Summer is a great time to visit our National Parks, especially with kids. When Arizona goes postal with its 120-degree days, we take full advantage of summer break and head north.
We have a bucket list that includes some we've seen and some we haven't, and we are actively trying to see them all. Here's a little peek of what has made it to the top of that list over the years.
Acadia National Park (ME)
It's not the closest park to Arizona, I know. But everyone needs to see Maine in the summer, and Acadia is the best spot for adventure seekers and nature lovers of all kinds. Called the "Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast" by nps.gov, this unique park contains the highest rocky headlands along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. With more than 7 peaks to climb, hundreds of miles of trails, 16 stone bridges, rocky beaches, tide pools and abundant wildlife, you will come for the outdoor scene and stay for the lobster rolls. P.S. Eat at Reds.
Glacier National Park (MT)
Even the most novice of photographers (hi!) can snap a black and white photo of this landscape they will want to take home and frame (or sell). Glacier really has no bad angles. In addition to being a National Park, Glacier is an international peace park, biosphere reserve, and world heritage site. From rugged backcountry, to the scenic Going to the Sun Road, this park is designed for the most technical of mountaineers to the most leisurely of sight seers and animal watchers. No matter how you experience Glacier, it is unforgettable.
Redwood National Park (CA)
Home to the tallest trees on earth, Redwood National Park also protects 40 miles of rugged coastline. This is a great park to visit with small children. With flat, wide trails that offer access to some of the largest tree fells and tallest trees, to coastal shores that offer tide pools and some fun in the ocean, even the youngest adventurers are in their element. The history and culture add another layer to the experience, don't miss breakfast at Samoa Cookhouse, an old lumber camp cookhouse with a logging museum inside as well!
Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Just down the road from Yellowstone, Grand Teton holds more than just a stop at Jenny Lake or Jackson Lake Lodge for a photo! Summiting the almost 14k ft. Grand Teton is on my bucket list; it's just that summiting it with a toddler strapped to my back is not. So, we come for the lakes and rivers, the camping and the stars, and the wildlife and the view.
Mount Rushmore National Monument (SD)
I can't talk about National Parks without an honorable mention to Mt. Rushmore, even though it is technically a National Monument, not a park. Entrance is free, but you pay to park, and it can be hot during the day, so I recommend the lighting ceremony that is held every night. Take the Needles Highway to get there and be sure to buy some hand-pulled Keystone taffy. The Black Hills is an often-overlooked treasure not to be missed!
Always check advisories and conditions at nps.gov of any park you are planning on visiting. If you have a 4th grader, check out the free National Park pass offered to all 4th grade students as a part of the #akidineverypark project! An all access pass normally costs $80, so don't miss out! See akidineverypark.gov for more information. I guess the only question is, where will you go first?
Narrator: This blog was thoughtfully written by Brooke Ewing. You can find her on Instagram @brookenorma.