Summer is here and so is vacation season. Across the country Americans are taking time off to spend it with their families, friends or significant others. This year, instead of taking the usual beachside leisure trip with your girlfriend or stressfully navigating amusement parks with your kids, plan a classic cross-country road trip and spend some time in America’s best national parks. Online mapping tools like RouteXL or Google Maps or can help you plan the best route for your road trip to see the maximum number of parks. These parks have the best our country has to offer and are must-see stops on your summer national park road trip.
Yosemite National Park, California
There is a reason Yosemite is national park royalty. Snow-capped peaks, deep ravines, breathtaking views and far-stretching lakes are all encompassed in the expansive Yosemite National Park. As the Telegraph points out, this park has the best of the U.S.’s natural wonders, including Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America. It also boasts the tallest granite monolith in the world, called El Capitan. While extreme rock climbing may be your cup of tea, others may want something a little closer to the ground. You can enjoy fishing, rafting, camping in beautiful scenery and hiking some of the best trails in the country.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Travel and Leisure names Black Canyon of the Gunnison one of the best secret national parks in America. It is one of the deepest and narrowest canyons in North America that plunges almost 3,000 feet and spans 53 miles. For very skilled rock climbers, the Painted Wall is more than 2,000 feet high and the tallest vertical climbing rock wall in the state. Several hiking trails move along the deep canyon and offer spectacular views of the black rock and rushing Gunnison River far below.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The unbelievable sight of the massive Grand Canyon in itself is reason enough to visit this national park. The canyon is approximately 277 miles long and 18 miles deep. It took millions of years for the canyon to form and you can see the years of the Earth’s development through the layers of rock and soil. There is no shortage of hiking and camping opportunities around the north and south rim of the canyon and you can even take a couple days to hike into the canyon and see its wonder from the bottom. Of all the magnificent rock formations in the canyon, National Geographic lists Cape Royal and Angel Window as in the top 10 U.S. National Park landmarks that you have to see to fully appreciate.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
When you think of what America was like thousands of years ago, you might picture something similar to the terrain of Yellowstone National Park. The untouched beauty and majestic wildlife will have you in awe from the moment you arrive. Hot springs and geysers are some of the main draws to the park. Colorful steaming pools and sky-high geysers almost look unreal. According to U.S. News Travel, people thought the account from a scout among Lewis and Clark’s journey through this region was embellished because it sounded too magnificent to be true. This park is also one of the best places to see wildlife such as buffalo, elk and even grizzly bears.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is one of the best sites for hiking in the country. This massive 47,000 acre expanse is the home to Cadillac Mountain, the tallest peak on the Atlantic coastline. Acadia National Park is also known for its conservation initiatives and collaborative restoration organizations. The Acadia Trails Forever program worked to restore a 130-mile hiking trail in the park and many other trails. According to Fodor’s, a must-see is the 100-year-old Homan’s Path, a natural granite staircase with 400 steps.