National Park trip w/1 year old infant

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Johnny Thinwallet
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National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:59 pm

We're currently researching vacation options for summer of 2018 and Bogleheads may be able to provide some helpful guidance! My wife and I originally discussed a joint trip to Yosemite and wine country, however, my wife is struggling with the idea of leaving our son back home in Ohio for a week because she fears she would miss him too much. Now we are considering a possible trip where we simply bring him along, and while wine country + Yosemite might not be that trip, there are plenty of other national parks we'd love to visit.

So my key question: Which national parks would be more suitable and enjoyable with a one-year-old in tow and would allow us to participate in hikes in which we see the park's main features?

Some key assumptions:

1) We would have adjusted assumptions on understanding that we can't do as much with him as we could do without him. We are not campers, but we do enjoy day hikes. An ideal park with him in tow would be one in which we could experience the park's key features without very strenuous or dangerous hikes. For example, we wouldn't be hiking Angel's Landing in Zion. And we probably would want to stay away from parks that require loads of bug spray and/or get extremely hot and may pose a dehydration risk. We'd be game for a five or six mile moderately strenuous hike with our son, but would probably shy away from a 10+ mile strenuous hike.

2) We would very much like to visit one of the parks in the western half of the continental US since we've already experienced many of the parks in eastern half. We took our son at 3 months old in September to Cuyahoga Valley and he loved being outside looking at the trees. Before we had our son, we had already visited Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Shenandoah is the closest park that we haven't visited, but that would be more of a long weekend trip some other time.

3) We would plan to have the appropriate and necessary hiking gear for our son and would very likely put him in a backpack carrier. He loves his front facing carrier now at five months. Once he's old enough for a backpack carrier we would do plenty of practice and testing with one in the several months leading up to the trip.

Any suggestions and/or anything else I'm missing? Appreciate the help!

livesoft
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by livesoft » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:09 pm

Yellowstone is a park where hiking is not required and there is lots and lots of driving to do. Drive. Stop. Drive. Stop. Drive. Stop. One can hike if one wants to, but a stroller or wheelchair will get you to most all of the sights. There are boardwalks and well-paved walkways from almost every parking lot.
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sport
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by sport » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:14 pm

livesoft wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:09 pm
Yellowstone is a park where hiking is not required and there is lots and lots of driving to do. Drive. Stop. Drive. Stop. Drive. Stop. One can hike if one wants to, but a stroller or wheelchair will get you to most all of the sights. There are boardwalks and well-paved walkways from almost every parking lot.
We did Yellowstone with two toddlers. Livesoft's description is accurate. However, there are some dangerous areas for a little one to get into if he is walking. We had the two kids in harnesses with a leash. Some people said tsk tsk. Other people told us how smart we were. We did not want them to fall into a pool of boiling water.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:58 pm

There's nothing wrong with your original idea. There are shorter hikes in Yosemite including making it to Vernal Falls (all paved) around the Valley floor (much of that is actually bikeable) and depending on what time of year Glacier Point and parts of Tuolumne Meadows. You can read more about the hiking here: https://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

When I take folks to Yosemite I start with the Valley Bus tour. Very family friendly and informative. Once you get the overview you can go back to the Valley floor and take a shuttle to many of the trailheads.

There's a healthy wine scene in the Gold Country (between Sacramento and Yosemite) and surrounding areas much of which is family friendly. No it's not Napa (or Sonoma) but quite frankly I think it's a good thing. Much of Napa has gotten too snobby and pricy that we rarely go there any more. We are members of a couple of wineries in the Dry Creek area (outside of Healdsburg in Sonoma County) which are also family friendly. Frances Ford Coppola's winery and resort which is just up the road was designed for families.

Have fun!

livesoft
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by livesoft » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:06 pm

I was just in Yosemite earlier this year (have been a few times before) and Yellowstone about a year ago. Yosemite is great, but for me the choice for a family with a toddler is Yellowstone. Also one can pop down to Grand Teton National Park when visiting Yellowstone if one has time, so you can get a two-fer. Jackson Hole airport is a great, simple airport, so it a good place to start from, too.
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by nisiprius » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:14 pm

The basic way to "do" Pictured Rocks, the only easy way to see them, is via a tour boat. I don't know if that's good or bad for your purposes. We took the tour boat, we loved it.

We absolutely loved Badlands National Park. We were traveling with our dog, putting many restrictions on us--dogs are only allowed in the parking lots, not on the hiking trails. Badlands, like many of the national parks, has a marvelous loop road and you can enjoy it thoroughly just by parking, stepping out, walking a few hundred feet, lather, rinse, repeat.

The same thing was true of Devils Tower, which is fairly small. Basically, you walk around the tower on a paved path, which takes 1-2 hours. And then that's it, unless you're a technical climber!
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by bumblebh » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:40 pm

Grand Canyon National Park is consideration, maybe not the best place to visit during summer though because of heat, but you can hike partway down into canyon with a one year old and then back out. Its not as strenuous as claimed if you are prepared for the hike and heat overall. Sedona AZ is not far from Grand Canyon also and absolutely beautiful scenery. Not sure about wineries in the area though.

If you are interested in staying east and if you haven't been to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore in Michigan it is certainly a place to put on the to do list. Quite a few hiking trails from strenuous to easy. There are quite a few wineries in that area also.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by F150HD » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:47 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:14 pm
The basic way to "do" Pictured Rocks, the only easy way to see them, is via a tour boat. I don't know if that's good or bad for your purposes. We took the tour boat, we loved it.
did you swing by the Pickle Barrel House Museum as well? :happy

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by celia » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:01 pm

Your son will weigh a lot more by summer, but if you carry him each day, you will be used to the increasing weight. With a toddler, I wouldn't plan a specific hike since you probably want to be flexible in case he is cranky, sick, or he has "other plans". He won't understand jet lag like you do.

Johnny Thinwallet
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:01 pm

Thanks all for those who've responded (and please keep them coming!).

Yellowstone and Yosemite are near the very, very top of my must-see list, which would lean me toward wanting to go there no matter what. On the other hand, I feel those trips are so big that I'd want to do them with absolutely no restrictions whatsover and I wonder if I feel like I'd be missing a lot by being restricted with our son. Not sure if that makes sense. I definitely see the argument of if it's a must-see then don't wait and go see it.

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:14 pm
We absolutely loved Badlands National Park. We were traveling with our dog, putting many restrictions on us--dogs are only allowed in the parking lots, not on the hiking trails. Badlands, like many of the national parks, has a marvelous loop road and you can enjoy it thoroughly just by parking, stepping out, walking a few hundred feet, lather, rinse, repeat.

The same thing was true of Devils Tower, which is fairly small. Basically, you walk around the tower on a paved path, which takes 1-2 hours. And then that's it, unless you're a technical climber!
Badlands was actually one of the alternatives I was considering and perhaps adding on one or more nearby parks if time was permitting. Other than perhaps the 10 mile Castle Trail, it looks like we could probably do most everything else with our son in tow.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by livesoft » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:16 pm

Yosemite is great with teenagers and young adults. Even tweens who can walk up a mountain would enjoy it, but they also have to be able to walk down. :) And ski-camping in Yosemite is another fantastic experience.

Yellowstone is certainly worth multiple trips, so do one now and another when the kids are older.
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by riverguy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:28 pm

Around one year old seems like one of the worst times to bring a kid on vacation. They are just starting to walk, get rather cranky when they need naps, and are eating solid food. They are also going to start being more independent and not want to be strapped in a chest or back carrier.

The time to travel with babies is when you can carry them in the carrier all day, they will sleep in the carrier and they are satisfied with a bottle.

Bringing the kid also brings restrictions on what you can do on your trip.

Been to Europe twice with an infant under 6 mo and across the US as well. I would never want to bring a one year old on vacation. Leave baby at home with Grandma and Grandpa or whoever else. He will be fine.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by gnujoe2001 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:43 pm

Haven't been to Yosemite yet, but National Parks with little ones is very doable at least on the "easy" trails. Back in September we went to Arches, and wife and I took turns with the < 1 yr old in the carrier, while walking with our 6 and 4 year old. Usual tip applies of bringing plenty of water and replenishing eats with you.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by johan_s » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:16 pm

Good for you! You could take several trips to the icon parks (Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, etc. and still not see all the park’s features, so if your heart is set on one them, I’d say go for it. My wife and I have an almost five year old. We took him in Mammoth Cave at four months and backpacking in Maine at six months and quite a few National Parks since. He’s good to hike about five miles now, so start ‘em young! But I can understand if you wanted to save the big icon parks until the kid is older and can hike with you, here’s some other quick thoughts.

Some other coastal California options would be Point Reyes National Seashore/Muir Woods/John Muir National Historic Site/Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site all in the Bay Area. They are smaller, but include some scenic hikes and some historic sites. Redwood National Park would also fit the bill.. and would not be terribly far from Crater Lake and Oregon Caves. And you could squeeze in some wineries and/or breweries in both of those locations.

If you want to visit an absolute gem that is highly underrated: Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada. There are several spectacular hikes at elevation (~9000 - 10,000 feet) to a small glacier, alpine lakes, and bristlecone pines. The bristelcone are the oldest living (non-cloning) organisms on the planet. There is also a magnificently decorated marble cave that is open for tours. And the night skies are some of the darkest in the nation. Accommodations are limited in the area and it’s about 4 hours from an airport, so it’s a haul. But much less crowded than the icon parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park is also spectacular and much easier to get to than Great Basin. Great drives and plenty of hikes that fit your criteria. We used to live in Lawrence, KS and took our son there when he was two and three. Some great hikes up at elevation with a range of distances to get in to the high country.

Bear in mind that hiking in arid climates at elevation will dehydrate you quicker than low-elevation hikes in more humid climates, even if the ambient air temperatures are not exceedingly high. So hydrate accordingly.

Happy trails.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by folkher0 » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:57 pm

We did Yellowstone this fall with our 2 year old. We had an absolute blast. Normally we would camp but in late September we didn’t want to do subfreezing nights with a toddler, so we got a nice suite in West Yellowstone and made it our base.

A few tips:

The suite with full kitchen was really nice. We could prepare meals when we wanted to and not have to worry about a meltdown tantrum in a restaurant.

Get a good kid carrier. Osprey makes a nice one, we use the deuter kid carrier 3. Make sure you and your child get comfortable with it. We take our kid on weekly hikes so it wasn’t an issue but you don’t want to strap the kid in the first time in the woods and have him/her lose it on you 3 miles into a 6 mike hike.

For us the farther we get from crowds the happier we are. 95% of the Yellowstone traffic is on the board walks. If you are willing to do anything even slightly more adventurous you will be rewarded. It’s a huge park with a great variety of activities.

Don’t miss the Tetons if you’re there. Just go.

Before you book anything be aware of road closures. If you’re not staying in a lodge in the park or camping, you are likely either in West Yellowstone or Gardiner. I’m glad we were in West Yellowstone because the road connecting gardiner to points south of mammoth springs was closed. If we had stayed up there, it would have been extremely difficult to see much of the park and a 4 hour drive to the Tetons.

It is was very rewarding to take the little guy to the park. Now every time he see steam from the shower or the dishwasher he screams “ITS A GEYSER!!!” He goes to sleep with a stuffed bison. Worth it.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by mhc » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:37 am

We have always done National Parks with our children, even when they were still in the womb. The first time we did Yellowstone, I carried my 3 year old in a backpack, and my wife carried our 1 year old in a front carrier. No problem.

Yellowstone is by far my favorite NP. Glacier is also nice and very family friendly. If you go there, visit the Canadian side.

Moab is also wonderful. Go in the Spring or Fall. You have access to Arches NP and Canyonland NP.

Colorado is full of National Parks too. Try Great Sand Dunes in early June when the river is running. Mesa Verde is a must see. Rocky is simply beautiful. There are a lot of other fun things to do in the state as a family (Glennwood Springs hot springs pool, Ouray hot springs, Royal Gorge train).

One thing we learned is that little ones don't always do well with elevation. Kind of depends on how well their ears clear.

My oldest is 14 now. He has been to over 50 National Parks and National Monuments. We try to hit several every year.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by lthenderson » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:48 am

We never stopped or slowed down our outdoor pursuits with either of our children at any age. We always used a combination of backpacks made for children on your back or front and off road three wheeled strollers. I thought perhaps the most difficult age was when the kids were between three to four years old. They would want to walk which would slow everything down for a time until the tired up enough to move back to the off road stroller. Best of all, when the kids outgrew all that gear, there seemed to be a pretty good market for used equipment so we recouped quite a bit of the initial cost to outfit them.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Rupert » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:18 am

+1 for Yellowstone/Grand Teton. Consider this first trip your highlight trip, where you mostly drive the figure-8 road in Yellowstone, see the big touristy stuff, and stop for short hikes (which there are lots of). Then go back when your kid is older to explore the backcountry. The prior poster was right about Yellowstone being dangerous for off-leash toddlers. Be prepared to keep your kid restrained in some way at all times. You can encounter thermal features on hikes all over the park (not just in the thermal basins), and some of them aren't marked.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Andyrunner » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:29 am

I took my 4 year old and 1 year old (11 months at the time) to Mount Rainier and Olympic NP. Wherever you go I highly recommend getting a good quality hiking backpack. we have the Dueter II and it works great.

Rocky Mountain would work, Mount Rainier would work, I have never been to yellow stone but you really just need to find close lodging and work around nap/feeding times (sleeping in the backpack works most of the time).

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:33 am

Yosemite is one of the most wonderful places I have ever visited. Went there (with small son) in the 80's.

Some children travel well and some are a "nightmare". Our son, even at the toddler stage, traveled very well - he loved it.

My guess is that the bigger issue is not so much where you go -- BUT how your child will deal with travel - and how you and/or your wife deal with it.

Later on, in the teen years (starting slightly earlier) - he was a very, very difficult young man. Now, in his 30's he has, fortunately, become a productive member of society. :)

It is interesting that he remembers the trips we took when he was young - and these travels seem to have made a positive impact on him and his relationship with us (now).

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Hoosier » Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:02 pm

A topic close to home...
My wife and I decided that we would not let having kids stop us from going places we enjoyed. Quick summary of our trips...

When my oldest was one year old our summer vacation consisted of taking the Amtrak Empire Builder overnight from Chicago to Glacier National park. Rented a car and stayed mostly at the Swiftcurrent lodge in the Many Glacier area... Some of the best day hiking in the world at your doorstep. After several days, got back on the Empire Builder and traveled to Seattle. Rented a car a drove to Mount Rainier for a day and then to Olympic National park for several days. I still remember the comments from people we met who had left their kids at home and regretted it when they saw our kid having a good ol' time just being a one year old. Flew home from Seattle.

Our 2nd child came along the next spring and we took a trip with both boys to the Maine coast with several days in Acadia. A little more low key with less hiking and more car travel, but loved it.

The next year our oldest was 3 and our youngest was 1... we flew to Calgary and did 4 national parks in Canada. Stayed a few days in Jasper and a few days near Lake Louise... The Canadian parks tend to be a little less rustic and more likely to have pavement or hand rails and such on hikes or viewpoints. Highly recommend if you are concerned about such things.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:31 pm

Hoosier wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 12:02 pm
A topic close to home...
My wife and I decided that we would not let having kids stop us from going places we enjoyed. Quick summary of our trips...
When my oldest was one year old our summer vacation consisted of taking the Amtrak Empire Builder overnight from Chicago to Glacier National park. Rented a car and stayed mostly at the Swiftcurrent lodge in the Many Glacier area... Some of the best day hiking in the world at your doorstep. After several days, got back on the Empire Builder and traveled to Seattle. Rented a car a drove to Mount Rainier for a day and then to Olympic National park for several days. I still remember the comments from people we met who had left their kids at home and regretted it when they saw our kid having a good ol' time just being a one year old. Flew home from Seattle.
Our 2nd child came along the next spring and we took a trip with both boys to the Maine coast with several days in Acadia. A little more low key with less hiking and more car travel, but loved it.
The next year our oldest was 3 and our youngest was 1... we flew to Calgary and did 4 national parks in Canada. Stayed a few days in Jasper and a few days near Lake Louise... The Canadian parks tend to be a little less rustic and more likely to have pavement or hand rails and such on hikes or viewpoints. Highly recommend if you are concerned about such things.
Good for you..

For reasons I do not understand, some children do not travel well at all. If you have such children, family travel may not make sense.

In this aspect, we were fortunate that we did travel when our son was little. I was able to combine some work paid trips with such travel at the time -- so our costs were low.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by livesoft » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:35 pm

My kids don't travel well with mom, but they travel well with dad. It's always been this way.
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:00 pm

livesoft wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:35 pm
My kids don't travel well with mom, but they travel well with dad. It's always been this way.

Interesting ... Lots of variations ...

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by sport » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:12 pm

We travelled with the two kids in car seats in the outside rear seats. We had a toy box between them. It was interesting when we travelled into Canada. The Canadian border agent asked "what's in the box?". I smiled and said "that's the toy box". There were no more questions.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by AlwaysAStudent » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:24 pm

No matter where you go (and even at home) I would see if you can find a "Hike it Baby" group in the area. They focus on getting out and hiking with young kids, they would be a great resource for good hikes in the area you are going with your restrictions in mind.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by warner25 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:32 pm

We took a trip to do some hiking in a state park this past summer with our two kids, 9 months and almost 3 years old. We did four short hikes and learned some lessons for next summer.

Attempt #1 was about a mile through the woods around our cabin, trying to make the toddler walk with us while the infant napped in her carrier. OK for the first half, but then the toddler slipped and fell and got muddy and very upset, waking up the infant. I ended up carrying the toddler in my arms for most of the second half. Our takeaway was that we should get a toddler carrier for this stuff.

Attempt #2 was on a boardwalk with the infant in a stroller, and the toddler walking. It was great, but of course very short. Our takeaway was that handicap accessible things are a good starting point for small children.

Attempt #3 was about three miles round-trip on a rougher trail to a great view. I just sucked it up and carried the toddler in my arms essentially the whole way from the beginning, otherwise it would have taken hours. The infant was supposed to sleep in her carrier but had a difficult time with the afternoon sun and heat. Thankfully mom is still breastfeeding and was able to offer hydration easily as needed. Our takeaway, again, was that we need a toddler carrier.

Attempt #4 was about three miles round-trip on a smoother trail, but with a steep 1,000-foot climb in elevation. We actually put the toddler in the stroller for this one, and I pushed up the mountain. Our stroller is a Summit X3 with big rubber tires, and it did the job. It wasn't the hardest physical thing I've ever done as an athlete, but it was memorable.

The biggest issue we had was getting enough time to go somewhere and do things in between naps/bedtime. Many attractions involved a fairly long car ride just to reach the starting point, or get back to our cabin, and things like eating meals further cut into that time. If your kids nap well in their car-seat, great, but ours don't. Just eating ad-hoc meals and snacks on-the-go was helpful. Next time I'll be very careful to make a plan that involves as little driving as possible, but I suspect this is difficult with big national parks, including Shenandoah which we are planning for next summer.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:23 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:01 pm
Thanks all for those who've responded (and please keep them coming!).

Yellowstone and Yosemite are near the very, very top of my must-see list, which would lean me toward wanting to go there no matter what. On the other hand, I feel those trips are so big that I'd want to do them with absolutely no restrictions whatsover and I wonder if I feel like I'd be missing a lot by being restricted with our son. Not sure if that makes sense. I definitely see the argument of if it's a must-see then don't wait and go see it.

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:14 pm
We absolutely loved Badlands National Park. We were traveling with our dog, putting many restrictions on us--dogs are only allowed in the parking lots, not on the hiking trails. Badlands, like many of the national parks, has a marvelous loop road and you can enjoy it thoroughly just by parking, stepping out, walking a few hundred feet, lather, rinse, repeat.

The same thing was true of Devils Tower, which is fairly small. Basically, you walk around the tower on a paved path, which takes 1-2 hours. And then that's it, unless you're a technical climber!
Badlands was actually one of the alternatives I was considering and perhaps adding on one or more nearby parks if time was permitting. Other than perhaps the 10 mile Castle Trail, it looks like we could probably do most everything else with our son in tow.
Name a national park in the west and I could find a way to enjoy it with a 1 year old. I would also lament having my 1 year old for all the activities we would have to skip. So I would pick a park I would have to change my activities the least, if I were unlikely to return there on my own. I’d also avoid Zion, Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, etc in the summer as they’re too hot. Bryce could be good but it’s small. Olympic NP could be great for a week, though some of the trails are straight up (steep and long, hard carrying a child). But there is a lot of variety and the weather will not be hot. Except mountain climbing and backpacking, I think you can do everything in Olympic with a 1 year old that you can do without.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by DVMResident » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:08 pm

I do quite a bit of hiking with our infant and make heavy use of Osprey Child Carrier instead of stroller. It has so much greater mobility, is less of a hassle, and has cover for sun/rain (imaged in some of the reviews). The mobility has opened up most trails and has completely replaced my general stroller use.

If this option works for you, I don't think you'll be limited to parks that are "kid friendly."

There are couple models and companies that make similar packs. I like the Osprey, but look around REI to see which one fits. I'd added a curved neck pillow (the ones designed for flights) for when the kid falls asleep.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:11 pm

I carried my daughter til she was 3; but between food, water, diapers, her, etc., the pack pushed 50# by the end, and depending on one’s fitness level, that may no longer qualify as ‘fun.’ My day hikes shrank in length until the day I stopped carrying her, at which point they grew again.

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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by fortfun » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:22 pm

With a one year old, it should be Great Sand Dunes National Park! Try to go early in the summer because the little stream will still be running. You will not find a better Ntl park for a one year old--I guarantee it! There is some great hiking in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range there too! The San Juan mountain range is just on the other side of the valley. Follow the Sand Dunes Facebook page and you'll see the most amazing pictures you can imagine. Fruita and the Grand Junction are (western slope) are beginning to produce some excellent wine. Maybe you could make a side trip there.

folkher0
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by folkher0 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:10 pm

AlwaysAStudent wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:24 pm
No matter where you go (and even at home) I would see if you can find a "Hike it Baby" group in the area. They focus on getting out and hiking with young kids, they would be a great resource for good hikes in the area you are going with your restrictions in mind.
I will second the recommendation for “Hike it Baby.” My wife got us involved soon after our first child was born. It has been a wonderful opportunity to spend time outside and make great friends. Our son is more comfortable outdoors than in the house. The organization has tons of knowledge about getting outdoors with infants and toddlers which really helped us continue to do the things we love with the little guy.

Johnny Thinwallet
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:34 am

Thanks all for the recommendations for various parks, carriers, baby hiking groups and general experience from those who have tried this with young kids. Lots of great options for us to dig into and explore. Will probably be sometime before we nail down a trip but this gives us a great headstart.

Carefreeap
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Carefreeap » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:21 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:23 pm
Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:01 pm
Thanks all for those who've responded (and please keep them coming!).

Yellowstone and Yosemite are near the very, very top of my must-see list, which would lean me toward wanting to go there no matter what. On the other hand, I feel those trips are so big that I'd want to do them with absolutely no restrictions whatsover and I wonder if I feel like I'd be missing a lot by being restricted with our son. Not sure if that makes sense. I definitely see the argument of if it's a must-see then don't wait and go see it.

nisiprius wrote:
Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:14 pm
We absolutely loved Badlands National Park. We were traveling with our dog, putting many restrictions on us--dogs are only allowed in the parking lots, not on the hiking trails. Badlands, like many of the national parks, has a marvelous loop road and you can enjoy it thoroughly just by parking, stepping out, walking a few hundred feet, lather, rinse, repeat.

The same thing was true of Devils Tower, which is fairly small. Basically, you walk around the tower on a paved path, which takes 1-2 hours. And then that's it, unless you're a technical climber!
Badlands was actually one of the alternatives I was considering and perhaps adding on one or more nearby parks if time was permitting. Other than perhaps the 10 mile Castle Trail, it looks like we could probably do most everything else with our son in tow.
Name a national park in the west and I could find a way to enjoy it with a 1 year old. I would also lament having my 1 year old for all the activities we would have to skip. So I would pick a park I would have to change my activities the least, if I were unlikely to return there on my own. I’d also avoid Zion, Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, etc in the summer as they’re too hot. Bryce could be good but it’s small. Olympic NP could be great for a week, though some of the trails are straight up (steep and long, hard carrying a child). But there is a lot of variety and the weather will not be hot. Except mountain climbing and backpacking, I think you can do everything in Olympic with a 1 year old that you can do without.
The nice thing is it sounds like the OP and his family could go during shoulder season (Sept is my favorite) since he and his wife don't have school age children.

Carefreeap
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by Carefreeap » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:23 am

letsgobobby wrote:
Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:11 pm
I carried my daughter til she was 3; but between food, water, diapers, her, etc., the pack pushed 50# by the end, and depending on one’s fitness level, that may no longer qualify as ‘fun.’ My day hikes shrank in length until the day I stopped carrying her, at which point they grew again.
Lol, backback training! :beer

TBillT
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Re: National Park trip w/1 year old infant

Post by TBillT » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:47 am

We stayed in Yellowstone Lodge got a room adjacent to Old Faithful.
And there is a walking path there that goes by a lot of great little geysers and thermal pools and things.

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