The United States is home to some of the most incredible national parks in the world. With wide-open spaces and seemingly untouched wilderness, there's no better place to appreciate the sheer beauty of the natural world. Here are the top 10 destinations for a national park road trip.
1. Trek through Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains
A prominent part of the Blue Ridge mountain chain, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been a popular national park road trip destination for travelers all over the American South. You'll find numerous hiking trails in the area, with the Alum Cave Bluffs trail being among the most popular thanks to the scenic views it offers from Mount Le Conte.
2. Venture out into the water at Biscayne National Park
If you're looking for a more aquatic experience, take a national park road trip to Biscayne National Park in Southern Florida. 95 percent of this park is water, and it's an incredible place to see marine life up close. You can go snorkeling or try a full-on scuba dive in some areas. Additionally, you can enjoy kayaking and windsurfing.
3. Explore the massive Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is the third-largest national park in the entire country and preserves particularly unique geographic features. For the most part, the park is a network of wetlands and forests known primarily for its river of grass. You may also want to visit certain parts at night. Dark-sky observations are easy to find here, with some spots being suitable for seeing the Milky Way with the naked eyes.
4. Travel through the Mojave in Joshua Tree National Park
When you visit Joshua Tree National Park, you'll find much more than just desert. Along its numerous hiking and biking trails, you can find yourself met with stunning views of the Salton Sea, the Santa Rosa Mountains, and even the city of Palm Springs off in the distance. Horseback riding and rock climbing are also popular here if you're feeling more adventurous.
5. Traverse the peaks of Grand Teton National Park
Located near the small, charming town of Jackson, Grand Teton National Park is an immaculately preserved piece of natural splendor with towering mountains and sparkling lakes and rivers. Hiking the nearby mountains is the most popular activity here, especially the eponymous Grand Teton, which towers more than 7,000 feet.
6. Peruse a protected seascape at Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is located on the eastern coast of Maine where you'll find craggy cliffs and stunning views of the Atlantic. You can even explore the coastline more closely by booking a boat tour or renting a kayak. The local lakes and ponds are also popular with kayakers. Additionally, the local trails are traversable on foot, by bike, and even on horseback.
7. Enjoy the unforgettable majesty of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park might just be the most popular national park in the entire country. It's technically the first national park in the world, and its more than 2 million acres of land has much to offer. You'll find mountains, waterfalls, and lakes, but the park is most widely known for its impressive geothermal features like the Old Faithful geyser.
8. Relax with a road trip to Hot Springs National Park
Most road trips to a national park end with a thrilling adventure traversing natural paths through impressive geological features, but Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is more relaxing than anything else. As the name suggests, you'll find plenty of hot spring pools in the area, many of which you're free to relax in.
9. Find a perfect road trip destination in Shenandoah National Park
While Shenandoah National Park has much to offer, it's especially appropriate for travelers looking to embark on a national park road trip. This is because the park itself offers scenic views that can be experienced from Skyline Drive, the park's main road. This road is situated near the ridgeline of the mountains, so you'll find yourself driving past breathtaking views and stunning natural flora.
10. See awe-inspiring nature at Yosemite National Park
A national park road trip to Yosemite National Park is going to leave you with an unforgettable experience. Seemingly everything in this designated park area exists on a massive scale, from its towering granite cliffs to its giant sequoia trees. There's something equally humbling and satisfying about walking near these titans of nature that will leave you with memories that'll last a lifetime.