Yellowstone National Park
After you've seen your first few steaming sulphur pots, heaving mud holes, and bubbling mineral springs, you'll wonder if the northwest corner of Wyoming has a bad case of indigestion. That's not far from the truth -- Yellowstone's amazing geological features are the leftovers of a massive volcanic eruption aeons ago. Old Faithful is the most famous attraction here, but there's far more to see -- including 2 million acres of total wilderness to explore.
Setting Up Camp
Yellowstone has six lodge locations, the best of which is the Old Faithful Inn, where your kids can sit on the massive front balcony and eat ice cream while they watch the famous geyser erupt. Your best chance to get a reservation is in September, when the crowds thin out. The park has 12 campgrounds, but only 5 take reservations in advance. (Room and cabin rates range from $58 to $153 per night, campground fees from $15 to $27; 307-344-7311).
Parents of toddlers will enjoy taking a cruise on Lake Yellowstone ($8.75 adults; $4.75 kids ages 2 to 11). School-age kids can see Mother Nature's sense of humor firsthand when they visit the belching and odiferous Dragon's Mouth, the putrid Sour Lake, and the spewing Mud Volcano. For a quieter exploration, join a guided horseback ride from one of three stables through the mountain meadows ($22 per hour; ages 8 and up).
Hold on tight to your child's hand here. The boardwalks through the 220°F hot springs and geyser areas are wide but don't have rails. And the scenic overlooks have low retaining walls.