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Exploring National Parks with Kids

Exploring national parks with kids! Tips on visiting EVERY NATIONAL PARK across the United States of America!

We love our National Parks. Visiting national parks with our kids in tow has to be one of our absolute most favorite travel expeditions. Across the country, we’ve shared tips on exploring our country’s most beautiful, unique, and historic national parks.

Ready to explore your region? Jump to Hawaii | Alaska | Pacific Northwest | California | Southwest | Mountain | MidwestTexas | The Northeast | The South | International Destinations

National Park Week 2016

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the national parks service, we are celebrating National Park Week here at Trekaroo. This week, we’ll be sharing details on houseboating on Lake Mead, a comprehensive guide to Shenandoah National Park, & Mesa Verde National Park!

General Tips and Tricks for Exploring National Parks with Kids

National Parks for Free- When to visit United States National Parks without paying a dime. Visiting National Parks in the Off Season- A guide to exploring our parks when the crowds are gone and the amenities are few. Tips on getting a coveted campsite at popular National Parks across the United States

  

Junior Ranger Program with kids

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.

Multi-Park Adventures & Must-Do Experiences for Families

national park adventures (2) California National Parks Road Trip. 10 days through 4 California National Parks. Where to find the Bristlecone Pine Tree- the world's oldest living organism. Where to see Volcanoes- Exploring the Volcanic national parks of Lassen, Haleakala, Mt. Rainier and Volcanoes National Park  Exploring the Desert National Parks- a Family-Friendly Guide to Adventures in California, Arizona, & Utah

 

Destination Guides: Exploring National Parks with Kids

From west to east, here’s a guide to parent-approved tips and tricks to visiting these amazing national parks with kids.

National Parks in Hawaii

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.

Tips: Explore Both kid-Friendly Hawaii National Parks or check out our guide on visiting volcanic national parks .

Exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with Kids (1) Exploring Haleakala National Park with Kids (1)

Photos by: Bigstock/peteleclerc; Bigstock/nosnibor137

National Parks in Alaska

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.

Exploring Denali National Park with Kids Exploring Glacier Bay National Park with Kids Exploring Kenai Fjords National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Gleb Tarro; Bigstock/kathiemt; Bistock/Steven Schremp

National Parks in the Pacific Northwest

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.

Exploring Mt Rainier National Park with Kids Exploring Crater Lake National Park with Kids Exploring North Cascades National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/catsmeow; Bigstock/photographhunter; Bigstock/Frank L Jr.

Exploring Olympic National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Andrushko Galyna

National Parks in California

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!

Explore Detailed Coverage of our favorite desert national parks and visiting volcanic national parks .

Exploring Yosemite National Park with Kids Exploring Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks with Kids Exploring Channel Islands National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/f11photo; Bigstock/lucky photographer; Bigstock/grayq487

Exploring Redwood National Park with Kids Exploring Death Valley National Park with Kids Exploring Joshua Tree National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/wollertz; Bigstock/lucky photographer; Bigstock/Patrick Lienin

Exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park with Kids Exploring Pinnacles National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Rick Myers; Flickr/Vlad & Marina Butsky

National Parks in the Southwest

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.

Other great Southwest National Parks include: Saguaro National Park, Petrified Forest National ParkGreat Basin National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, Arches National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park.

Explore Detailed Coverage of our Favorite Desert National Parks!

Learn where to find the Bristlecone Pine, the oldest living organism, at national parks.

Exploring Grand Canyon National Park with Kids Exploring Zion National Park with Kids Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Adrrushko Galyna; Bigstock/kanonsky; Bigstock/Rixie

Exploring Canyonlands National Park with Kids Exploring Arches National Park with Kids Exploring Saguaro National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/JohnAnderson; Bigstock/milosk50; Bigstock/meunierd

Exploring Petrified Forest National Park with Kids Exploring Great Basin National Park with Kids Exploring Carlsbad Caverns National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/photosbyjam; Bigstock/tomoki1970; Bigstock/liliportfolio

Exploring Capitol Reef National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/cimmarron

National Parks in the Mountain States: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana & the Dakotas

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.

Exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park with Kids Exploring Mesa Verde National Park with Kids Exploring Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Andrushko Galyna; Bigstock/Eunika; Bigstock/Kris Wiktor

Exploring Rocky Mountain National Park with Kids Exploring Grand Teton National Park with Kids (1) Exploring Yellowstone National Park with Kids (1)

Photos by: Bigstock/NSirlin; Bigstock/nriphoto; Bigstock/photogallet1976

Exploring Glacier National Park with Kids Exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park with Kids Exploring Badlands National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/SNEHITDESIGN; Bigstock/iMImageManagement; Bigstock/Kris Wiktor

Exploring Wind Cave National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/wollertz

National Parks in Texas

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.

Exploring Big Bend National Park with Kids Exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Blaine Hankins; Bigstock/camcoe31416

National Parks in the Midwest

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.

Exploring Isle Royale National Park with Kids Exploring Voyageurs National Park with Kids Exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/Steven Shremp(2); Bigstock/Michael Shake


National Parks in the Northeast

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.

Explore nearby National Historic Parks: Saratoga | Women’s Rights | Morristown

Exploring Acadia National Park with Kids

Photo by: Bigstock/Paul Brady

National Parks in the South

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.

Find peace & relaxation in the Cataloochee region of the Smoky Mountains or enjoy handy tips on wildlife spotting in the Florida Everglades.

Exploring Mammoth Cave National Park with Kids Exploring Shenandoah National Park with Kids Exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock/carbonbrain; Bigstock/sborisov; Bigstock/TimMainiero

Exploring Hot Springs National Park with Kids Exploring Biscayne National Park with Kids Exploring Everglades National Park with Kids Exploring Dry Tortugas National Park with Kids Exploring Congaree National Park with Kids

Photos by: Bigstock

 Heading to International Destinations?

We’re excited to expand our coverage to international national parks and destinations.  Look here for more updates:

Lucayan National Park, Bahamas


Great Before-You-Go Resources

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 National Parks BookNational 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.

Junior Ranger Activity Book from National GeographicNational 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.

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