Top 10 Activities for Kids in America's National Parks


(c) 2011 National Public Lands Day

The National Park Service and National Park Foundation have announced 10 ways for kids to play in America’s National Parks in honor of National Public Lands Day on September 24, when national parks across the country will waive entrance fees and invite kids to participate in activities. The activities include:

Acadia National Park, Maine- Sea-life bingo keeps youngsters excited tallying green sea urchins, orange sea stars and other curious marine creatures that reside in tide pools that surface at low tide. People can even watch for harbor seals farther out in the water.

Biscayne National Park, Florida- Families visiting Biscayne between December and April can sign up to attend "Family Fun Fest," a daylong program held on the second Sunday of the month and focused on activities tied to the park's diverse resources.

Cape Cod National Park, Massachusetts- Cycling is available to visitors to get around the Cape thanks to its paved rail trail, which leads through the woods, past kettle ponds created by retreating glaciers.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming- Teens looking for a challenge can measure themselves against the Tetons, thanks to climbing schools where world-class guides will teach them the basics and lead them to the summit of the 13,770-foot Grand Teton.

(c) 2011 National Public Lands Day

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado- Kids can get sandy on the tallest sand dunes in North America. Rising to about 650 feet, these dunes in the heart of the park are perfect for skiing, sand-boarding or just plain old rolling down.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California- Budding geologists will be fascinated with Lassen Volcanic, as it can count as all four major types of volcanoes; shield, plug, cinder cone, and composite. There's even a Volcano Club where kids can join to learn more about this volcanic landscape.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky- A Mammoth Cave trip is built around a cave tour with the family. Take the Violet City Lantern Tour to experience the passageways by flickering lamp light as many of its first visitors did. Guests can view the incredible flowstones on the Frozen Niagara Tour, or visit the Snowball Room with its ancient autographs inscribed with soot.

Olympic National Park, Washington- Kids can start the day with a snowball fight (on Hurricane Ridge) and end it soaking in warm springs (like those at Sol Duc Hot Springs).

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan- Winter is all year-round, as there are trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. And if there's enough snow, kids and adults can even sled down the 100+ ft. Dune Climb.