Leah here! Planning a national park road trip can be really overwhelming. Figuring out the logistics of driving between multiple locales and planning lodging, food, and an itinerary for each destination drives people away from visiting some of the country’s most treasured and scenic spots. That’s where I come in. I LOVE the precise details involved in planning a national parks road trip. If you’ve never done a road trip vacation, here are some ideas of trips you can start with that won’t require you to spend hours in the car or even cross state lines.
California has 8 national parks, so there are lots of ways to combine them into an itinerary that’s perfect for you. Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Yosemite National Park, however, all offer some of the country’s most scenic views and are located within three hours driving time of each other. You can fly in and out of San Francisco, San Jose, or Los Angeles without adding significant drive time. While in the parks, feast your eyes on the majestic Sierras, towering waterfalls, and the biggest trees in the world.
Utah has five national parks that are commonly referred to as the “Mighty 5”. The Mighty 5 can be done in pieces (like I did), in one trip, or the southernmost parks can be combined with the Grand Canyon and other sights on the Utah/Arizona border like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley. You can fly in and out of Las Vegas or Salt Lake City without adding more than 4 hours of driving time each way. The natural beauty of Utah is unparalleled and it’s not only found in the national parks – there are stunning state parks, national monuments, and scenic byways interspersed throughout all of southern Utah.
Washington’s three national parks are all located under three hours from Seattle. In one trip, you could see a temperate rainforest, driftwood lined beaches, turquoise lakes, an active volcano, and glaciated mountains. Like Utah, Washington has phenomenal state parks and national forests. Opportunities to experience natural beauty or take part in outdoor activities are truly endless.
Ready to start planning your next vacation? Get started here!