If your family enjoys the splendor of the outdoors then fall in love with the National Parks. You can even lodge or camp in many parks. These parks are even good for those who just prefer to drive and enjoy the scenic scenery. Children can also enroll in the Junior Ranger Program by checking in at the visitors center. From beautiful landscapes, wildlife, hiking, waterfalls and so much more, anyone who is appreciates the beauty of nature will love the parks.
First let’s mention a couple of possible free ways to get into the national parks. 4th graders get in for free along with the whole family. Active duty military and dependents get in for free as well. Remember you must apply for these passes and bring the physical copies. Have fun at our national parks.
If your family could only see one park this would be the one. The park is located at the northwest corner of Wyoming and just extends north enough to get into Montana. This expansive park offers lodging and camping inside the park. Checkout the Old Faithful Inn right next to the iconic geyser. There is Yellowstone Lake, the Yellowstone Grand Canyon and the famous mud pots. At some parks you might see wildlife, particularly deer, but in Yellowstone you will see free roaming buffalo. Remain a safe distance or even in your car, and do not be like some parents and bring your small children up to a wild animal that is the size of a cow. Plus interacting with the wildlife could get you arrested or fined, so just observe and report any problems to the park ranger.
If you need more adventure check out the Grand Teton National Park directly to south. If you are up for a long drive to a park bordering Canada then Glacier National Park is an excellent choice. Look in the right place and you can observe the mountain goat.
Two sister parks side by side offers giant Sequoia Trees in one and majestic canyon and river views in the other. The biggest trees in the world are here and so is the National Christmas Tree. There is even a fallen tree people can walk through. That’s how big these trees are in Sequoia National Park.
A couple of photo tricks for these big trees. Find a grove of trees and have your kids stand on one side while you take the panoramic shot with you camera. When they are off the frame have them run around the back and wait for them to come back in the frame and they will appear on both sides. Also, when taking your group photo with a Sequoia tree use your panoramic setting vertically, so the group comes out with the whole tree.
Kings Canyon offers a different setting of its own beauty as a river tumbles and at time rages down the valley. There are beautiful lofty views atop the canyon that make this easy to see why this receives national park status. Hike a trail, picnic next to the river or go for a swim and enjoy nature at Kings Canyon.
To the east of the park is Death Valley National Park, but getting around the mountains does make the transit much longer.
A point of distinction for the trees is that Sequoias are the biggest trees, but the tallest tree are about 500 miles north in California at the Redwood National and State Parks. If your trip happens to take you towards Napa or San Francisco, California, then consider the Redwood Forest of the Muir Woods National Monument. Be advised that a reservation is required. There are also tours out of San Francisco.
Hidden Gem: If you cannot make it to Muir Woods consider a drive along the Russian River a little further north. Here you can see the redwoods at the state run Armstrong Redwoods. There is also plenty of opportunity to visit wineries along the way, including Korbel that makes California Champagne. Continue along the Russian River all the way to the Pacific Coast if you desire. Leave a comment if you have any hidden gems to share.
About four hours north of Sequoia is the majestic Yosemite National Park. If you are looking for stunning views then this is the right place. Consider coming after the snow melt when the famous Yosemite Falls is flowing. Later in the year the falls can dry up. There is a section of the park that has giant Sequoias, so if you cannot make it down to Sequoia National Park you can still experience some giant trees. Enjoy ice skating at Curry Village if your visit happens to be during the winter. Like most parks, some areas are closed during the winter months due to accessibility issues from weather. Yosemite.com has some great suggestions on how to experience the park in two days.
If there is extra time to drive, check out the Devils Postpile National Monument south of the park.
This is a great park with NO ENTRANCE FEE!!! Great views and wildlife are certain in this park. Most of the park is located in Tennessee and borders into North Carolina. Cade’s Cove offers a great auto tour.
The Cataloochee area offers excellent viewing of elk. Come in the morning or in the evening. Proper timing could make the difference in seeing the elk. Come as dusk is getting close. Elkmont is being preserved by the park, and is an old vacation destination of the rich that you can now go see.
Dollywood is an amusement park in the area in Tennessee. Another option is the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. See the Vanderbilt mansion and travel back in time and see what was once only for the rich.
The wonder of the Grand Canyon can excite the kid in everyone. The views are simply breathtaking. Enjoy various tours, including hiking or rafting on the river. Check the weather before you go as elevation changes come with a changing temperature. In any hiking environment be prepared for emergencies. Emergency blankets and whistles are light weight and easy to carry. Water is extremely important, but especially here. Take pictures as you go, because everyone comes for the view.
To the west is Parashant National Monument with more views, but plan on moving camp. To the northeast of Grand Canyon is The Grand Staircase National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Again plan on breaking camp if you wish to visit these amazing places. Keep on going and you will find more national parks.
We hope you enjoyed the list of the 5 best national parks to visit with your family. What parks would you pick? Tell others your recommendations and tips in the comments. We here at BDG love our parks and would like to hear what you have to say.
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