Ever since my family discovered the Junior Ranger program last summer during our tour de Colorado, I’ve been on a bit of a National Parks kick. There ‘s no better time-my kids are the perfect age for discovering them for the first time, I love rediscovering these parks through their eyes, and of course, it’s the centennial year of the National Park Service which means, among many other things, two new guidebooks from National Geographic; Guide to National Parks of the United States 8th Edition ($29.95, eighth edition), with practical travel advice for visiting 59 national parks (plus 80 maps and 220 photos); and The National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A. Centennial Edition (ages 8-12, $14.99), the “official kids guide” which includes color photos and maps, fun facts, things to do on long car rides, and more.
Consider this your call to journey. Yes, you should get to a National Park or National Monument this year! The National Parks are truly amazing, so more people should really consider taking the time to visit some of them. They are based all around America, so people should be near one of them. I’ve heard a lot of people say that the Smoky Mountains are one of the best parks, so it might be worth visiting there. For parents, you might want to start learning about the history of the Smoky Mountains to make sure you can explain this National Park to your children if they’re interested in the historical side of things. Hopefully, these national parks will be a fun day out for more families, make the most of the current offers too. Get out and do it, especially if you have a 4th grader in your family. Check out the Every Kid in a Park program, which gives free access to all 4th graders (and their families!) to all National Parks. My kids aren’t quite there yet, so I’ll be buying another America the Beautiful Pass this year-the best $80 you’ll ever spend.