Over the last two weeks I basically fell off the face of the internet! We went on a two week cross country road trip and didn’t even open my computer once! It was refreshing and wonderful in every way. I spent a LOT of time planning for this trip and all the planning paid off ten-fold. Today I wanted to share our itinerary and tips for Mt. Rushmore, The Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks with Kids!
**We took this trip the first two weeks of August, and everything was CROWDED! Driving from Minnesota to South Dakota I was driving with all the motorcyclists on their way to Sturgis, then the rest of the trip was with what felt like EVERY tourist from the whole world. We were also battling horrible smoke from Wildfires everywhere we went. If I were to plan this trip all over again I’d probably go the very first two weeks of summer, or I’d pull the kids out of school and do it in the Fall. Even with that said it was a WONDERFUL trip and I don’t regret the timing**
We ended up driving a total of 4,000 miles from Milwaukee and back in 13 days, including a few extra days in South Dakota! Because not EVERYONE will follow our exact itinerary, here were our favorites in each National Park:
Grand Teton National Park with Kids:
- Jackson Hole Rodeo
- White Water Rafting the Snake River
- The Free Gondola at Jackson Hole Resort (after 5PM)
- Horseback riding at Colter Bay
- The Jenny Lake Boat Ride and Hike to Inspiration Point
Yellowstone National Park with Kids:
- Old Faithful
- Hiking up Fairy Falls and the Grand Prismatic Lookout
- Mammoth Springs Area
- Hiking the Yellowstone Grand Canyon
- Wildlife Watching in the Lamar Valley
- Swimming in the Boiling River (My Favorite!)
Glacier National Park with Kids:
- Hiking the Rocky Point Trail
- Hiking the Trail of the Cedars
- Driving up the “Going to the Sun Road”
- The Red Bus Tour
- The Many Glacier Boat Tour
- Swimming in Swiftcurrent Lake
- Dining at the Many Glacier Inn
We are not new to road tripping with kids, but even still I learned a lot about myself and my kids on this trip! Our kids are 6, 8, and 9 and they were GREAT ages for the parks.
Tips for Road Tripping to National Parks with Kids:
- Prepare them for the trip with this book! This helped them get excited about the things they were going to see. We also shared the entire itinerary with them before leaving.
- Get a Jr. Ranger Guide for the kids entering each park, if they complete it they can receive a badge leaving the park. This kept my kids involved and occupied even through the long drives. As a part of the Jr. Ranger program we also attended many of the free ranger programs at the visitor centers which they loved.
- Ask the park rangers for hiking suggestions. We chose to do lots of 1-2 mile hikes which kept the kids happy and we were able to see lots of different things. Also ask what berries are edible along the trails, this kept the kids entertained and well fed!
- Get Hydration Packs for the kids, this way no one had to carry water and they all stayed hydrated. **post contains affiliate links**I got these ones for the kids, but I like my Deuter pack better and I wish I would have bought them those. Instead I’m going to replace the bladders on theirs with these Deuter ones which have a wide mouth and are easy to add ice to. I always tucked a few snacks into their bags as well.
- Wear shoes that are good for hiking or water. My son’s Keens proved to work best and that way we could adventure anywhere. Along with good shoes a hat and sunglasses made hikes much more enjoyable!
- Bring binoculars! We didn’t and we ended up buying overpriced crummy ones from a gift shop. I think I’ll get these ones for our next trip! Even though the ones I bought were bad, they loved looking through them and trying to spot animals.
- Pack LOTS of snacks. I appreciated having these single serving Goldfish, Go-go squeeze, and these Cookie Packs. We also kept a cooler full of meat sticks, string cheese, apples, cherries, and adult drinks!
- Because 3G is so spotty, I found the free park maps to be even more helpful that my travel guide or apps! You get them entering the parks, or if you want to plan you can request them ahead of time here!
- Bring simple games like Uno and Spot it. These were great while hanging out in some of the historic lodges, waiting for geysers to erupt, and at our campsites.
- Take time to explore along hikes. This area of fallen trees in the “Trail of the Cedars” was the best outdoor playground ever and swimming along the Swiftcurrent trail was the best swimming spot. We were never in a huge hurry to get to the next spot.
- Either get going bright and early, or plan to stay out past sunset. This is prime time for animal spotting, and since we’re not early risers we opted for sunset viewing. This is when we saw bears, elk, moose, and more!
- Stop for Ice Cream at every opportunity. Ha… ok, this one isn’t too serious, but ice cream was great motivation for getting along, hiking steep hills, or managing long drives!
This was really the absolute BEST road trip we’ve taken as a family! Disconnecting from work was exactly what we all needed! If you’re considering a trip to these National Parks with kids I HIGHLY recommend it! If you’ve got questions about anything that we did feel free to ask! Now that we’re home I’ll be back to sharing DIY & Design with a new energy that comes from getting away from home every once and a while!