In my opinion, establishing national parks is the best thing that the US government ever did. Way back in the day, Teddy Roosevelt, after spending extensive time with the likes of John Muir and other naturalists, decided that some places in the United States needed to be preserved. I agree completely.
I love nature, and I love exploring. The #1 item on my bucket list is to visit every national park in the United States. I’ve knocked out quite a few so far in my time, and I could talk about them all day if I had the chance. One thing I’ve discovered over the years is that not all national parks are necessarily great family destinations. Access is tricky, with some parks only accessible by chartered plane!
Some national parks, however, should be a vacation for every American family. In my opinion, these are the most family friendly national parks in the USA.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I didn’t choose the Great Smoky Mountains just because I live in Tennessee. The actual reason that it’s the best family friendly national park is because it’s accessible, beautiful, and has lots of stuff right around the corner. You can rent a cabin in Gatlinburg, go on a beautiful hike during the day, and hop over to Dollywood at night. While you’re here, you have to go to the top of Clingmans Dome, the tallest point in the park.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is where all of the national park magic started, and for good reason. There are amazing sights to see all around this place. Buffalo roam the plains, and Old Faithful spews hot water practically timed to the clock. Yellowstone is actually a caldera, which is a giant mega-volcano that might one day destroy all life on the planet earth. Right now, it’s an amazing place to visit!
Arches National Park
Arches is the quintessential national park. It has unique natural rock formations, it’s easily accessible, and it’s right next a really cool town. Moab is a really interesting Western town right on the Colorado River. Walk around the park during the day and unwind in some Southwestern hospitality at night. My personal recommendation is the go to Moab Brewery. The food is amazing!
Yosemite National Park
Everyone in the world should visit Yosemite at some point in their lives. It’s probably the most incredible place that you can see on the planet. In the valley, it has the feel of a summer camp with lodges, mess halls, and rocking chairs. Every direction has incredible cliffs, waterfalls, and rivers. The only reason I don’t think Yosemite is the most family friendly is because, to see the best parts, you have to hike a pretty long way. That might not be best for small children and the elderly.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Basically in the middle of Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is a pretty awesome experience for any family. Even though it’s technically just a giant hole in the ground, it’s a pretty impressive hole in the ground. The NPS gives daily tours of this sprawling cave system. At one point, they’ll turn off all of their flashlights, and you’ll get the opportunity to see what real darkness looks like. It’s awesome!
The United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, has 59 national parks. There’s truly something for everyone. From Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Denali in Alaska, you can be as rugged or laid back as you want. I’m a firm believer that every single American should travel this incredible land of ours and participate in the amazing country that we inhabit.