I’ve been having CRAZY wanderlust lately and have fully realized that there is no reason to have a long list of trips on my bucket list if I’m just going to create a list and never accomplish anything on it…so last weekend I decided that since summer is here; why not drive across the entire continent and visit nearly every National Park in the United States?
There is literally no reason not to.
I’ve visited a few of the National Parks, and I am lucky enough to live in between two of the best ones (Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay National Park), but there are so many more to explore, so off I go!
Normally when I travel I exhaustively research everything in advance; from things to do, to restaurants, to historic sites, to people to meet, to day trips, etc., but since I decided to do this major road trip just last weekend, and since time is ticking, I won’t have that luxury. I always research my locations in advance because I want to ensure that I see everything there is to see, and do everything there is to do. I never want to regret missing out on something memorable.
This trip will be different.
If I put as much research into this adventure as I normally would, I’d never get on the road, and summer would be over by the time I was done planning it.
I’ve spent the last week struggling with a major decision regarding such a long road trip; should I invest in an RV, or should I drive my SUV and stay in hotels/Airbnb’s/couchsurf/tent camp? Should I try house sitting/pet sitting to save money on hotels? I’ve been going back and forth in my head 24 hours a day, so much that I’ve been losing sleep over the options. I have never even been in an RV, so the thought of driving, maintaining, and LIVING in one is daunting to me. I’ve completed many road trips across the United States in my own SUV, and am very comfortable with that mode of travel; but the idea of being able to have everything that I need with me at all times, and the convenience of being able to sleep anywhere in an RV is very appealing.
Research is one of my strong points, so in the last week I’ve pretty much become a leading expert on RV’s; (something I never thought I’d hear myself say). Through the process of learning about every option that exists, ranging from roof-tents, to travel trailers, to pick-up truck campers, to vans, to RV’s; I narrowed down all of the options to what I considered to be the best compromise of utility and affordability: The Winnebago Travato 59K. This model RV has everything that I need: a place to sleep, a bathroom, a place to cook, bicycle racks, kayak racks, storage, and plenty of windows to enjoy the view along the way. It’s also small enough to be agile and easy to drive, and most importantly, I can drive into cities and park it anywhere.
Today is July 4th, and I still cannot make up my mind about what’s the best mode of transportation for me. The pressure to get on the road makes me think that I should just pack up my SUV and go within the next 2 weeks; but my mind keeps telling me that living in the Travato might be an amazing adventure; and a totally different experience. There is a huge community of Travato owners that help each other with issues, give each other tips and ideas, and that meet up on their adventures. That last part is really appealing to me…as I thrive on meeting new people, and on meeting like-minded people. I think that going on a 4+ month-long road trip alone in my SUV would pale in comparison to one where I have a community of people who I can meet up with and interact with along the way. I’m just really nervous about learning how to use an RV on such short notice, and worried about all of the things that can go wrong with them! Ugh. Time is ticking…I’ll make up my mind within the next week and just go with what feels best I guess!
If you know of anyone that I should meet along the way, or if you would like to join me on this adventure, please contact me and let me know! I’d love the company, and I’d love to meet new friends!
My National Park Road Trip Destinations:
I have obviously had very little time to plan this trip, so what I did to give myself a basic plan, was to start with the most efficient route to visit all of the National Parks, and then simply throw in a few cities along the way so that I can visit all of my friends across the country in the process. As of today, here is the very general list of locations that I plan to visit; I will be filling in hundreds of other locations along the way as I go. There will be countless places for me to visit in between each of the National Parks on the below list such as National Forests, National Monuments, State Parks, cities, locations from the Atlas Obscura book, restaurants, events, roadside attractions, and many, many more.
*You’ll notice that some of the National Parks are not on the below list; that’s because I’ve already been to them at least once, if not multiple times.
- Everglades National Park – Florida
- Saint Augustine, Florida – To visit friends
- Fort Matanzas National Monument – Florida
- Castillo De San Marcos National Monument – Florida
- Fort Mose Historic State Park – Florida
- Savannah National Wildlife Refuge – Georgia
- Hilton Head, South Carolina – To visit friends
- Columbia – South Carolina – To view the solar eclipse!
- Charlotte, North Carolina – To visit family
- Crowders Mountain State Park – North Carolina
- Asheville, North Carolina – To visit friends
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Tennessee
- Nashville, Tennessee – To visit friends
- Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky
- Gateway Arch – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – Missouri
- Badlands National Park – South Dakota
- Black Hills National Forest – South Dakota
- Wind Cave National Park – South Dakota
- Jewel Cave National Monument – South Dakota
- Devils Tower National Monument – Wyoming
- Jackson, Wyoming – To visit friends
- Grand Tetons National Park – Wyoming
- Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
- Missoula, Montana – To visit friends
- Glacier National Park – Montana
- North Cascades National Park – Washington
- Seattle, Washington – To visit friends
- Olympic National Park – Washington
- Mount Rainier National Park – Washington
- Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument – Washington
- Portland, Oregon – To visit friends
- Silver Falls State Park – Oregon
- Crater Lake National Park – Oregon
- Oregon Caves National Monument – Oregon
- Redwood National Park – California
- Lassen Volcanic National Park – California
- Muir Woods National Monument -California
- San Francisco – To visit friends
- Santa Cruz – To visit friends
- Yosemite National Park – California
- Kings Canyon National Park – California
- Sequoia National Park – California
- Pinnacles National Park – California
- Channel Islands National Park – California
- Los Angeles – To visit friends
- Joshua Tree National Park – California
- Death Valley National Park – California
- Great Basin National Park – Nevada
- Zion National Park – Utah
- Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
- Capitol Reef National Park – Utah
- Goblin Valley State Park – Utah
- Arches National Park – Utah
- Canyonlands National Park – Utah
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado
- Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado
- Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado
- Mesa Verde National Park – Colorado
- Canyons of the Ancients National Monument – Colorado
- Monument Valley – Arizona
- Canyon de Chelly National Monument – Arizona
- Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona
- Phoenix, Arizona – To visit friends
- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Arizona
- Saguaro National Park – Arizona
- White Sands National Monument – New Mexico
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Texas
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico
- Terlingua Ghost Town – Texas
- Big Bend National Park – Texas
- Austin, Texas – To visit friends