National Parks to Visit with Kids

National Parks to Visit with Kids
Children love vacations--especially when those holidays include side trips through nature and the outdoors. From coast to coast, and even as far west as the Hawaiian Islands, a wide range of fascinating national parks preserve the very best of an area's natural beauty or significant history. At the same time, these parks promote educational goals and give kids an up-close and unforgettable experience of protected wilderness and historical areas.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

On the spectacular Big Island of Hawaii, families can enjoy camping and hiking within the boundaries of the large and diverse Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the most frequently visited national park in the state. Try the easy one- or two-mile Crater Rim Trail, which is suitable for younger children. Older children can handle the slightly more challenging and much longer Kilauea Iki hike, which takes visitors along the floor of a dormant crater, complete with searing hot steam vents and captivating flora, such the ohia tree with its bright red lehua blossoms.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
P.O. Box 52
Hawaii National Park, HI 96718-0052
(808) 985-6000
nps.gov/havo

Gettysburg National Military Park

This fascinating national park preserves the site of one of the most famous--as well as deadliest--battles of the Civil War. More than 51,000 soldiers lost their lives in this pivotal, turning-point battle., and people of all ages are mesmerized by the sense of sheer reverence and history that's somehow still very much alive in the park. The Junior Ranger program, available all year, challenges kids to complete three activities in order to become official Junior Rangers. In the summer, your kids can enlist in the "army" and learn in detail what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War; park officials also host evening campfire activities, walks through the battlefields, battle reenactments and Living History weekends.

Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100
Gettysburg, PA 17325-2804
(717) 334-1124
nps.gov/gett

Yosemite National Park

Splendid scenery abounds in this most awe-inspiring of national parks. Nearly 1,200 square miles in size, Yosemite National Park captivates the imagination and inspires the soul with its breathtaking waterfalls, dramatic, glacier-carved valleys and miles and miles of hiking trails. Winter or summer, Yosemite presents an unforgettable High Sierra destination to satisfy wilderness enthusiasts of every age. El Capitan, Half-Dome and Bridalveil Falls are just a few of the park's stunning national treasures--and there are trails and activities to suit younger children as well as older ones. Programs for kids include Wee Wild Ones (for ages 6 and under), Story Time (for kids 12 and under), a Junior Ranger Program and Ranger Nerd's Big Adventure.

Yosemite National Park
Public Information Office
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389
(209) 372-0200
nps.gov/yose

Article Written By Fiona Farnsworth

Fiona Farnsworth has been writing professionally since 1987. An award-winning senior advertising copywriter, she's written for major clients in Southern California and Hawaii. As lead writer for a popular Big Island home magazine, she specializes in Hawaii homes and interior design. She has also written for national magazines. Murray holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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