It’s summer time! You know what that means. It’s time for a road trip to destinations far and wide! But where to go? And what to see along the way?
Here’s a superb road trip idea for you. Go on a U.S. National Parks road trip! Not only are the national parks amazing displays of beauty, places of incredible adventures, and sites of fascinating history and archeology, they are also perfect destinations for road trippers. Not to mention, they make awesome budget family vacations!
Why Take A National Parks Road Trip?
One of our favorite summer vacation destinations are the U.S. National Parks. Our family goal is to explore at least one national park or monument each summer – some years we are fortunate to have enough time to explore several!
Why do we return to national parks year after year? I’ll give you three huge reasons why!
1. National Park Vacations Won’t Break the Bank
The National Parks are awesome, budget-friendly destinations. Where else can you purchase a 7-day entrance fee for between $10 and $25? That’s per car, not per person. Or purchase the America The Beautiful Pass for a mere $80 and have access to all entrance-fee-based parks for a full year! Then there are all those national monuments, lakeshores, and forests that don’t charge an entrance fee. That’s right, family fun for free!
Additionally, once you’ve paid that entrance fee at many national parks, you also have access to a plethora of ranger-lead park programs, most of which are free to park visitors. Yep. A National Park vacation is uber-friendly on my travel budget.
2. There’s A Park to Entertain Everyone
With 407 parks, there’s bound to be several to entertain and engage your entire family. From exploring the great outdoors to captivating history lessons, to adventures in archeology, the U.S. National Parks offer a vast array of destinations to suit every travel style and interest.
Think incredible outdoor adventures in Glacier, Yellowstone or Acadia. Learn Civil War history at Gettysburg or Fredericksburg National Military Parks. Explore Native American archeology and culture in Mesa Verde, Bandelier and Canyon De Chelly.
3. Escape the Crowds and Commercialization
Looking to escape the concrete jungle, get away from the crowds, or the daily grind? Want a destination that is not over-commercialized? One where you can unplug from the trappings of today’s modern society? Then the national parks are for you!
Agreed, the most popular national parks may be crowded along the most readily accessible trails. But step beyond those highly trafficked touristy trails, and step away from it all.
Plan A National Park Road Trip Of Your Own!
So many national parks, so little time! Do you explore just one park, or do you combine several parks for an extended road trip? No matter which way you plan it, rest assured that a national park road trip will be well worth your while.
Not sure where to begin? Which parks to consider? Which part of the United States to focus your travel plans on? No problem! Here are four ultimate national park road trip inspirations to get you on the road. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your park!
Learn more about Find Your Park, and how this valuable resource can help you plan your own National Parks vacation.
3 More National Park Road Trip Inspirations
Summer time is national park time for this family. Over the years we’ve been on not one, but two national and state park road trips, and we are about to embark on our third parks road trip. Here is a summary of the two we’ve already completed, and one we are getting ready to explore. Be inspired. Then create your own version of a national park road trip!
A Grand Canyon Circle Trip
Our adventure began and ended in Las Vegas. Along the way we visited the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon South Rim, Grand Canyon North Rim, Pipe Springs National Monument, Valley of Fire State Park, and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
This circle trip is approximately 900 miles, and 16 hours of drive-time, depending of course, on how fast you drive and how many stops you make along the way!
Road Tripping Montana, Wyoming & North Dakota
Oh what a grand road trip this was! We explored three national parks – Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons and Theodore Roosevelt National Park – as well as Bighorn National Forest. Add in Makoshika State Park (MT), Legend Rock Petroglyph State Park (WY), Hot Springs State Park (WY) and this was one awesome, budget-friendly family vacation.
This road trip was a full two weeks long, covering 1300 miles, 23 hours of drive time, and lots of stops along the way. But it was so much fun!
Exploring Eastern Utah and Western Colorado
This summer’s National Parks adventure? A two week, 1200 mile road trip through western Colorado and eastern Utah, where we will visit at least five national parks, several national monuments and a few state parks as well. Our biggest one yet!
Our travel plans include Mesa Verde, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Florrisant, Four Corners, Hovenweep, and Canyon of the Ancients National Monuments, Goblin Valley State Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and who knows what else we find along the way.
National Parks Trip Planning Resources
So how do I put together our national park vacation plans? With a lot of help from my favorite national park resources, that’s how! Whether my plans are to visit just one park, or several parks, these resources are my go-to sites when planning this family’s national park vacations.
- Find Your Park
- U.S. National Park System
- America’s State Parks
- 7 Reliable Resources To Plan Your Own National Park Adventure
Not sure where to go? Which parks to explore? Here are several more links to inspire your own national parks vacation plans.
- 7 Snapshots of Our Favorite National Parks
- 7 Budget-Friendly Reasons National Parks Make Awesome Vacations
- Let’s Get Deals Today – National Park Archives: A list of previous blogs on many of our national and state park adventures.
Last but not least, check out my recent post, My 12 Essential Travel Apps for Summer Road Trips, for tips on apps you might want to consider when hitting the open road.
Trip Planning Tip: Pick one national park to begin your travel planning. Then build your road trip around that park. You’ll be surprised what you find along the way.
Trip Planning Tip: Don’t short-cut your time when planning a multi-park road trip. A minimum of two weeks should be considered to truly experience several parks in one adventure.
Where Will Your National Park Road Trip Go?
Are you now inspired to take your own national parks road trip? Add it all up, and a U.S. National Parks road trip might just be one of the best bargain vacations you can book. And I do love a travel bargain. Don’t you? Happy Travels!
What’s your favorite budget vacation destination? Do you seek out U.S. National Park Service destinations when you need a budget vacation? Do you enjoy exploring national parks and monuments? Have you gone on a National Parks road trip? Do share!
Images and maps by C.Biederman. Infographic by Find Your Park.
Hey all! Just letting you know that I’m stepping away for two weeks and might not get to any comments until I return. Yes, that’s right! I’m heading out on our third national parks adventure – Colorado and Utah here we come. Stay tuned for future posts on this fab family road trip adventure.