The Best National Park Road Trips

Oct 31, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

America’s parks are a national treasure, allowing drivers an amazing opportunity to explore natural wonders across the country. Almost every national park is accessible by car from a major road or highway. If you are ambitious, you can plan a longer trip and see several national parks in different states, or you can pick one of the following shorter national park road trips to head out into the wilderness. Stock your car with supplies and break out the camping gear for some of these trips and you be well rewarded by an amazing road trip through striking natural splendor.

Washington State Road Trip

Washington has so many national parks that many people would be hard pressed to choose just one. Thankfully, heading out on the road allows you to visit multiple stunning parks in one trip. You will want to spend at least a day or two at each location. A good order is the North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and then Olympic National Park. You can explore mountains, crystalline lakes, and ancient forests full of flora and fauna found only in the Pacific Northwest.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone

It is easy to combine driving into Yellowstone National Park with a trip to Grand Teton. You will want to spend at least three days in Yellowstone. Start off with the Grand Loop Road, which covers 140 miles and creates a figure eight that takes you by nearly every single attraction, including overlooks, short trails, and more. On day two, head to the famous Old Faithful and go on a 2½-mile hike around Mystic Falls before admiring the waterfalls rushing through the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone from Canyon Village. Finish your time in the park at Mammoth Hot Springs with its limestone formations before going to the Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano. You can then drive to Grand Teton National Park, also in Wyoming, and spend two days or more in the park. Start by driving along Teton Park Road to get a good look at all of the mountain peaks at the scenic stopping points. You should also consider the Jenny Lake Scenic Drive or go for a hike on Leigh Lake Trailhead. The next day, hike along the Forks of Cascade Canyon or the Cascade Canyon Trail.

The Black Hills and the Badlands

If you are interested in a trip through South Dakota, consider starting at Wind Cave National Park to explore its 33,000 acres. Go on a cave tour and then drive to Custer State Park the next day. You will find plenty of scenic drives, granite spires, and wildlife. You can visit the Jewel Cave National Monument and Crazy Horse Memorial the following day, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial the day after. Next, you will want to spend at least a day in Badlands National Park with multiple small hiking trails over the windswept hills.

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