The 10 Best National Parks

CHILD'S exclusive survey looks at the forest through the families -- and reveals which spots are tops for parents and kids.

Introduction

Although the travel industry has been affected since 9/11, the nation's national parks are as busy as ever, with 23 million visits per month on average. "A park vacation gives families a sense of pride and patriotism," says Carol Anthony, public affairs specialist for the National Park Service in Washington, DC. "Now, more than ever, people are seeing the real purpose for the parks."

While all 56 national parks have something incredible to offer -- from geysers to glaciers, waterfalls to wildlife -- Child worked with a panel of experts to find the most family-friendly of the bunch. Through an exclusive 41-question survey sent to the parks, we sought to uncover the ones with comprehensive and fun children's programs, trails suitable for little hikers, the best safety records, ample staff, excellent air quality, plenty of accommodations, and dozens of comfort factors, from clean picnic areas to the availability of diaper-changing stations.

What we discovered: A park doesn't have to be popular to be perfect for families. In fact, only three of the 10 most visited national parks -- Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, and Yosemite -- made our final list. "Many of the lesser-known parks have wonderful activities for families, and because they're usually smaller and less crowded, kids can get extra attention from the rangers, naturalists, and other park staff," points out Anthony.

In this special report, you'll learn what makes the top 10 parks perfect for families; check out the 10 runners-up and read more details about the survey.

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