The 2.2 million-acre park has 78 kid-friendly attractions.
America’s national parks have long been a favorite for family road trips. So The Family Vacation Guide examined which of the country’s 63 national parks is the most kid-friendly, looking at the number of hotels, trails, attractions, and landmarks suitable for young travelers. In its Best National Parks for Kids in the U.S. study, revealed last month, it determined that Yellowstone National Park rises to the top.
Mostly in Wyoming — with sections in Idaho and Montana — the country’s first national park is having an especially big year now, celebrating its 150th anniversary. Its enduring appeal stems from its geothermal features, with more than 10,000 hydrothermal sites, including about 500 geysers — half of the active ones on the planet. The bubbling waters and sky-high eruptions, including the most famous Old Faithful, are a thrill for kids and adults alike, and are among the 37 kid-friendly landmarks within the park that also include other favorites, including Grand Prismatic Spring and Mammoth Hot Springs.
But geology isn’t the only feature that draws kids’ attention. Yellowstone is also teeming with wildlife, with 300 bird species, 67 kinds of mammals, 16 kinds of fish, six kinds of reptiles, and five types of amphibians. Among the most exciting to look for are bighorn sheep, bison, elk, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. The park also has many kid-friendly pathways, including 98 trail, whether it’s through valleys, mountains, petrified forests, or alongside lakes and springs.
Yellowstone also caters to its young visitors with five themed exploration journeys on an online portal that explains each in a kid-friendly manner. Children can choose their own adventure in geology, hydrothermal, wildlife, history, or preservation. Most importantly for parents: the park also cautions children to explore the park with safety top of mind, most essentially staying on the boardwalks and trails to keep away from the boiling waters.
After Yellowstone, the top 10 kid-friendly national parks were rounded out by Great Smoky Mountains, Rocky Mountain, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Acadia, Death Valley, Grand Teton, and Mount Rainier. The study used trail data from All Trails, and family travel data from TripAdvisor to come up with its rankings. For the full list of parks, visit The Family Vacation Guide.
The National Park Service is a huge proponent of encouraging its young visitors to enjoy the nation’s open spaces, with the Every Kid Outdoors program that gives free access to all fourth graders. And for those who really want to solidify the legacy of Yellowstone for future generations, Yellowstone Forever is offering an Inheritance Pass to help preserve the park for the next 150 years, with an annual pass that is both valid this year and 150 years from now in 2172.