The 5 Best National Park Road Trips

National parks have been called "America's best idea". When the open road calls, national parks are some of the first road trip destinations that spring to mind.

All told, the National Park Service oversees 63 national parks, along with more than 350 additional sites ranging from national monuments and preserves to seashores and historic sites. Visiting them all in one epic adventure would be the ultimate national park road trip—but that's a pretty tall order. Let's start with a few itineraries that are a little more manageable. 


Planning Your U.S. National Parks Road Trip

Creating a national parks road trip itinerary involves more than simply deciding where to go and which parks you want to see (although that is an important first step). You also have to figure out what to pack, and where you intend to eat, sleep, and fuel up. But let's start with the first step: creating an itinerary.


Put Together a National Parks Road Trip Itinerary 

First things first: How much time do you have? Some national park road trips can be experienced over a long weekend, but if you have two weeks or a month to spare, then you can pack in the adventures. 

Start by listing the parks that you absolutely must see, or by deciding what kind of scenery you're looking for and then identifying parks that fit the bill. The Find a Park tool from the National Park Service is a great resource in the early stages of planning. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) members can also enjoy up to 20% off our Best Available Rate at participating Wyndham hotels.*

Once you have a few parks lined up, think about how much time you can spend at each one. As a general rule, a U.S. national park road trip tends to be more enjoyable when you whittle your list down to a few destinations and give yourself ample time to experience each one, as opposed to rushing through too many stops. 


Create a U.S. National Parks Map Road Trip

There's nothing more exciting than sticking (virtual) pins on a map as you plan your national park road trip. That said, an online mapping tool or smartphone app can be a lot more useful for creating your route.

The advantage of an online mapping tool is that you can measure distances and easily move and rearrange the pins on your national park road trip map. Choosing the ideal starting point is important, and reshuffling the order in which you visit your chosen parks can make the whole trip easier and more enjoyable. 


5 Best National Park Road Trips

Time to choose your adventure. Would you rather see America's most iconic national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon—or, would you rather explore its hidden gems? Do you want to experience rugged mountains, picturesque beaches, secluded forests, or beautiful deserts? No matter your preference, one of these national park road trips is sure to please.


Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are next-door neighbors, which makes it convenient to plan a national parks road trip. These two back-to-back parks are home to vast prairies, snow-capped mountains, herds of bison, and some of the best fly-fishing streams in America.

And that's without even mentioning Yellowstone's famed geysers, hot springs, and fumaroles. You could spend a week or more just driving and hiking around Grand Teton and Yellowstone, but do yourself a favor and add Montana's Glacier National Park to your itinerary. 

You can hit all three parks with a little over 10 hours of driving, and Glacier National Park rewards travelers with some of the most spectacular glacier-sculpted peaks and valleys in the Rocky Mountains. Glacier National Park's 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road is touted as one of the most scenic drives in America. 


Utah's Big Five

Utah is arguably the best place in the U.S. to see classic Western scenery like red sandstone cliffs, mesas, canyons, arches, and hoodoos. The state's five national parks encompass hundreds of thousands of acres of scenic landscapes, and they make for a great seven- to ten-day road trip. 

Starting and ending in Salt Lake City, you can hit Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks in one epic loop with about 15 hours of driving. Time permitting, you could also head across the Arizona border and tack on the Grand Canyon, which brings the travel time to 21 hours. 

Either way, this route packs in some of the most stunning scenery in the Southwest, including the remarkable natural architecture of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park and the epic canyons and herds of bighorn sheep in Zion National Park.


Appalachian Mountains & Seashores

The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the world and they're home to two of the most magnificent parks in the East: Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park. 

Each of these parks has its own scenic route—the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Smokies and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah—both of which run along the rugged spine of the Appalachians. Along the way are hundreds of scenic overlooks, hiking trailheads, and campgrounds. 

The mountains are a relatively short drive from coastal parks like Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. Here you can hike the beaches with wild ponies and kayak in secluded backwaters. 

The round-trip through the Smokies, Shenandoah, Cape Hatteras, and Cape Lookout involves about 23 hours of driving. 


Pacific Coast Highway Parks

Taking California State Route 1 and U.S. Route 101, you can drive almost the entire West Coast, hitting several national parks along the way. There are a few variations on this route, but a straight shot from San Francisco to Seattle—with a couple of choice detours, of course—takes about 20 hours. 

First, you can check the iconic Golden Gate Bridge off your list. It's part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which also includes Muir Woods and Alcatraz Island. Next comes Redwood National and State Parks, which are home to 40 miles of rugged coastline and the tallest trees on earth. 

Eventually, you reach Washington. Before you make it to Seattle, spend some time exploring Olympic National Park. It's one of the most varied parks in America, ranging from snow-capped Mt. Olympus to the windswept coastline with America's largest temperate rainforest in between. 


Wild Florida Road Trip

There are few wild places left in the United States, but Florida is home to several of them. With less than four hours of driving (and a short boat ride), you can visit Biscayne National Park, Everglades National Park, and Dry Tortugas National Park. Biscayne is a stone's throw from Miami, making it a great place to start.

Biscayne National Park is unique in that it's 95% water. Preserved within its boundaries are some of America's most precious coral reefs and marine ecosystems, and it's an amazing place for snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and fishing. Keep an eye out for dolphins in the crystal-clear waters. 

From there, it's a short drive into the heart of the Everglades, a vast wetland populated by alligators, manatees, and the rare Florida panther. Then take a drive across the Florida Keys on U.S. Route 1 and hop the ferry to Dry Tortugas National Park, a remarkable chain of islands 70 miles west of Key West that includes a 200-year-old fortress and rich sea turtle nesting grounds. 


Hit the Road

The national parks road trip of a lifetime requires careful planning, and we hope this national park road trip planner has you ready to roll the windows down and take to the open road. No matter where the road takes you, chances are you're about 10 minutes from a Hotel by Wyndham. Download the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts app today to start planning your road trip to national parks!

Find your stops, book your stays, hit the road. It’s the easiest way to book and go on the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts app.


Enjoy member-only perks and earn points for your stays to redeem for free and discounted nights at thousands of hotels worldwide.**



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*The National Parks Conservation Association Rate of up to 20% off the Best Available Rate is available to members of the National Parks Conservation Association (“NPCA”) at participating Travelodge® by Wyndham hotels in the United States for stays beginning January 1, 2022 and completed by December 31, 2022 (“NPCA Rate”). Wyndham Hotel Group, LLC, on behalf of its brand, Travelodge by Wyndham, will make a donation to NPCA of five percent (5%) of the net room revenue for each “Qualified Promotion Night,” which is defined as each room night booked and consumed at participating hotels in the U.S. between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022 when reserved at the NPCA Member Rate (rate code SFA) and processed by the participating hotel with the Corporate I.D. 1000022661. To book the NPCA Rate, only available by visiting and search for your dates and destination, including the rate code SFA, or by calling 877-670-7088 and give the agent corporate ID code 1000022661.

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