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Kidding Around

Make the Most of 5 National Parks, With Kids in Tow

Getting your children to appreciate the great outdoors sometimes requires a little coaxing. But these cool programs will have the kids dragging you to the nearest national park.

Yosemite National Park

Learn about nature through an art class at the Yosemite Art Center at Yosemite Village, California. Most of the year-round classes are open to all ages, covering methods like watercolors, impressionism and landscape painting.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grab an apron, goggles and gloves for a hands-on learning experience about the history of blacksmithing. On Tuesdays in summer, join a ranger dressed in period costume to ply the trade in a 100-year-old shed in Cades Cove on the Tennessee side of the park. Activities include helping with the fire, bending steel to create triangles or hammering out bells.

Everglades National Park

Kids ages 12 and up can get their feet wet on one of the ranger-led Wild Walk in the Wilderness tours through Shark River Slough, the main source of fresh water for the 1.5-million-acre park in south Florida. Participants don muck boots through shallower parts of the slough, known as the “River of Grass,” learning about bugs, wildlife and aquaculture along the way.

Grand Teton National Park

Experience this national park in Wyoming like a true adventurer with a Nature Explorer’s backpack from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center. Each pack comes equipped a journal, lenses, field-guide cards and other activities tailored for kids ages 6 to 12 for self-guided hikes (with parental supervision).

Badlands National Park

Invoke the wonders of “Jurassic Park” at the Fossil Preparation Lab in the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Watch scientists work on fossils recently found in the park, learn about the process and explore exhibits about the history of the park in southwestern South Dakota.

*Photo by Cultura RM/ Alamy.

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