A Road Trip Guide to 3 of America’s Most Beautiful National Parks

By on June 2, 2015
road trip to 3 beautiful National Parks

By Allison Stanton –

If you’re looking for a wonderful vacation adventure that does not involve standing in line and waiting for hours at airports, nothing beats a road trip. Road trips are a fabulous way to see our amazing country and its vast array of National Parks.

If you are ready to see the U.S. from the open road, here are a few places to consider visiting.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

There’s a good reason that Condé Nast Traveler lists Badlands National Park as one of America’s best places to visit on a road trip—the region’s vast expanse of rust-colored spires, pinnacles, and buttes will make you feel like you’ve landed on some other planet. The Badlands, which are located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, are spread over 244,000 acres and include plenty of opportunities for hiking, star gazing, and checking out local wildlife like bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and bison. Start your road trip on the 40-mile Badlands Loop Scenic Byway, stopping along the way as often as you wish to take plenty of photos. After you are finished in the park, head down I-90 and SD-240 for a 90-minute drive to Mount Rushmore, and take some selfies with four of our famous presidents.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Channel your inner Brady Bunch and enjoy a road trip that includes a stop at the incredible Grand Canyon. While most people spend their time at the crowded South Rim, drive to the less-populated North Rim for some additional scenery. Start your road trip at the South Rim, and enjoy the incredible views of the canyon and the condors who call it home. Then hop back in the car and drive about five hours to the North Rim which features jaw-dropping views of the canyon’s cliffs, bluffs, and crevices.

Since plenty of people from all around the world visit the Grand Canyon in the summer, a spring or fall trip should be less crowded. Once you are done admiring the canyon, head south to Williams and walk down historic Route 66 and then drive a bit further to Sedona to enjoy views of the incredible red rock formations with great names like Snoopy and Coffeepot Rock.

Shenandoah National Park, North Carolina and Virginia

If you’ve always wanted to take a road trip to the southeastern part of the U.S., Shenandoah National Park is an outstanding choice. Spend time winding down the Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches from the Tennessee/North Carolina border down into Virginia; the drive is especially scenic during the fall when Mother Nature paints the foliage in shades of red, orange, and gold. On your way to Shenandoah, be sure to visit Mount Mitchell, which is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Once you arrive in Shenandoah, take the 105-mile Skyline Drive, which gives you plenty of incredible views of the Appalachian Highlands.

If you need assistance with planning your trip, use a web service like RouteXL; as The Dig notes, you can use the website to enter up to 20 desired destinations, and it will create a road trip route. The site will also outline the shortest distances between your stops, which will help you make the most of your time and gas while on the road.


Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.

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A Road Trip Guide to 3 of America’s Most Beautiful National Parks