Camping is experiencing a resurgence in popularity as we are seeing more and more people drawn to getting back into nature and outdoor activities post-COVID years of lockdown. Whether you are camping solo or bringing friends and family along for the adventure, it provides a great opportunity to reconnect with mother nature or loved ones, without the constant pull of technology and screens. Bringing the family camping allows the kids to see a different side of America, with some of the best natural playgrounds you could ask for! Camping is amazing anywhere you go, but choosing to camp in a national park guarantees breathtaking landscapes and amazing wildlife, rich history, and a wide range of activities for the family to experience together.
Top 5 Family Friendly National Parks
Once you and the family make the decision to go camping in a national park it is essential to consider the activities and age restrictions available within each park. You will want to look for options that offer the perfect balance of adventure and education, as this trip could be the one that ignites or further cultivates your children’s love for the great outdoors. Fortunately, we can help narrow down your options in this planning process and provide a list of the top 5 parks and activities fit for all ages!
Olympic National Park
Located in Washington, Olympic National Park offers a wide range of attractions and activities perfect for the whole family. With dense forests, beautiful waterfalls, and pristine lakes, the options to fill up your days here are endless. Visit Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent and spend the day on the water exploring via boat, kayaks, or paddleboards. For most rentals, you need to be 18 years or older to rent them, but the whole family can enjoy them together with life jackets highly recommended! If you would rather sit back and relax while somebody else guides you around the lakes, make sure to check out the boat tours on either lake in the park for a morning, afternoon, or sunset tour.
Another great activity for the kids is fishing in the beautiful waters. You can grab equipment from Lake Quinault Lodge or bring your own, and make lasting memories as your kid catches their first fish! The fun doesn’t stop there, the long list of options from biking to hiking to swimming in the hot springs can all be found here, where your northwest adventure awaits. There are even ready-to-go itineraries for you and the family to have the best vacation without having to do the bulk of the research!
Where to Stay: Log Cabin Resort
The Log Cabin Resort in Olympic National Park is the ideal place to stay, with the forest as your backyard and Lake Crescent right outside the front door. The resort offers a range of different styles of cabins and rooms to choose from such as classic cabins, lakeside chalets, and lodge rooms. For more of what the cabins have to offer, make sure to read our property description here. There are also many options for camping around Lake Crescent, explore more options in our latest camping blog here.
Yosemite National Park
From black bears to bald eagles and grand waterfalls to strolling in the peaceful meadows, Yosemite National Park is a fantastic destination to immerse children in nature. Exploring the park caters to almost every interest and fitness level. When we say the list is long, we mean it! Hiking, biking, rock climbing, rafting, fishing, skiing, and the list goes on. Yosemite is well known for its ranger and discovery programs for all ages as well as many options for guided tours and hikes for ages 12 years and up. No matter the season, we have sample itineraries for whenever you decide to plan your next adventure.
Where to Stay: Curry Village
Founded by David and Jennie Curry in 1899, the Curry Village maintains the welcoming and warm feeling that it began with. With the options of heated or non-heated canvas tents that accommodate 2 to 5 people, or classic Yosemite cabins with 3 different bedding options, you are sure to find the perfect fit. This is also a great home base surrounded by many activities, as well as the amphitheater where you can enjoy programs led by Rangers or movie nights in the summer season.
Grand Canyon National Park
The very iconic Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect location to bring the kids. There is nothing like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time as a child, the breathtaking beauty of the vast canyon is enough to make the trip worthwhile. An unforgettable addition to the trip is to try the mule rides, the one-hour tour of the rim of the canyon is offered to everyone 7 years old and up, and the three-hour ride is offered to 10 years and up. We have more on mule trips and other activities in the national parks in our blog for the fall season here. If you have children who are in a younger age group, you can take a scenic drive around the park and explore all of the top points of interest, including Bright Angel Point and Angel’s Window Overlook.
Where to Stay: Grand Canyon Lodge Cabins
The Grand Canyon Lodge has three types of cabins to choose from that vary in size and viewpoints, but all are ideal for unplugging and tapping into nature. Whether you want to curl up with a good book or spend the day hiking around the rim, these cabins are the perfect getaway. The cabins are also close to the lodge and dining room, where you can enjoy incredible food paired with an equally incredible view. While the kids enjoy a slice of chocolate cake, you can end your day with a relaxing glass of wine or two.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The unique aspects that makeup Bryce Canyon are what bring visitors year-round. Distinctive hoodoos fill the valley with vibrant colors and towering spires provide a beautiful backdrop for exploring. This year in particular would be a special one to visit the park as it is celebrating its 100-year anniversary. The best part about Bryce Canyon is that it is a part of the Junior Ranger Program where the kids can earn badges and start their journey to becoming an expert at the parks! At Bryce Canyon, Junior Rangers will get to visit museums, participate in hikes, and watch movies in the park, all while completing their activity booklet.
After a day exploring the park, make sure to check out the ranger-led stargazing tour. You will be able to use the telescopes on site while learning about the history and astronomy of Bryce Canyon. You can book this activity for the whole family at the visitor’s center in the park.
Where to Stay: Bryce Canyon Lodge
Step back in time and enjoy the Western-style cabins that Bryce Canyon Lodge has to offer. Each cabin includes two queen beds, a gas-log fireplace, a full bathroom, and a porch. Nestled in between the lodge and the rim of Bryce Canyon and close to the restaurants and coffee shops at the lodge, you have everything you need just a short walk away from your front porch.
Denali National Park
Dive into the rich history of Denali National Park in Alaska. With over 6 million acres to explore with diverse wildlife and the tallest mountain in North America, there is something for everyone here. Something that sets this park apart from the others is the interactive Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre for all ages. Not a dull moment will be had with all the music, acting, dining, and laughs during an unforgettable night.
If you want a little more adventure for your vacation, the whitewater rafting excursion that the lodge offers lets you see the park in a new light for the kids, 8 years and up, with a little thrill seeker in them! There is a class II float trip that takes you down 13 miles of the Nenana River. There will be wildlife to spot, beautiful scenery to take in, and even stories of local legends from your guide.
Where to Stay: The Cabins at Denali National Park Village
The cedar cabins are located near the lodge, but with just enough space to feel immersed in the wilderness. Each cabin includes a full bathroom, television, and stunning views to wake up to of the river and beyond. Hiking trails lay just outside the cabin doors, as well as dining, shopping, and a deck with fire pits are all nearby to ensure the best stay.