From Arcadia to American Samoa, our country is home to 61 unique national parks. In the second edition of Trekking the National Parks: The Board Game from Underdog Games, kids compete to earn victory points as they explore and learn about the natural beauty of these parks.
The game was originally created in 2014, but this latest edition delivers a new method for moving around the board, as well as a major visual overhaul.
Designed for kids ages 10 and up, the game is one of skill and strategy that primarily older kids (and adults!) will enjoy. The game also requires a significant amount of table space and time to play — perfect for a rainy or snowy day.
The board requires a bit of set up, but there is a detailed guide included that features diagrams and step-by-step instructions. Once the board is ready, players take turns, performing two “actions” per turn. An action could mean drawing a “trek” card, moving across the map to a new park, camping in a major park, or claiming a park.
The Trek cards each feature a number and a symbol, and players can exchange the cards to move across the map (using the number) or to claim a park (using the symbol). Players often need to combine multiple cards to move or claim a park, so they must use their turns wisely.
It may take some time for kids to fully grasp the rules of play, but once they get the hang of things, the game moves along quickly. It may help first-time players to play the first one or two rounds of turns cooperatively, showing their cards and helping each other figure out what moves to make.
For those who are visual learners, the company offers a four-minute “how to play” video that is definitely worth a watch. Once kids learn how to navigate the board and collect points, don’t be surprised if they get really invested in collecting parks and earning the most victory points.
In addition to sharpening kids’ math, logic, and strategic skills, the game comes with a fun backstory and continuing educational value. The Binkele family created the game together, after John and Terry Binkele decided to visit every national park after retiring. In addition to an overview of a national park, each of the 45 park cards in the game features a photo that the Binkeles took on their trip.
Depending on the number of players — from two to five — gameplay lasts between 30 minutes and an hour (and a bit longer for first-time players who are learning the rules).