How to plan the ultimate national park adventure with kids

Across the country, all National Park Service entrance fees will be waived during National Park Week (April 16-24, 2016) and you’ll find special activities, starting with National Junior Ranger Day Saturday, April 16, when parks and monuments host kid-oriented activities, debuting the new Centennial Junior Ranger booklet and badge.

Throughout National Parks Week, many parks will also host Every Kid in a Park events, which encourages fourth-grade students to visit national parks and other public lands by offering a free annual pass. This year’s National Park Service Centennial is a great time to go.

Just in New Mexico, a popular spring break and summer family destination, you have your choice of 10 national monuments that offer a wide range of experiences – climbing up ladders to peer into ancient pueblo dwellings, sliding down the huge sand dunes at White Sands National Monument, exploring the history of the Manhattan Project and the beginning of the atomic age at the newly designated National Historic Park in Los Alamos. Learn all about stalactites, stalagmites and bats at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

The petroglyphs are amazing – a turkey here, a face there, one that looks like an alien – there are nearly 1,000. Archaeologists believe the ancestral pueblo people are descended from groups of hunters and gatherers who came here more than 10,000 years ago; they lived here roughly between the 1100s and 1500s. The Bandelier park museum is a good place to learn more before you head out into the park.

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