Are you and your kids feeling cabin fever? Nothing is better than enjoying an enriching experience out in nature.
Our national parks are national treasures. From Bryce Canyon to Grand Teton National Park, we have the best tips for taking your little ones to national parks across the U.S. for amazing sights and even better memories.
Here’s a list of the eight best national parks to visit with your little ones. Happy exploring!
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
The Yellowstone National Park starts from Wyoming and extends into Montana and Idaho. The national park opened on 1st March 1872, becoming the first national park spanning 2.2 million acres. It tops our list of best national parks for kids, including toddlers, for several reasons.
Not only will your kids learn about wildlife, but you’re guaranteed to see bison, elk, bighorn, sheep, moose, bears, wolves, and even exploding geysers! Furthermore, you can enjoy hiking and take your kids backcountry camping. They’re also sure to love the colorful sulfur pits. And if you’re lucky, you can catch a vivid rainbow.
The best part about Yellowstone National Park is that most areas have a stroller-friendly boardwalk. Whether you’re trying to discover the geothermal Mammoth Hot Springs or catch a glimpse of the most dependable geyser in the nation (Old Faithful), you can explore the park with your toddler without any worries.
Visiting Yellowstone National Park during winter? You can enjoy snowmobiles, ski trials, snowshoes, and picturesque views.
Yosemite National Park, Wyoming
Ansel Adams made the spectacular Yosemite National Park his most famous subject for a reason. And for a good cause! It’s difficult to ignore the beauty of Yosemite’s striking and mesmerizing landscape.
From the expansive granite cliffs to attention-grabbing domes, your little ones will enjoy gazing at the legendary El Cap, colorful Tuolumne Meadows, and the rushing Merced River.
You can rest assured your kids will love standing next to the 2-foot-high sequoias in the breathtaking Mariposa Grove full of lush, green trees. Furthermore, your little ones can sign up to become a Junior Ranger or Little Cub to enjoy hiking the Upper Yosemite Falls.
If you are searching for the best wintertime national park for kids, visit Yosemite National Park during the winter to enjoy skiing on the 7,000-foot-high Glacier point, ice skating in the Half Dome, and skiing across the Badger Pass.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Take a thirty minute drive south of Yellowstone to a slightly smaller but equally stunning mighty Grand Teton National Park. This mesmerizing park makes for a perfect short-day trip or a long weekend in the mountains.
Here, your little ones can explore different beautiful lakes, including Jenny Lake. You can also rent or bring kayaks, tubes, and paddleboards to enjoy splashing in cool, deep blue water. If you’re going with older kids, they’ll love the opportunity to hike the 25-foot Jumping Rock at the edge of Phelps Lake. They can then jump into the cool alpine water. Lastly, your family can paddle in Colter Bay, throw rocks, and gaze at the magnificent views of the Tetons.
Remember, to paddle or go boating or floating in the Grand Teton National Park, you must wear a USCG-approved personal flotation device. While there’s no age limit to the water spots, you and your family can only float within 1,000 ft. of the Lake.
Luckily, the Grand Teton allows you to rent and purchase all equipment, saving you the trouble of bringing everything in your car. You can also take a 10-mile float trip on the Snake River, a perfect activity for kids 6 years and above. Here you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the rich wildlife and spot moose, elk, beavers and eagles among others.
Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California
It is an excellent national park for toddlers. Located in Southern California, the park has plenty to experience and see. The national park has lush twisty trees and sandy grounds. Moreover, it is full of wildlife such as birds, lizards, and insects. Joshua Tree National Park features many family-friendly campgrounds and stroller-friendly trails.
It also has a spectacular cactus garden. The national park allows children to wander through Hidden Valley while exploring huge boulders at Skull Rock. Joshua Tree National Park is an ideal place to explore with kids.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Located In Florida, Everglades National Park is a great place to explore with kids. It is a beautiful camping place and home to various endangered animals. The Park offers numerous eco-friendly guides and tours through the Buttonwood Canal, an artificial waterway. The Everglades National Park is a great place to indulge in beautiful nature while exploring the surroundings with family.
The exotic wildlife and scenic marshland of the Everglades National Park make it perfect for family hikes. Your children will love racing up eco pond, bobcat boardwalk, and anhinga trail. They are short, and promise sneak peeks at over 300 species of birds and other animals like alligators and turtles. Moreover, these trails are stroller and wheelchair friendly, ensuring an unmatched experience for you and your child alike.
To enjoy your visit to the Everglades National Park, remember to visit between November and April. Since these are typically dry days, you’ll see abundant wildlife, fewer mosquitoes, and more fun!
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Most people drive to this famous national park, take a peek down and then go back. However, the right way to enjoy the Grand Canyon to its fullest is by spending some time walking into the big hole. You can start by trying the 1.5-mile South Kaibab Trail leading to Cedar Ridge, which allows you to enjoy scenic views of the inner canyon. However, you can try a mule ride down the Bright Angel Trail if you want something different. Visitors have to pre-book to try it at the location. But remember, your kid must be up to 4 feet 9 inches tall to swing into the saddle and down the mule. However, toddlers are not allowed.
Furthermore, visiting the South Rim can make your adventure at Grand Canyon. Here, you’ll come across gift shops with amazing souvenirs and an IMAX theater to escape the heat. If you’re planning to stay on-site, you can check out Grand Canyon’s South Rim lodging, where your kids can enjoy a midday nap to supercharge for further adventuring. You may also book a shuttle to enjoy gazing at the picturesque overlooks and trails in the South Rim.
Summers are hot, especially by the Colorado River, making the place warmer. The best time to visit the site is when the temperatures are down in September and October. Since these are drier months, it is easier to explore the surroundings with kids.
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National is a small park but the most inviting national park for toddlers. Located in southeastern Utah, the Park offers breathtaking views. Families can enjoy walking on the sandy trails while children can look for grand stone arches and rock formations, making the place worth visiting.
The national park has over 2,000 arches, making it the perfect place for families to enjoy. Families with toddlers can enjoy walking on the Sand Dune Arch before heading on a 1.6-mile hike to the long arch, famously known as Landscape. As you travel through the Arches National Park trails, be cautious with where you steer your stroller, as most of Arches National Park trails are composed of cryptobiotic soil. Crypto what? Cryptobiotic soil is an important element to the desert ecology that helps prevent wind erosion, assists in water retention and provides nutrients to nearby plant life. There are studies that suggest that it can take over 50 years to regenerate once stepped on – so be sure to keep those strollers on the marked paths!
However, older kids can enjoy the Delicate Trail Arch, which is steep and slippery. Since the park has a lot to offer, it is one of the best national parks for kids.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is another excellent place to enjoy with kids. The national park highlights the hundreds of hoodoos and colorful standing pinnacles that add breathtaking views to the area. Utah’s Bryce Canyon is one of the best national parks for toddlers, where you look down in awe. A self-guided scenic tour is necessary to appreciate the vastness of the place. The area is 34 miles long and may take over two hours to explore.
Agua Canyon is a must-visit as it overlooks two grand, precarious-looking hoodoos. Moreover, Natural Bridge offers breathtaking views with an impressive archway carved by nature. The most-highlighted view of the national park is Sunset Point, with a view of orange, pink, and jagged white hoodoos standing in the Bryce Amphitheater.
The national park has stroller-friendly and wheelchair-friendly hiking routes, making it a perfect family picnic spot. The Rainbow trail is fun and is one of the most accessible tracks to take your children on strollers. Moreover, children would see many animals, including coyotes, cottontail rabbits, ravens, and mule deer.
The Bottom Line
National parks are an excellent place for family outings. Children get to explore the surroundings while looking at the picturesque scenes of the parks. Moreover, national parks are home to many endangered animals. Children would enjoy spotting these animals in different national parks. So, plan a trip to your favorite national park during vacations and make ever-lasting memories with your children. The best way to ensure a fun time is to be prepared. So, make sure you bring the right baby gear, pack water bottles with filters, bug spray, sunscreen, and wear sturdy shoes. Most importantly, don’t forget to keep snacks and drinks!