Two summers ago, my kids and I visited more than a dozen national parks and monuments. It was truly epic to be able to sled down sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and explore a grove of giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park in California.
As I began to plan out our trip, I had a couple of trusty guides, including National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, and the kids’ companion, National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA. Honestly, I think I used the children’s book more since it includes helpful must-do’s (called “My Checklist” in the book) so I knew what we should not miss when at the parks.
To celebrate this year’s 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, National Geographic introduced three new books and updated a favorite title, enabling kids to plan, explore and get excited about national parks. All of these books make great gifts for children, allowing them to re-visit favorite parks or read up on parks they hope to visit in the new year.
Junior Ranger Activity Book: We love completing Junior Ranger programs at national parks, and while you can’t earn a badge or a patch completing the puzzles and activities in this book, it is a fun companion to in-park programs. It’s also a great way to build on park experiences as children learn fun facts, find hidden animals and get ranger tips as they work their way through this fun activity book.
Funny Fill-In: My National Parks Adventure: If you like Mad Libs, then you and your kids will love this Funny Fill-In book from National Geographic. Kids will find more than 20 fun fill-in stories, about half of which are specific to national parks, like Denali and Yosemite. Add in nouns, adjectives, verbs, even days of the week and body parts, to create funny park-related stories.
Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure: Little ones will love this colorful paperback book that follows twins Elena and Christopher on a road trip adventure through Yellowstone National Park. In the book, Elena’s stuffed animal, Buddy Bison, comes to life and takes them all across the park. In the back of the book, kids can read up on the history of Yellowstone and learn how to help preserve this national park.
National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: This colorful kids book was updated for the centennial and goes park-by-park sharing five ways to explore each one (e.g., take a hike, go stargazing). It also features a checklist for each park to make sure that you and your kids don’t miss the highlights, like watching Mexican free-tailed bats fly out of a cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
If you’re looking for more books about national parks, here are a few more guides that will help you and your kids best explore our national parks.
Secrets of the National Parks: This book from National Geographic is perfect if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a bucket list park, like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon. Inside look for expert tips, most scenic view points and easy trails so you can make the most of your visit on your own or with your family.
National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States: As I noted above, we have this book and it was so helpful when I was planning our cross-country road trip last summer. For every national park, the book includes when to go, different routes to take around the parks and must-do hikes.
Your Guide to National Parks: I have this book too, and what I love about this one is that it includes campsites, park maps and things to do, like biking, paddling and horseback riding (including outfitters). The book also includes lots of places to stay, day-by-day itineraries and hiking trails, including distances and level of difficulty for every trail in each park.
Before you head out on your adventures, it’s a must to pick up some books about national parks in order to make the most of your time in our parks. Have fun.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links within this post. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.