Planning Your Vacation to a National Park
Like most mountain destinations, many national parks provide the same opportunities to be active. Each park has unique qualities that make it different from other parks. But most parks offer similar activities. These are a few things you can expect to find available at a national park or nearby:
America's national parks help children learn to appreciate nature and history. Kids can learn about the ecosystem of the great outdoors, and appreciate the steps they need to take to preserve nature for future generations. Many parks include incredible geological sites in the form of rock formations, canyons, trails, and water. Some feature ancient burial sites and homes of people who lived hundreds of years ago. Wildlife is abundant.
There's so much information available for children through the National Park Service, it's easy for kids to learn in advance about the park you're planning to visit. The National Park Service has a whole bounty of information on their website, including the National Park Junior Ranger program. A small fee for the child's educational booklet is usually about $3. By completing program activities listed for their age group (such as writing about their favorite area of a park, writing a poem, or possibly attending a Ranger-led activity), kids can receive an official Junior Ranger patch modeled after the National Park Service patch.
The National Park Service also has an online Junior Ranger program called WebRangers featuring more than fifty games, pictures of parks, and stories about visits with fellow WebRangers.
It's difficult to recommend lodging and dining choices in national parks. Most National parks have very few choices, and many have no lodging or dining except for vending machines. Also, many national parks span areas larger than some states. It's important to carefully review the national park your family is interested in visiting. If you're planning to see a specific section of a large national park, then that will dictate in which state you'll stay and which area of the state you can make your home base. It can take days to travel through some of America's largest national parks, and travelers can waste most of a vacation if they don't plan carefully. The best thing to do is to look into which national parks you want to visit and plan around the closest city in that area. Information on all of the U.S. national parks is available online at the same website, managed by the National Parks Service at