Ask Trip Coach: National Parks
Sure, you could show up at your nearest national park and wing it—with everyone else. But breaking out of the pack requires a little extra planning.
PARKS HIT LIST
Biggest: Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska, 13 million acres
Newest: Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, 2004
Most visited: Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina, 9 million annual guests! (on average)
Least visited: Kobuk Valley, Alaska, 2,860 visitors (on average)
GREAT FAMILY ADVENTURES
Age-appropriate outings for you and your crew.
0–6 years: Grand Canyon Kids love trains; adults love scenery (and sitting). So everyone wins on a day trip from Williams, Ariz., to the South Rim on the Grand Canyon Railway. thetrain.com, adults $70, kids $40, includes 3.75 hours at the canyon.
3–8 years: Shenandoah On Mondays and Wednesdays, Shenandoah Scavenger Hikes organizes two-hour hunts, with easy trails leading to "treasures" like bear dens and a tree dotted with grapefruit-size woodpecker holes. visitshenandoah.com, $5.
5–10 years: Dinosaur National Monument At key points on the half-mile Fossil Discovery Trail, rangers get kids to identify—and touch!—real dino bones anchored in the rock walls. nps.gov/dino, free.
10–16 years: Yosemite Rafting the Merced River is the ticket on a hot summer day: Your teens can stage water fights in their own boat, while you lay back and take in the pristine, three-mile stretch. yosemitepark.com, adults $26, kids 12 and under $16.