Fantastic American Road Trips Through National Parks

America’s national parks are home to some of the most spectacular panoramic views and stunning landscapes that you’ll ever see in your lifetime. From lush mountains and sparkling blue waters to otherworldly rock formations that go as far as the eye can see, these landscapes incite a feeling like no other. 

Travel + Leisure notes that there are a total of 58 national parks across the United States. With that many options, it can be more than a little tough to pick which ones to visit first. The more popular ones like Yellowstone and the Zion National Park are probably already on your must-see list, but why not make an entire road trip out of the experience and explore the surrounding attractions as well? One of the best ways to see America, after all, is by car.

With this in mind, the road trips listed below will take you through national parks both well-loved and obscure, as well as some of the country's most breathtaking scenic routes. These are self-guided road trips that you can tweak or add to depending on your preference. For those looking to have the adventure of a lifetime, you can even combine all of them and plan the ultimate road trip from the East to West coast of America. However, be sure to plan your cross-country trip well as this will definitely require you to shell out even more than your usual road trip. Factoring in gas, food, and lodging, expenses can easily reach a whopping $4,800, as outlined by Lottoland's feature on bucket list adventures. But then again, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the experience will be priceless. 

So whether you want to see epic wildlife, monolithic canyons, or vast forests, there’s sure to be a place that's perfect for your dream itinerary below. 

Acadia National Park, Maine

Take in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and Coastal Maine as you drive along the expansive 27-mile Park Loop Road of Acadia. The shoreline might be craggy, but this only adds to the area's rugged charm and overall picturesque landscape. Nearby is the equally stunning Champlain Mountain Overlook, but drive down Hulls Cove and you’ll get a glimpse of Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. The park’s main spectacle is Cadillac Mountain, which is the tallest peak on the entire North Atlantic coast. And if you’re up for nature activities like hiking or biking, don’t miss out on Carriage Roads. Photo opportunities also await you at sights such as Sand Beach and Jordan Pond. 

Address: Eagle Lake Road, Bar Harbor, Maine
Price: Park entrance fee of $25 to $30 per vehicle
Site Features: Boat cruises, camping

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Chances are, you’ve already seen images of Joshua Tree National Park splashed across posters everywhere. Its stunning landscapes and ethereal skies have a certain beauty that looks almost fictional. Because it’s just a stone’s throw away from Los Angeles, the road is fairly easy to navigate. From Highway 10 east to Highway 62, it will only take you a couple of hours before arriving at paradise. You can stop over at Skull Rock and Cap Rock, which are only 15 minutes away from each other. Afterwards, end your day by watching the sky paint itself in magnificent oranges, reds, purples, and yellows against a beautiful foreground of the unique Joshua Tree, the park's namesake plant. 

Address: 64080 Quail Springs Road, National Park Entrance, Joshua Tree, California
Price: Park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle
Site Features: Camping only

Olympic National Park, Washington

The Olympic National Park seems to have it all. Oceanic coastlines trace the surroundings, outlining temperate rainforests and majestic mountains. The area boasts 168 miles of paved roads just within its boundaries, but you’ll have to go off the beaten path to get a real taste of its unspoilt views. Smaller vehicles can go off the unpaved streets of Obstruction Point Road to see the mountains, while others can take a 17-mile drive south on Hurricane Ridge Road, just off Mount Angeles Road. One of the most sought-after views here is of the Hoh Rainforest, where abundant moss and ancient trees abound. But you can also stop over from Ruby Beach to Kalaloch to feast your eyes on the rocky Pacific. If you’re lucky, you might even see humpback whales swimming in the ocean from atop the Olympic National Park’s peaks.

Address: 3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362, USA
Price: Park entrance fee of $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle
Site Features: Fishing, lodging, campgrounds 

Glacier National Park, Montana

Spanning over 50 miles on a two-lane road, the route — which cuts across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass — offers a striking front-row seat to lush cedar forests, cavernous waterfalls, and sapphire-colored lakes. While in transit, you will also be treated to an array of wildlife, such as bighorn sheep and mountain goats. But what really attracts visitors to this park are its glacier-carved cliffs and glittering mountains. For those who want to spend the night, you may stay at the Many Glacier Hotel and bask in some of the area’s must-see attractions, like Wild Goose Island, Jackson Glacier Overlook, and the Siyeh Bend hiking trail. 

Address: 64 Grinnell Drive, West Glacier, Montana
Price: Park entrance fee of $20 per person, $35 per vehicle for 7 days, or $30 per motorcycle
Site Features: Lodging, camp grounds, showers at the Rising Sun and Swiftcurrent Campstores

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

For a more unique experience, you can opt to explore the Pacific Northwest’s snow-covered peaks from Oregon’s Crater Lake, which also happens to be the mouth of an ancient volcano. Take in the views via a ranger-led boat tour if you’d like to get up close and personal, but there is already more than enough to see on the drive. Start on Crater Lake, going southwest to Redwood National and State Parks in California’s northwest corner. Afterwards, you’ll weave through Coastal Drive and Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, where dramatic forests and dazzling shores await. 

Address: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Price: Park entrance fee of $12 per person, $25 per vehicle, or $20 per motorcycle
Site Features: Lodging, camp grounds 

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