19 National Parks. 10000+ miles. One mega road trip itinerary

This summer we took a break from our normal everyday life and embarked on a national parks road trip across the American West & Canada. Being outdoor enthusiasts, we both love national parks and natural landscapes, so this was a great choice for our summer plans. We just didn’t know how many national parks we could cover in a single trip.

After hours and hours of research looking for the best locations to cover, we ended up with this itinerary for our summer road travels. It consists of 20 stops over the span of 83 days, visiting 19 national parks across 9 different states, and over 10,000 miles in US & Canada. (5000 miles in an RV towing a car, another 5000 miles in the car driving around in national parks). The whole trip looks like a giant loop across the western part of the US and British Columbia in Canada.

National Park Road Trip Map

western national park road trip map route
western national park road trip route

We also spent a fair amount of time finding a motorhome and a tow vehicle to take with us on this trip. It was quite an ordeal trying to find something that worked for us in short amount of time!

1. Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park

Getting There

Distance: 240 miles. Drive Time: 4.5 hours (from San Francisco)

Key Highlights

Our first stop was a bit rushed as we only spent 1 day visiting both Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks. (A flat tire on the very first day of our road trip took away one additional day that we had planned here).

Our favorite spots in Kings Canyon & Sequoia were the General Grant Tree (largest tree in the world), General Sherman Tree (second largest tree), Morro Rock, & Roaring River Falls. Check out our posts on Kings Canyon for top things to do.

Kings Canyon National Park road trip
Reflection of Painted Lady Mountain in Rae Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

2. Death Valley National Park

Getting There

Distance: 334 miles. Drive Time: 6.7 hours (from Kings Canyon)

Key Highlights

Death Valley is the second largest national park in the contiguous US, and you can easily spend more than a week exploring different parts of the park.

We only spent 3 days here though and some of our favorite spots were Dante’s Point, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, Furnace Creek, Mesquite Sand Dunes & Artist’s Drive. Check out our posts on Death Valley to read more about our experience.

Death valley national park road trip
An Eerie And Bizarre Mars Like Landscape, Sand Dunes And Mountains In Early Morning Light At Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California USA

3. Grand Canyon National Park

Getting There

Distance: 430 miles. Drive Time: 8.6 hours s (from Death Valley)

Key Highlights

Everyone must visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their lifetime to appreciate the true beauty of nature. How the amazing river Colorado formed this giant hole in the ground over millions of years will certainly put you in awe!

Our favorites in Grand Canyon were walking along the South Rim Trail, hiking the Bright Angel Trail & visiting the historic Watchtower. Check out our posts on Grand Canyon to read more about our experience.

grand canyon national park road trip
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA at dawn from the south rim.

4. Antelope Canyon

Getting There

Distance: 112 miles. Drive Time: 2 hours (from Grand Canyon)

Key Highlights

Although technically Antelope Canyon is not a national park, it still earns its place in this itinerary for being a truly unique place to visit. The Upper Antelope Canyon photo tour, hiking the Wire Pass slot canyon and the Horseshoe Bend were our top activities in Antelope Canyon/Glen Canyon area near Page, Arizona. Check out our posts on Antelope Canyon to read more about our experience.

antelope canyon national park road trip

5. Arches National Park 

Getting There

Distance: 273 miles. Drive Time: 5.5 hours (from Antelope Canyon)

Key Highlights

Arches was the first park we visited out of the mighty five national parks in Utah (Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, Zion). For no particular reason, we decided to start with Arches and make our way back to Zion, instead of the other way around.

If we were to do this again, we would probably visit Zion after Antelope Canyon and make our way up to Arches and Canyonlands through Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. Check out our post on the best things to do in Arches to read more about our experience.

arches national park road trip
Warm late afternoon sunlight sidelights the rock formations in the Garden of Eden adn the Windows Sections, with the LaSal Mountains behind in Arches National Park, Utah

6. Canyonlands National Park

Getting There

Distance: 30 miles. Drive Time 30 mins (from Arches)

Key Highlights

Of all the parks we visited, Canyonlands was probably the least known to us, and its beauty definitely caught us by surprise. So much so that we ended up spending more time here than neighboring Arches National Park, where we only spent a day!

Our favorites were driving on Shafer Trail, watching sunset at the Grand View Point, the Green River Overlook and of course, the Mesa Arch. Check out our posts on Canyonlands to read more about our experience.

canyonlands national park road trip
Sunrise at iconic Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park

7. Capitol Reef National Park

Getting There

Distance: 120 miles. Drive Time: 2.5 hours (from Arches)

Key Highlights

Capitol Reef was not on our original itinerary. But when we learned that we would literally be driving through it, we decided to spend a day here. It also allowed us to complete the mighty five of Utah!

The key highlights here are walking along Capitol Gorge, driving on the 18 mile scenic drive and the Grand Wash & Cassidy Arch. Check out our post on top things to do in Capitol Reef in a day.

capitol reef national park road trip
view of sandstone formations and Gifford farm along the scenic drive in Capital Reef National Park

8. Bryce Canyon National Park 

Getting There

Distance: 276 miles. Drive Time: 5.5 hours (from Capitol Reef)

Key Highlights

Arguably one of the most distinct of all the parks in Utah, Bryce Canyon is spectacular. It has the highest concentration of Hoodoos found anywhere on the planet. If you don’t know what that is, check out our post on hiking the Hoodoos.

Our favorite spots in Bryce Canyon were the Rim Trail, Bryce Amphitheater, Navajo Loop Trail, Sunrise Point and Queens Garden Trail.

bryce canyon national park road trip

9. Zion National Park

Getting There

Distance: 84 miles. Drive Time: 1.7 hours (from Bryce Canyon)

Key Highlights

Zion is probably the most popular of the parks in Utah. The park attracts millions of visitors every year. When you visit Zion for the first time, it is obvious why. With its remarkable landscapes, hiking trails and numerous activities on the virgin river, the park is aptly named “Zion” which translates to “kingdom of heaven”.

The most popular things to do include hiking the Narrows, Angels Landing, watching sunset at the Watchman, enjoying a picnic at Kolob Reservoir. Read our posts on Zion National Park to learn about the best things to do here in 3 days.

zion national park road trip

10. Grand Teton National Park

Getting There

Distance: 608 miles. Drive Time: 12.2 hours (from Zion). Overnight pit stop in Salt Lake City.

Key Highlights

Of all the places we visited in the US in this national park road trip, Grand Teton probably ties with Glacier National Park for the top spot! The natural beauty, wildlife, hiking trails and the ease of access to the park make it one of our favorites.

Some of the most popular things to do are picnicking on Jenny Lake, driving on Teton Park Scenic Road, Jackson Lake, hiking the Cascade Canyon, and Paintbrush Canyon. Check out our posts on Grand Teton to learn about the best things to do here in 5 days.

grand teton national park road trip

11. Yellowstone National Park

Getting There

Distance: 60 miles. Drive Time: 1.2 hours (from Grand Teton).

Key Highlights

Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the US. But relative to its popularity, it was the park that impressed us the least. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a beautiful place to visit, and everyone must experience the volcanic activity at least once in their lifetimes. But the crowds here take away from what we picture as a national park experience. There are far too many people here. (As evident in this picture below!).

Viewing the bison and other wildlife in Lamar Valley was the highlight of our visit here. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is also pretty unique. Everyone talks about Old Faithful, but of all the geyser basins in Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin is our most favorite. And of course, Mammoth Hot Springs is not to be missed. Check out our posts on Yellowstone to learn about the best things to do here in 5 days.

yellowstone national park road trip

12. Glacier National Park

Getting There

Distance: 440 miles. Drive Time: 8.8 hours (from Yellowstone).

Key Highlights

Glacier National Park was one of the parks we were looking forward to the most. And it did not disappoint us one bit. Along with Grand Teton, it was our favorite park in the US. So much so that we actually spent 4 nights in the west side of the park and another 6 nights in the east side! We didn’t want to miss an ounce of Glacier. At the end of it, we felt like we could easily spend more time.

Our favorite things to do here include hiking the Highline Trail, driving on Going-to-the-sun Road, hiking the Hidden Lake Trail, Swiftcurrent Lake and the Many Glacier area. Check out our posts on Glacier National Park to read about our experience here.

glacier national park road trip
Stunning reflections on Swiftcurrent Lake in northern Montana at sunrise

13. Banff National Park

Getting There

Distance: 293 miles. Drive Time: 5.9 hours. (from Glacier).

Key Highlights

If Glacier & Teton were our most favorite parks in the US, Banff & Jasper certainly take the crown for the entire national park road trip! We are still in the process of publishing the content from Banff, Jasper and all the parks following them. We hope to have those published very soon. So stay tuned on our website, or subscribe to our posts to get notified by email.

banff national park road trip
Moraine lake panorama in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

14. Jasper National Park

Distance: 181 miles. Drive Time: 3.6 hours.

jasper national park road trip
The Valley of the Five Lakes hike offers clear lakes with unique shades of jade and blue. The Valley of the Five Lakes loop is just under a 5km circuit.

15. North Cascades National Park

Distance: 733 miles. Drive Time: 14.7 hours. (Overnight in Kelowna, BC Canada)

north cascades national park road trip

16. Olympic National Park

Distance: 83 miles. Drive Time: 3 hours.

olympic national park road trip
Sunset over the Pacific coast at Rialto beach near La Push in Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

17. Mount Rainier National Park

Distance: 114 miles. Drive Time: 2.3 hours.

mt rainier national park road trip

18. Crater Lake National Park

Distance: 403 miles. Drive Time: 8.1 hours.

Crater Lake national park road trip

19. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Distance: 262 miles. Drive Time: 5.2 hours.

Lassen Volcanic national park road trip

20. San Francisco

Distance: 236 miles. Drive Time: 4.7 hours.

San Francisco, last stop in national park road trip

Total Distance: 5050 miles in RV, another 5000 miles in towed car.

Total Drive Time: 200+ hours

The driving distance between most destinations is below 300 miles, which is manageable to cover in a day. (except from Zion to Grand Teton requires an overnight stop at Salt Lake City and from Jasper to North Cascades requires an overnight stop at Kelowna, BC). We were able to comfortably cover this itinerary with no issues whatsoever.

So what do you think about our epic national park road trip? What has been your most adventurous road trip so far? Leave us a comment to share your thoughts.

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Shirish & Olya

Originally from different parts of the world, Shirish & Olya are a married couple based in San Francisco who share a passion for travel, outdoors and landscape photography. In summer of 2019, they hit the road in an RV visiting 19 national parks in US and Canada covering over 10K miles. This trip inspired them to create Outdoorsome, that they built on the road, as a way to help others discover new places around the world.

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