Head for America’s backyard this summer. Kids of all ages can play to their hearts content: hiking, biking, camping, caving and more! We’ve searched from sea to shining sea to find the best National Parks for families, and with scenic drives, exploring crystal caverns and fawning over fossils, these 13 offer perks and sights the littles will love.

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

Calling all paleontologists! Dinosaur National Monument in Utah is a digger’s dream. Over 1,500 dinosaur bones are still encased in the rock at Dinosaur Quarry exhibit hall, and visitors can view reconstructed dinosaur fossils, as well.

Why We Dig It
The Dinosaur Quarry gives kids a view of the fossils in their natural state (instead of removed, cleaned, and reassembled), and when you’ve checked out the dino-box there are plenty of other activities (including hiking and kayaking on the Green River) to explore. For more dino-tastic adventures, head to nearby Vernal, home to the Utah Field House of Natural History, which boasts an interactive digging exhibit, a walk through time and 14 life-size dinosaur replicas.

When to Go
Try to go in May and June, when the temperatures range from the 40’s and 50’s to 70’s and 80’s. Because Dinosaur is a National Monument (not a National Park), you can expect a break from the crush of summer visitors, as well.

Who to Take
If a kid exists who is not fascinated by dinosaurs, we haven’t met her yet. This is an awesome trip for the entire family.

Onlinewww.nps.gov/dino

Photo: Gabby Cullen

Which National Park is on your bucket list and why? Tell us in the comments section below!

— Shelley Massey