For the past two years, my daughter has asked for a obstacle course birthday party. It has been so fun to put together each year and watch the kids run; I hope she continues asking for them every year!


Putting together a backyard obstacle course for kids is really not that hard or expensive. For this past obstacle course, we spent under $50 on materials. We were able to keep costs low by getting creative with our obstacle ideas and using materials we already had handy in our house.


Our backyard is like an obstacle course in itself (we have a river, hills, stairs, mud, etc…) so we were also able to leverage some of the natural obstacles in our backyard obstacle course race.


Every year I get tons of questions on how we put together the course and what materials were needed, so I’m outlining all of the details below from planning to course, to backyard obstacle course ideas, to favors given, and how we prep the kids to run!

Learn how we put together a backyard obstacle course party for my daughter's birthday. Kids had so much fun running through the obstacles! Plenty of ideas and directions on how you can plan your own backyard obstacle course party. #partyideas #birthday #obstaclecourse

Disclosure: I may earn money or products from any of the companies mentioned in this post. Purchasing through an affiliate link comes at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Table of Contents


  1. Planning a Backyard Obstacle Course Race
  2. Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas
  3. Video of Our Backyard Obstacle Course
  4. Preparing Guests for the Obstacle Course (prior to the party)
  5. Preparing the Kids for the Obstacle Course (at the party)
  6. Completion Rewards (aka favors)
  7. Other Helpful Party Tips


Planning a Backyard Obstacle Course Race


The first thing that we did to plan our backyard obstacle course race was to draw a picture of our backyard.


We then wrote out a list of obstacle course ideas, including both obstacles that we would have to buy/make and natural obstacles from our backyard.


We planned out a general direction for the course and added the obstacles in.


Our drawing looked something like this…


Planning Backyard Obstacle Course with a Map



Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas


Before designing your course, you need to create a list of backyard obstacle course ideas.


Your course needs to be specific to those who are running it and your backyard.


My daughters are 4 and 2 and most friends are between 2 and 6, so I knew our course had to be on the easier side. Most parents also ran the course with their children, so we needed to make sure all of our obstacles were sturdy enough to support an adult as well.


Below you will see some of the backyard obstacle course ideas from our parties.


“Bar-bar” (aka climb under rope)


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - Bar Bar

This obstacle is always a course favorite and is so easy to put together. Kids have to crawl and duck through a maze of ropes to get out the other side.


The first year we put this together, we used trees in our yard to tie the rope to.


For this past year, we purchased metal fence stakes and hammered them into the ground.


Materials Needed:


“Walk the plank” (aka the “Don’t fall in the pool obstacle”)


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - Walk the plank


This super simple obstacle is so fun. Simply attach a board to two buckets and place over a small kiddie pool of water. Kids have to walk the plank over the water without falling in.


The kids played with this obstacle throughout the entire party.


Materials Needed


Hay Bales


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - hay bales


Place hay bales throughout your course for an easy obstacle for kids to climb over.


Materials Needed:

  • Hay bales (contact a local farm to see if they will sell to you)


Balance Beams


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - balance beams


These balance beams are quick and easy to build with just a few pieces of wood.

Add some friction tape to them to avoid slipping off.


Materials Needed:


Hula Hoop Crawl


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - Hula Hoop



In our first year doing a backyard obstacle course, we made this out of two long strips of wood, and a handful of hula hoops.


Simply drill a hole in the wood that is the same size of the hulahoop, add some gorilla glue, and insert cut hula hoops.


In year two of our backyard obstacle course race, we misplaced several of our hula hoops and couldn’t find any at local stores. We decided to add a hurdle to the middle of the obstacle so the children would go under the hulahoop, over the hurdle, and back under the hula hoop.


Materials Needed


“Electroshock-Inspired Obstacle”


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - electroshock


One of Tough Mudder’s signature obstacles in their courses is their Electroshock. During the Electroshock, you have to run through wires hanging from above and avoid being shocked. For a kids backyard obstacle course, this is a bit too intense, but we did create a kid-friendly, electroshock-inspired obstacle with streamers and balloons. There is no shocking, but there are balloons and streamers in your face that limit your view to get to the other side.

To put this obstacle together, we built a simple box frame and then attached an old window pane across the top. We used the window pane to hang steamers and balloons.


Materials Needed


Pumpkin Carry


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - pumpkin carry


You can add a pumpkin carry (or sandbag carry) to any obstacle course race as an easy “fill in” obstacle. Because my daughter’s birthday is in the fall, we purchased small pumpkins for them to carry for a small distance. You can achieve the same concept though with sandbags or logs.


Materials Needed

  • Small pumpkins (or sandbag/logs)


Tire Jump


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - tire jump


Simply collect one or more old tires and have the kids jump in and out of them. We borrowed this jumbo tire from a local gym, but you can likely find free tires on most tag-sale sites.


Materials Needed

  • Tire(s)


Other Natural Obstacles


I love using natural obstacles in our backyard obstacle course race. This is going to vary by person/house as these obstacles are specific to your yard. In our yard, we have lots of woods, a river, several fallen trees, hills, and even a set of outdoor stairs. We have used all of these obstacles in our prior backyard obstacle courses.

The best part is they are free and you don’t have to do too much prep!

Learn how we designed a backyard obstacle course race for my daughter's birthday party. Get ideas for obstacles to include and how to plan a backyard obstacle course race! #partyideas #obstaclecourse


Other Obstacles We Considered


The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing your backyard obstacle course race. We did more DIY obstacles to keep the cost down and used many natural obstacles, however there were other ideas we were considering.


  • Small “walls” to jump over (built with thick plywood)
  • Rope ladder on the ground to jump over
  • Cones to run in and out of
  • Kid-safe spear throw (similar to Spartan Races)
  • Rings hanging on a slack line
  • Hurdles to jump over


You can buy several supplies on Amazon to make quick and easy obstacles. Here are a few that we were considering:


Video of Our Backyard Obstacle Course


Do you want to see a run through of our latest backyard obstacle course? Watch this video of my husband and I doing a run through prior to the kids coming over to run the course.



Preparing Guests for the Obstacle Course (prior to the party)


We called our backyard obstacle course a mud run because it was quite messy. Our course went through the woods, into our river, and you had to crawl on the grass at a few points.


Because of the course we designed, we knew it was going to be a messy party. It was only fair to let guests know up front about the mess so they could be prepared!


In our invites, we let everyone know that we suggested they wear athletic ware, and bring a change of clothes and shoes in case they got too muddy. (In reality, I didn’t notice anyone change, but it was nice to know most were prepared for the occasion.)


A few days prior to our party, I sent out a reminder email for those who may have not caught it in the first invite or didn’t remember.


Given that the party was indoors and outdoors, I left a big bucket next to the door for guests to put their muddy shoes.


Preparing Kids for the Obstacle Course (at the party)

For many kids, this may be their first obstacle course race. They may have fears and need some coaxing to try the course out.


Prior to starting the backyard obstacle course race, my husband (the pump-up man) gathered the kids together to talk. (Use a megaphone to really seem official!)


Backyard Obstacle Course Ideas - pump up
This is your chance to be creative. In my husband’s “speech” he told the kids what to expect. He shared that it may be hard at times, but we would all be there to help. He reminded them that it was not a race, but a run.


They did a few squats and a few jumps to warm up.


Then, he asked them to repeat after him: “I’m so strong. I’m so brave. I can do anything!”


You can watch a clip of his “speech” on my Instagram.



Completion Rewards (aka Favors)


While completion rewards are completely optional, I like to provide something special to the kids when they finish the backyard obstacle course.


This year, I reached out to TConleyCreations on Etsy to create custom “Mud Run 2018” headbands. (The kids LOVED these and looked adorable wearing them proudly.) At the finish line, I also had medals for the kids, and bananas, fig bars, and water.


Backyard Obstacle Course Favors


Other Party Tips


Putting together a backyard obstacle course is just one part of planning a party!


I have a few other posts that cover the other elements of party planning. Be sure to read (and download) your birthday party checklist here. Also, take a look at my post on ordering food for a crowd so you can make sure you buy (or make) the perfect amount for your guests.

Receive Weekly Life Hacks and Practical Advice

If you want to be notified of future posts, be sure to sign up for our email notification list! You will receive a weekly email with the latest posts added to Jac of All Things, as well as a weekly “Did you know” tidbit of information or life hack to make your life easier. Simply provide your email address below. By using this form, you agree with this site’s privacy policy.

Learn how to plan a super fun backyard obstacle course for kids! Your kids will love these activities and obstacles that you set up!


4.7/5 - (3 votes)