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

It’a now late June 2017, 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 a van or an RV might be an amazing adventure; and a totally different experience. There is a huge community of van/RV 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 year-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. 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.

  1. Everglades National Park – Florida
  2. Big Cypress National Preserve – Florida
  3. Biscayne National Park – Florida
  4. Saint Augustine, Florida – To visit friends
  5. Fort Matanzas National Monument – Florida
  6. Castillo De San Marcos National Monument – Florida
  7. Fort Mose Historic State Park – Florida
  8. Cumberland Island National Seashore – Georgia
  9. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge – Georgia
  10. Fort Frederica National Monument – Georgia
  11. Hilton Head, South Carolina – To visit friends
  12. Columbia – South Carolina – To view the solar eclipse!
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina – To visit family
  14. Crowders Mountain State Park – North Carolina
  15. Asheville, North Carolina – To visit friends
  16. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Tennessee
  17. Nashville, Tennessee – To visit friends
  18. Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky
  19. Gateway Arch – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – Missouri
  20. Badlands National Park – South Dakota
  21. Black Hills National Forest – South Dakota
  22. Wind Cave National Park – South Dakota
  23. Devils Tower National Monument – Wyoming
  24. Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado
  25. Boulder, Colorado – To visit friends
  26. Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre – Colorado
  27. Garden of the Gods – Colorado
  28. Mount Bierstadt – Colorado
  29. Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado
  30. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness – Colorado
  31. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado
  32. Ashcroft Ghost Town – Colorado
  33. Tomboy Ghost Town – Colorado
  34. Mesa Verde National Park – Colorado
  35. Hovenweep National Monument – Colorado
  36. Canyons of the Ancients National Monument – Colorado
  37. Arches National Park – Utah
  38. Canyonlands National Park – Utah
  39. Cisco Ghost Town – Utah
  40. Capitol Reef National Park – Utah
  41. Zion National Park – Utah
  42. Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah
  43. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Utah
  44. Grand Canyon North Rim – Arizona
  45. Horseshoe Bend – Arizona
  46. Glen Canyon Dam – Arizona
  47. Wupatki National Monument – Arizona
  48. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Arizona
  49. Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona
  50. Phoenix, Arizona – To visit friends
  51. Tonto National Monument – Arizona
  52. Walnut Canyon National Monument – Arizona
  53. Tuzigoot National Monument – Arizona
  54. Monument Valley – Arizona
  55. Saguaro National Park – Arizona
  56. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Arizona
  57. Joshua Tree National Park – California
  58. San Diego – To visit friends
  59. Los Angeles – To visit friends
  60. Channel Islands National Park – California
  61. Death Valley National Park – California
  62. Sequoia National Park – California
  63. Kings Canyon National Park – California
  64. Yosemite National Park – California
  65. Pinnacles National Park – California
  66. San Francisco – To visit friends
  67. Muir Woods National Monument -California
  68. Santa Cruz – To visit friends
  69. Lassen Volcanic National Park – California
  70. Redwood National Park – California
  71. Crater Lake National Park – Oregon
  72. Oregon Caves National Monument – Oregon
  73. Portland, Oregon – To visit friends
  74. Silver Falls State Park – Oregon
  75. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument – Washington
  76. Mount Rainier National Park – Washington
  77. Seattle, Washington – To visit friends
  78. Olympic National Park – Washington
  79. North Cascades National Park – Washington
  80. Glacier National Park – Montana
  81. Missoula, Montana – To visit friends
  82. Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming
  83. Jackson, Wyoming – To visit friends
  84. Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming
  85. Great Basin National Park – Nevada
  86. White Sands National Monument – New Mexico
  87. Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Texas
  88. Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico
  89. Terlingua Ghost Town – Texas
  90. Big Bend National Park – Texas
  91. Austin, Texas – To visit friends
  92. Gulf Islands National Seashore – Florida
  93. Canaveral National Seashore – Florida
  94. Dry Tortugas National Park – Florida

 

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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