To see some of the most stunning wonders of the world, many travelers assume they need to book a flight and travel halfway across the world. You may not realize it, but some of the greatest natural beauties might just be a short drive away. If you’re fortunate enough to live near any of America’s national parks, make an effort to hop in the car and drive whatever the distance may be to take in the fresh mountain air and picturesque views.
Depending on where you live in the States, you might have easy access to a number of the country’s national parks. If this is the case, pack your bags, fill up your gas tank, and hit the road – you won’t be disappointed! If you don’t have your own vehicle, consider renting a car but be sure to look into insurance for rental cars before you head out. national park road trips
Check out these top 5 national park road trips in America to choose which one is best for you.
Acadia National Park in Maine
If you live in the northeastern region of the United States, the road trip that is best for you is Maine’s Acadia National Park. The best place to start is Park Loop Road, where you’ll be able to take a scenic 27-mile long drive along the coast of the Atlantic. Another must-see spot here is Champion Mountain Overlook, where you can get out of your car and take in the 360 degree panoramic views.
If you continue on Park Loop Road, you’ll run into other Acadia attractions like Hull’s Cove and Otter Cliff. After this you’ll come to the parks main tourist draw, Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the north Atlantic coast. Be sure you packed your hiking boots for this trip; there are tons of winding hiking paths and trails for both beginner and novice hikers. national park road trips
Yosemite National Park in California
There is a handful of stunning national parks out west, but one of the best by far is Yosemite in California. It is a quick drive from San Francisco – just 165 miles west – so if you live in the area there is no excuse to miss out on this national park. If you’re visiting San Fran or the surrounding area, rent a car at the San Francisco International Airport to make the easy trip. You’ll be able to choose from a number of activities here, including hiking, fishing, rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding. national park road trips
Yosemite is known for its towering mountain peaks and wildflower fields, as well as sites like the Sierra Nevada high country and Half Dome. If you’re looking for a quick trip, drive through the park and be on your way. But if you’re more interested in exploring the park more thoroughly, you have plenty of options when it comes to lodging. Choose amongst a variety of campgrounds, private cabin rentals, bed and breakfasts, or hotels. national park road trips
Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah
Another western wonder when it comes to American national parks, Zion National Park is one of Utah’s most visited attractions. When you come to Zion, be prepared to spend more time here than expected; many travelers plan on doing it in one day, but find it hard to accomplish everything in just 24 hours. If camping is in your itinerary, set up a site at Watchman Campground – this is the best place to experience the sunset each evening. Zion is known for its dramatic canyon walls and impressive gorges, while Bryce is something entirely different. national park road trips
Bryce Canyon is most well-known for its reddish hues and sweeping plateaus. Check out the sunset from Bryce Point followed by a night at North Campground. The best place for sunrise is none other than Sunrise Point. Although it can get somewhat crowded during peak season, there are plenty of private ledges to experience the sun coming up without feeling overwhelmed by other tourists. Explore the heart of Bryce at Navajo and Queen’s Garden Loop. When you head out, be sure to drive along Rainbow Point and stop at some of the overlooks for tons of photo ops. national park road trips
Glacier National Park in Montana
Driving through Montana’s Glacier National Park is as breathtaking as it gets. No matter what your outdoor activity of choice is, you’ll have complete access to it here, especially if you’re hoping to do some wildlife viewing. Chances are you’ll see bighorn sheep and mountain goats, especially if you venture into the park on foot. So put on your hiking boots and explore the many paths and trails throughout Glacier. If you get hungry along the way, stop at one of the many picnic spots along the way.
The best route for road trippers is along Going-to-the-Sun Road, which stretches about fifty miles through the park. Along this road you’ll see everything from dense forests to snowy mountain peaks to cascading waterfalls. There are plenty of places to pull over during your drive, so be sure to stop at one of the many overlooks to take some stunning photos. national park road trips
Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska
The sheer massiveness of Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve is enough to impress anyone. The 6 million acre park offers just about everything, from soaring mountain peaks to laid-back hiking paths. If you’re hoping to immerse yourself with wilderness in its purest form, Denali is the national park for you.
You can road trip through some of this area yourself – the Denali Park Road stretches nearly 100 miles long through the park, but private vehicles are only permitted to drive the first fifteen miles. Chances are you’ll see some wildlife during this trip, but if you sign up for a bus tour you’ll be able to explore further into Denali (and most likely see even more wildlife along the way).
Just about every imaginable outdoor activity is offered in Denali, including hiking, camping, wildlife exploration, biking, birdwatching, mountain climbing, and you can even view the area from the air with your own private helicopter tour. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, check out the Denali sled dogs. If you do choose to drive the first fifteen miles into the park, be sure to explore Savage River, but keep in mind you need to obtain a permit to backpack and camp here.
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