There are 423 sites in the U.S. National Parks System and together they span 84 million acres of protected land! Sixty-two of these sites are designated National Parks: Beautiful, natural land that’s open to the public.
Park visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, sightseeing, swimming, kayaking, walking nature trails, climbing, picnicking, bird watching, and in some instances, ziplining!
With so many activities sprawled across the country, we’d recommend strategically bundling your National Park visits in road trips through these three geographic zones!
The East Coaster
This South-bound route along the Atlantic begins in the Nation’s capital, passes through three remarkably diverse National Parks and takes about a week at the wheel. Shenandoah’s 200,000 acres of autumnal trees, the Great Smoky Mountains’ massive alluring presence, and Mammoth Cave’s depth and other-worldly vibe all combine to create the perfect seven day adventure.
As National Geographic describes this road trip route, “Any traveler linking fertile river valleys to misty mountains and then plunging into the subterranean depths of the world’s longest known cave system could be forgiven for experiencing a state of culture shock.”
These three sites are best enjoyed during the weeks that bridge late summer and early fall. Oh, and make sure to load up on gas before entering each park!
The Golden State is home to nine different National Parks: Channel Islands, Pinnacles, Lassen Volcanic, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, the Redwoods, Sequoia & King’s Canyon, and Death Valley! While there are many different variations of road trips along the Pacific, we’d recommend these two.
Jetsetter highlights the Majestic Mountain Loop as one of their top eight best National Park road trip routes. While the trip can technically be ‘done’ in a single weekend, you’ll want to give yourself as much time as possible in Yosemite’s cool air and dense forestry and Sequoia & King’s Canyon’s amazing outlooks.
The best option for travellers with excess PTO and plenty of gas money is Lonely Planet’s Legendary Road Trip! It hits all nine of California’s National Parks and provides a day by day itinerary of where to stay, what to see, and need-to-know information.
Colorado: Sandy Dunes, Verdant Hikes, and Hot Springs
This road trip route, brought to you by My Colorado Parks, crosses over 1,000 miles of diverse biomes and epic views. The driving route, recommended activities in each park, and lodging is meticulously planned in this guide, and the entire trip revolves around Colorado’s scenic expanses.
Visiting National Parks: What to Wear
Road trips require savvy, tight packing. Montauk Tackle’s performance crewneck is the perfect gear for hiking Yellowstone, biking through the Great Smoky Mountains, or exploring the cave dwellings of Mesa Verde. Its light, breathable material was designed for outdoor activity, while its 50+ UPF smart fabric prevents burns (even in the summer out west) and is moisture wicking.
Montauk’s fabrics are made from recycled bottles; an estimated four bottles have been repurposed into each shirt. Further, all of our products American made performance apparel, so you can feel good about supporting the local economy.
You can learn more about our recycled, sustainable yarn here. Montauk Tackle believes in sustainable, American made clothing that allows you to enjoy the outdoors, from coast to coast!