The National Park System (NPS) includes 417 sites spanning the United States and even into some US territories (Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.) Our family really enjoys incorporating stops at National Parks into our travel; however, a National Park Road Trip is a fabulous way to visit a lot of parks in a specific area.
Visiting different parks is a great way to learn about history, culture, and natural elements in a specific area. You’ll find your time in the parks to be memorable and educational. Our family really enjoys spending time in the visitor’s center learning everything we can about the park before we explore. You will often find fun activities for your children to enjoy like park scavenger hunts.
Of course, looking at a map the possibilities for a National Park road trip are endless! The official website details 4 great suggestions for anyone looking for inspiration:
- The Iconic Pacific Coast Highway: This route spans 3 states- Washington, Oregon and California. It includes stops at: Olympic NP; Oregon Caves NP and Monument; Redwood NP; Point Reyes National Seashore; Golden Gate National Recreation Area; Pinnacles NP; and Cesar Chaves National Monument.
- How The West Was Preserved: Travel through 5 states on this journey- California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. This National Park road trip includes: Lassen Volcanic NP; Yosemite NP; Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP; Death Valley NP; Grand Canyon NP; Rocky Mountain NP; Grand Teton NP; and Yellowstone NP.
- The Natural Beauty of the Coast: Depending on your driving route, during this National Park road trip you’ll cover up to 7 states. Stops include: Acadia NP; Salem Maritime National Historic Site; JFK National Historic Site; Minute Man NHP; Weir Farm National Historic Site; Thomas Edison NHP; African Burial Grounds National Monument; The Statue of Liberty and Elis Island; Fire Island National Seashore; and Stonewall Inn National Historic Landmark.
- The Culture of the South: This massive road trip takes you through 8 states. Stops include: Richmond National Battlefield Park; Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site; Booker T. Washington National Monument; Great Smokey Mountains NP; MLK Jr National Historic Site; Natchez NHP; New Orleans Jazz NHP; Cane River Creole NHP; San Antonio Missions NHP; and Big Bend NP.
Of course, these are just 4 National Park road trip possibilities! There are really a million different combinations you could come up with to explore! Some areas of the country are more saturated with locations and therefore you can keep the driving distance shorter. In other locations you may need to factor in a significant amount of drive time!
Here are a few reminders about visiting National Parks:
- Passport Book: We are HUGE fans of our National Parks Passport book! You can read more about how it works- here. Or click- here– to order yours before you set out on your journey!
- Every Kid In A Park Program: All 4th graders and their families receive free admission to all National Parks. Register- here.
- Try it, try it! You Will See: Can you guess my son’s favorite book? (Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss) A few years ago I thought National Parks weren’t my thing. I’m not really the camping/nature type. But the more we’ve explored, the more we want to explore. If you aren’t sure about a huge National Park road trip, start off by visiting one in your area. Or add one onto a trip. Like me, you might find that you love exploring the various parks and historic sites!
What is your favorite National Park, and why?