USA national parks for families

It cost us $80 per person for a day pass to Universal Studios. And $80 for an annual family pass to all of the US's national parks. And they are priceless. Go figure.
If you mention American ‘parks’ to most children they will, sadly, probably be able to name you half a dozen theme parks they have on their wish list. It might be hard, therefore, to convince them that the natural wonders of America’s national parks are just as overwhelming, but once they take in their first view of the Grand Canyon, raft down the Colorado River or spot their first moose in Alaska, you will have converted them to the real thrills of life. And, most impressively, they are a heck of a lot cheaper. To visit the USA national parks with families will cost you $80 for an annual pass, and children under sixteen go free.

For health and safety information, please see our Travel advice page.

Activities for families

Go wild

Wild camping is encouraged in national parks, although you need backcountry permits to do so. As you are unlikely to be traveling with a tent, national park tour operators often offer camping options which is handy, as many of them book up far in advance. Although the wilder the site, the quieter the night.

Water parks

‘Running the river’ may sound like a theme park experience but, to coin a well know American phrase “It’s the real thing” when you raft down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River, the Merced River in Yosemite or the icy waters of Denali National Park in Alaska. You can also swim in certain parks, but always stick to allocated ‘beaches’.

Cowboy/girl culture

Many of the national parks are in the Wild West, so when in Rome…..take a horseback ride western style, stay on a ranch or wild camp in the canyons under the stars. And to redress that all important balance, you can learn about the Wild West’s real history with a chance to explore, for example, the living culture of the Navajo Indians on a guided hike in Monument Valley.

Our top National Parks of America family Vacation

Pacific coast & National Parks family holiday, America

Pacific coast & National Parks family vacation, America

Hidden coves giving way to desert vistas

From US $2749 to US $3079 12 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2021: 23 Jul, 5 Aug, 18 Aug
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about National Parks of America or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Traveling with children

Ian Shiels, from our leading US National Park supplier, Grand American Adventures: I have a few do’s and don’t for families exploring national parks: Do hit the trails. Do get the kids away from cell phones to discover the incredible nature in national parks. Do bring your swimsuit for rivers, streams and freshwater pools. Do be prepared to play games around the campfire, sleep under the stars and share a laugh with new friends. Do pay attention to the tour leader and ranger whilst they explain about flora and fauna of the national park. Do charge up your camera battery. Do try the local food in each place – deep-fried alligator anyone?
 
Don’t feed or get too close to the wildlife. Don’t hike alone or get too far away from your group. Don’t leave rubbish along the trail. Don’t forget to take plenty of water, snacks and lunch to keep your energy levels up. Don’t forget to wear the correct shoes and clothes whilst exploring national parks.
Dave Patrick from our specialist Alaska operator Infinite Adventures:
"We sometimes take families on our Alaska wildlife tours but it’s important to understand that it is an adult environment. Kids are put to work too on our trips same as everyone else, helping out with cooking and cleaning. They’re encouraged to pitch in and learn responsibility. In our experience what you put in is what you get out on this kind of trip."
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Yellowstone National Park] [Intro: Olympic National Park] [Go wild: Yellowstone National Park] [Water parks: Jennifer] [Cowboy/girl culture: Yellowstone National Park] [Ian Shiels advice: Yellowstone National Park]
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