The Greatest American National Park Road Trip

The ultimate drive around the country's best parks.

  • 32
  • 232:25
  • 13,494 mi
  • $2477
Take This Trip

Created by Stayce Brumley - August 7th 2016

America's National Parks are road trip heaven. They preserve the unique landscapes that make our country so special, and with so many different and individual parks, it can be hard to choose just one to visit. Why not, then, take the Greatest American Road Trip, stopping off at the country's most iconic National Parks, from the Everglades to Olympic, and everything in between? It's the adventure of a lifetime!

Photo of Hot Springs National Park
4.4

101 Reserve St, Hot Springs, AR, US

Hot Springs National Park

Start off your journey at one of the country's most unique National Parks: the more-developed Hot Springs National Park. A reminder that not all National Parks are located in the wilderness, this park features more than 40 hot springs, many contained within turn-of-the-century bathhouses, all set in the quaint, vintage town of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

1
622mi 09h 55m
Photo of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
4.9

107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN, US

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

1

One of the most visited National Parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has earned its popularity. Whether you're hiking Clingmans Dome for the sweeping views, cruising Cades Cove to see the wildflowers and historic sites, or going off the beaten path and exploring Elkmont, the park's ghost town, the beauty of these misty mountains is completely undeniable.

2
258mi 04h 27m
Photo of Congaree National Park
4.5

100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC, US

Congaree National Park

2

Some of South Carolina's swampland is protected by Congaree National Park. Plunge into the verdant forests as you hike along the boardwalk or canoe down the river. Keep your eyes peeled for cool wildlife that call Congaree home: feral pigs, alligators, river otters, bobcats, owls, and more.

3
440mi 06h 55m
Photo of Shenandoah National Park
4.6

3655 Hwy 211 East, Luray, VA, US

Shenandoah National Park

3

It's hard to believe that the mountainous wonderland of Shenandoah National Park is less than an hour and a half from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC. Forests burning bright with colorful leaves in the fall, rocky mountains providing vast overlooks, cozy and fascinating historic sites, and cool waterfalls tucked away among the woodlands and mountains make this a delightful spot to do some hiking.

4
836mi 13h 24m
Photo of Acadia National Park
4.7

Route 3, Bar Harbor, ME, US

Acadia National Park

4
5
923mi 14h 37m
Photo of Cuyahoga Valley National Park
4.5

1550 Boston Mills Rd W, Peninsula, OH, US

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

5

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is another slightly different park. A former toxic dump that's been cleaned up and restored to its former natural beauty, Cuyahoga Valley also protects the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail, a former canal towpath that runs along the river, through quaint small towns and peaceful forests. There's also a train that runs through the park, stopping off at various villages and visitor centers. The park is also super bike-friendly, so rent a set of wheels and explore all this park has to offer!

6
977mi 15h 39m

3131 Hwy 53, International Falls, MN, US

Voyageurs National Park

6

Named for early French-Canadian settlers, Voyageurs National Park is so filled with unspoiled natural views that it's not hard to imagine yourself as a 17th century explorer! The park is mostly lakes and streams. Rent a canoe and paddle out to the various islands for a quick hike, or even to camp out.

7
578mi 09h 12m
Photo of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
4.5

315 2nd Avenue, Medora, ND, US

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

7

Follow in the footsteps of one of our most spirited presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. TR had a special love for the American West-- North Dakota in particular. Part of this park protects one of his old vacation retreats, and the rest encompasses the landscape he loved so much. Scrubby and scrappy, with wild rivers, prairies, and badlands landscapes and loads of wildlife, the park is a fitting tribute to Teddy.

8
286mi 04h 43m
Photo of Badlands National Park
4.8

25216 Ben Reifel Rd, Interior, SD, US

Badlands National Park

8

The ancient, rough, and rocky landscape of Badlands National Park might not initially appear as appealing as one of the country's more famed parks, but everyone who visits Badlands comes away speechless. Describing the park, though, can't compare to actually walking among the colorful, rolling rocks.

9
102mi 01h 45m
Photo of Wind Cave National Park
4.4

26611 US Highway 385, Hot Springs, SD, US

Wind Cave National Park

9

The Black Hills is a remarkable place, but hidden below the prairies and forests of South Dakota lies even more beauty in the form of Wind Cave National Park. You can experience the unique beauty of these dense caverns, with their one-of-a-kind boxwork formations, through one of several guided tours.

10
796mi 13h 19m
Photo of Glacier National Park
4.6

64 Grinnell Drive, West Glacier, MT, US

Glacier National Park

10
11
449mi 08h 09m
Photo of Yellowstone National Park
4.7

Grand Loop Rd, Mammoth, WY, US

Yellowstone National Park

11
12
803mi 13h 28m
Photo of Great Sand Dunes National Park
4.5

11500 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO, US

Great Sand Dunes National Park

12

America's most impressive sand dunes are nowhere near the water... they're in Colorado! The massive, 750-foot tall mountains of breezy sand are perfect for climbing up and sledding down. The park also has a river that you can tube in, and offers primo stargazing.

13
469mi 08h 10m
Photo of Carlsbad Caverns National Park
4.6

727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM, US

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

13
14
832mi 13h 54m
Photo of Joshua Tree National Park
4.5

74485 National Park Dr, Twentynine Palms, CA, US

Joshua Tree National Park

14

Home to gnarled Joshua trees, enchantingly strange rock formations, and endless desert views, Joshua Tree National Park is probably one of America's quirkiest parks. It's a perfect spot for boulder scrambling, rock climbing, and hiking. Also, some of the most scenic campsites in the country can be found here, and the park's SoCal location puts it near all kinds of roadside attractions worth visiting.

15
280mi 04h 50m

Nv 160, Las Vegas, NV, US

Death Valley National Park

15

The hottest, driest, and lowest place in the country is also a stunning National Park. Death Valley National Park might seem like a barren wasteland at first, but one only needs to read about the strange sailing stones of Racetrack Playa, the odd salt flats of Badwater Basin, the singing sand of Eureka Dunes, and the views from Zabriskie Point to realize that it's actually teeming with things to see and do. Just remember to pack plenty of water and sunblock.

16
328mi 05h 41m
Photo of Great Basin National Park
4.5

100 Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV, US

Great Basin National Park

16

One of the most underrated National Parks in the country, Great Basin National Park definitely doesn't seem like the kind of place you'd stumble upon in the middle of Nevada. Glacier-capped mountain peaks, stands of ancient pines, serene lakes, and dark caves make Great Basin a park that can provide days of outdoor entertainment.

17
250mi 04h 31m
Photo of Capitol Reef National Park
4.5

16 Scenic Dr, Torrey, UT, US

Capitol Reef National Park

17

From its Wild West history (Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch roamed the park) to its stunning red rocks, Capitol Reef might not be Utah's most famous National Park, but it's still pretty rad. Hike through the striking desert landscape, and take in the unique views and history of this fascinating and lovely park.

18
216mi 04h 08m
Photo of Canyonlands National Park
4.5
18

A favorite of adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts, Canyonlands National Park is filled with heart-stopping activities and beauty. Native American ruins, hidden canyons, sandstone hoodoos, and more can keep even the most extreme adventurer's pulse up. The park also features some intense scenic drives, for those who want a thrill without getting too physical.

19
75mi 01h 33m
Photo of Arches National Park
5.0

N Highway 191, Moab, UT, US

Arches National Park

19

Next door to Canyonlands is the equally epic Arches National Park. Slightly more developed and accessible than Canyonlands, Arches features more than 2,000 impressive stone formations. Delicate Arch and Double Arch are two iconic views here that you can easily reach via well-marked and short hikes.

Each National Park provides its own unique American landscape and its own unique view of the United States. America is truly a melting pot of different landscapes and different cultures, and it's part of what makes America such an exciting, road-trip-worthy place!