There is no denying the fact that the United States is chalk full of incredible destinations and natural wonders. The boys and I have been lucky enough to be able to explore a great many of those wonders on our extended road trips. We have now been to 48 out of 50 U.S. states, and have been to nearly half of the nation’s national parks. While I am sure that each and every national park is worth a visit, I thought I would share our list of the top 5 National Parks you must visit with kids. We chose these particular parks due to their activities, beauty, history and other family-friendly factors. Check out the list below, and feel free to leave a comment with your favorite National Park below the post.
Yellowstone National Park
By far, Yellowstone National Park is my family’s favorite pick. No matter where you drive or look in this park, there is beauty. From gorgeous hot spring geysers to a mini Grand Canyon, wildlife and the notorious Old Faithful, Yellowstone is a nature lover’s dream. The have a wide range of ranger led activities scheduled almost every day, and the convenience of several in park campgrounds and amenities.
Yosemite National Park
Although I don’t like the Disney World feeling of the park buses in the Valley area in Yosemite National Park, I do love the majestic beauty this park as to offer. Endless hikes to see glistening water falls, insane mountain views including those of Half Dome, and some of the tallest trees in the world make this a larger than life outdoor destination for kids.
Crater Lake National Park
Some of the clearest water in the world exists in Crater Lake National Park. Go in early summer like we did, and you can enjoy the phenomenon known as summer snow. Huge banks still coat the ground at higher elevations in the park, but the weather is warm enough for shorts, creating the perfect snowball fight environment that won’t freeze your bum off. Although most trails are closed at this time, ranger programs and campgrounds are still open, and this park features some of the most gorgeous sunsets we have ever seen in our lives.
Mesa Verde National Park
Fewer National Parks can offer the history lessons available to children than Mesa Verde National Park. Here, families can literally walk through history as they tour ancient cliff dwellings, scale steep ladders and explore ruins on their own. The remains of the ancient Puebloans is all around you, and extremely accessible. Don’t miss the chance to stay at the on-site campground for convenience and take a moment to enjoy the scenic drives throughout the park.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Two words, “sand sledding.” If I was able to offer you no other reason than that to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park with your kids, it would be enough. There are only a few places in the United States where you can enjoy sand sledding, and of all the places we have been, Great Sand Dunes National Park is the best. Enjoy the stark contrast in environments this park has to offer, take in the ranger programs with creepy crawly creatures and marvel at the magnetic sand.
Have you been to any of the National Parks listed above? Do you have a favorite not on the list? Feel free to share your favorite national parks to visit with kids below!