Can you believe that there are as many as 63 National Parks sprawled out all across the country? Even more impressive is that they each offer their visitors something genuinely unique and special.
The hardest part is deciding which park to select for your next family adventure. While each park offers majestic scenery, an abundance of outdoor activities, or the fascinating history waiting to be dug up, these are a handful of some of the best National Parks in the United States that you need to add to your family’s vacation list.
The Best National Parks to Visit With Kids
Acadia National Park
Nestled along with the highest point of Maine’s Atlantic coastline, Acadia National Park is a woodland and rocky beach paradise that offers fabulous views and all kinds of things to do for outdoor enthusiasts. The park has over 158 miles of hiking trails and 27 miles of historic motor roads. Visitors enjoy traveling to the region during the fall when the autumn-colored foliage is absolutely stunning.
Bar Harbor is the beautiful gateway city that will take you into Acadia. While you’re there, check out its many great restaurants, adorable little shops, and spectacular scenery.
Thunder Hole is a popular destination where you can witness the ocean clapping into the rocky shores. Cadillac Mountain is the highest point along the eastern coast of the United States, offering hikers the first glimpse of a morning sunrise. But don’t worry if you’re adventurers are too little for the trek. The mountain’s breathtaking views can also be seen traveling by car to the summit.
There isn’t a photograph or postcard on earth that gives the Grand Canyon the justice it deserves. So instead of admiring it on the internet, the only solution would be for you and your family to pay a visit. Whitewater rafting the Colorado River or taking a helicopter ride over the canyon are just two epic ways to witness it. Camping beneath the stars, hiking, biking, and donkey riding are a few others.
The South Rim is considered the most popular part of the canyon to visit, but if you’d prefer an escape from all the people, we encourage you to set out on the North Rim part of the canyon. You also don’t want to miss out on the rare opportunity to see a sunrise or sunset over the Grand Canyon, so set your alarm clock early.
Grand Teton National Park
If you’re planning an upcoming family trip to Yellowstone, don’t make the colossal mistake of traveling clear across the country and not stopping in at the Grand Teton National Park. First off, there’s only about an hour’s drive that separates the two parks. Another reason is that the Tetons will leave you completely mesmerized by their rugged beauty. The nearby town of Jackson Hole is where you will stumble upon all kinds of lodging, ski resorts, restaurants, music, and entertainment to keep you busy.
Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake are two alpine lakes that provide visitors with hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and boating opportunities. And if you enjoy history, you’re in for a real treat at Mormon Row, which is made up of several historic homesteads surrounded by epic views of the Tetons. Wildlife viewing is another popular activity, where you might spot grizzly, black bear, bison, moose, and antelope.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Tennessee/ North Carolina
With its lush green forests, cascading waterfalls, and tree-covered mountains, it’s no wonder why the Great Smoky Mountains National Park receives about 12 million visitors every year. There’s no entry fee to get into the park, while the main entrance is located just beyond the gateway touristy cities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. You’ll find a variety of little shops, entertainment, museums, restaurants, and vacation rentals.
Cades Cove offers spectacular scenery, historic homesteads, and wildlife viewing opportunities where you might witness spotted deer, turkey, coyote, raccoon, and black bear. Visitors also enjoy climbing Clingman’s Dome, the highest point of elevation in the park (6,643 feet), where you can walk up to the top of an observation deck and marvel at the 360-degree panoramic view of the Smokies. Newfound Gap is another popular park destination that comes with spectacular views. It’s also where you’ll run across the famous Appalachian Trail.
Rocky Mountain National Park
There’s just something mysteriously ancient about these rugged snow-capped mountains, which leave their visitors awestruck. Located about 70 miles north of Denver, the Rocky Mountain National Park provides incredible scenery, fishing, hiking, mountain-climbing, horseback riding, camping, and some of the best scenic drives in the country. During the winter, popular activities include skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.
A few of the places that are a must-see during your visit include the Emerald Lake Trail, a moderate hike that features a pristine lake surrounded by jagged mountains. Bear Lake is another destination that has a tranquil, scenic view. The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America, making it a popular attraction.
Holding the honor of America’s oldest national park, Yellowstone unquestionably should be towards the top of everyone’s bucket list for places they need to visit during their lifetime. There are so many jaw-dropping views that await you, from canyon walls that have been splashed in red, dense forests, massive waterfalls, geysers, and peaceful alpine lakes.
A few of the best things to see in the park include Old Faithful, a geyser that erupts almost like clockwork. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone features a stunningly-beautiful waterfall, while Grand Prismatic Spring is a thermal wonder known for its bright dazzling colors. Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley are where you’re sure to see plenty of bison and other fascinating wildlife. Backpacking, day-hiking, horseback riding, camping, and fishing, are just a few of the outdoor activities you can do there.
Yosemite is home to the world-famous giant ancient sequoias. It also features picturesque meadows, stunning waterfalls, and unique rock formations along a vast wilderness that will leave you in awe. Though it reaches an immense 1,200 square miles, most of its visitors spend their time in the Yosemite Valley.
Glacier Point is a popular overlook with striking views of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley. You can hike or drive there, but the road for vehicles is only accessible from May until about October or November, depending upon weather conditions. Then there’s the Tunnel View Lookout, the view that was said to have made Ansel Adams famous. Some popular things to do in the park include fishing, boating, rafting, swimming, hiking, and mountain climbing.
Zion National park
Families that love hiking and being outdoors will be thrilled to know that Zion National Park has some of the best trails for hiking in the country. You’ll discover red and pink towering sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons and arches, waterfalls, and the famous Virgin River. There’s also fascinating evidence that this desert oasis was once occupied by the ancient Anasazis people. The list of outdoor activities to take advantage of is endless, from camping, biking, horseback riding, ATV riding, kayaking, and perfect conditions for viewing the starry night sky.
Kolob Canyons is a popular destination that provides some of the most unmatched scenery in the entire country. And if you decide to venture beneath the high canyon walls of The Narrows, you’ll be treated to a hike unlike any other.
Scattered throughout the country, these National Parks are among the best places to visit. Each offers its visitors amazing scenery, dozens of thrilling activities, and a rich history worth investigating.
Which of these National Parks do you plan on visiting soon? Share any of your favorite spots we missed on our Local Anchor Facebook group.