The 10 Best National Parks

Denali National Park & Preserve, Denali Park, AK

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Total Acres: 6.1 million.

Number of Family-Friendly Trails: Eight (all are stroller-accessible).

Best Time to Visit: June, July, and August, the hottest months, although the average high temperatures even then are only in the mid-50s.

  • Schedules educational two-hour nature-walk programs for families; rangers may point out nests of the park's famous goshawks and sharp-shinned hawks and encourage kids to pretend they're moose when they search for moose tracks.
  • Teaches children 4 to 14 about subarctic ecosystems, wildlife, and wilderness values in its Junior Ranger program; activities are broken down by age.
  • Gives dogsled demonstrations three times daily during the summer; kids can also meet the dogs and puppies in the park's kennel.
  • Operates shuttle buses for wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, and other activities.
  • Hosts family-friendly campground programs about a variety of topics; past favorites include the wolves of Denali (the park has about 16 wolf packs), glaciers, and bears.

Compared to rush-hour traffic and suburban sprawl, all national parks seem to be undeveloped and peaceful. But Denali is arguably the most pristine of the group, with an amazing assortment of wildlife and incredible views of the snow-capped slopes of 20,320-foot Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America.

"Alaska is our nation's last frontier," says Martha Tomeo, education specialist. "The park provides exciting hiking opportunities for families to experience wilderness and discover wildlife together. Children can see a moose or caribou up close or bend down and pick the wonderful blueberries growing in our meadows."

Contact: 907-683-2294; www.nps.gov/dena.

 

Entrance fee: $10 per family.

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