When I was working on National Parks With Kids, I encountered a couple with two young children at Acadia National Park. We all were heading up to the top of the Beehive, a nice crag for viewing the park, Frenchman Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Certainly, the trail to the top of the Beehive is no easy walk in the park, as it at times entails climbing hand-over-hand up iron rungs long-ago hammered into granite walls that you need to ascend. When we were resting on the top of the Beehive, I asked then-7-year-old Evan what he liked most about his visit to Acadia. "I liked climbing the mountains," he told me as a smile spread across his face.
Not all 7-year-olds would feel comfortable on the Beehive Trail, but this little anecdote illustrates that national parks can be incredibly attractive to youngsters. Indeed, Evan's parents told me that Acadia "is one of the most kid-friendly parks" in the country.
Where else might that tag apply? Let me point to three other examples, and then you folks add to the list.
* Arches National Park. Not only will this stony landscape pulled out of a Flintstones cartoon delight kids in general, but the sandy area beneath Sand Dune Arch is a perfect place for them to burn off any surplus energy.
* Glacier National Park. The Glacier Institute offers youth-oriented field classes throughout the summer running any where from one to 7 days. These range from map-and-compass classes for tweens to mini camps designed to introduce 7- and 8-year-olds to camping out.
* Biscayne National Park. Snorkeling is just one of the activities kids can get involved with at this sub-tropical paradise. And on the second Sunday of each month from January through May the park hosts Family Fun Fest, a three-hour program designed "for kids and kids-at-heart."
What else should be added to this list?