3 national parks to take your kids to in California

If you follow me on Instagram than you probably know that we just recently got back from a family trip to Zion National Park. As I mentioned awhile back in this post, we are big fans of National Parks and we try and visit one every year. They have well-maintained facilities, lots of great programs, interactive visitor centers, and lots of history.
Here are some of our favorite ones in California that are great for taking your little ones to! In no particular order...

//Yosemite National Park//
Well, of course you can't talk about National Parks not to miss, especially those in the state of California, and not bring up Yosemite! Anyone who has visited Yosemite can tell you that it is VERY popular, which translates to VERY crowded for most of the year. It was the third most visited National Park in 2014, with 3,882,642 visitors. If you're planning a visit, you need to plan early, especially if you're hoping to get a spot in the valley, which is probably the most popular section of the park. Once Labor Day has passed then the park becomes much less busy and you generally still have nice weather through early Fall, but most of the impressive waterfalls that Yosemite is famous for will be dried up. However, the water levels will probably be low enough where it's safer to actually get in the rivers and streams and cool off a little bit. Late Spring, early Summer is a nice time to visit to enjoy the beauty of the park, but it's going to be really crowded and hard to get a reservation. So there are a lot of things you want to think about if you're trying to decide when to go. I definitely recommend the Nature Center at Happy Isles if you're going with your kids, and if you're able to bring bikes, do so! With the shuttles in Yosemite Valley getting as full as they do, it's a great way to get around, and the valley is very bike friendly!

//Sequoia National Park//
Did you know that Sequoia National Park is the second oldest National Park in the US, being made an official National Park in 1890? Mike and I have yet to go to Sequoia National Park with our children, but we loved it when we went for our second anniversary and we know our kids will love it too someday! I recommend going early in the season (June) and making sure you visit the "big tree" part of the park. There are lots of easy, but rewarding hikes that even young children should be able to do. Be sure to visit the General Sherman Tree, take the easy trail to Tokopah Falls, and visit the visitor centers. I've also heard that Crystal Cave is pretty cool, but we didn't have a chance to stop last time we were there. We stayed at the Dorst Creek Campground and enjoyed it, but Lodgepole seemed to be closer to some of the more "popular" parts of the park, although we had several trails leave right from our campground that we didn't even have to drive to!

//Lassen Volcanic National Park//
I feel like Lassen is sort of the hidden gem of the National Park service, I seem to remember reading once that it was one of the most under-utilized National Parks, which is really too bad. I think this might be my favorite one in the state, it is such a unique and beautiful place, all four types of volcanoes that can found in the entire world can be found here! And if you're a fan of the geysers and boiling springs and mud pits of Yellowstone National Park, you'll love all the amazing hydrothermal features the park has to offer! Keep in mind if you go too early in the year (Spring-early Summer) then some areas of the park might not be open yet (such as Bumpass Hell). And if you're a fan of star-gazing, Lassen has some incredible programs for aspiring astronomers and enthusiasts. I recommend the Kings Creek trail (bring bug repellent!!) and the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail, which is a nice and easy .5 miles and is even paved!

Have you been to any National Parks in California? Which one is your favorite? For a full list of California parks //go here//.

(Some links contain affiliates, all opinions are my own!)