May 19th is a holiday I can totally get behind: it’s Kids to Parks Day. The whole objective is to get kids to national parks. Being a huge fan of the national parks, our family had our vacation minds blown last summer at Yellowstone. So much so that we plan on having many more road trip/park adventures this summer. Hello, Grand Teton and Zion, we’re looking at you! Find out more about the Kids to Parks Day and share with me your epic park experiences.
This won’t be a tough sell: families should head out together this Saturday, May 19th for Kids to Parks Day. Ah, the great outdoors, fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and family bonding time. After trekking out West this summer to see geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, and wildlife, our family is hooked on seeing as many national parks as possible. Whether national park, state park, or a local one, the National Park Trust wants “to connect kids and families with their local, state, and national parks and public lands.”
What Is Kids to Parks Day?
Think of Kids to Parks Day as a national invitation to spend time exploring local parks. Between 60 national parks and over 10,000 state parks, there’s bound to be options everywhere. I’d say they’ve come a long way from the first Kids to Parks Day in 2011 which saw about 18,000 people participate; this year, it’s estimated that more than 1 million people throughout the USA will take part. That’s a heck of a lot of progress in 8 years!
Well, I THOUGHT the closest national park for me would be the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wrong! I found out that I’m actually closer to the Congaree National Park in Hopkins, South Carolina.
These Are a Few of Our Favorite Parks
Fortunately, we get to experience many state parks in SC and NC year-round. Some of the best hiking is in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
One of our favorite drives is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which happens to be the number one most visited national park in 2017 with 16,093,765 visitors. The parkway stretches 469 miles, connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
But for WOW factor, I’d say that our most memorable park visit was Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park hit over 4.2 million annual visitors in 2016, with peak season during June, July and August. So it pays to pre-plan as much as possible for trekking to this behemoth national park.
And Alaska earns top marks with its glaciers: taking our kids to Mendenhall Glacier in Tongass National Forest was worth the effort (even if it was a different vantage point from the glacier since our dogsledding adventure that day was cancelled due to low cloud cover).
Our stay at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson for Spring Break was utterly amazing (read the link to learn more!) Among its many activities, this dude ranch offered rides into the Saguaro National Park, enabling us to expand our national park list.
How to Participate in Kids to Parks Day
Choose a park and go there. Spend some time outdoors. Or search for a Kids to Parks Day event near you.
And I’d love to know in the comments: what is your favorite national park (or state or local one for that matter)?