Adults-only trips certainly have their merits, but there’s nothing like sharing an amazing vacation experience with your kids. Sure it’s more complicated, but the ways their eyes light up are priceless and the memories will last a lifetime. National parks are just perfect for these kinds of shared adventures, and here are 11 of the best ones to explore with your gang.
Live a Wilder Life likes Yellowstone National Park, and puts it at the top of their list. You can get to Yellowstone by driving or flying into Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, WY or Jackson Hole Airport in Jackson, WY. This park is known for a huge number of wildlife sightings, and kids and adults thrill to see moose, bighorn, sheep and bison…plus exploding geysers like Old Faithful.
Grand Teton National Park
This is very close to Yellowstone, and can be an add-on day trip to Yellowstone. It is known for Jenny Lake, where you can go paddleboarding or kayaking; there’s also a great hike to Jumping Rock on Phelps Lake that feature a 25-foor jump into the water. WooHoo!
The Grand Canyon
Since it is a must-see for families, the Grand Canyon can get crowded at certain times of the year. U.S. News Travel posts that the best times to visit are March to May and September to November, when there are less crowds and cooler weather. It’s worth the effort; the canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and 6,000 feet deep. There are plenty of family-friendly activities in the park, too; book this trip well in advance.
Denali National Park
Travel Mamas suggests a family trip to Alaska’s Denali National Park. This 6-million acre park is home to Mount McKinley (20,300 feet) and an abundance of wildlife. Hire a guide to take you to the best places, and book a sled dog wagon ride.
Everglades National Park
Heading to the other side of the country, Everglades National Park contains 1.5 million acres, and offers canoe and kayak trails, biking, airboat tours and wildlife sightings galore (many of the nature walks here are stroller-friendly). When you’re here, you can look out for alligators, flamingos, manatees and colorful birds.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, this stunning park has some of the largest and oldest trees on the planet; “General Sherman” is the biggest tree on Earth. Kings Canyon is next door, and also has awe-inspiring trees plus pretty Zumwalt Meadow.
Bryce Canyon National Park
This southern Utah park has more tall rock spires than anywhere else on the globe, and you can start this adventure with a self-guided driving tour. The loop is 34 miles long, and some of the best sites to stop at are Sunset Point, Natural Bridge and Agua Canyon.
Arches National Park
Also in Utah, this awesome place has more than 2,000 sandstone natural arches. It can get hot here, so plan to visit in the cooler months. There’s an 18-mile scenic drive, plus the Sand Dune Arch Hike (0.3 miles long) that’s just perfect for younger kids.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
This incredible park covers parts of North Carolina and Tennessee, and has a 3-mile long river trail where visitors can catch glimpses of elk. Other highlights here include black bear sightings, waterfalls and Cades Cove.
Big Bend National Park
This is the 13th largest National Park in the U.S., and is much less crowded than most of the larger ones. Take the kids to Elena Canyon, the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, and hike and picnic along the Rio Grande.
Olympic National Park
Families love this Washington State park because it’s a great place to observe wildlife and dramatic glaciers. There are also sub-alpine meadows, the Hoh Rainforest, Sol Duc Valley and three incredible, family-friendly waterfall trails.