This post is sponsored by National Park Trust.
This Saturday, May 21st, is the 6th Annual Kids to Parks Day! To celebrate we are giving away a fun prize pack here on the blog and sharing 6 ways you can enjoy our beautiful National Parks with kids. You can participate this weekend by pledging to bring your child to a local, state, or national park on May 21st. Register here and you might win some great prizes!
6 Ways to Enjoy National Parks with Kids
1. Junior Ranger Program
Many of the National Parks have Junior Ranger packets available. They are only a few dollars or sometimes free. They do an amazing job of helping kids get a broad experience of the park and learn some interesting facts and history of the park. Once the packet is complete the kids are sworn in as Junior Rangers and they receive a patch or pin for their efforts.
TIP: The programs we have done (Yellowstone, Fort McHenry, Harper’s Ferry, and the National Mall) take a solid amount of time. Plan for a few hours, especially if you have several kids in different age ranges.
2. Journal – Write, Draw, Photo
I gave my kids blank notebooks before we visited Yellowstone so they could make notes about animals they saw, draw pictures about the day, or paste in pictures they took.
There is nothing better than a picnic with a national park as the setting. Some parks have restaurants or convenience stores but we often pack a cooler with snacks and food to save some money. Be careful to clean up after yourself. Do not leave trash or food. Keep our parks and the animals that call them home safe and healthy! If you don’t see a trash can, keep your trash in your car or pocket until you do!!
4. Every Kid in a Park Program
This is a great program for 4th graders across the United States. Each 4th grade student has access to a free National Park Pass. These passes allow the student and their family free access to the national parks and monuments for one year! If you have a current 4th grader or would like information about the program, check it out here.
5. License Plate Game
This is a really fun way to make the most of parks that have large parking lots or lots of road to drive. We write down all the states and leave a section for international vehicles. We check the states off as we see them. It is amazing how many different plates there are out there! It’s one of our favorite road trip games.
Looking for more games to play on the road? Check out our list of 15 here!
It has been my experience that kids and their imaginations don’t need much to have an amazing time no matter where they are! Each park has something special and unique – find it and experience it! It might be an amazing hike, colorful geysers, or enormous trees. Take it all in!
Today we are giving away two great books to one lucky reader:
My girls LOVE the book about Buddy! We visited Yellowstone two summers ago and one of our best memories is getting stuck in a bison jam :) We were on our way to see Old Faithful one of the mornings and ended up stuck in a super long line of slow-moving cars. We had no idea what the hold up was. It took some time but eventually we found out what was causing all the traffic – BISON! They were everywhere. All over the road, the sides of the road, in the river along the road! There were several park rangers keeping them safe and helping the traffic maneuver the animals without disturbing them. It was so fun to see all the cute babies with their mamas and families. It was the best traffic jam I’ve ever been in and the kids often say, “Hey! Remember when we got bison jammed?!” I think that experience was more memorable than Old Faithful or any of the other amazing things we saw those few days!
Noa has been eating up the National Parks Guide. He loves informational books like this and has been telling me the parks he would like to visit some day. When we plan road trips, large or small, I love finding national parks along the way. The parks are all so unique and it’s so fun to take some time to check them out, even if it’s just a few minutes or miles. This book has a map of the US with parks and monuments across the country.