workbook to the Visitor Center and are then sworn in as an official Yosemite Jr. Ranger. They will receive their official Junior Park Ranger badge and patch from a Yosemite Park Ranger alongside their signed workbook. You can collect the patches from all the parks and sew them onto a hat or display them in a shadowbox for the ultimate souvenir.
If you have young kids
Before you go, check out Sesame Street Explores National Parks (available on the park’s website), a collection of six short videos and hands-on activities with Elmo and Murray, perfect for preparing your preschooler or young child for the trip.
Jessica from Flying with Four, Mom of 4
Yosemite National Park was founded in 1890 and once you step foot within the beloved Yosemite Valley you understand why it remains one of the TOP international destinations YEAR ROUND. When people ask “How long should we stay in Yosemite National Park with the kids?” I always respond with “There is always more to see!”.
Start your day with a short hike to Bridalveil Falls, followed by photos and a snack/bathroom break at Swinging Bridge. Visiting the Ahwahnee Hotel for a late lunch. Work off your food with a hike to Mirror Lake. Depending on your energy level you can either head to the lake and back (about 2 miles) OR option 2 is to complete the entire 5-mile loop. The last stop on your 1-day adventure can include Lower Yosemite Falls, which is completely paved if your little one needs to rest in the stroller.
Check out Jessica’s Yosemite National Park: A kids guide
Tamara from we3Travel
Yellowstone is one of the most popular of the U.S. National Parks, for good reason! Yellowstone National Park is over 3,500 square miles with so much to see and do. The one mistake that many people make, myself included, is not giving themselves enough time to experience the park. You can see quite a few of the highlights in a couple of days if you are staying in or near the park. But you really need to give yourself at least three to four days to get in some hikes and see more of the remote areas.
Tamara’s 20 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone with Kids
Kim from Stuffed Suitcase
Are you searching for gorgeous landscapes, wildlife, and crystal clear mountain lakes? I can say that you’ll certainly find it in northwest Montana. Even if you only have a day to spend while driving through, there are some great things to do in Glacier National Park.
One of the most popular things to do in Glacier National Park is to drive the Going to the Sun Road. A highlight along the route is a stop at Logan’s Pass. You can capture a great sign photo showing that you were at the Continental Divide. We loved exploring the park on horseback!
Read Kim’s post on the Best Things to Do in Glacier National Park
Kaylie at Happiness Travels Here
Acadia National Park and charming Bar Harbor were highlights of our Maine road trip. The park is super family-friendly and is one of the top 10 most visited National Parks in the USA. If you are visiting Acadia National Park with kids there is so much to see, great family hikes and some incredible places to try the amazing local food.
For some of the highlights check out her post on visiting Acadia with Kids
Stephen Family Vacation Critic
Most families make the mistake of driving to Grand Canyon National Park, taking a peek down at the mile-deep canyon, and then leaving. To truly appreciate the Grand Canyon, you need to spend some time walking into that big hole. For starters, try the 1.5-mile South Kaibab Trail down to Cedar Ridge, which rewards you with exquisite views of the inner canyon as you smell the sweet pinyon pine. For something completely different, try the mule ride down the Bright Angel Trail (but book well in advance of your trip).
If you are ready to have the family vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without spending time researching, planning and making it happen, schedule a call today. I’m here to help busy working Moms plan, organize and book the perfect family vacation. With me, all you have to worry about is enjoying your well-earned time away with your family. If you are ready to stop trying to do everything on your own and see how I can help you schedule a complimentary trip planning session now.
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