Headed to Yosemite? Asking yourself how to survive Yosemite National Park with kids? Here are my top tips.
Our family was blessed to have two entire weeks for an epic summer family vacation – one of our many stops was Yosemite National Park. I’m here to tell you how to survive Yosemite National Park with kids in tow. When the hubs and I were kids, family vacations involved long road trips. We didn’t know anything different. However, our children think 15 minutes across the entire town is long, this means a road trip through California and the massive national park makes riding in the car quite overwhelming. How did we survive?
Electronics – Yes, I am saying it out loud.
I’m just going to throw it out there and be honest – electronics – yes, I am saying it out loud. Judge me if you must. While we do limit daily use of electronics in our home, we do not leave home on vacation without our old iPhones fully charged. Each phone is loaded with favorite apps for each of the kids (currently ages 9, 6 and 4). While they do not get unlimited use of these phones, I have them ready to pull out when the stress level gets high! For some reason I just don’t understand (wink, wink), the phones don’t always have enough charge to be used all the time. They also stay in the car while we venture out on excursions. This is key for your survival in Yosemite National Park with kids!
Food – And lots of it.
This is so simple and the most important, food – and lots of it. All snacking rules go out the window on vacation. If you can live with your kid eating it, pack it! For long road trips, we do take a soft sided cooler. Load it with fruit, cheese and sandwiches in addition to typical fruit snacks, fish crackers and chips. Seriously, just feed them even if it ruins their appetites for meals. I will repeat it one more time in case you missed it, feed them constantly, everyone will be happier.
Junior Ranger Hand Book/The Little Cub Hand Book – Best $3.50 purchase of your vacation.
As soon as you arrive go to the Visitor Center and purchase the Junior Ranger Hand Book or The Little Cub Hand Book! The Junior Ranger Hand Book is for children 7 – 13 years old. For your 3-6 years old, there is The Little Cub Hand Book. Very reasonably priced. I believe they were $3.50 each. With the purchase of the book, your child will also receive a small trash bag and disposable gloves. Your child will need to complete the required number of activities in the book. Those activities also include a guided program (several to choose from) and each child fills their trash bag with liter from around the park. Once completed, they can sign the official Junior Ranger/Little Cub book. Plus they earn their Junior Ranger Badge or Little Cub Pin. Okay, this sounds mildly interesting but what is the big deal?
Kids Now View Yosemite as a Challenge!
Before we made this small purchase, dad says “let’s take this trail to the waterfall!”. He is met with moans and groans and “can we take our phones?” or “my feet hurt”. However, once they were given the simple challenge to fill 3 small trash bags they wanted to take every trail they could find! It was now a game! We carted those 3 trash bags in and out of the minivan for 3 days. (Didn’t want the bears to break in and abscond with them!)
Another story – a fellow park visitor noticed what good stewards of the environment my little ones were. He complimented them on their efforts and gave them all crisp $2 bills! I felt a twinge of guilt they were not doing this kind act out of the goodness of their heart. However, hopefully this small task has made them aware of the mounds of trash discarded and they will continue with their kind acts without the expectation of an award.
The activities in the hand books made this trip to Yosemite an adventure and challenge on the kid level. Consequentially, the parents have excited kids to explore places like Glacier Point and we can experience what a family summer vacation is really supposed to be!
Pictured Above Left: Middle child stops at nothing at Glacier Point to keep it free from liter and to fill his bag first.
Pictured Above Right: All 3 making their pledge to be a responsible Junior Ranger at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center.
Keep it simple.
Keep it simple – follow these tips and you will survive Yosemite National Park with kids too!
Looking for other activities in California? Be sure to read my other travel posts HERE.