Epic Road Trip to Visit National Parks in the United States

Road Trip to Visit All of the National Parks

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.

Winnebago Travato
The Winnebago Travato

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!

You can follow along on this adventure via my Instagram and by following me on Facebook.

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.

  1. Everglades National Park – Florida
  2. Saint Augustine, Florida – To visit friends
  3. Fort Matanzas National Monument – Florida
  4. Castillo De San Marcos National Monument – Florida
  5. Fort Mose Historic State Park – Florida
  6. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge – Georgia
  7. Hilton Head, South Carolina – To visit friends
  8. Columbia – South Carolina – To view the solar eclipse!
  9. Charlotte, North Carolina – To visit family
  10. Crowders Mountain State Park – North Carolina
  11. Asheville, North Carolina – To visit friends
  12. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Tennessee
  13. Nashville, Tennessee – To visit friends
  14. Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky
  15. Gateway Arch – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – Missouri
  16. Badlands National Park – South Dakota
  17. Black Hills National Forest – South Dakota
  18. Wind Cave National Park – South Dakota
  19. Jewel Cave National Monument – South Dakota
  20. Devils Tower National Monument – Wyoming
  21. Jackson, Wyoming – To visit friends
  22. Grand Tetons National Park – Wyoming
  23. Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
  24. Missoula, Montana – To visit friends
  25. Glacier National Park – Montana
  26. North Cascades National Park – Washington
  27. Seattle, Washington – To visit friends
  28. Olympic National Park – Washington
  29. Mount Rainier National Park – Washington
  30. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument – Washington
  31. Portland, Oregon – To visit friends
  32. Silver Falls State Park – Oregon
  33. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon
  34. Oregon Caves National Monument – Oregon
  35. Redwood National Park – California
  36. Lassen Volcanic National Park – California
  37. Muir Woods National Monument -California
  38. San Francisco – To visit friends
  39. Santa Cruz – To visit friends
  40. Yosemite National Park – California
  41. Kings Canyon National Park – California
  42. Sequoia National Park – California
  43. Pinnacles National Park – California
  44. Channel Islands National Park – California
  45. Los Angeles – To visit friends
  46. Joshua Tree National Park – California
  47. Death Valley National Park – California
  48. Great Basin National Park – Nevada
  49. Zion National Park – Utah
  50. Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
  51. Capitol Reef National Park – Utah
  52. Goblin Valley State Park – Utah
  53. Arches National Park – Utah
  54. Canyonlands National Park – Utah
  55. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado
  56. Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado
  57. Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado
  58. Mesa Verde National Park – Colorado
  59. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument – Colorado
  60. Monument Valley – Arizona
  61. Canyon de Chelly National Monument – Arizona
  62. Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona
  63. Phoenix, Arizona – To visit friends
  64. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Arizona
  65. Saguaro National Park – Arizona
  66. White Sands National Monument – New Mexico
  67. Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Texas
  68. Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico
  69. Terlingua Ghost Town – Texas
  70. Big Bend National Park – Texas
  71. Austin, Texas – To visit friends

4 Responses

  • wonderful trip, travato is the only way to go, just got mine and will be heading out in august for 2 months i think it will be a great trip and i am sure we will be learning about the RV the whole time

    • Thanks Bill! I’m still so on the fence about it! There are so many ways to travel and it’s so hard to decide which one suits me as a solo explorer!

    • Thanks friend!! Excited to see you! If you guys want to come meet me ANYWHERE along the way, I welcome the company!

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