El Paso Escapes: 3 Kid-Friendly National Park Day Trips


Welcome to our kid-friendly guide to three National Park day trips from El Paso, Texas. On these easy day trips, you can discover the breathtaking beauty of the desert landscape. From towering cliffs to jaw-dropping caverns, each destination promises unforgettable experiences for the whole family. Get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonders and create lasting memories on these epic outdoor excursions. 

El Paso Escapes: 3 Kid-Friendly National Park Day Trips

White Sands National Park

Distance from El Paso: Just under 100 miles or 1.5 hours

Kid-Friendly National Park Activities

  • Visitor’s Center: Your kids can complete fun activities and learn about the park’s unique ecosystem, geology, and history. They receive a Junior Ranger badge upon completion, making it a memorable and educational experience.
  • Sledding on the Dunes: Our son is still asking to go back to sled at White Sands. You can rent a sled or bring your own. Our family of three laughed and laughed as we sled, fell, and rolled down the dunes. It’s a core memory we’ll never forget.
  • Hiking Trails: There are many easy trails that the whole family can enjoy. They offer opportunities to explore the dunes, spot wildlife, and learn about the plants and animals that call White Sands home. 
  • Sand Castle Building: White Sands is like a day at the beach, except the white powdery sand wipes right off! It’s a fun and imaginative activity that allows kids (and adults alike) to engage with the unique landscape.

El Paso Escapes: 3 Kid-Friendly National Park Day Trips

For even more info on White Sands, check out this post.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Distance from El Paso: 113 miles or 1 hour 45 minutes

Kid-Friendly National Park Activities 

  • Junior Ranger Badge: Gather another badge for your Junior Rangers at the visitor’s center along with looking at the great displays of wildlife in the area!
  • Fossil Discovery Trail: Take a hike along this short and easy trail suitable for families with children. Along the way, kids can learn about the park’s prehistoric past and discover fossilized remnants of ancient sea creatures embedded in the limestone. 
  • McKittrick Canyon Trail: Enjoy another family-friendly hike that offers scenic views of the canyon. Along the desert landscape, this trail is relatively flat!

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Distance from El Paso: 150 miles or 2 hours 15 minutes

Kid-Friendly National Park Activities

  • Self-Guided Tours: Our two-year-old thoroughly enjoyed the trek into the bottom of the cave, exploring the Big Room and spotting the different formations along the way. There are plenty of spots to take a break and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. There’s a restaurant at the bottom if snacks are needed, and you can take the elevator back up!
  • Bat Flight Program: Experience the spectacle of the bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns during the summer months. Kids can learn about the fascinating behavior of bats and witness thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats emerging from the cave entrance in search of insects. Our son’s souvenir of choice was, of course, a bat fittingly named “Carl.”
  • Junior Ranger Badge: Let your kids get their third and final badge by participating in the Jr. Ranger program at the Carlsbad Visitor’s Center. 

For more tips for taking kids to Carlsbad Caverns, check out this post.

All three kid-friendly national park day trips provide families with opportunities to discover what our beautiful area has to offer! With their convenient proximity to El Paso, it has never been easier to get out in nature with your family and create memories that will last a lifetime.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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