With more than four hundred national park sites in the United States, deciding which park to visit for your family vacation can be daunting. How far will you travel to reach them? What will you do once you get there?
Not to worry. These five popular parks provide an ideal combination of outdoor activities and exploration for a multi-day adventure with kids. See one that sparks your ultimate interest–or a few?
Each recommendation below links to our complete vacation guide for the national park with recommendations of what to do, where to stay, and where to eat during your visit.
And don’t forget! If you’ve got a fourth grader in the house, you can visit the National Parks free! Find out more about the Every Kid Outdoors Pass in this post (and see more related stories below this post).
1. Zion National Park for Families
UTAH, Zion National Park – This 229-square mile park is a dream for hiking families and outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking trails range from easy to extreme and the diversity of activities will appeal to everyone in the group if nothing else for the bragging rights that come from trekking the most popular trails.
Even better for families, Zion is easily accessible from Las Vegas (just a two-hour drive) and although the elevation definitely is higher than sea level – it is unlikely that you’ll feel the effects of altitude or need time to acclimatize. – Elena Sonnino See the Zion National Park with Kids Family Vacation Guide.
2. Sequoia National Park Family Vacation
CALIFORNIA, Sequoia National Park – If you want to show your kids some seriously big trees, pack your bags and make way for Sequoia National Park in southern California. Sequoia is not simply home to some of the largest living organisms on earth; it’s also home to “the world’s largest tree” based on volume.
Yet Sequoia has more to offer than just spectacular trees. From a hike up to a 360-view vista over California to a sparkling underground cave tour, this guide will help you plan for your best possible visit. See the Sequoia National Park with Kids Family Vacation Guide.
3. Glacier National Park with Kids
MONTANA, Glacier National Park – Sitting atop the contiguous United States like a crown, its mountain peaks rising above the fir trees, snow and glaciers sparkling like jewels, Glacier National Park has been a bucket-list destination from the moment it became a National Park in 1910.
However, one does not arrive at Glacier National Park by chance, a side trip on the way to another destination. For most visitors the park is a multi-day drive or rail trip. Or at the minimum, a few hours’ flight followed by a few more hours of driving from all but the very closest airport.
The most important factor to your vacation success is to begin planning early (6 months to a year depending on your lodging preferences). As well, have a general itinerary to get you started. Here’s how I recommend you begin… . – Jody Halsted See the Glacier National Park with Kids Family Vacation Guide.
4. Yosemite National Park Family Vacation
CALIFORNIA, Yosemite National Park with Kids – Granite domes, sheer cliffs, waterfalls, ancient and enormous trees, alpine meadows, and a lush river valley all come together in one of America’s most famous and beloved national parks.
Better still, Yosemite is just a few hours’ drive from the Bay Area, so it may be tempting to add a few days to your San Francisco itinerary to go visit the park (or make a side trip to San Francisco if you’re already planning a Yosemite family vacation). – Shelly Rivoli See the Yosemite National Park with Kids Family Vacation Guide.
5. Mount Rushmore & The Black Hills Vacation
SOUTH DAKOTA, Black Hills and Mount Rushmore – Southwestern South Dakota is known primarily for one thing, and while you won’t want to miss your chance to see that massive monument carved into the side of a mountain, you may be wondering what else there is to do in the area–especially if you’ll be visiting Mount Rushmore with kids?
With over 5 million acres of hiking and cycling trails, rock climbing, caves, and paleontology sites, you won’t run out of options as you explore nature’s playground on your South Dakota family vacation. – Jody Halsted See the Mount Rushmore & The Black Hills with Kids Family Vacation Guide.