Whether tangled Spanish Moss, roaring Redwoods, or misty mountains – the USA is home to some of the most striking national parks in the world. Imagine, drives that immerse you in nature, riding across ridges, stepping out to stretch your legs with a hike to glacial lakes or thundering falls, keeping your eyes peeled for grizzly bears, and finally sleeping soundly with a full and spinning cosmos above your head. With over four hundred national parks to pick from, we’ve handpicked several of our faves that should certainly be added to your next road trip…
Acadia National Park, Maine
A patch of coastal Maine where fragrant forests spill down to meet the surge of the salt Atlantic, Acadia National Park is a treasure trove of sprawling wilderness. You can visit charming fishing villages famed for being Victorian style getaways, places where artists would visit for periods of whale watching, misty mornings painting, and sleeping in rustic lodges beneath a bounty of stars. Take the jaw dropping scenic loop, covering 27 miles that runs you up Cadillac Mountain before plunging into the pristine cool waters of Sand Beach.
Sleep in historic inns, opt for canvas walls with the many campgrounds, and spend your summers eating lobster and hiking, your falls watching the world turn into a blaze of color, and winters snowshoeing through blankets of white.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Perhaps the most famed National Park road trip in the whole of the US, the Grand Canyon is a must for anyone who hasn’t marveled at the UNESCO desert dream. Over a billion years old and with no less than 277 miles of rivers cutting through the weather bitten canyons, there’s a poetry to this landscape that can’t be matched. The Grand Canyon is the land of flaming sunset colors, drives so epic they are dizzying, and rushing white water rapids that leave your heart I your mouth if you opt to go rafting.
Take the Rim Trail to see one of the most scenic trails in the United States of America, swing by Lipan Point to catch the birds on their flight paths, and marvel at the geological wonders that meet you every step of the way. For those camping, here in the canyon the nights offer an endless sea of stars.
Glacier National Park, Montana
For those who dream of alpine lakes, hulking stone structures dusted with snow, and glacier carved valleys that seem to rise and fall for as far as the eye can see, the Glacier National Park stays true to its name. Nicknamed the Crown of the Continent, the Glacier Park offers drives that aren’t for the faint of heart. The 50 mile Going to the Sun Road takes you on a fairground ride up and down over the Continental Divide. But along the way there’s ancient forests, bighorn sheep, hidden trails, and thundering falls to keep you soft of heart.
Hikers will fall hard for the endless trails offered in Glacier National Park – some stretching on for as far as 700 miles. There’s stunning chalets for resting easy and the chance to spot grizzly bears and howling wolves along the way.
Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
With a name that is pure poetry evoking visions of morning mist rising over shadowy peaks, the Great Smoky Mountains is a vision of endless ridges, velvet forests, and over 150 different hiking trails. Cool water streams babble and sing as they course through the creeks, there are endless falls, coves, and cascades to keep you fresh of mind and heart. There’s 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail to pick up and conquer and there’s bears and fireflies and scenes straight out of wilderness fantasies.
For those who aren’t behind the wheel, you can hit up moonshine tastings along the way and even veer off track for a taste of the famed and fun Dollywood.
Which US National Parks are making your faves list? Share in the comments and let’s get planning some long-distance rides.