Hiking with your children is one of the best things you can do for them. You are allowing them to spend quality time outdoors; learning to appreciate nature. They can have lots of fun, test their limits, and find out new, interesting facts about Mother Nature. But choosing the right destination is not easy, so we are here to help with our top five hiking trips that your kids will benefit the most from:
Denali National Park, Alaska
Wild Alaska has plenty of opportunities for your family and the kids will absolutely love it. You can explore the marine life in Prince William Sound, where you and your children will find out more stuff about the animals that live here.
You will have plenty of fun fishing and hiking in the Denali National Park, though you should really make sure you have the right backpacking boots for the weather and terrain. If you are interested in adrenaline-rising fun, kayaking and paddleboarding are valid options for you. And if you are doing day hikes in the park, you can always end the day teaching kids valuable survival skills for the Alaskan wilderness.
You can profit from another cool learning opportunity and bring your kids on a trip to see the glaciers. Hiking to and around the glaciers is wonderful for teaching children about glacial landforms, as well as the animals and plants that inhabit such a landscape. They will be especially interested in this info if you allow them the chance of a little snowboarding action.
Dune Fields, Colorado
The Dune Fields are the highest dunes on the territory of the United States, reaching 750 feet and spreading on an impressive distance of more than 30 square miles. These dunes are positioned right on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and you will have plenty of fun getting to them. The hike is a breeze and the kids will like getting there.
You will get the chance to explain how these dunes were formed by the rotation of tectonic plates, volcanic activity and other sediments brought in by the melting glaciers and rain. All this happened in various episodes that have started tens of thousands of years ago and your little ones will be amazed they can see such ancient landforms.
They will not just be able to see them, but also to explore them, since these dunes are the perfect destination for sand sledding or snowboarding. They can even roll around on them, which can be amazing fun if the sand is not too hot.
Moreover, you can always climb the High Dune and navigate the shifting sands. This is another fun activity that masks a valid learning opportunity about the dangers of such a terrain as well as how it forms.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
You will adore all the fun things you can do and learn here, including plenty of historical tidbits and biology, while the Junior Ranger programs are a star attraction for 5-12-year-olds.
With millions of visitors each year, this National Park has approximately 100,000 species of animals and plants. Your children can learn more about black bears, deers, and salamanders and how they all share the same ecosystem.
Plus, most of the churches and houses of the people who lived here 200 years from the 18th Century are well kept. That is a good way to let your kids see how our forefathers lived, how they organized their community, and what they considered important. Also, as the Smoky Mountains were named this way by the Cherokees, you can tell your kids more about how the Natives lived and recreate some of their trails.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Arizona
With more than 400 miles of underground caves to explore, your children will be thrilled about this amazing adventure. There are tons of mummies to marvel at and the cave system with plenty of sinkholes, stalactites, and stalagmites provide a magnificent learning opportunity about how these landforms came to life.
The Frozen Niagara Tour is the easiest for smaller children, because it lasts less than two hours, and it covers about 0.25 miles total. In turn, they will see wonderful formations like the Rainbow Dome or the Crystal Lake. But many of these formations look like well-known cartoon characters, which adds to the excitement.
If you want to stay above ground, the Cedar Sink Trail is another great short hike you can take in this park. However, it encompasses wonderful vistas consisting of a river that runs into a cave and a gigantic sinkhole. You will be walking through a friendly forest, where your kids can learn more about the local vegetation.
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Here is a wonderful opportunity for you and your children to learn more about Native American history along with a bit of geology. Devil’s Tower was considered holy ground by the indigenous peoples and it became a national monument at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Its eerie look is courtesy of the solidified magma of a volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. Rising to almost 900 feet high, the magma settled into various columns with multiple sides. The most interesting thing about this is that the magma erupted inside the Earth, but it was uncovered by erosion.
The Base Loop trail is an easy hike for children of all ages. It is short and has a low difficulty level, however that gives you the chance to walk slowly and admire the awe-inspiring structures. You can collect rocks and leaves with your children and imagine how Earth must have looked like when this volcano erupted.
And if you are into rock climbing as well, you can take the time to scaling this uncanny, gigantic piece of cold magma.
What Will You Pick?
With so many awesome hiking trips to choose from, we are curious to know where you will be going with your kids. Where have you hiked before? Which trails did you enjoy? Which ones did you hate? Tell us all in the comments!
Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favorite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers, and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passions is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com.