7 Best National Parks for Families

Unplug and tune into Mother Nature, with a little help from the park rangers, as you hike, climb, bike and swim your way through the best national parks for families.

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Crater Lake Lodge reclines along the edge of the caldera in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park. 960 1280

  

A coat of snow surrounds the almost 4,000-foot-deep Crater Lake. 960 1280

Crater Lake Lodge  

The Furnace Creek Inn offers a refuge from the extremes of Death Valley National Park. 960 1280

Furnace Creek Inn  

The harsh but beautiful landscape of Furnace Creek. 960 1280

Furnace Creek Inn  

The view from the lobby of the Furnace Creek Inn. 960 1280

Furnace Creek Inn  

The spacious lobby of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park. 960 1280

NPS Photo by Jim Peaco  

Guests at the Old Faithful Inn take in the view from the roof. 960 1280

NPS Photo by Jim Peaco  

Old Faithful herself puts on a show every 80 minutes. 960 1280

  

The Ahwahnee Hotel makes a good home base for visitors of Yosemite National Park. 960 1280

Delaware North Companies  

The inviting lounge at the Ahwahnee Hotel. 960 1280

Delaware North Companies  

Photos

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

It's not likely you'll plan a spur-of-the-moment trip to the Gates of the Arctic National Park: It requires serious planning to venture into this wild Alaskan spot above the Arctic Circle. 960 1280

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Remote river in Gates of the Arctic) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

The remote park is accessible by bush plane, air taxi and, for the truly hardcore, on foot. Hikers may approach the park from Dalton Highway, but there are multiple river crossings along the way and no trails. 960 1280
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Once in the park, visitors are rewarded with sweeping valleys and rugged mountains, the tallest rising 8,510 feet at Mount Igikpak at the headwaters of the Noatak River. 960 1280

By National Park Service, Alaska Region (Noatak River) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

Washington state has its share of glaciers with more than 300 mountain glaciers in North Cascades National Park. Get your bearings at any of the park's 6 visitor or service centers where maps and exhibit rooms can help you plan excursions.  960 1280

By Walter Siegmund (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

The Ross Lake National Recreation Area is a popular starting point for the 400 miles of trails that meander through the valleys and cut through the mountains with switchbacks and rocky terrain. 960 1280
North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park

The mountains are dotted with the glaciers as well as more than 127 alpine lakes and cascading waterfalls. The most popular waterfalls can be found at Gorge Falls along State Route 20 in between Newhalem and Diablo and Rainbow Falls in Stehekin Valley. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is a diverse spot with quiet deserts, caves and dense forests filled with 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines. It's remarkable that this is one of the least-visited national parks, often dismissed as a wasteland. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Go underground at Lehman Caves, an ornate marble cave filled with stalactites, stalagmites and over 300 rare shield formations. 960 1280
Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Stargazers will delight in the view from Great Basin, one of the darkest spots in the country after the sun goes down. You'll want to spend the night so you can marvel at the Milky Way and constellations in the deep night sky, a rare treat as light pollution blocks the view from many cities around the country. 960 1280
Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

The state of Florida gets hordes of visitors each year, but somehow Dry Tortugas plays host to only a small fraction of them. This cluster of 7 islands is just 70 miles west of Key West, but its quiet island pace sets it apart from its nearest neighbors. 960 1280

By Joe Parks from Berkeley, CA (Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

The waters around the islands are filled with coral reefs teeming with interesting marine life that are perfect for a snorkeling trip.  960 1280
Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park

Scuba divers explore the Windjammer Wreck, a complete wreck site featuring an impressive sailing ship that sank in 1907. Back on the beach, sea turtles build nests in the sand where they lay their eggs along these protected sandy shores. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan's remote Isle Royale National Park is accessible only by boat or seaplane, so leave your car behind, and set sail from Houghton or Cooper Harbor in Michigan or Grand Portage in Minnesota. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Once there, get ready for a day of backcountry hiking or navigating the lakes, bays and islands in a kayak or canoe. If you're not an experienced paddler, avoid the frigid water and possible squalls on a guided boat tour. 960 1280
Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

To extend your trip, spend the night at the Rock Harbor Lodge, found in the island's northeast corner, with simple rooms and cottages overlooking the lake. 960 1280
Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

California or Tatooine? The desert landscape and stunning sand dunes of Death Valley National Monument ”— and its proximity to Los Angeles —have made it a popular location for movie shoots. In "Star Wars," Death Valley is the stand-in for many scenes on the fictional planet Tatooine. Parts of "Return of the Jedi," "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" and many other classic movies including "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," "King Solomon'€™s Mines," "Spartacus" and "Tarzan" were also shot in Death Valley. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/Ronoster  

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

In the opening sequence of the third "Indiana Jones" movie, a troop of Boy Scouts hikes under the Double Arch of Utah's Arches National Park. You'™ll see the same arch — and others -— in 2003'™s "The Incredible Hulk." Parts of "City Slickers" and "Thelma and Louise" were also shot in Arches. 960 1280

Kylie Pearse  

Redwoods National Park

Redwoods National Park

A spaceship lands in a forested area near a typical suburb, a set-up that brings us the adorable alien from "E.T." That forest is none other than Redwoods National Park. Also, further down California'™s coast, the redwoods of Muir Woods stand in as Endor, the home of the Ewoks in "Return of the Jedi." 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/Michael Fitzsimmons  

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Kevin Costner rides across a stunning backdrop of prairies, badlands and buttes in the 1990 Oscar winner "Dances with Wolves." Parts of "Armageddon" and "How the West Was Won" were also shot in the Badlands. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/lightpix  

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

In "Into the Wild," a young man on a journey to find himself through nature winds up camping out in an abandoned bus in Alaska's Denali National Park. The wild landscape, flora and fauna are practically characters in this film, based on a true story. 960 1280

  

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Like "Into the Wild," the movie "Wild" is also based on the true story of a young person finding herself through a solo trek in the wilderness. Shot almost entirely on location on the Pacific Crest Trail in California and Oregon, a scene near the end of the film takes the main character through a moment of reflection at Crater Lake. 960 1280

  

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower National Monument

Is there any more iconic natural formation in the movies than Devils Tower, the center of alien activity in 1977's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"? The Wyoming location, America'™s first landmark designated a national monument, manages to evoke earthiness and otherworldliness at once. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/fstockfoto  

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Apparently, no landscape says rugged individualism more timelessly than Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. "Django Unchained," "Brokeback Mountain," "Shane" and "Rocky IV" all include scenes shot in the Tetons. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/dmathies  

Coconino National Forest

Coconino National Forest

"The Revenant," which is supposed to take place in South Dakota in the 1800s, was mostly shot in Canada, however, a need for a snowy mountain range brought the crew to the San Francisco Peaks, a volcanic mountain range that, while not a national park, is part of Cococino National Forest in Arizona, south of Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/Jeff Goulden  

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

At the end of 2014's Oscar-nominated movie "Boyhood," famously shot over 12 years, the boy of the title, now a young man, is seen hiking a canyon at Big Bend. The Texas national park also represents in "Paris, Texas" and "No Country for Old Men." 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/David Hughes  

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest

The dystopian world of "The Hunger Games" is divided into districts, with distinct physical and natural characteristics. District 12, home to Katniss Everdeen, is a mining region surrounded by woods and rivers, shot in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest just east of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "The Last of the Mohicans" was also shot in Pisgah. 960 1280

iStockPhoto.com/bluehorizonphotos  

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

Ellis Island was the gateway for more than 12 million immigrants to enter into the US between 1892 and 1954. Although most of the island is in New Jersey, the island is located in New York Harbor. Tourists and history buffs alike can visit the historic island and museum to hear inspiring stories and view photo collections about the people who passed through what was once the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station. 960 1280

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Fire Island Seashore

Fire Island Seashore

Fire Island -- a barrier island located on the south shore of Long Island, NY -- is a popular tourist destination during the summer, but it’s also a great place to visit during its off-peak season. Visit the Fire Island Lighthouse, explore the island’s wildlife, take a stroll through Sunken Forest, go camping at Watch Hill or go fishing on the pier at Barrett Beach. 960 1280

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African Burial Ground National Monument

African Burial Ground National Monument

The African Burial Ground National Monument is where the remains of more than 400 Africans were buried in the late 17th and 18th centuries. It is part of what was once the largest colonial-era cemetery for free and enslaved Africans. The burial ground, located in Manhattan, was rediscovered in 1991 after plans were underway to build a Federal office building in the same area. 960 1280

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Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill is the home of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. Roosevelt lived at his “Summer White House” from 1885 until his death in 1919. Although the home is closed for renovations, the park grounds are open. 960 1280

David Smith, Flickr  

Castle Clinton

Castle Clinton

The history of New York City began here at Castle Clinton -- initially built to prevent a British invasion in 1812. The circular sandstone fort is located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. It is best remembered as America’s first immigration station where more than 8 million people arrived in the US, from 1855 to 1890. Before becoming a national monument, the castle served as beer garden, exhibition hall, theater and public aquarium. 960 1280

Jazz Guy, Flickr  

Grant National Monument

Grant National Monument

The Grant National Monument is the final resting place of President Ulysses Simpson Grant and his wife, Julia. The largest mausoleum in North America commemorates the life of the man who ended the bloodiest war in American history as Commanding General of the Union Army and then, as the 18th President of the United States. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Federal Hall National Memorial

Federal Hall National Memorial

Take a trip back in history to see where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States. The Federal Hall National Memorial is the birthplace of American government -- home to the first Congress, Supreme Court and Executive Branch offices. The building now serves as a museum to President Washington and the beginnings of the United States of America. 960 1280

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Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Take a guided tour through the recreated birthplace and home of US President Theodore Roosevelt, the only US President born in New York City. From 1858 to 1872, the brownstone -- located at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan -- was home to Roosevelt and his family. After the neighborhood became more commercial, the Roosevelts moved uptown to West 57th Street. The house was opened and restored as a museum in 1923. 960 1280

Wally Gobetz, Flickr  

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Visit the Harlem home of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, the first US Secretary of Treasury. The home was named “The Grange” after Hamilton’s grandfather’s estate in Scotland.it was the only home ever owned by the American politician and it remained in the family 30 years after his death. Insider Tip: We suggest taking the ranger-guided tour which allows tourists access to the historically furnished floor. 960 1280

Jim.Henderson, Wikimedia Commons  

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Explore the beautiful Hudson River Valley. This national park site stretches from New York City to Albany. Uncover the history of the American Revolutionary War, visit scenic parks and gardens and see the world’s largest kaleidoscope at Mount Tremper. Through the Hudson Valley there are dozens of tourist attractions, including the Neuberger Museum of Art, Donald Kendall Sculpture Garden, Stony Point Battlefield and Playland Amusement Park. 960 1280

EJP Photo, Flickr  

Governors Island National Monument

Governors Island National Monument

Explore the history of Governors Island as it evolved from a colonial outpost to regional administrative center for the US Army and Coast Guard. Visit Castle Williams, the sandstone fort that has stood watch over New York City for over 200 years. 960 1280

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Saint Paul's Church

Saint Paul's Church

Saint Paul’s Church, located in Mount Vernon, NY, is an 18th-century that was used as a Revolutionary War hospital, a historic cemetery with headstones dating to 1704 and remnant of a Village Green that was the site of the Election of 1733, which raised issues of freedom of religion and press. Aside from its historic past, the church apparently has ghosts that still lurk through the halls. Visitors have heard what sound like heavy chains being dragged across the basement floor. 960 1280

Anthony22, Wikimedia Commons  

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Take a trip with the family out to Liberty Island to the iconic national treasure, the Statue of Liberty. Given as a gift from France to the US, the statue represents a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and designated as a national monument in 1924. We suggest tourists make their way up to the crown of Lady Liberty to get the best view of NYC and its beautiful skyline. 960 1280

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