Epic Road Trip to Visit National Parks in the United States

 

National Parks Road Trip

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!

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