April 16-24, 2016 has been designated National Parks Week. This national event is a time to focus on and celebrate all that the National Parks have to offer us. During this week, admission is free to all parks, and special events are planned at many sites. The Park Service has created a special website for this week, where you can go to explore and plan a park visit.
Another way you can plan your park visit is to read guide books. National Geographic has teamed up with the Park Service to develop a series of books for adults and kids about the parks and all the fun and amazing things you can do in them. I’ve been leafing through the National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 8th Edition, while drooling and dreaming about trips we could take in the future. This guide has summaries of the parks, information about the attractions, how to get there, lodging, maps, visitor center locations, and more. The book gives tips about when to visit and other facts that might be particular to each park. There are also pages about additional attractions to see in the areas around the parks. While reading about parks we are familiar with, I found the info to be accurate and complete, and the photos are gorgeous. This book will definitely come with us on any trips we take in the future.
National Geographic has also come out with a companion to this guide for children, the National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: Centennial Edition: The Most Amazing Sights, Scenes and Cool Activities from Coast to Coast! It’s a pared-down and souped-up guide that is accessible to kids and teens. This paperback guide gives interesting facts about the parks and outlines activities that are especially suited to kids. It also has maps (with larger print than the maps in the adult guide) and plentiful photographs to entice children to visit. My kids have enjoyed flipping through it and have begged to go to several of the parks they’ve discovered on its pages. I think they will be happy to have it along when we make our road trips.
If your kids like Mad Libs like mine do, they will enjoy the Funny Fill-In book. I’m saving this one for a road trip when we need things to do to pass the time and keep spirits up.
The Junior Ranger Activity Book reminds me of my childhood days reading Highlights magazine and doing the activities inside. It’s got National-Park-themed mazes, word scrambles, quizzes, jokes, funny fill-ins, and many other types of activities. Ranger Tips and additional educational facts complete this book, and it has plenty of kid-friendly colorful photos. I can see this getting heavy use as we head for far destinations this summer. Both activity books seem geared toward elementary-aged children who can read.
Stay tuned this week as I post about the national parks in Washington State and Oregon that we’ve visited over the last several years. I also have a book review planned of a wonderful new book by Julie Zickefoose. It’s going to be a fun week, and I hope it will help you plan some adventures with your children this summer.
PS: Enter a sweepstakes where the grand prize is an 8-day Family Adventure for Four to 3 different parks! Enter at http://nationalparkssweeps.com/. Good luck!