National Parks Guide U.S.A.: For Kids but Adult Friendly

national geographic fossil page

Just because a book is written with kids in mind, doesn’t mean an adult shouldn’t claim it. Such is the case with the centennial edition of National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.When it came in the mail, I nabbed it.

The kid companion of National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, recently published to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park system, is snappy, colorful and engaging.  The photos and text combination that fills each page have a get out there and explore the bounty vibe.

book coverAlong with each featured national park overviews, several pages are dedicated to what makes these particular parks important, quirky and spectacular.

Interested in fossils? There are three parks where fossils are the must-sees. Head to Dinosaur National Monument, Fossil Butte National Monument and the Petrified Forest National Monument for lessons in natural history that happened millions of years ago.

How about the spooky? There’s an overview of Alcatraz Island Golden Gate National Recreation Area that has infamous Alcatraz Prison, Great Sand Dunes, Death Valley and Devils Tower National Monument- think UFOs, mobsters and the hottest place on earth.

Or endangered species success stories? Find out how the Gray Wolf, California Condor and Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtle have been helped by the National Park System to combat extinction.

The guidebook’s organization with its consistent layout makes it easy to follow. Regionally divided into sections: The East, The Midwest, The South and The West with corresponding maps that show the states and the park in each region, the guidebook provides a handy lesson in geography, as well as, a mini course in what makes each park so special.

Because each featured park has similar pages such as the “Discover” page with quick tips and facts from  what to wear to where to find the best views, and The “My Check List” and “Dare to Explore” sidebars, a visit to a park is guaranteed to be one of learning and fun.  The format also gives kids a way to have input on a family vacation.

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Put this book in a kid’s hand as you travel through a park and ask for facts and details. I can imagine hearing the, “Did you know that…?” pointing out the highlights along the way and knowing  the best spots to go in the park for the best experiences.

Or just as likely, it will be the adult who will be monopolizing the guidebook with a “Just a few more minutes. I’m almost done.”

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If you do pick up this book, notice the tidy and effective way National Geographic handled the problem of so many parks and not enough pages to cover each one with equal depth.  In the “More National Parks” pages, several parks are covered in more of a list format with condensed down tips. Suggestions for what to do are just a few–for example, “Take it Easy” and “Be Extreme.” Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is one of them. The “Be Extreme” suggestion is to sign up for the 5 mile Wild Cave Tour that involves crawling on your stomach.  If I had this book before my Mammoth Cave trip, I would have known to stop for lunch in the Snowball Room in the Cleveland Avenue section where snowball formations are on the roof. Next time.

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A. Centinneal Edition by Sarah Wassner Flynn and Julie Beer can be ordered from National Geographic or from The list price is $14.99.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein. Photos are from the publicist. I received a copy of the book for review but viewpoints are my own. This book is wonderful.