With so many National Parks to choose from in the United States, how do you know which ones are best suited for a family trip? I asked other travelers to share their experiences visiting some of the best national parks with children. I also included two of our family's favorites.
In this publication you will find information on family outings, fun activities for children, wildlife sightings, and also the best places to stay and other practical tips to help you plan your family trip to these very popular American national parks.
The best of old-fashioned leisure: everything you choose to do, that's what you'll find in Acadia National Park along the Atlantic coast in Maine.
Whether you're going for a walk on Park Loop Road, you're in a popover at Jordan Pond House, admire the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain or watch the sunset from the Bar Harbor Lighthouse, Acadia is the Home to some of the best ways to relax among the national parks of the United States. This makes it an ideal park to visit with children: there are many easy walks available and the main park destinations are very well connected by Park Loop Road. Long walks are not required to visit most of Acadia's most memorable places.
We were surprised beyond any expectation and the whole family fell in love with this park. Spectacular landscapes, most of the scenic routes and epic walks make Arches one of my 5 best national parks in the USA.
It is very easy to visit Arches with children of any age since many landmarks are located near the road or require a very short walk. Do not miss the Balanced Rock, the Windows and the Double Arch for easy access. If your children are good hikers, we recommend the park's most epic trek: the Delicate Arch trail, as well as the walk to the Landscape Arch. If you're lucky, you can even observe some wildlife; We saw some lizards, squirrels and a cute bunny. The kids loved it!
One of Utah's famous "Mighty Five", Bryce Canyon National Park is on the list of many family travelers and rightly so. The unique landscape of its recognizable hoods creates amazing photographs and breathtaking landscapes.
Elementary school children can easily walk the Navajo for 2.9 miles and the Queen's Garden Loop to see the majestic formations up close. There are also ranger programs, horseback riding, and many other activities for the whole family. Just be sure to pack many layers because the extreme change in elevation of the park can mean highly variable temperatures.
Valle de la Muerte is an otherworldly paradise that will amaze your family. Feel like you're on a Star Wars set while exploring the flat sand dunes of Mesquite. Your kids will love to slide through the endless dunes! You will never forget the devil's golf course full of rock salt towers eroded by eons of wind and rain.
A must-see is to explore Dali-esque salt water salt flats, where the dynamic geometric designs created by nature can be seen for miles ... and it's 282 feet below sea level! Children will delight in trying to lift the big pieces of salt! A nine-mile round trip along Artist's Drive is amazing. Another highlight is relaxing on a bench overlooking the spectacular Zabriskie Point. In one day you can see a lot of this park, but you can also spend weeks and never see everything. With surprises at every step, Death Valley is my family's favorite national park.
On more than 1.5 million acres, Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states, making it larger than the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Yosemite national parks. While many think it is just a swamp, it is actually a diverse ecosystem that is also very fun to explore.
Stop by the Shark Valley Visitor Center in the east and book a 2-hour tram ride through the park or bike the trails. To the west, the Gulf Coast Visitor Center serves as a starting point to explore the park by canoe or kayak. What we most like to do in the Everglades with children is to take a boat tour through the mangrove forests. It is the best way to get around the marshy pastures and the waterways of the park. It will be a highlight of your visit!
The remoteness and beauty of Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana must be experienced to be believed. With more than one million acres and only one road that crosses the entire park, most of the land is only accessible on foot.
You will find many activities for the whole family throughout the park. With young children McDonald Lake is fascinating. Multicolored rocks shine under the clear glacial waters. Rent kayak or paddle boards to explore this tranquil lake. The Path of the Cedars is an accessible, easy and perfect path for anyone. The extension to Lake Avalanche is not accessible by ADA, but it is a good path for families that end up in a pristine lake full of mountain waterfalls. The best tips for this trail: go after 4 pm when the park starts to empty.
Grand Canyon, true to its name, is surprisingly BIG. You can explore from the edges of North, South, East, and West. The South Rim is open all year, while the North Rim is closed in winter. At South Rim, you can drive on Desert View Drive, a 25-mile stretch of road that skirts the canyon rim, overlooking the Colorado River. It is also one of the best places in the country to observe the stars (one of my favorite things to do with children). Each vision has its own peculiar brightness, tone, and perspective in the labyrinthine topography of the canyon. Do not miss the view of the canyon in flames with shadows at sunrise and sunset.
Time trail at the Yavapai point: a weeklong walk to understand geological history and the Junior Ranger Program are free and fun activities for children. For teens looking for adventure, rafting in Colorado adds to the excitement. The visit to the Grand Canyon is pure nature and a great learning experience for children of any age.
It is often overlooked or changed in favor of its massive northern neighbor, Yellowstone. But if you are looking for breathtaking landscapes, mountain walks, and beautiful lakes, then Grand Teton should be your choice, a stark contrast to the flatter and more arid Yellowstone. Start early as the popular hiking parking lots fill up early.
There are many great trips with children, but my favorite would be to take a boat ride on Lake Jenny and then up to Inspiration Point. The road is not too steep and offers many views across the lake along the way. The upper part is a bit narrow and has a steep drop, so it is better for families with older children (keep tight control of younger children). The most picturesque places in the park should be Oxbow Landing, Schwabacher Landing and from the top of Signal Mountain. If you arrive early in the morning, you can spy a little elk at Schwabacher Landing.