The Top 10 National Parks for Hiking with Kids in 2023

The Top 10 National Parks for Hiking with Kids in 2023

Summertime is here, the sky is crystal blue, and the chorus of songbirds is the soundtrack to your day. Picture-perfect, right? Now cue the chorus of your kids from the backseat: “Are we there yet?” It’s a scene familiar to any parent eager to engage their children with the splendors of nature, especially during those precious months of summer break.

The United States is a treasure trove of national parks, 63 to be precise, each one a testament to the country’s diverse landscapes. Then, of course, there are the countless other sites that fall under the National Park umbrella. It’s a veritable buffet of natural wonder, but for families with young, spirited explorers or those new to hiking, choosing the right park might seem daunting.

That’s where KURU Footwear steps in. They’ve dedicated their time and expertise to rank the Best National Parks for Families in 2023. This meticulously compiled list focuses on five key criteria: the percentage of trails tagged as “kid-friendly,” average trail length, average elevation gain, average trail rating, and average trail difficulty level. The result? A handy Top 10 guide featuring both popular and lesser-known parks, perfect for families seeking a hike-centric adventure that keeps everyone engaged.

The top-ranking National Parks for families in 2023 are:

  1. Biscayne National Park, Florida

Biscayne is a ‘watery wonderland’ where land forms just 5% of the park. With several kid-friendly hiking trails (someon islands only accessible by boat), this park is a perfect playground for families with a love for the ocean and a thirst for adventure.

  1. Fort Hunt Park, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia

Every step in this park is a step back into U.S. history. Once a part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, Fort Hunt Park now serves as a grand picnic spot and includeseasy, kid-friendly trails. One of these trails is the captivating Mount Vernon Trail—an 18-mile paved trail that connects with several other regional trails, making the park a veritable treat for a family day out.

  1. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

The ancient cliff dwellings scattered across this park speak of cultures that once flourished here over 800 years ago. With many trails offering both natural beauty and glimpses into history, Mesa Verde is a window into the past. Despite the cliff setting, most trails feature little elevation gain, making them safe and enjoyable for families.

  1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

This park is a testament to the power of erosion, carved by the Gunnison River and the passage of time. Its steep canyon terrain is often compared to the famous Grand Canyon, promising dramatic views and thrilling experiences. While reaching the river is challenging, many child-friendly hikes along the canyon rim offer safer yet equally awe-inspiring alternatives.

  1. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

This park safeguards the largest tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the United States. Hiking trails take visitors deep into the park’s heart, revealing its diverse biodiversity. A highlight for families is the park’s firefly viewing events, where the evening landscape twinkles with thousands of these luminous insects.

  1. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Take a walk through time at Petrified Forest National Park. This family-friendly (and pet-friendly!) location offers trails overlooking petrified logs, ancient villages, and remarkable petroglyphs. The landscape, often described as a “painted desert,” is an open canvas for the imagination, with every trail telling a different story of Earth’s vibrant history.

  1. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

With 15 miles of sandy shoreline and over 50 miles of trails through sand dunes, woodlands, prairies, and wetlands, Indiana Dunes is a microcosm of Midwest beauty. Whether your family is watching birds, exploring wildlife, or engaging in the Diana of the Dunes Dare, there’s no shortage of excitement here.

  1. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

This park is an oasis of over 125 miles of hiking trails. The historic Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, open 24 hours, leads families through natural and historic sites, offering many opportunities to explore and learn. Its accessibility for wheelchairs, bikes, and strollers ensures that everyone in the family can enjoy the adventure.

  1. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Unusual geologic formations make Badlands a captivating location. These rocky formations harbor some of the world’s richest fossil beds. The park’s kid-friendly trails and educational programs, like the Junior Ranger Program, offer the entire family a fun and educational experience.

  1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Known for its 100-plus caves, including the famous Carlsbad Cavern, this park offers a unique underground adventure. Surface hiking trails explore the stark beauty of the surrounding desert, while guided tours of the caverns provide a cool escape from the desert heat. The trails in the main cavern are family-friendly and showcase a world of natural wonder below the surface.

KURU Footwear’s ranking methodology is thorough, transparent, and comprehensive. Each park was assessed based on a 20-point scale across five key metrics. In the event of a tie, the park with the highest percentage of child-friendly trails took the top spot. Any parks with two or fewer trails or missing data were excluded.

Ready to plan your next family adventure? Dive deeper into this detailed guide by KURU Footwear and set off for an unforgettable journey into the heart of nature’s wonder, hand in hand with your loved ones. The sun is shining, the trails are waiting, and the only question left is: Which park will you explore first?


I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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