Discover the best West Coast National Parks for kids, the perfect vacation destination for outdoorsy families.
National Parks on the West Coast are beautiful and varied.
Depending on where on the West Coast you are, Western National Parks take the form of pristine mountain scenery, magical woodlands, coastal landscapes, otherworldly deserts, all unique and with something special to offer to families with kids of all ages who decide to vacation in them.
West Coast National Parks were the first we visited with the kids and those that made us fall in love with national park vacations.
These are some of the best West Coast National Parks for kids, perfect for an outdoorsy family vacation.
List of West Coast National Park + Map
National Parks on the West Coast are in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
The West Coast National Parks are:
|Name of park||State||Type of landscape|
|Yosemite National Park||California||Alpine peaks, green valley|
|Olympic National Park||Washington||Alpine and coastal, forests|
|Joshua Tree National Park||California||Desert|
|Death Valley National Park||California||Desert|
|Lassen Volcanic National park||California||Mountains, geothermal pools|
|Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park||California||Giant sequoias, caves, mountain trails|
|Pinnacles National Park||California||Rock formations, woodlands|
|Crater Lake National Park||Oregon||Lake, forests|
|Mount Rainier National Park||Washington||Mountains|
|Channel Islands National Park||California||Marine landscape, islands|
There are also 14 parks in Alaska and 2 in Hawaii.
For this family list, we focus only on the West Coast National parks in the states of California, Oregon and Washington.
USA National Parks on the West Coast that are great for kids
Yosemite National Park – fabulous West Coast National Park for families with small kids
Yosemite National park is one of the most famous National Parks in the country and a favorite for families with kids.
Located in Northern California, the park is UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is famous for stunning mountain scenery, characterized by massive grantees peaks towering over a green and welcoming valley.
Yosemite has plenty on offer for families, especially in spring and summer when the park turns into a real playground for active kids.
In Yosemite, you have many kid-friendly hikes, lots of beautiful and easy to access waterfalls, you can go cycling, tubing on the Merced river, participate in a junior ranger program and learn about bears!
You can find here our >>> Guide to visiting Yosemite with kids <<<
On top of this, Yosemite has plenty of family friendly accommodation options that make it easy to explore with children in tow.
Find here our >>> guide to family accommodation in Yosemite <<< with all our top picks of family-friendly properties in and around the park.
Olympic National Park – great West Coast national park for kids in Washington State
Olympic National Park is in Washington State and is a wonderful West Coast National Park for kids as it showcases several wonderful natural ecosystems of this area: from alpine scenery to forests and even the coast!
Olympic is a large park with many things to do: if your family loves hiking, you will find here several kid-friendly trails that make Olympic one of the best family hiking spots in the US.
If you prefer coastal scenery, Olympic has some stunning beaches (although as you can imagine, they are cold!) and offers children the opportunity to learn about them with a specialized junior ranger program on the marine environment (Ocean Stewards Junior Ranger program), in addition to the main park program for kids.
In terms of lodging, the park has nice family-friendly lodges and resorts that are perfect to experience the spirit of the place (think nature, green, trees, streams, waterfalls!) and that have lots of convenient facilities for families with kids.
You can find lodging options in Olympic >>> here <<<
Joshua Tree National Park – fabulous West Coast National Park for kids to enjoy the desert
One of our favorite West Coast National Park for kids, especially primary-school-age ones, is the wonderful Joshua Tree, Southern California.
Joshua Tree is a National Park like no other.
It is located where two different desert systems meet, the Mohave desert and the Colorado Desert, and it is often described as otherwordly as being here feels like visiting a different planet.
The park has large expanses with scattered Joshua Trees, yucca plants that look like people with their arms lifted to the sky (you can learn about the origin of their name among these fun facts about Joshua Tree for kids) and there are many family-friendly hikes that are perfect to explore the park at any age.
The park has an excellent junior ranger program with amazing talks for kids and chil-friendly activities and it is also small enough to be visited in a day or two, if you only have a weekend in the area.
There are no lodging options inside the park but there are several getaway towns to the park with great family-friendly hotels and Palm Springs is also nearby with its family resorts.
Read all about this park in our full >>> Guide to Joshua Tree with kids <<<
Death Valley National Park – for kids to explore the lowest spot on Earth!
Another fantastic National Park on the West Coast for kids is Death Valley.
The park is famous for being the lowest spot on earth in terms of elevation and also one of the hottest, however, this doesn’t prevent it from being a great place for kids!
The park is huge and there is plenty to see and do.
Incredible rock formations, endless desert landscapes, the unique Badwater Basin are all great places for kids to see while in terms of activities, you can join the junior ranger program, go horseriding (kids age 9 and up), visit a ghost town or stargaze – bring a kids portable telescope to make the most of the dark nights in the desert!
Family accommodation is available in Furnace Creek. Just try to avoid coming in summer for obvious temperature issues!
Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to the largest volcanic dome in North America and is a cool West Coast park to visit with kids.
Located in Northern California, the park was created after the last eruption of the volcano as a way to preserve and study the geology of earth and now is a cool place for family hikes.
Here, children can explore a landscape that feels truly otherwordly, walking on boardwalks above geothermal pools and also enjoy easy hikes with beautiful mountain views.
The whole idea of the volcano is exciting for kids and the park also offer junior ranger programs for kids and a volcano club that is perfect to learn about the area while having fun. For geologists in the making!
Plan your visit with the info >>> here <<<
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, California
As the name suggests, Sequoia is a wonderful West Coast National Park for kids who want to see giant redwoods, typical of this area.
Sequoia was the first park to be established for the protection of a living thing, the coastal redwood typical of this area, and it is a great place for kids thanks to the many family hikes allowing them to admire the giant trees and climb the stunning mountains of this park and even explore its caves!
The park has a good junior ranger program and you can download the activity booklet for free at home >>> here <<< so your kids can start getting excited about the trip!
Pinnacles National Park, California
Pinnacles National Park is one of the lesser-visited West Coast National Parks but it is a great place for families who love to hike and a special place if you have kids interested in caves.
The park is special for its peculiar rock formations that were created by a volcanic eruption 23 million years ago: these formations take the shape of peculiar pinnacles, hence the name of the park, but also created caves that you can now visit!
Bring your own flashlight and ask the rangers to point you to the most suitable trails and caves for your speleologist in the making!
The park has a good junior ranger program: you can collect the booklet at the park visitors centre on arrival or download it for free >>> here <<<
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park is a wonderful family-friendly park in Oregon, which takes its name from a large lake formed by the collapse of a large volcano!
This park is a place of pristine natural beauty, with the blue waters of the lake surround by green forests and beautiful trails.
Here, you can go on a scenic drive or you can hike (there are several family-friendly trails), bike, go boating and swimming in summer, although the water is not exactly warm.
In winter, you can also come to Crater Lake for snow and winter activities for all ages.
The park has a great junior ranger program and you can download the booklet with kids activities for free >>> here <<<
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier National park is a wonderful park for families who love mountain scenery and hiking.
Mount Rainier itself is a tall volcano covered by glaciers and it is a stunning backdrop to the several hiking and nature trails in the valley.
Kids here can walk and see the wildflowers in the good season and in winter they can enjoy snow sports like sledding and snowshoeing.
The park is less than 2 hours from Seattle which also makes it very easy to visit with kids, should you avoid being too far from a big center or are flying in from far away.
Channel Islands National Park, California
Channel Islands National par is one of the lesser-visited National Parks in California and one of the most peculiar, it being made by a group of islands in front of the central California coast!
The insular nature of the park means that it is only accessible by boat and that you may need a little more planning to come here with the kids but also that you can treat them to an area that not many get to see.
The park is made of 5 islands and they offer different activities such as kayaking and boating and hiking, and they are perfect for adventurous kids who love the water and unspoiled nature.
The park is near Ventura CA, and part of it can be visited on a day trip from the coast. You can find all info to plan a trip to Channel island national park with kids >>> here <<<
Redwood National Park, California
Redwood National Park is on the Northern California Coast and it is famous for its incredible redwoods, fantastic wildlife and variety of natural habitats and landscapes.
Visiting for kids is a real treat: here, the children can see the giant trees following family-friendly trails, they can go tide pooling, they can join the fun junior ranger program and they can rest and admire the park from the car on one of the park’s scenic drives.
Thanks to the coastal position, the park is also one of the best West Coast National parks for admire wildlife: here the kids can even go whale watching!
You can find all the info about planning a trip to Redwoods National Park >>> here <<<
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of some of the best West Coast national parks for kids and it gave you ideas for your next family vacation/ Safe travel panning!
Other family vacation ideas in the US you may like
- Best hiking spots for families in the US
- The best things to do in Southern California with kids on your first visit
West Coast National Parks for kids – pin this!