Our 4th grader received a free National Parks pass as part of the Every Kid in a Park Campaign to celebrate 100 years of National Parks. So we toured the country in 17 days, hitting 9 National Parks/National Monuments as well as many other sites and cities on the way with our 9 year old and 7 year old girls. We used the Roadtrippers app on our phones to not only plan out our trip months before, but to also make changes along the way, look for points of interest, food, gas, and also to calculate our miles and get reviews on places.
Parkersburg, West Virginia, United States
Our adventure starts in our home city of Parkersburg, WV
Mammoth Cave, KY, US
First National Park/Monument: Mammoth Cave. Mammoth Cave was great. We met some friends from Louisville and did the Historic Tour part of the caves. Epic cave and our tour guide was very knowledgeable and kept us laughing.
452 E Christmas Blvd, Santa Claus, IN, US
A bucket list item of my husband's was a trip to Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. Here we explored the different holidays the park has to offer such as Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July as well as the huge water park in the middle of it all. Great park! Kids love it!
1 Government Drive, St. Louis, MO, US
Next, we traveled to St. Louis and took in their free zoo. Yes, admission is free. There is a cost for parking, the children's zoo portion, and the great train that takes you around the massive zoo (very much worth it to save the walking on a hot day).
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, MO, US
Second National Park/Monument: Gateway Arch at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Gateway Arch is an awesome sight to see. To think that we build things this massive is so impressive and then to realize it was built in the 60's is even more impressive. The ride up to the arch feels like you are in a space capsule from the Jetsons. Great sights from the top.
1500 Monument Ave, Springfield, IL, US
Made our way through Iowa stopping to see the Lincoln Tomb. Great experience visiting the final resting place of one of our greatest presidents and some of his family members.
28995 Lansing Rd, Dyersville, IA, US
My husband is a big fan of the movie, Field of Dreams, so we had to stop and experience the magic and share with our children. We felt like kids running around the bases and throwing in a pitch. The grounds are kept up very nicely by the family that owns the farm and lives in the house that was also in the movie.
22728 Gull Ave, Clear Lake, IA, US
On our way through Iowa, we discovered through the roadtripper app that the Buddy Holly Crash site was close. We decided to make a quick stop. It's right in the middle of a corn field along a gravel county road.
131 E Falls Park Dr, Sioux Falls, SD, US
Falls Park in Sioux Falls was a great surprise. Not a National Park, but very well could be with all the beautiful falls and history.
604 N Main St, Mitchell, SD, US
As soon as you step foot in the Corn Palace the smell of corn hits you. Everything is decorated with corn and the gift shop is everything corn as well. Great stop to grab some souvenirs.
25216 Ben Reifel Rd, Interior, SD, US
Third National Park/Monument: The Badlands. Wow! The Badlands were very impressive. Love looking at and taking pictures of all the different shapes of the land formations. Our kids loved getting to climb and play on some of the smaller ones at some of the stops along the 240 loop. The prairie dogs along the loop are so cute to listen to and photograph. The 240 loop takes about an hour to drive without stops, but worth it to take in the Badlands.
510 Main St, Wall, SD, US
At the end of the 240 Badlands loop is Wall, SD. Couldn't miss going to Wall Drug since it was advertised every mile on the interstate all through SD. They have everything!
13000 SD Highway 244, Keystone, SD, US
Fourth National Park/Monument: Mount Rushmore. Our first stop on the way out to Mt. Rushmore was not so great weather and we couldn't see the mountain in all it's glory. However, we decided to try again on the way back and so glad we did. Wow, it was great! Walked the Presidential Trail for a closer look, well worth the short walk down and back up. Mt. Rushmore was the one thing the kids definitely wanted to see if we took a road trip, so we built our trip around this very National Monument.
12151 Avenue Of The Chiefs, Custer, SD, US
Stopped to see the Crazy Horse Memorial. Can't wait to see it finished some day. Still very impressive as is.
Hwy 110 Bldg 170, Devils Tower, WY, US
Fifth National Park/Monument: Devil's Tower. Devil's Tower was another added bonus for us. Great sights and very grand formation as you get closer.
I-90 Frontage Rd,, Crow Agency, MT, US
Sixth National Park/Monument: Little Bighorn Batterfield. This was a very humbling stop. Glad my children were able to learn the history and importance of this battle in our nation's history.
Grand Loop Rd, Mammoth, WY, US
Seventh National Park/Monument: Yellowstone. There is a reason Yellowstone was the nation's first National Park. Wow, the geysers and hot springs were so amazing! What a great experience being at the first National Park on the 100th anniversary of National Parks. We could have spent the entire 17 days here. The kids could not get enough and wanted to continue to do more trails. Grand Prismatic, Sapphire Pool, Morning Glory, and Old Faithful were a few of our favorites.
Moose, WY, US
Eighth National Park/Monument: Grand Teton. Drove through Grand Teton and made several photogenic stops along the way. The Tetons are an amazing sight to see. At one point, bison walked right across the road in front of our RV.
60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN, US
Making our way back we drove to Minneapolis to visit with friends and ride a few rides at the theme park inside the Mall of America. The mall is so huge, we only probably saw 1/4th of it. Lots of great shopping as well.
We are so glad we decided to take this trip with our children and show them America (or at least a portion of it). We hope that we will be able to take future road trips with them and explore more states and more National Parks and great cities. We were very impressed with the Roadtrippers app and have recommended it to others asking about how we planned our trip.