Accessible national parks for families with young children

Accessible National Parks for Families with Young Children

Planning a family vacation? Look no further than the accessible national parks in the United States, where you can create lasting memories and connect with the beauty of nature. Whether you have toddlers or young children, these family-friendly national parks offer a range of activities and amenities that cater to all ages. From kid-friendly trails to Junior Ranger programs, these inclusive parks provide opportunities for young ones to learn about nature and wildlife while having a blast. So pack your bags, grab your little ones, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in these national parks designed for families with young children.

Key Takeaways:

  • Accessible national parks provide family-friendly experiences for families with young children.
  • Junior Ranger programs offer educational opportunities and fun adventures for kids.
  • These inclusive parks cater to families with toddlers and infants.
  • Outdoor destinations for young kids offer a chance to connect with nature and wildlife.
  • National parks are perfect for family vacations, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

family-friendly trails

Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is a great option for families with young children. Located just 60 miles from Seattle, this park offers breathtaking views of the 14,410-foot Mount Rainier and is home to 25 glaciers. Families can explore the 1.8-mile Alta Vista trail, which starts from the visitor center area in Paradise. In spring, kids can play in patches of snow, and in late summer, they can admire the colorful alpine meadows.

If you’re planning to stay longer, there is accommodation available at the park’s 121-room Paradise Inn or nearby lodges. The historic Paradise Inn, nestled in the heart of the park, offers a cozy and rustic mountain retreat. Families can relax by the fireplace or enjoy a meal at the Paradise Dining Room, which serves delicious regional cuisine. For day-trippers from Seattle, the 223-room Edgewater Hotel is a convenient option. Located on the waterfront, it offers stunning views of Elliott Bay and is within walking distance of popular attractions like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle.

Exploring Mount Rainier National Park with your family is an unforgettable experience. From the awe-inspiring natural beauty to the abundance of family-friendly trails and activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So pack your bags and embark on an adventure in this stunning national park!

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in California is a family favorite, with its unique landscape of twisted, spiky trees and giant granite boulders.

The Hidden Valley trail is a perfect one-mile loop for families, offering opportunities for rock scrambling and a picnic lunch.

Many families choose to rent a house in the area, but the newish Autocamp is also a great option. They offer Airstreams with high-thread count linens and walk-in rain showers, providing a camping vibe without the work.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee (and North Carolina)

When it comes to natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina truly stands out. This stunning park is renowned for its majestic mountains and the famous blue haze that blankets the mountaintops, creating a magical atmosphere for visitors.

For families looking to explore the park, the Sugarlands Visitor Center is the perfect starting point. Here, you can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet, which provides an interactive and educational experience for kids. The booklet guides them through various activities and helps them learn about the park’s unique ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation efforts.

One of the most iconic attractions in the park is Clingman’s Dome, an observation tower that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. What makes it even more enticing is that it doesn’t require a strenuous uphill hike to reach. Families can simply drive to the parking area and take a short walk to the tower, where they’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the Smokies.

Of course, no visit to the Great Smoky Mountains would be complete without exploring the beautiful waterfalls that dot the landscape. Popular choices include Laurel Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Grotto Falls, each offering its own unique charm and beauty. These cascading waterfalls provide the perfect backdrop for family photos and create lasting memories.

For a more peaceful and secluded experience, families can also seek out smaller cascades such as Mouse Creek Falls and Lynn Camp Prong Cascades. These hidden gems offer a tranquil setting where kids can marvel at the wonders of nature and enjoy the soothing sound of flowing water.

When it comes to accommodations, Stony Brook Cabins provides an excellent option for families. Their multi-bedroom mountain homes offer a cozy and comfortable retreat, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide stunning views of the surrounding scenery. The cabins are equipped with modern kitchens, allowing families to prepare their own meals and enjoy quality time together in a home-away-from-home setting.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is a geological wonder that offers a unique experience for families. The immense size and stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

If you’re visiting with your family, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. One popular option is to book a guided tour with the nonprofit Field Institute. These tours provide fascinating insights into the geological history of the canyon and offer a deeper understanding of its formation.

For families who enjoy biking, renting bikes from Bright Angel Bicycles is a fantastic way to explore the park. The South Rim offers breathtaking views, and riding along the rim is an unforgettable experience. Bright Angel Bicycles even offers tandem bikes for families with younger children, so everyone can participate in the adventure. Safety measures are in place to ensure a worry-free experience for riders of all ages.

When it comes to accommodation, Under Canvas provides a unique camping experience for families. Their minimalist “tents” offer all the comforts you need, including cozy beds and private bathrooms. At night, you can roast s’mores around the campfire and stargaze with your loved ones. It’s a memorable way to connect with nature and make lasting memories.

Acadia National Park, Maine

As I ventured to Acadia National Park in Maine, I was captivated by the park’s unique combination of rugged coastline, pine woodlands, and granite peaks. It truly offers a diverse and awe-inspiring natural playground for families.

One of the highlights for families is exploring the tidepools in Bar Harbor. Kids will be delighted to spot fascinating marine creatures like hermit crabs, sea stars, and much more. It’s a perfect opportunity for them to connect with nature and learn about marine life in a hands-on way.

When it comes to accommodation, the Claremont hotel is an excellent choice. With its picturesque location overlooking Somes Sound, families can enjoy newly updated rooms and even take a refreshing dip in the hotel’s pool. For those seeking a more rustic experience, there are also affiliated cottages and cabins equipped with kitchens, providing added flexibility for families.

Whether you’re exploring the tidepools, hiking along scenic trails, or taking in the stunning coastal vistas, Acadia National Park is a magnificent destination that offers something for everyone.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in Montana is a wild and scenic park known for its jagged peaks and stunning turquoise lakes. Families can start their adventure with the .9-mile Trail of Cedars, which is largely on a flat boardwalk. This trail offers a peaceful and accessible walk through a lush forest of towering trees and alongside a tranquil river. As you stroll along, you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature, with the gentle sound of the flowing water and the fresh scent of pine. It’s a great opportunity for families to reconnect with nature and enjoy a peaceful walk together.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous experience, Swan Mountain Outfitters offers beginner-friendly horseback riding adventures that are perfect for families. You’ll get to explore the park’s magnificent landscapes on horseback, with knowledgeable guides leading the way. It’s an unforgettable way to experience the beauty of Glacier National Park.

When it comes to accommodation, Glacier Park Collection operates several lodges within the park, offering a range of options for families. From cozy cabins nestled in the woods to luxurious lodges with stunning views, there’s something for every preference. These lodges also offer exciting excursions like rafting and fishing, giving families the opportunity to explore the park’s natural wonders in different ways. For a comfortable and convenient stay just outside the park, families can start their adventure at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish. This charming lodge offers cozy rooms, a welcoming atmosphere, and easy access to the park.

Glacier National Park truly offers a paradise for families, with its breathtaking landscapes and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Whether you choose to hike the trails, ride horses through the wilderness, or simply relax and enjoy the scenery, there’s no shortage of opportunities to create lasting memories in this majestic park.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a picturesque destination that offers a multitude of activities for families. Located just a short drive from Denver, this park is easily accessible and perfect for a day trip or a longer vacation. With its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and numerous hiking trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is a nature lover’s paradise.

Hiking Trails

One of the main attractions of Rocky Mountain National Park is its extensive network of hiking trails. With a total of 355 miles of trails to explore, families can choose from a variety of options that cater to different skill levels and interests. Whether you prefer an easy stroll or a more challenging hike, there’s something for everyone.

One popular trail for families is the half-mile loop around Bear Lake. This easy walk takes you along the scenic shore of the lake, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a great trail to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park without too much exertion.

For those seeking a bit more adventure, the Alluvial Fan trail is a fantastic choice. This trail leads you through a rocky landscape created by a 1982 flood and offers opportunities for rock scrambling and exploration. Kids will love climbing on the rocks and discovering the unique features of this area.

If you’re up for a scenic drive, don’t miss Trail Ridge Road, often referred to as the “highway to the sky.” This spectacular road winds through the heart of the park and reaches an elevation of over 12,000 feet. Along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains and the opportunity to spot wildlife such as elk, moose, and bighorn sheep.

Limelight Hotel

After a day of outdoor adventures, families can retreat to the comfort of the Limelight Hotel. This modern chalet-style hotel offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere, perfect for relaxation. Located adjacent to Union Station, the hotel is conveniently situated near trendy restaurants, bars, and shops, allowing families to explore the vibrant atmosphere of the area.

In conclusion, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a must-visit destination for families. With its hiking trails, scenic drives, and comfortable accommodations, it offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply enjoy immersing yourself in nature, this national park has something to offer for everyone.

Redwoods National & State Parks, California

Redwoods National & State Parks in California is a natural wonder, showcasing the awe-inspiring beauty of old growth coastal redwoods. These magnificent trees, reaching heights of up to 350 feet, are a testament to the enduring power of nature. Families visiting the parks will be captivated by the ancient giants and the serene atmosphere they create.

Exploring Founders Grove

One of the highlights of Redwoods National & State Parks is Founders Grove, a magical place where visitors can immerse themselves in the presence of these majestic trees. Walking among the towering redwoods, families can witness the beauty and grandeur of the natural world. A significant attraction in Founders Grove is the fallen Dyerville Giant. With a diameter of 17 feet, it serves as a poignant reminder of the immensity and resilience of these ancient giants.

Rockefeller Loop: A Trail through Time

For a more immersive experience, families can embark on the .7-mile Rockefeller Loop, a trail that takes visitors through a mesmerizing landscape of towering trees and lush ferns. This enchanting journey provides a glimpse into the rich biodiversity and tranquil beauty of the park. As the sunlight filters through the dense canopy, illuminating the forest floor, families can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and awe.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park: Home of the Roosevelt Elk

Adjacent to Redwoods National Park is Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, known for its abundant wildlife. Families can encounter the majestic Roosevelt elk roaming freely throughout the park. Witnessing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an unforgettable experience that brings families closer to the wonders of nature.

Stay at Carter House Inns

After a day of exploring the redwoods, families can retreat to the comfort and charm of the Carter House Inns in old town Eureka. These exquisite Victorian houses and cottages provide a cozy and inviting atmosphere, allowing families to relax and rejuvenate after their adventures in the parks. The Carter House Inns offer a true taste of Victorian elegance combined with modern amenities, ensuring a memorable stay for families.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia offers a serene landscape of rocky summits, wooded hollows, and picturesque waterfalls. Families can enjoy short hikes to viewpoints like Blackroad Summit, which rewards with stunning valley views. A visit to Lands Run Falls offers a series of cascades that descend into a gorge. The scenic Skyline Drive is a must-do, especially during autumn when the foliage turns golden, orange, and scarlet red. Families can stay in Charlottesville, a charming college town just 30 minutes outside the park, and explore nearby attractions like Jefferson’s Monticello. The art-filled Draftsman, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, offers a unique and comfortable stay.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a picturesque destination known for its unique crimson-hued hoodoos, which are irregular columns of rocks that create a stunning and otherworldly landscape. Families visiting the park can embark on several shorter hikes to fully explore its natural wonders.

One of the most popular trails is the half-mile Rim Trail, which offers panoramic views of the park and allows families to witness the mesmerizing beauty of the crimson hoodoos up close. For a more immersive experience, families can explore Mossy Cove and Bristlecone Loop, where they’ll be surrounded by the park’s stunning rock formations.

When it comes to accommodations, families can enjoy a unique camping experience at Bryce Canyon Under Canvas. Nestled among juniper trees, this safari-style tented camp offers a cozy and comfortable stay, allowing families to connect with nature while still enjoying modern amenities. It’s the perfect basecamp for exploring Bryce Canyon National Park and creating unforgettable family memories.


I'm nationalparkscamping, the author behind - the ultimate guide to camping adventures in the nation's most breathtaking landscapes. Explore the wild with me as I provide a comprehensive resource for outdoor enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the serene beauty of national parks. From the rugged peaks of the Rockies to the lush forests of the Smokies, I offer detailed information on campgrounds, essential gear, permits, and sustainable camping practices. Join our community of nature lovers today and let's plan your unforgettable and eco-friendly national park camping trip together. Start your escape into the wild with me now!

Articles: 152