The Best US National Park Road Trips to Take This Summer 

Summer is a great time to enjoy a road trip. Plants are blooming and warm weather makes it a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. As you start planning your summer and make a list of the best places to vacation, don’t forget to include national parks! Road trips are a great way to explore the country while relaxing and enjoying activities out in nature. With plenty of national parks in the U.S., you might have a hard time deciding which to visit first, so here is a list of the best parks to visit during the summer!

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Turret Arch in Grand County, Utah.

  1. Grand Circle Tour

The Grand Circle encompasses parts of 5 different states: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. The Grand Circle can be traveled by 29 scenic byways, which are roads specially selected to be well-maintained, scenic, and may have historical significance. Notable landmarks and views include the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Arches National Park. The official website even offers a travel itinerary so you can even decide which places you want to visit most!

If you want a long road trip, this is the one! You don’t have to travel through all of the Grand Circle–it’s a lot–but make sure that you take your time to really take appreciate everything it has to offer, and prepare well for the journey.

 

  1. Glacier National Park (Montana)

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Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park.

 

Traverse the northern part of the Rocky Mountains and end up in Glacier National Park! From Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier, these national parks make up a 450 mile (one way) portion of the 3,000 mile Rocky Mountain Trail. These parks are absolutely filled with endless natural beauty; bright green meadows, native flowers, geometric mountains, and erupting geysers are some of the scenic views you’ll find; the biggest mistake you could make is forgetting your DSLR camera at home!

Glacier National Park is home to the historic Going-to-the-Sun road, a 50 mile road with incredible views that crosses the Continental Divide. The road is open from mid-year (June or July) to around October, which means that summer is the time to see it.

  1. Olympic National Park (Washington)

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Hiking the Hurricane Hill Trail

Enjoy non-stop ocean views as you road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on your way to Redwood National Park, home of the tallest trees in the world! Redwood also offers numerous campsites, vast prairies, rushing rivers, and more. Then head on to your destination, Olympic National Park. The park encompasses almost 1 million acres of vast wilderness, several different ecosystems, and thousands of years of human history.

 

 

  1. California’s Majestic Mountain Loop

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Sequoia’s Giant Forest Big Trees Trail

 

Within the loop are Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks, which are easily some of the best places to vacation in California. This road trip can be easily completed in 3 days, but the more time you have, the better! Sequoia is home to General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree by volume and a key point of interest! Kings Canyon is home to trout-filled Hume Lake, and Yosemite offers the Half Dome hike, not for the faint of heart or those who aren’t prepared. The hike takes about 16 hours round trip to complete and has amazing views.

  1. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (Colorado)

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Sand Dunes.

 

Colorado’s national parks aren’t located side by side, but starting in Denver and driving from Rocky Mountain to Mesa Verde to Great Sand Dunes National Parks is a road trip not to be missed! These three parks are vastly different but are conveniently located in the same state. They’re home to the continent’s tallest sand dunes, 12,000 foot alpines, and Pueblo cliff dwellings that are generations old. There is also native wildlife, of course! These site look fantastic to the naked eye and photographs can actually do them justice.  

  1. Acadia National Park (Maine)

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View of Otter Cliff from Ocean Path.

 

Acadia’s Park Loop Road is an easy day-trip that’s not to be missed. The 27 mile Loop is the main way of navigating the park and is almost entirely one-way. So once you start, you can’t turn around (not that you’d want to). The park is home to Cadillac Mountain, the tallest peak on the Northern Atlantic seaboard, along with several other challenging mountain climbs and hiking trails. Park Loop Road spans both coastline and inland, giving you an amazing view of the ocean, rocky shores, pink granite, and in the late summer/early fall, incredible red and gold foliage.

Acadia National Park is accompanied by quaint, vibrant coastal towns, most notably Bar Harbor. Enjoy weekly concerts, small shops, art galleries, whale watching, kayaking, and so much more.

  1. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

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Rafinesque Hall in Mammoth Cave

 

Take Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive–filled with clear mountain views and over 50 overlooks–to the heavily forested Smoky Mountains National Park, which is filled with black bears and other beautiful wildlife. However, the main attraction on this road trip is Mammoth Cave National Park, home of an extensive cave system. Activities include underground boat tours, zip lining, horseback riding, and more!

You deserve to enjoy your vacation. Whether you end up swimming in any of the natural bodies of water you encounter, or simply sunning yourself, make sure you bring a GBM Sonsie swimsuit on your road trip! These road trips and national parks are easily some of the best places to vacation.