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!
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.
107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN, US
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.
100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC, US
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.
3655 Hwy 211 East, Luray, VA, US
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.
Route 3, Bar Harbor, ME, US
1550 Boston Mills Rd W, Peninsula, OH, US
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!
3131 Hwy 53, International Falls, MN, US
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.
315 2nd Avenue, Medora, ND, US
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.
25216 Ben Reifel Rd, Interior, SD, US
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.
26611 US Highway 385, Hot Springs, SD, US
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.
64 Grinnell Drive, West Glacier, MT, US
Grand Loop Rd, Mammoth, WY, US
11500 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO, US
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.
727 Carlsbad Cavern Hwy, Carlsbad, NM, US
74485 National Park Dr, Twentynine Palms, CA, US
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.
Nv 160, Las Vegas, NV, US
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.
100 Great Basin National Park, Baker, NV, US
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.
16 Scenic Dr, Torrey, UT, US
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.
Moab, UT, US
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.
N Highway 191, Moab, UT, US
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!