Family-friendly and accessible activities in national parks

Family-friendly and Accessible Activities in National Parks

Are you looking for a memorable family adventure that combines outdoor fun and natural wonders? Look no further than the national parks of the United States. These iconic destinations offer a wealth of family-friendly and accessible activities, ensuring that visitors of all ages can create lasting memories amidst the beauty of nature.

From mesmerizing cave tours to breathtaking vistas, here are 10 national parks that cater to families and provide a wide range of engaging experiences.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota for cave tours and scenic hiking trails.
  • Marvel at the sweeping vistas of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, offering family-friendly dining options and accommodations.
  • Discover the colorful petrified wood and stunning landscapes of Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
  • Experience the diverse terrains of Death Valley National Park in California, with its sand dunes, canyons, and salt flats.
  • Witness geothermal wonders and abundant wildlife in Yellowstone National Park, spanning Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park

Located in South Dakota, Wind Cave National Park offers an exciting adventure for families with its captivating cave tours and picturesque hiking trails.

The highlight of Wind Cave National Park is its mesmerizing cave tours, where families can explore the hidden wonders of the underground world. As you descend into the cave, be prepared to be awed by the stunning formations and intricate passageways that wind through the ancient limestone chambers.

In addition to the cave tours, the park boasts miles of hiking trails that traverse through breathtaking prairie vistas and enchanting ponderosa forests. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, these trails cater to all levels of fitness and offer a chance to reconnect with nature.

While hiking, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls the park home. From bison grazing in the vast prairies to elusive mountain lions and adorable prairie dogs, there’s always something fascinating to discover.

To enhance your family’s experience, Wind Cave National Park provides family-friendly amenities. The park offers picnic areas where you can enjoy a relaxing meal surrounded by the park’s natural beauty. Additionally, there are clean restroom facilities and drinking water stations available throughout the park.

Campgrounds near Wind Cave National Park:

Campground Location Family-Friendly Amenities
Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch Located near Mount Rushmore Swimming pool, mini-golf, bike rentals, on-site dining
Blue Bell Campground Located in Custer State Park Playground, hiking trails, scenic views

After a day of exploration, retreat to one of the nearby campgrounds for a cozy and comfortable stay. Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulch offers a range of family-friendly amenities, including a swimming pool, mini-golf, bike rentals, and on-site dining options. Blue Bell Campground, nestled in Custer State Park, provides a serene outdoor setting with a playground, hiking trails, and scenic views.

With its thrilling cave tours, picturesque hiking trails, and family-friendly amenities, Wind Cave National Park is an ideal destination for a memorable family adventure.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park

The sweeping vistas of the Grand Canyon National Park make it a must-visit destination for families. Located in Arizona, this natural wonder offers breathtaking views that will leave you in awe. One of the best areas to explore is the South Rim, where you’ll find the most amenities and attractions.

When it comes to dining options, the Grand Canyon South Rim has a range of family-friendly restaurants to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal with stunning views, there’s something for everyone. From casual cafes to upscale dining, you’ll find a variety of cuisines to satisfy your cravings.

To make the most of your visit, consider staying at the Mather Campground. Situated near the South Rim, this campground offers convenient access to the park and provides a prime location for sunset and sunrise views over the canyon. Pitch a tent or park your RV and immerse yourself in nature, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon.

If you prefer a more comfortable camping experience, Williams-Circle Pines KOA is another great option. This family-friendly campground offers a range of amenities to keep both kids and adults entertained. From swimming pools and playgrounds to organized activities, there’s no shortage of fun at Williams-Circle Pines KOA.

Dining Accommodations
Family-friendly restaurants Mather Campground
Casual cafes Williams-Circle Pines KOA
Upscale dining

The Grand Canyon National Park offers a memorable experience for the whole family. From the awe-inspiring views to the delicious dining options and comfortable accommodations, every aspect of your visit to the South Rim will leave you with cherished memories. So pack your bags and get ready to explore one of the most iconic natural wonders in the world.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is a hidden gem that showcases the natural wonders of colorful petrified wood and the breathtaking Painted Desert. As a family-friendly destination, the park offers short and manageable hikes that allow visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in its unique landscapes.

One of the main attractions of Petrified Forest National Park is its collection of vibrant and fossilized trees. The petrified wood, which has transformed into colorful stone over millions of years, creates a captivating display of nature’s artistry. Walking among these ancient pieces of wood is like stepping back in time, providing an unforgettable experience.

In addition to the petrified wood, the park offers stunning views of the Painted Desert. The vibrant layers of sedimentary rock create a mesmerizing tapestry of colors, ranging from reds and purples to yellows and blues. Exploring the park’s scenic viewpoints is like witnessing a natural masterpiece.

Nearby Campgrounds

For families looking to stay overnight near the Petrified Forest National Park, two nearby campgrounds provide convenient accommodations:

Campground Location
Holbrook-Petrified Forest KOA Holbrook, Arizona
Meteor Crater RV Park Winslow, Arizona

Both campgrounds offer amenities for families, including RV hookups, picnic areas, and easy access to the park. Whether you prefer the comfort of an RV or camping in a tent, these campgrounds provide a convenient and enjoyable base for your Petrified Forest adventure.

Death Valley National Park, California

When it comes to family adventures, Death Valley National Park in California offers a wide range of exciting experiences. From stunning sand dunes to breathtaking canyons, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the highlights of the park is the Mesquite Sand Dunes. Kids can have a blast sliding down the towering dunes and running across the soft sand. It’s a thrilling and unforgettable experience that will create lasting memories.

For those who love hiking, Golden Canyon is a must-visit destination. The canyon offers a variety of trails suitable for families, allowing you to explore the unique geological formations and witness the vibrant colors of the rocks.

A visit to Death Valley National Park wouldn’t be complete without seeing the famous Badwater Basin. Here, you’ll encounter the mesmerizing salt polygon patterns spread across the valley floor. It’s a sight that will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders.

When it’s time to rest and recharge, the park offers two convenient campgrounds. Furnace Creek Campground and Stovepipe Wells Campground provide comfortable accommodations within the park, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of Death Valley.

Death Valley National Park is a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering a diverse range of experiences for families. So pack your bags, grab your loved ones, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in this captivating park.

Exploring Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a natural wonderland, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for families. With its breathtaking geothermal features, abundant wildlife, and kid-friendly attractions, Yellowstone is an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

Geothermal Wonders

One of the highlights of visiting Yellowstone is witnessing its spectacular geothermal features. The park is home to the famous Old Faithful geyser, which erupts approximately every 90 minutes with a dramatic display of boiling water and steam. The geothermal activity in Yellowstone is truly awe-inspiring, with colorful hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and other geysers dotting the landscape.

Wildlife Adventure

Yellowstone is also renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife. Visitors can spot animals such as grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and bison roaming freely in their natural habitat. The Hayden and Lamar valleys are excellent areas for wildlife viewing, where families can observe these majestic creatures from a safe distance. Make sure to bring binoculars and a camera to capture these unforgettable moments.

Family-Friendly Attractions

For families with young children, Yellowstone offers a variety of kid-friendly attractions. The Grand Prismatic Spring, with its vibrant colors and impressive size, is a must-visit. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone provides breathtaking views and numerous hiking trails suitable for all skill levels. These attractions allow families to immerse themselves in the beauty and wonder of nature while creating lasting memories together.

Accommodations within Yellowstone National Park Nearby RV Parks
Grant Campground Yellowstone’s Edge RV Park

Everglades National Park, Florida

I recently had the opportunity to visit Everglades National Park, and let me tell you, it’s a place like no other. This unique park in Florida offers extraordinary experiences for families, with a diverse range of activities that will truly immerse you in the natural wonders of the Everglades.

Thrilling Airboat Tours through Mangrove Tunnels

One of the most exhilarating ways to explore the Everglades is through airboat tours. These high-speed boat rides take you through the intricate maze of mangrove tunnels, where you’ll feel the wind in your hair and witness the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding wetlands. Keep your eyes peeled for the abundant wildlife that calls the Everglades home, including alligators, herons, and turtles.

“The Everglades is a true natural wonder, and the airboat tours allow you to experience its beauty up close and personal. It’s an adventure the whole family will love!”

Soak in the Panoramic Views from Shark Valley Observation Tower

To truly appreciate the vastness of the Everglades, make sure to visit the Shark Valley Observation Tower. Climb to the top of this 45-foot tall tower and be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of the glades as far as the eye can see. It’s a great spot for snapping memorable family photos and taking in the breathtaking beauty of the Everglades ecosystem.

“The view from the top of Shark Valley Observation Tower is simply awe-inspiring. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone exploring Everglades National Park!”

Convenient Accommodations at Miami Everglades Resort and Endless Summer RV Park

When it comes to accommodations near Everglades National Park, Miami Everglades Resort and Endless Summer RV Park are excellent options for families. Miami Everglades Resort offers cozy cabins and spacious campsites, allowing you to be close to nature while still enjoying modern amenities. Endless Summer RV Park provides the perfect place to park your RV, with convenient facilities for a comfortable stay.

Plan Your Family Adventure in Everglades National Park

Whether you’re seeking thrilling airboat tours, breathtaking views from observation towers, or convenient accommodations, Everglades National Park has it all. Plan your family adventure to this remarkable destination and create memories that will last a lifetime. The Everglades is a true natural treasure that will leave you in awe of its beauty and diversity.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park is truly a natural wonder that showcases the beauty and diversity of the American Southwest. As you explore this unique park, you’ll be captivated by its stunning arch formations and breathtaking landscapes.

One of the highlights of Arches National Park is the variety of accessible hikes available, making it an ideal destination for families. These hikes allow visitors of all ages and abilities to experience the park’s natural wonders up close.

Some of the most iconic arches in the park, such as Double Arch and Landscape Arch, can be reached via relatively easy trails. These hikes offer not only the chance to witness these impressive arches but also to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring scenery that surrounds them.

To enhance your visit to Arches National Park, consider staying at one of the nearby campgrounds. Archview RV Resort & Campground and Portal RV Resort & Campground offer scenic views and convenient access to the park, ensuring that you can make the most of your time exploring this magnificent natural gem.

Arches National Park is a place of wonder and discovery, where the forces of nature have created stunning rock formations that will leave you in awe. With accessible hikes and convenient campgrounds, it’s the perfect destination for families seeking adventure and exploration amidst Utah’s striking landscapes.

Glacier National Park, Montana

When it comes to natural beauty and outdoor adventures, Glacier National Park is at the top of my list. Located in Montana, this national park is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

One of the highlights of Glacier National Park is the stunning scenic drives that take you through breathtaking landscapes. The most famous of these drives is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. As you wind your way through the park, you’ll be treated to majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and cascading waterfalls. It’s truly a sight to behold!

For families looking to explore the park on foot, Glacier National Park offers an array of family-friendly hikes. From leisurely strolls to more challenging trails, there’s something for everyone. Lace up your hiking boots and venture into the wilderness to discover hidden gems and stunning vistas.

When it’s time to rest and recharge, Many Glacier Campground and West Glacier RV Park provide convenient accommodations within the park. Set up camp amidst the beauty of nature and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

If you’re planning a trip to Glacier National Park, don’t forget your camera and sense of adventure. This is a place where memories are made and nature takes center stage. Get ready to create unforgettable moments with your loved ones.

Here are some family-friendly activities you won’t want to miss:

  • Scenic drives along the Going-to-the-Sun Road
  • Family-friendly hikes through breathtaking landscapes
  • Exploring the famous Many Glacier Campground
  • Relaxing at West Glacier RV Park

“Glacier National Park is a hidden gem, offering endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.” – Me

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Located in the heart of Texas, Big Bend National Park offers a breathtaking landscape with its varied terrains. From the winding rivers to the majestic mountains and scenic deserts, there’s something for every nature-loving family to explore and discover.

Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature as you hike through the lush canyons or embark on a thrilling river adventure. Spotting wildlife such as javelinas, roadrunners, and mule deer adds an element of excitement to your outdoor exploration.

For an unforgettable camping experience, head to the Chisos Basin Campground. Nestled in the heart of the Chisos Mountains, this campground offers stunning views and easy access to some of the park’s best trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, there are hikes suitable for all skill levels.

If you prefer RV camping, the Maverick Ranch RV Park is an excellent choice. It provides all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, including full hookups, a swimming pool, and laundry facilities. Plus, the park is conveniently located near popular attractions within the park.

Campground Comparison

Chisos Basin Campground Maverick Ranch RV Park
Location Heart of the Chisos Mountains Near popular attractions
Amenities Restrooms, picnic tables, fire rings Full hookups, swimming pool, laundry facilities
Scenic Views Stunning mountain views Varied landscapes

Whether you’re pitching a tent or parking your RV, Big Bend National Park promises an unforgettable adventure for the whole family. From the diverse terrains to the excellent campground options, there’s no shortage of opportunities to create lasting memories amidst nature’s wonders.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina

As an avid nature enthusiast, I can confidently say that Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a dream destination for families. Nestled between Tennessee and North Carolina, this park offers a plethora of activities and attractions that will keep everyone entertained and in awe of its natural beauty.

One of the must-do activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is driving through Cades Cove. This scenic loop road takes you on a journey through picturesque valleys and meadows, providing countless opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, white-tailed deer, and wild turkeys as you explore this historic settlement.

For breathtaking panoramic views, a visit to Clingmans Dome is a must. Standing at an elevation of 6,643 feet, it’s the highest point in the park and offers stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. A short hike will take you to the observation tower, where you can soak in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains in all their glory.

When it comes to accommodations, the Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg KOA is a fantastic choice for families. This campground provides a range of amenities and activities to keep everyone entertained, from swimming pools and playgrounds to mini-golf and even a gem mine. It’s the perfect place to unwind and connect with nature after a day of adventure in the park.

So whether you’re interested in exploring historic sites, admiring breathtaking views, or immersing yourself in nature, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has it all. Pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and get ready for an unforgettable family vacation in this spectacular national park.

Acadia National Park, Maine

When it comes to family-friendly outdoor adventures, Acadia National Park in Maine has it all. With its unique blend of ocean views, rugged mountains, lush forests, and sparkling lakes, this park offers a diverse range of activities that are sure to keep the whole family entertained.

One must-visit area within Acadia National Park is the Mariposa Grove. Here, you’ll encounter towering giant sequoia trees that have stood the test of time. The grove offers a variety of hiking options suitable for all ages and skill levels, allowing families to immerse themselves in the beauty of these ancient giants.

For a picturesque family hike, head to Jordan Pond. Surrounded by mountains, the crystal-clear waters of the pond provide a stunning backdrop as you explore the scenic trails. Be sure to stop by the historic Jordan Pond House for a delicious meal or a refreshing beverage after your hike.

To enhance your family’s experience at Acadia National Park, take advantage of the ranger-led programs. These educational programs are designed to engage visitors of all ages, providing valuable insights and knowledge about the park’s natural wonders.

Whether you’re hiking through ancient groves, exploring serene ponds, or learning from knowledgeable rangers, Acadia National Park offers unforgettable experiences for the whole family.

Acadia National Park Highlights:

Activity Description
Hiking in Mariposa Grove Explore the breathtaking giant sequoia trees and enjoy family-friendly hiking trails.
Scenic Family Hike at Jordan Pond Take a leisurely hike around the picturesque Jordan Pond and enjoy the stunning mountain vistas.
Ranger-led Programs Engage in educational programs led by experienced park rangers to learn more about the park’s ecosystem and wildlife.

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park in Washington state is a nature lover’s paradise. With its diverse ecosystems, including lush rainforests, towering mountains, and rugged coastal beaches, the park offers a range of immersive experiences for families.

One of the highlights of Olympic National Park is the enchanting Hoh Rain Forest. Known for its moss-draped trees and vibrant green foliage, this temperate rainforest is an awe-inspiring sight. Families can embark on leisurely hikes along the Hall of Mosses Trail, immersing themselves in the serene beauty of the forest.

For breathtaking panoramic views, a visit to Hurricane Ridge is a must. Situated in the heart of the park, Hurricane Ridge offers sweeping vistas of snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, and expansive meadows. Families can enjoy scenic hikes, spot wildlife, and even go snowshoeing during the winter months.

Another iconic destination within Olympic National Park is Ruby Beach. This rugged coastal paradise is known for its dramatic sea stacks, tide pools teeming with marine life, and beautiful sunsets. Families can explore the beach, collect seashells, build sandcastles, or simply relax and soak in the natural beauty.

In addition to its stunning landscapes, Olympic National Park offers a range of ranger-led programs. These educational and interactive experiences allow families to learn more about the park’s ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation efforts.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park in Utah is a captivating destination for families seeking adventure amidst stunning natural beauty. With its towering red rock cliffs, tranquil waterfalls, and the meandering Virgin River, the park offers a multitude of activities for visitors of all ages.

One of the most popular hiking trails in Zion National Park is “The Narrows.” This unique trail takes you through a breathtaking slot canyon where the trail is the river itself. Equipped with proper gear and accompanied by a guide, families can venture into the awe-inspiring beauty of the narrow canyon, with towering walls that seem to touch the sky.

Emerald Pools

For a family-friendly hiking experience, the Emerald Pools trails are a must-visit. These trails wind through lush vegetation, leading to a series of picturesque emerald-colored pools and cascading waterfalls. The trails offer varying difficulty levels, ensuring there’s an option for everyone, from young children to experienced hikers seeking a leisurely stroll amidst nature’s tranquility.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

For families who prefer to see the park’s breathtaking landscapes from the comfort of their own vehicle, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive provides a wonderful opportunity. This scenic drive offers access to various trailheads and viewpoints, allowing families to marvel at the park’s grandeur, including the iconic red rock formations and towering cliffs that make Zion National Park a world-renowned destination.

Explore the wonders of Zion National Park, from hiking through The Narrows to discovering the serene beauty of the Emerald Pools. Whether you choose to embark on an adventurous hike or take a leisurely drive along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the park’s natural splendor is sure to leave an indelible mark on your family’s memories.

Zion National Park Visitor Information

Visitor Center Contact
Zion Canyon Visitor Center (435) 772-3256
Kolob Canyons Visitor Center (435) 586-9451
Kolob Terrace Visitor Center (435) 772-3256
  1. Entrance fee: $35 per vehicle
  2. Operating Hours: Open year-round; specific hours vary according to season
  3. Visitor Centers: Zion Canyon Visitor Center, Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, Kolob Terrace Visitor Center
  4. Guided tours and ranger-led programs available
  5. Public transportation: Springdale Shuttle operates within the park during peak seasons

Rocky Mountain National Park: A Paradise for Outdoor-loving Families

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, and let me tell you, it exceeded all my expectations. With its majestic peaks, serene alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife, this park in Colorado is an absolute haven for families who love the great outdoors.

One of the highlights of my visit was driving along the famous Trail Ridge Road. This scenic route offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains that will leave you in awe. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy some quality family time while immersing yourselves in the pristine beauty of nature.

For those seeking adventure on foot, the trails around Bear Lake are a must-explore. With options for all skill levels, including kid-friendly hikes, you can embark on unforgettable journeys through stunning landscapes. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the park’s resident wildlife along the way.

To enhance your understanding of this incredible national park, I highly recommend a visit to the Moraine Park Discovery Center. This educational hub offers interactive exhibits and engaging programs that will captivate both children and adults. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the park’s ecosystem, conservation efforts, and the importance of preserving our natural wonders.


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!

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