There are currently 63 National Parks in the United States and over 400 National Lands such as historical parks, national forests, and monument areas. There are so many different itineraries where you can combine several national parks into one road trip.
Maybe you ask the question,
what national parks can you see together?
The national parks that you can see together can be grouped into the categories of Pacific Northwest, Utah, Colorado, The Dakotas, NorCal, South Cal, Upper Rocky Mountains, Alaska, Appalachia, and The South.
While there are essentially endless variations of the national park groupings I list below, these are the main groups of national parks that are near each other. Use these as a baseline in your trip planning and feel free to add or take away any park or area in each grouping. For example, we combined the Colorado and Upper Rocky Mountains trips listed below when we visited these places.
Also, these are not the only national parks that can be seen together, but some of the more popular national park groupings.
***Note: Included in this post are links to some Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you), but don’t feel pressured to buy anything! I only include links to products that we have tried or would use ourselves.
National Parks: Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument (bonus)
These Pacific Northwest parks make for a wonderful trip and give you a wide range of climates in a relatively small distance. In one day you can drive from beaches, to rainforests, to snowy mountains, to volcanoes. Due to the climate in the Pacific Northwest and Washington in general, this trip is best for the summer since snow in the winter closes many of the roads required for this road trip.
Start in Seattle, Washington and drive northeast to North Cascades National Park. After North Cascades, cross through the park and head south to Mount Rainier National Park. After Mount Rainier, continue south to Mount St Helens National Volcanic Area. After Mount St Helens National Volcanic Area, head northwest to Olympic National Park. After Olympic National Park, go back to Seattle. At this point, you will have completed a full loop. You can spend as many days at each destination as you wish. Also, be sure to plan time on your trip for other things outside the national park, such as the town of Leavenworth, WA which is in between North Cascades National Park and Mount Rainier National Park. This exact itinerary takes around 11 hours and is around 550 miles.
Find the full driving itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/uV16D4k36y1NeV1W6
Pacific Northwest Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3YJF6Ik
National Parks: Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Canyon National Park
This national park trip has some of the most well known and popular national parks in the country. This itinerary can be completed any time of year (unlike some of the other trips described in this post!). With this Utah trip, expect to see lots of red rocks, unique rock formations, and desert pine trees.
Start your trip in Moab, Utah. Close to Moab, Utah are Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. From Moab, drive west to Capitol Reef National Park. To the southwest of Capitol Reef, you will find Bryce Canyon National Park. Continue southwest to Zion National Park. After Zion, cross into Arizona where you will reach Grand Canyon National Park, the icing on the cake of a beautiful trip.
Taking this exact route, it is about 620 miles driving and in total 11.5 hours of driving. Find the itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/LArw2oXMrhSXzVEq5
Utah Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tWva0M
National Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Maroon Bells Scenic Area in White River National Forest (bonus)
Colorado is a beautiful state and has so many amazing things to see. Many people think of mountains when they think of Colorado, but Colorado has so much more, including deserts, red rocks, and giant sand dunes.
Start your trip in Denver, Colorado, whether you fly or drive there. From Denver, head west towards Rocky Mountain National Park. (Note: As of 2022, a reservation is required to enter the park between the hours of 5 am and 6pm). From Rocky Mountain National Park, head west to Maroon Bells in the White River National Forest. Next head southwest to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. To the south of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, you will find Mesa Verde National Park. Next, drive directly east to Great Sand Dunes National Park. From the Great Sand Dunes, you can either return north to Denver or continue your trip elsewhere.
Taking the exact route I have listed, it is around 760 miles and would take 15 hours. Find the itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/5kGwy6426m2jos7A7
Colorado Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3OKtjoK
National Parks: The Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park, Mount Rushmore National Monument (bonus), Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Devils Tower National Monument (bonus), Custer State Park (bonus)
The Dakotas are often not at the top spot on people’s United States bucket list trips, but I am here to make you reconsider. Both South Dakota and North Dakota have some amazing gems to visit that are often less crowded and perfect for exploring.
Start your trip in Rapid City, South Dakota. From Rapid City, head slightly east to The Badlands National Park. From the Badlands National Park, head west towards Custer State Park and nearby Wind Cave National Park and Mount Rushmore National Park. While visiting these three parks, I recommend staying in the town of Custer, SD or in one of the beautiful lodges in Custer State Park. From the Custer area, head northwest to Devils Tower National Monument right across the border in Wyoming. After Devils Tower, drive north for a while and then straight east until you reach Theodore Roosevelt National Park (see google maps itinerary for more specifics). From Theodore Roosevelt National Park, choose if you will continue your trip or head home from here.
The itinerary listed here is around 450 miles and has about 8 hours in driving total. See the full itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/cKnoTdHB2LykeTw79
South Dakota Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3rLhXFA
National Parks: Lassen Volcanic National Park, Redwoods National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Shasta-Trinity National Forest (bonus), Burney Falls State Park (bonus), Humboldt Redwoods State Park (bonus)
The NorCal itinerary here is the exact itinerary we took in the summer of 2021 on a short, but jam packed, trip that we loved. We did this itinerary in a whirlwind 4 days, but to truly get the most out of this trip, I recommend taking much longer to fully enjoy the area. In summer of 2021, there were many wildfires throughout the areas described here, so make sure to check with the park rangers in these areas (via the National Park Service website) to make sure there are no closings due to fire.
You can start in either San Francisco, CA or Redding, CA and drive first to Lassen Volcanic National Park. From Lassen Volcanic National Park, drive north to Burney Falls State Park. After Burney Falls, drive through the Shasta Trinity National Forest where you can see Mount Shasta on the drive. Continue driving north and cross into Oregon to get to Crater Lake National Park. From Crater Lake National Park, drive southwest to the California Coast to Redwoods National Park. Then drive down the coast to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. From Humboldt Redwoods State Park, continue your trip or drive back to your trip’s starting point. This exact route is about 540 miles and takes around 10 hours.
Find the full itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/bncG2jK7TosrgVts8
National Parks: Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Death Valley National Park, Pinnacles National Park
This Southern California road trip contains some beautiful parks that will definitely make for a trip you won’t forget. Some of these parks are absolute classics (like Yosemite and Death Valley), while others are a little less known (Pinnacles and Kings Canyon).
There is not one singular large city close to these parks, so you could start your trip from either San Francisco (preferable) or Los Angeles. Start the journey by heading to Yosemite National Park. After Yosemite, head south to Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park. Next, while Death Valley is technically east of Sequoia, to access it, you must drive down and around the Sequoia National Forest to reach Death Valley National Park. After Death Valley, you can head northwest to Pinnacles National Park. Death Valley National Park to Pinnacles National Park will likely be your longest singular drive of the trip. To fully enjoy this trip and not feel like you are driving all the time, this trip is best spread out over at least a week (if not more).
Total driving time for this exact itinerary is around 15 hours with 800 miles of driving. See the full itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/JvyfEbmq3dYBXXoB9
Northern California Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3nUpZLf
Upper Rocky Mountains
National Parks: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park
This trip includes some of my absolute favorite national parks in the entire United States. The national parks on this trip are absolutely gorgeous and unique. Also, the drive in between the parks is almost as pretty as the national parks at times, since most of the drive is through or around other national forests. While parts of this trip could be done in the winter, the summer months are definitely better for this trip.
Start your trip at Glacier National Park in Montana. Be sure to spend several days exploring all the different parts of Glacier National Park. From Glacier, head south to Yellowstone National Park. A tiny bit of Yellowstone National Park can be found in Montana, but soon after entering the park, you will cross into Yellowstone National Park. To fully appreciate and enjoy Yellowstone, you will need to spend a few days exploring all there is to offer, especially in the peak months of the summer when there are more crowds. After Yellowstone, head directly south through a national forest to reach Grand Teton National Park. This drive is absolutely gorgeous with views in all directions. While there are only a few national parks on this trip, these 3 are some of the best in the country and you could easily spend weeks just in these 3.
This exact itinerary is around 700 miles and 12 hours of driving, with the longest stretch between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
See Google Maps for my full itinerary: https://goo.gl/maps/Gk1eMLQmfKrCY4eT6
Yellowstone and Grand Teton Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3G2eF5M
National Parks: Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, Wrangell St Elias National Park, Chugach National Forest (bonus)
Alaska is so expansive and contains the biggest national parks in the United States. One thing to note about Alaska national parks is that while there are many national parks, they are spread out and many are inaccessible by road. The national parks included in this itinerary are accessible by road, but boat or bus tickets may need to be purchased at each park to fully enjoy all these parks have to offer.
For this itinerary, you can begin either at Fairbanks or Anchorage. Start by first going to Denali National Park, which is west of Fairbanks and north of Anchorage. From Denali National Park, drive south to Kenai Fjords National Park. After Kenai Fjords, drive east to Chugach National Forest. After Chugach National Forest, continue going east until you reach Wrangell St Elias National Park. From Wrangell St Elias National Park, you can either head north(ish) to Fairbanks, AK or west to Anchorage, AK. This exact trip is around 675 miles and 12 hours of driving.
See the complete itinerary on Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/6wrJNKTNuD4NLmZk7
Alaska Travel Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3GZxqIq
National Parks: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, Daniel Boone National Forest (bonus), New River Gorge National Park, Monongahela National Forest (bonus), Shenandoah National Park
I am particularly fond of Appalachia as it is where I grew up exploring the outdoors. Many people forget about this part of America, but I believe it has so much to offer.
Start your trip by heading to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. While there is a lot of commercialization around this park, the area is quite large and there are still many remote areas. From the Great Smoky Mountains, head northwest to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. From Mammoth Cave, head east and drive through Daniel Boone National Forest where you can find some really awesome rock arches which are not common in the eastern United States. Continue east and head into West Virginia to visit the United States. Newest national park, New River Gorge National Park. After New River Gorge, head northeast through the Monongahela National Forest, one of my favorite places in the eastern United States. Continue east until you reach Shenandoah National Park.
This exact itinerary in total is around 850 miles and takes 16 hours. While this is not a common national park itinerary, I think you will be surprised at how special this area is.
See the full Google Maps itinerary: https://goo.gl/maps/bSbTqJ5EEpTLc9fu8
Great Smoky Mountains Guide on Amazon: https://amzn.to/45gJkcY
National Parks: Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park
These national parks, all in Florida, are super close to each other. Within a few hours, you can visit 3 gorgeous national parks. These parks can be visited any time of year and make a great trip if you are wanting a warm winter national parks trip. One important thing to note with these parks, is that a lot of the best sites to see at some of these parks are underwater, so be sure to book boating, scuba, or other excursions through local companies to fully get the best out of the parks.
Start your trip in Miami, Florida and drive west to the Everglades. After the Everglades, continue south to Biscayne National Park. After Biscayne, continue driving south all the way down to the end of the Florida Keys where you can reach Dry Tortugas National Park.
This exact driving itinerary is 170 miles which would take around 4 hours to drive.
See the full itinerary Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/ce3KEV4dFfCZTr7i7
Florida National Parks Guide Book on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tWuM2gv
The trips I have included here are of course not the only national parks you can visit together, but some of the most common and most doable trips. I hope they can help you plan the trip of your dreams!
Have you taken any of these national park road trips?
I would love to hear your thoughts! Let me know any comments or questions you have down below!
Thanks for reading!