The 10 Best National Parks

Big Bend National Park, Near Marathon, TX


Total Acres: 801,163

Number of Family-Friendly Trails: Five (one is stroller-accessible)

Best Time to Visit: Late September, October, April, and early May, to avoid hot weather

  • Has float trips down the Rio Grande; the river has carved canyons for millions of years.
  • Will host a Kids' Fiesta in October with crafts, games, and prizes.
  • Operates a Junior Ranger program for children; after completing the activities, they receive a badge or patch, wildlife bookmark, sticker, and certificate for framing.
  • Showcases more than 70 species of cactus -- some have tangerine or fuchsia flowers.
  • Provides nesting sites for about 450 species of birds, including the Colima warbler, which is found nowhere else in the U.S.

One of the least crowded national parks, Big Bend, remotely located in western Texas, caters to families who seek solitude. "We give busy families a place to regroup," says Lisa Bigley, chief of interpretation. But you'll find plenty to do, such as hiking the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, which crosses a creekbed and descends into a canyon.

Contact: 915-477-2251;

Entrance fee: $10 per vehicle.

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