Who’s ready for some fresh air? If you’re wondering where you can take in some of the United States’ best natural scenery, we’ve got you covered! Our Families Love Travel team has researched to compile a list of the top 10 National Parks for families to visit! Since we’ve found parks spread around the country, no matter where in the U.S. you find yourself, chances are your family will not be far from one of these amazing adventures! Out in nature, you’ll also find so many things to do with kids, from hiking to splashing in springs, canoeing, or just soaking in the sunshine. Whatever you love doing, this list of top 10 National Parks for families will offer you endless opportunities to choose from!
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Book early (even a year in advance!) for this well-known Wyoming destination. In fact, Yellowstone is the world’s first National Park! Part of an active super-volcano, you’ll find unique hot springs and geysers here, with the gorgeous Old Faithful being the most popular. Yellowstone is also a great place to camp. But, if you choose to stay in a hotel, many of our contributors recommend staying in nearby Jackson Hole. Parking lots for popular areas fill up quickly nonetheless, so definitely plan ahead and get an early start! When you do, your family will be rewarded with amazing views and abundant opportunities to view Yellowstone’s amazing wildlife. To avoid the crowds, also consider going in the off-season, as each month has its own unique highlights.
To start planning your trip to Yellowstone, first, visit its official website for information on closings, events, etc. Then, check out our Planning a Family Trip to Yellowstone National Park, a guide written by a knowledgable FLT contributor. To consult other blogs on the topic check out The Ultimate Trip to Yellowstone or Great Hikes in Yellowstone National Park with Kids to decide what else to do when you actually arrive!
Yosemite National Park (California)
Yosemite’s beauty is truly indescribable. Not only are there majestic views of El Capitan, the park’s famous rock formation, but also of Bridal Veil Falls, and the towering sequoias. There’s no doubt your family will fall in love with exploring nature here! (Our contributors can’t even pick their favorite hikes because of all the many choices.) Honestly, Yosemite’s options are way more than you can experience in a single trip, but you should still try to fit in as much as you can. Young families will love spending time along the Merced River, as it’s a calm and tranquil area perfect for toddlers or babies. Those with teens looking for a challenge will find abundant options catering to older children as well.
To begin your amazing adventure to Yosemite, visit the Yosemite National Park Site for information on closings, weather, or other advisory alerts. FLT Contributor Melissa has also written a fantastic account on Experiencing Yosemite National Park. For a list of activities worth considering within the park, read 21 Epic Things to do in Yosemite National Park with Kids or Top 10 Things to do with Kids in Yosemite National Park.
Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
While you can visit the striking Grand Teton National Park in all seasons, a summer visit shows the park at it’s finest. From May to September, all of the activities and trails are available for extended hours! Be sure to save an hour or two for Jenny Lake, a glittering two-mile-long body of water offering a wide variety of activities, like kayaking, canoeing, or paddling, For the more relaxed, there’s also hiking and simply exploring along the water! If you have animal lovers in the family, definitely don’t miss the Open-air Wildlife Safari. Since Grand Teton and Yellowstone are around 30 miles apart, combine a trip for a discount on admission!
To embark on your exciting journey to Grand Teton National Park, consult the Grand Teton National Park Site to learn about the best time to visit. For more information on the planning process, How to Plan a Vacation at Grand Teton National Park is an incredible resource to ensure you have a checklist of everything you need to know before visiting Grand Teton with kids. When you arrive, choose from Grand Teton Kid Hikes and this comprehensive list of the 14 Fun Things to do in Grand Teton National Park with Kids!
Arches National Park (Utah)
When you arrive at Arches National Park, it won’t be hard to see why it’s called a red-rock wonderland! The park has over 2,000 lovely natural stone arches and a surprising variety of other awe-inspiring geological formations. From white-water rafting to authentic Native American petroglyphs, there’s so much to do here! If your family is short on time, maximize your stay by driving a scenic loop circling the park’s main attractions. That way, you can see everything from the comfort of your car! When you have longer, choose from numerous hikes and rock formations to climb. Remember that food isn’t available here, though, so plan ahead with a picnic!
To start conceiving your trip to Arches, first, visit the Arches National Park Site for more information on when it’s open. Those with strollers in tow may especially love this guide to 8 Stroller Friendly Hikes in Moab, Utah. Plus, if you’re short on time, you can always consult this handy guide on How to Spend One Day in Arches National Park. Those with more time should take a few hours to chart out exactly which activities you’ll be visiting using Moab & Arches National Park, Utah with Kids or Moab with Kids: Things to Do.
Glacier National Park (Montana)
Glacier National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains and as its name suggests, has glacier-covered peaks to enjoy! A little wild and unpredictable, flexible plans are a necessity for any family planning to make a journey here. As a lesser developed National Park, Glacier attracts those who want a tranquil hike in solitude. Contributors also recommend driving on Sun Road as a must-do activity, depending on the time of year. There are also plenty of other scenic drives in and around the park. Freedom to look out the window and soak it all in accompanies the Red Jammer shuttle bus!
To begin your adventure toward Glacier National Park, visit the Glacier National Park Site to discern when it’s open. While you’re in the planning stage, it’s best to consult experiences like How to Plan the Perfect Glacier National Park Trip for Your Family and Glacier National Park with Kids: Things to Know Before you Go to ensure you don’t miss any important information that could make your trip smoother. For a comprehensive overlook, read through A Family Guide for your Next Visit to Glacier Park afterward.
Acadia National Park (Maine)
Families may want to visit the famous Acadia National Park as part of their East Coast National Park tour. Its popularity is no surprise, as the options here for enjoying Maine’s picturesque landscapes are undeniably incredible at Acadia. Even with young kids in tow, your family can explore miles of Atlantic shoreline, hike along beginner trails, and kayak! Whether you explore the park solo or join a ranger-led program, don’t miss a visit to Cadillac Mountain; it’s Acadia’s highest point and also of the entire North Atlantic coastline! Near Acadia, you’ll also find Bar Harbor, a small village where you can explore and choose from various restaurant options.
Start planning your trip to Acadia by visiting the Acadia National Park Site for information on opening hours. Those looking to spend an extended time in the park will love this helpful guide by FLT contributor Rebecca: 6 Days in Acadia National Park. Or, if you have younger children, Cadillac Mountain, and our First National Park with a Toddler also provides some pretty useful tips for little ones. Use other accounts like Visit Maine’s Majestic Acadia National Park for a more general overview of what to expect when you visit Acadia!
Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska)
Given Alaska’s frigid climate, most visitors venture to Denali National Park during the warmer summer months. Before you go, however, understand there is just one road in the park — and it can get crowded! To travel beyond Denali’s first 15 miles, you’ll need to walk, bike, or jump on a bus. Select a bus and you’ll have a choice between narrated tours and transit buses. No matter what you choose, you’ll surely stay on the edge of your seat! Along the way, spot large wildlife like grizzly bears, moose, and wolves! Denali is also the only National Park with a kennel, unique to its location in Alaska. Plan time to visit Denali’s Alaskan huskies and your family may have the opportunity to watch a dog sled demonstration!
To plan your action-packed trip to Denali National Park, consult the Denali National Park Site for important advisories. Then, different first hand-accounts like Exploring Denali National Park with Kids, Denali with Kids, and Denali National Park with Kids give important detail on how to make the most of your visit to Denali!
Zion National Park (Utah)
Prepare to receive your daily exercise when you visit Zion National Park. No worries if your family includes young children, as the park has plenty of light trails for beginners. With spring-fed pools, canyon views, and many waterfalls, The Emerald Pools Trail will excite your entire group. Older kids or those up for a challenge will love Angels Landing, a thrilling 5-mile hike with a steep drop. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive also provides a driving option with commanding views. Contributors also recommend The Narrows hike for another challenge: get ready to walk in water! Anyone visiting Zion National Park should also be aware of the possibility of a flash flood.
Start your trip to Zion by visiting the Zion National Park Site for important information on advisories or opening hours. For a stay of a week or longer, FLT contributor Rebecca has a wonderful One Week Itinerary in Zion and Bryce Canyon. If you have less time, check out One Day in Zion National Park or The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Zion National Park with Kids to maximize your time!
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Any list of the top 10 National Parks for families would be incomplete without mention of Grand Canyon! This Arizona National Park is one of the most well-known in the country and certainly the most frequented. Overall, many families who visit here choose to start at the South Rim, open year-round, and calm enough for children. Many visitors are also totally happy to simply take in Grand Canyon’s beauty from a panoramic view from its top. Still, you should confidently try to pack in as much as possible. Add a hike, ride a mule, or raft on the Colorado River to enrich your experience. Also, consider a helicopter tour for a unique memory. Don’t miss the Desert View Watchtower for amazing views!
Plan your spectacular getaway to Grand Canyon by consulting the Grand Canyon National Park Site for important information. Before you pack your bags, read the Grand Canyon with Kids – What you Need to Know Before you Go. Or, the 10 Best Things to do with Kids in the Grand Canyon. Visiting with younger children? This list of 8 Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon with Toddlers has everything you’ll need!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina/Tennessee)
Lush forests and mountain hikes define The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Offers a wide variety of both accessible and challenging adventures, the plethora of experiences make this a popular vacation destination for adventurers of all ages. Those with children have plenty of options, too! Cades Cove, an 11-mile one-way loop road, is a popular route to drive, with parking along the way to stop for a quick hike. While you drive the loop, stay alert! Use the opportunity to teach children about the dangers of black bears roaming the roads. Also consider Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for lodging, dining, and fun for all ages, two towns recommended by our contributors!
Start planning your trip by visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Site for important information. If you’re not convinced it’s family-friendly yet, blogs like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A Place Worth Visiting will definitely change your mind! Once you arrive, all you need to know is where to head to. These lists of What to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Kids and Kid-Friendly Hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park can definitely help you out!
Before You Go…
Before leaving home, you’ll want to research these top 10 National Parks for families and make sure the facilities and trails are open. If you’re considering visiting multiple parks in a year, look into an America the Beautiful National Park Pass. Extra bonus if you happen to have a 4th grader; you can request a free pass for the whole family! Also, remember to download maps with directions and routes before leaving home. National Parks usually have spotty cell coverage.
To avoid hungry children and long food lines, most contributors also recommend bringing your own packed food due to limited options. Consequently, you may want to consider packing healthy food to keep your energy high.
Whichever park you choose, spending time together in one of these top 10 National Parks for families will unquestionably be a vacation your kids will remember for years to come!
Which one is at the top of your list? Share your favorites and your National Park travel insights below!
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