Book a horseback trail ride to experience this park from a new vantage point—three or four feet above the ground—on the back of a horse. A two-hour ride is plenty for kids, although Swan Mountain Outfitters does book all-day rides. Kids as young as age seven can ride at three of the park’s corrals—Apgar, West Glacier and Lake McDonald—for views of forest-covered mountains and lush valleys. Kids must be at least age eight to ride at Many Glacier Corral.
More than 180 TRACK Trails adventures exist in 10 states, including 3 in Shenandoah National Park. Created by Kids in Parks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families get more physically active outdoors, in Shenandoah National Park these self-guided adventures take children on the 1.2-mile Fox Hollow Trail, 1.3-mile Limberlost Trail and 0.8-mile Blackrock Summit Trail. The downloadable adventure guides encourage children to explore habitats, engage their senses in nature, and draw or write about their hikes in the printed guides.AAA / iStockphoto.com
Go to Family Camp at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There’s a lot to see and do at this 520,000-acre park that straddles Tennessee and North Carolina. To help families make the most of our country’s most-visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont created a summer family camp. This six-day adventure allows kids and families to revel in hiking, biking, backpacking, morning yoga, and fun and games with naturalists. Separate from the family camp, make time to hike a half-mile to the summit of Clingmans Dome
, the highest point in Tennessee.Getty Images / Digital Vision
Getty Images/Digital Vision
See the Night Sky at Bryce Canyon National Park
Kids will love using high-powered telescopes to see planets and constellations. Bryce Canyon is an incredible spot for stargazing, providing the opportunity for visitors to see as many as 5,000 stars with the naked eye. In late June, an annual four-day dark sky festival features hikes and hands-on activities. The park also holds 100 astronomy programs each year, inviting kids and families to celebrate the celestial wonders of the night sky. Another fun way to enjoy the park after dark is on the park’s monthly full-moon hike.Shutterstock.com / Rawin Cheasagul
Experience the Arch at Gateway Arch National Park
Last year’s completion of a $380 million redevelopment project at this national park in St. Louis—one of our country’s newest parks—opened up a massive green space and added miles of walkable and bikeable paths. It also made The Gateway Arch
even more exciting to experience from all angles. Take a tram ride to the top of the 630-foot Arch for panoramic city views. Or, enjoy views of the Arch from above on a three-minute helicopter ride with Gateway Helicopter Tours.123RF.COM / rozabel
Become a Young Scientist at Yellowstone National Park
At the Old Faithful Visitor Center, take out a Young Scientist Toolkit for free at the information desk, which includes a thermometer, stopwatch, and journal for recording observations about Old Faithful
and the Upper Geyser Basin
. Also at the visitor center, purchase one of three self-guided activity booklets that kids can complete to earn a Young Scientist patch or key chain. The Young Scientist program encourages children to solve science mysteries by way of investigation both in the visitor center and in the field. An interactive map on the park website helps kids plan out adventures.
There's so much for kids to see and do in our national parks that can open their eyes to nature and spur an interest in protecting and preserving the environment. Engaging in kid-friendly hikes, train excursions and horseback rides may be just the start for your child of a lifelong love of our country's national parks.
To learn more about national park activities, including those designed for children, go to nps.gov.AAA
Start Your Next Vacation with AAA
AAA Travel provides peace of mind when you travel — before, during and after your vacation! Members enjoy the advantages of membership including exclusive benefits, map routing, savings with the AAA Discounts & Rewards®
program as well as recommendations for AAA Diamond
-designated hotels and restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. Let AAA provide the rest of your travel needs with AAA Travel Guides
, access to travel agents and counselors and travel insurance. Your next vacation starts with AAA — your complete travel solution. Visit AAA.com/Travel
Erin Gifford is a AAA Travel Expert.
Travel Like an Expert with AAA and Trip Canvas
Get Ideas from the Pros
As one of the largest travel agencies in North America, we have a wealth of recommendations to share! Browse our articles and videos for inspiration, or dive right in with preplanned AAA Road Trips, cruises and vacation tours.
Build and Research Your Options
Save and organize every aspect of your trip including cruises, hotels, activities, transportation and more. Book hotels confidently using our AAA Diamond Designations and verified reviews.
Book Everything in One Place
From cruises to day tours, buy all parts of your vacation in one transaction, or work with our nationwide network of AAA Travel Agents to secure the trip of your dreams!