At Trekaroo, we just love our National Parks, but which ones are the best national parks for kids? With children in tow which parks are sure to fascinate kids of all ages and build a love for the outdoors and historic sites. You’ll find below the best of what parents have shared on Trekaroo as they’ve exploring the national parks spanning across America and Canada from shore to golden shore.
Did you know that 4th graders (and their families) can visit National Parks for free? Check out the Every Kid in a Park Initiative.
Looking for resources to peruse before your journey? We LOVE National Geographic’s National Parks Guides.
Explore the beauty and diversity of Hawaii’s national parks including Haleakala National Park, which dominates Maui as it soars 10,023 over the stunning beaches below, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to the most active volcano on the planet, Kilauea.
Alaska boasts the most national parks for any state including the popular Denali National Park, aka Mt. McKinley, Glacier Bay National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park (which includes the Exit Glacier).
Note: Additional national parks in Alaska include Lake Clark, Wragell, Kobuk Valley, and Gates of Arctic.
The Pacific Northwest boasts numerous national parks including Mount Rainier National Park, Crater Lake National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Olympic National Park where you can walk through a rainforest at Cape Flattery or enjoy a tidepool wonderland at the Pacific’s Beach 4.
Tip: Check out the San Juan Islands, a national historic park in Washington.
Photos by: Bigstock/Andrushko Galyna
California’s natural beauty shines bright in its gorgeous natural parks. Dramatic hiking, stunning forests, and numerous kid-friendly accommodations and campgrounds are offered at Yosemite National Park, Redwood National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Looking for a change of pace? Explore the island park, Channel Islands National Park, deserts of Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park, or learn about active volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Be one of the first to visit Pinnacles National Park, added to the NPS system in 2013!
Want to hit three parks in three days? Explore our tips on visiting Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon in one trip!
Photos by: Bigstock/Rick Myers; Flickr/Vlad & Marina Butsky
The dry, windy conditions of the southwest and an amazing amount of ancient water have carved out some pretty incredible national parks in the southwest. The epitome, Grand Canyon National Park, is certainly stunning, but the “smaller” canyons including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Canyonlands National Park are equally enjoyable.
Explore Detailed Coverage of our Favorite Desert National Parks!
Learn where to find the Bristlecone Pine, the oldest living organism, at national parks.
Photos by: Bigstock/cimmarron
Another goldmine for the national park system, the Mountain region of the United States boasts an incredible lineup of parks. Desert exploration can be achieved at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Mesa Verde National Park both in southwest Colorado, while its Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, offers incredible canyon views and trails, without the hype of Arizona’s massive canyon. Up north, explore the mountainous wonder of Rocky Mountain National Park and continue the tour of the Rocky Mountains as you head north through Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park (full of geographic wonders!) and the aptly named Glacier National Park. The Dakotas offer three additional national parks: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Badlands National Park.
Photos by: Bigstock/wollertz
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the national parks. Explore 800,000 acres of remote wilderness Big Bend National Park which boasts three diverse ecosystems: the Rio Grande, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Chisos Mountains. Guadalupe Mountains National Park offers numerous hiking trails in an extensive wilderness area.
The Midwest boasts three major national parks. Isle Royale National Park is located on a remote island in Michigan that requires a boat or sea plane entrance. This lesser-known gem receives less visitors per year than Yellowstone gets in a day! Voyageurs National Park features diverse ecosystems and landscapes carved out by glacial movement from Minnesota’s history, and offers free camping! Lastly, Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park features family-friendly hikes through deep forests, beautiful scenery, and a fun train ride.
The crown jewel of the northeast, Acadia National Park, situated on the eastern seaboard of Maine, was the first National Park established east of the Mississippi river. Explore tide pools, kayak, or hike through this beautiful park.
Photo by: Bigstock/Paul Brady
The diversity of the south brings cave-based national parks like Mammoth Cave National Park and Shenandoah National Park; water focused parks like Hot Springs National Park, Biscayne National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park; swamp centered parks including Everglades National Park and Congaree National Park; and of course, the country’s most visited national park: Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Although our Trekaroo guides are pretty awesome, we love the hands-on learning that takes place with kids using the National Geographic National Parks books series.
National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States– This guide might as well be the national park bible. It covers all 58 US National Parks, offering detailed information on how to get there, what to do, and when to go to each park. Trekaroo’s Editor in Chief has probably read it cover to cover a dozen times over the years.
National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA– This guide serves as the kid-friendly version of the original National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States. This guide engages children with great imagery, fun facts, and interesting details about all of our national parks. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself stealing this book away from your children. It is truly for all ages.
National Geographic Junior Ranger Activity Book– Heading out on a National Park road trip? Bring this book along to keep the kids entertained. It is filled with over 140 pages of puzzles, games, and facts centered around the National Parks. The best part? Your kids will be learning while having fun!
National Park Kids Funny Fill-In My National Parks Adventure– This book is basically Mad Libs with a national park theme. It is fun for car rides or tent time at your favorite national park campground.