Our U.S. national parks road trip itinerary

by Kim on January 16, 2012 · 82 comments

We are four months (!!) away from leaving on our trip around the world.

In May we’re setting out on an epic three-month road trip of the United States.  After visiting family and friends in the mid-west we’ll head back west to embark on a long-awaited tour of the U.S. National Parks.  Our itinerary looks a little something like this (subject to change, of course):

U.S. National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

Portland, Oregon –> Cincinnati, Ohio –> New York, New York –> Cincinnati, Ohio –> Athens, Ohio –> Cincinnati, Ohio –> Cleveland, Ohio –> Morgantown, West Virginia –> Asheville, North Carolina –> Savannah, Georgia –> St. Louis, Missouri –> Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming –> Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming –> Arches National Park, Utah –> Canyonlands National Park, Utah –> Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah –> Zion National Park, Utah –> Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona –> Las Vegas, Nevada –> Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, California –> Yosemite National Park, California –> Bend, Oregon –> Portland, Oregon

Whew!  It’s a lot of driving, an estimated 10,000 miles, and we’re doing it all in our little beat-up 1995 Nissan Altima.  Let’s hope she makes it, but if she doesn’t, it will just be part of the adventure.

We’ll be embarking on multi-day backpacking trips in the Grand Tetons NP, Grand Canyon NP and Canyonlands NP and camping and hiking in all the others.  We’re also partaking in a five-day New York holiday and spending our anniversary in Las Vegas, NV (so not us, but it will be fun).

Canyonlands National Park, photo by NPCA Photos

Grand Teton National Park, photo by brianholsclaw

Sequoia National Park, photo by koiart71

Our goals for the summer include reconnecting with family and old friends, sleeping under the stars, swimming in cold lakes, reading books (Walden Pond and The Monkey Wrench Gang are on my list), listening to Spanish language podcasts, not getting eaten by grizzlies and learning to adjust to a slower pace of life.

We are so ridiculously excited.

We’d love to hear your U.S. National Parks tips.  Favorite hikes?  Best camping spots?  Secret swimming holes?  Please let us know!

(Update 2/13. We totally did this and it was awesome! Read all about our U.S. National Parks Road Trip here.)





{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy C January 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

I’m *so* missing the road! BUT! Here are some tips after our 22,607-mile, 364-day adVANture around the country last year (23 nat’l parks visited).

– Reserve camping was much as you can. There are lots of first-come-first-serve spaces that require a first-thing-in-the-morning stake-out. And if you can’t get a spot, offer to pay for someone’s spot if they’ll share with you. You’d be surprised at the kindness of strangers. 🙂

– Yellowstone: amazing hot springs just south of the MT border… It’s not labeled from the road anymore, but you can google “boiling river.” Go early and enjoy.

– Bryce: Fairyland loop is less crowded and beautiful. Wall Street is a must-see in the right light.

– Vegas: Check out Red Rocks and if you climb, you’ll want to bring gear. Absolutely awesome and beautiful right out of the city.

– St. Louis: If you like ribs, check out Roper’s Ribs. Nom!

– Asheville: Take a trip to Pisgah Nat’l Forest and hike up Looking Glass Rock. Or run Sycamore Cove. Beautiful!

– Outside of Zion: There’s free camping on Gooseberry Mesa (and great mtn biking).

– Moab (Arches): There’s tons of great BLM land in and around Moab that’s stunning (and free).

Can’t wait to hear how it all goes… it might take awhile to get into the swing of things and find your rhythm (it definitely did with us). Have patience with yourself and each other. It’ll come. 🙂


Kim January 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Thanks Amy!! These are such AMAZING tips, I can barely contain myself with all of the excitement I feel. Thanks so much. One question, did the reservations for the campsites at the NP’s book out early? Just wondering because we’ll probably only know 3-4 days in advance when we’ll be at each place. Thanks again, and your road trip was really epic!


Amy C January 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Yes. Depending on where you go and the time of year. Yosemite over Memorial Day weekend? Yep. :-/ Most NPs have first-come-first-served portions of their campgrounds, so you can avoid a lot of angst by arriving super-early and watching for people leaving. 🙂


Kim January 18, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Okay, we will stalk the campgrounds and make people feel uncomfortable so they leave 🙂 That’s a strategy if I’ve ever heard one!


Stephanie January 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I agree with Amy, the boiling river is very cool. If you don’t mind going North a little bit, Bozeman is a fantastic town surrounded by 3 mountain ranges. Get there in the summer on Thursdays the whole town shuts down for “Music on Main” blue grass bands, awesome people, food, and no open container law during so lots of drinking:), the Madison river is so great to grab some beer and float the river. A great place to camp is fairy lake, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m excited to hear about all your adventures!


Kim January 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Ok, the boiling river is definitely on the list. As for Bozeman, I have heard the most amazing things. I am a sucker for bluegrass music too. Ahhh, that sounds like summertime heaven. Is there camping near Bozeman? I’m pretty sure we could not afford to stay in that town!


Ashley January 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

This sounds just amazing! After spending some time in national parks in Chile, we are actually thinking we should just scrap our original plans, buy a tent, and make the rest of our trip a tour of national wilderness areas around the globe. It also made us realize how few of our own national parks we’ve visited, and we’ve decided that when we return our next great trip will be something like what you are starting with. I don’t have much advice for you about the parks, though we did live in NYC for 10 years so perhaps we can give you some of our favorite non-touristy spots for that leg.


Kim January 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Ohhhh, we can’t wait to go to the National Parks in Chile. We have seriously considered bringing our tent with us when we leave for South America, but I think finally decided to just see how often we’d use it and, if it’s often, buy one there.

Also, any tips on NYC I would love to hear! I think we’ll only be there for four days…


Scott - Quirky Travel Guy January 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Sounds like an amazing itinerary. If you’re going to Vegas, you should try to swing by Death Valley. I found it to be a lot more fun than I had anticipated, with good hiking and camping (at least by my newbie standards) and lots of cool scenery.


Kim January 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Scott, thanks for the tip. We’ve debated about stopping by so it’s nice to see you’d vote for it. I just read something the other day about how there are rocks out in the desert that move slowly?!?! No one has ever seen them move but they leave a trail behind them- I guess it happens in some ancient dry riverbed in Death Valley? Anyway, that was pretty crazy to read about!


Peach January 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm

my boyfriend and i did the southern route when we relocated from nyc to portland and did a lot of camping. i loved the smokey mountains and all of blue ridge parkway/shenendoah. of course, grand canyon is one of the most spectacular sights. oddly enough, yellowstone was kind of a let down to me. love the itinerary, it’s going to be an amazing trip!


Kim January 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm

I’ve heard that about Yellowstone. We have rented a cabin there for three days but that’s all we’re going to stay for. Too many tourists!!


Amy C January 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

We successfully hiked 14 miles in Yellowstone last summer in August (height of tourist season) and saw only about 5 people. We did a loop to Fairy & Mystic Falls and found a very private (no one was there!) geyser we were captivated by.


Kim January 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Awesome!!!!! Did you do 14 miles in one day or did you backpack. If you did it in one day you had to have been exhausted, that’s quite a hike. Sounds magical to have a geyser all to yourself though.


Amy C January 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm

We did it in one day. We both have a history of ultras and endurance events so yes, we were tired, but the distance is pretty standard for us.

Stephanie January 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Fairy lake is an awesome place to camp. Hyalite is also good camping. If you do manage to make it to Bozeman, if I’m still in the area I would be happy to hook you up at the hotel I work at, it’s just at the edge of Downtown and near one of the best restaurants with great local beers:)


Kim January 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Is Fairly Lake in Bryce? Where is Hyalite? Thanks for the hook up with your hotel. I will definitely get in touch when we roll through (I think we are really going to try) to see if you are still in the area. THANK YOU!!


Irene January 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Hi, love the national parks in UTAH
Most memorable hikes

Zion…Subway, fun, wet and breathtaking gorge at the end (need a back country permit) and Angels Landing(have to love heights, a bit of a knee shacking ridge)
Byrce…love the showers and store at the campground (all the hikes were great)
We did the lower rim (multi day hike)best views on top of ridge, the best hikes and views are right off the campground
CanyonLand…Druid Arch could be multi day or 1 very long day
Arches…all hikes were shortish but I loved the foliage and flowers in spring and of course the Arches….safe journeys cheers


Kim January 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Yesss, thank you so much! These recommendations are super helpful.


Stephanie January 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Anytime! Fairy lake is in the Bridgers, about a 45 minute drive lits of hikes, at the very peaks and Hyalite is the opposite direction just outside of Bozeman 30 minutes in the Gallatin Range. Easy hikes, lots of falls, big reservoir.


Kim January 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Ah, gotcha. Thank you, thank you!


Cherina | Quiet Wanderings January 17, 2012 at 4:36 am

What an awesome itinerary!! It’s making me nostalgic for the road trip that I have only just returned home from 😉 People above have already covered loads of great tips and advice. If I had one extra suggestion, it would be to get up super early and drive to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone for some dawn wolf watching. Amazing experience! Make friends with one of the ‘expert wolf-watchers’ who are there and they will be happy to let you use their spotting scope. So excited to read your updates from the road. 4 months will fly by!


Kim January 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Thank you! I hadn’t heard of Lamar Valley but we are SO doing this.


Ruined Adventures January 17, 2012 at 6:27 am

I see many destinations around the 4 Corners area but no mention of Mesa Verde NP…it’s worth the stop and you will learn volumes about the ancestral puebloans who lived there centuries ago.

If you pass thru Texas, Big Bend NP is also amazing…two completely separate climates and terrains within one GIANT park. There is some great hiking in the Chisos Mountains and also outside the park, at the Guadalupe Mountains.


Kim January 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Yes, thank you! Part of the reason Mesa Verde is not on the list is because we knew nothing about it, so thanks. Big Bend sounds amazing too. Why is it that I don’t think three months is going to be enough?


Kristin January 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Yes! Definitely visit Mesa Verde!!! It’s unlike any place in the US- America’s own ancient ruins!


Kim January 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Noted! We can’t miss America’s own ancient ruins… I had no idea.


Hannah January 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Oooh so exciting! I love me some US National Parks and have been to most on your list. I’ll drop you an email with my fave spots xxx


Kim January 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Thanks Hannah 🙂


Janet January 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Yes. Yes. YES!

I’m so excited for you two.

If you’re driving from St. Louis to Yellowstone, instead of driving through boring Kansas or Nebraska, I recommend hitting 29N at KC to 90W and swinging through the Badlands in SD. I kind of fell in love with the Badlands. It’s surprising beauty. Especially if you sleep under the stars in the primitive camp and are able to catch a lightning storm in the distance. Breathtaking. You can see for miiiiiiiiiiles. It’s also rich in Native American history.

(And if you do that, you might as well stop by Mt. Rushmore. And Wall Drug. They’re both kind of that guilty-pleasure-just-to-say-you’ve-seen-them things…at least they were for me.)

By the way, I LOVE Yellowstone. Despite the fact that it is rife with ignorant tourists, it is really quite the geologic phenomenon. In the Tetons we hiked in Death Canyon, which was absolutely stunning (Don’t let the name scare you!) The rangers there are incredible and you can rent bear canisters if you need to.

Also, some friends of mine backpacked rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon and LOVED it. I don’t know much about the permits you need, or how much in advance to get them, but I do remember them needing one.

I’m glad for you to have such an amazing community of experienced NP-ers to get some behind the scenes secrets to amazing places! I’ll definitely need some of those tips someday. 😀



Kim January 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Yay, thanks Janet!! For some reason I am dying to go to Wall Drug… that bumper sticker gave me one of my earliest cases of wanderlust when I was just beginning to drive.

Also, we do have to apply for a permit to backpack the Grand Canyon rim to rim and the apply-date is already in my calendar. I am realllly hoping we get a permit since not everyone who wants one gets one. Fingers crossed.


Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista January 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Woo Hoo! I love National Parks and know you are going to love the ones you’ve visited. Make sure to get to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. Go early early to view some amazing wildlife. It is called the Serengeti of Yellowstone and so worth it.


Kim January 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Serengeti of Yellowstone? That is amazing. Thanks Debbie.


Gillian @OneGiantStep January 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm

I am super excited about the Tetons but even more that we can connect up before you head out on the international portion of your journey!! I seriously can’t tell you how excited I am for you!


Kim January 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Gillian, I can’t WAIT. We are going to have so much fun. And I love that you will let me talk nonstop about our trip and not tell me to shut up 🙂


Rachel January 18, 2012 at 6:49 am

Hi! I am very jealous of your roadtrip! I did one similar to that in 2009 where I hit the WY/UT parks. I have a few tips!

1. Definitely do the boiling river at Yellowstone – it’s amazing. Also there’s another river you can swim in (though it’s frigid) but was very refreshing after camping for 10 straight days. And we were swimming up river from elk! If you ask at a visitor center they can tell you the name of that river/spot.

2. Outside of Jackson Hole is a Curtis Canyon Campground – it’s a Forest Service campground. We camped there the night before we got to Tetons and if you get up early for sunrise it’s AMAZING. The Tetons are absolutely gorgeous at sunrise!

3. As for Bozeman, there’s a hostel we stayed at, and it was like $20/night I think. Also, if you are the brew pub type there are several in Bozeman and they are all good.

4. Also at Yellowstone – if you hike to the top of Mount Washburn you get amazing views of the area – you can see for miles. It’s not a bad hike, and it’s off the beaten tourist path, which is always good at Yellowstone!

Have a great trip!


Kim January 18, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Especially for that tip about the hostel in Bozeman. These comments have me SOLD on visiting Bozeman. Such wonderful advice, this trip is going to be so much better thanks to you and the others who are giving me this great info!


Amanda January 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Sounds awesome!! And reminds me how much of the U.S. I still need to see!

Road tripping has got to be one of my preferred methods of travel now after trying it out last summer.

Since you’re doing the Grand Canyon and Vegas, I recommend making a stop in Sedona (AZ), as well. LOVED that little town, and there are some great state parks nearby (Slide Rock State Park being my favorite!).

Also, do you know when you’ll be coming through Cleveland? I only live like an hour away!


Kim January 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the tip Amanda! We will be in Cleveland sometime mid-June. We want to go to Cedar Point and ride the rollercoasters!! Which city do you live in?


Alonna January 20, 2012 at 6:29 am

By far my favorite parks are the ones in Southern Utah (Arches, Bryce, Zion). However… based on your itinerary I think you’ll be there in the dead of summer (July/Aug)? It will be HOT HOT HOT! To combat this, you’ll need to do your activities in the early mornings and late evenings, and find somewhere with A/C to hide out mid-day.

If you bike, you HAVE to rent mountain bikes and go on a ride in Moab (Slick Rock is the most famous, but there’s tons of options). Moab is like a giant playground for mountain bikes.

Also, my husband and I are in Boulder, CO so if you decide to pass through the state and want somewhere to stay, do laundry, or just meet up for coffee – let me know!


Kim January 20, 2012 at 10:02 am

It is going to be soooo hot and I am starting to get pretty concerned about that. We’ll be camping so I’m not sure where we’ll find AC? We might have to drive around in the car! Note to self: fix the AC in the car!!! (we don’t need AC in Oregon). Thanks for the offer of help in Boulder, I will let you know. I looooove Boulder. Colorado is on our list of possible new homes when (if?) we come back to that states. I love Portland and would be happy here long-term but could also use some more sunshine in my life.


Alonna January 22, 2012 at 11:53 am

Kim, we moved to Colorado in Oct ’11 after our RTW trip and we’re super happy here. I really do think the sunshine and beautiful view of mountains makes a difference in my daily happiness 🙂 We figured, if we’re going to go back to “normal” lives, we may as well do it somewhere we love!

P.S. Maybe you can camp near the Colorado River (along Hwy 128) in Moab and hang out in/near the water during midday. Also, there’s plenty of shops & restaurants to hang out in during the day. You’ll be fine and it’ll be worth it, I promise!


Kim January 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I can imagine. I have a friend in Steamboat and it is SO BEAUTIFUL there though she said it snows every month but August!! Thanks for the tip on Hwy 128. We will figure it out though I might be sending you emergency emails looking for your suggestions 🙂


Sarah January 21, 2012 at 6:58 am

Wow amazing itinery Kim, can’t wait to learn about that amazing country of yours, as this sort of road trip is definitely on the cards for us at some point. Not long now!!


Kim January 21, 2012 at 11:44 am

Sarah, you are so close!!! Will you be driving through Canada and the U.S. or just Canada? If you’ll be spending time in the U.S. I have so many suggestions for you…!


Victoria January 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm

A friend of mine and I did a similar 10,000 km road trip a few years ago. We went in June and it was already rather hot, especially for us Canadians!

As some of the other commenters suggested, we went for hikes in the morning and evening and drove during the mid-point of the day, when we could use the air conditioning.

We started in Calgary, then drove down through Montana and Idaho — Craters of the Moon Nat’l Monument was very cool and worth going to, but it may be out of your route — but you can climb through lava tunnels!

Utah — Zion and Bryce are obviously amazing (and get up and look at Bryce at sunrise), but I have to say one of my favourite places on the whole trip was Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which is between Zion and Bryce and completely worth visiting for the chance to go climb on sand dunes and learn a little bit about desert wildlife and flowers. We went there as a nice place to have lunch and had a great couple of hours. We went there after Bryce, en route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Natural Bridges Nat’l Monument is also highly recommended — it’s a dark sky park, so amazing stars, as well as the stone bridges, of course! I second Mesa Verde, and I would also add Canyon de Chelly Nat’l monument (you may see a theme — the monuments were amazing) and the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest park. We did a loop of Utah – north rim Grand Canyon – Natural Bridges – Mesa Verde – Canyon de Chelly – Petrified Forest — south rim Grand Canyon, and it worked very well.

I, too, would say definitely go to Death Valley. We really wanted to see the moving rocks of Death Valley — my friend is a geologist and particularly interested — but we were told it’s one of the most dangerous parts of the park to get to, you need a jeep or other definitely off-road vehicle, and major amounts of water and emergency preparedness. They have multiple stories of people dying of heat exhaustion when they break an axle on the road. So . . . go prepared if you decide to do that. We decided we’d wait and try to go with a guide who knew what he was doing another time.

Sorry this comment is so long! We drove through Yosemite, across to San Francisco, and then up the coast, but I imagine you know that region far better than I. The one thing I loved was going to the Muir Woods on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge.


Kim January 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Ohhh… lava tunnels!

I’ve never even heard of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. See, this is why I need you guys to give me all of your wonderful advice!

Also, sleeping under the stars in a dark sky park sounds like heaven. Do you know if you can camp at Natural Bridges National Monument (I will look it up).

Looks like we won’t go searching for those moving rocks after all. I know that our little car would not survive off-roading and I don’t want to die in Death Valley!

Thank you so much for all of this great info!!


Victoria January 23, 2012 at 3:34 pm

You can definitely camp at Natural Bridges, since we did! We also camped at Mesa Verde.

Nobody seems to have heard of Coral Pink Sand Dunes (it’s about ten or fifteen miles off the main road), but it really was a cool place. I recommended it to my mother and grandmother, who were visiting the Grand Canyon (on the south side, so it was a major journey to get round to the north rim), and they thought it was wonderful, too. It’s not big but there’s something very cool about climbing up proper Lawrence-of-Arabia-style sand dunes, and I liked the interpretive trail, too. That and the Muir Woods outside San Francisco were the most unexpectedly magical parts of our trip for me.


Kim January 23, 2012 at 5:31 pm

I’ve never been to Muir Woods either but have only heard great things. Our list is getting longer and longer!


Kristin M January 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Can’t wait to read and see the posts/pictures from the Savannah leg of your roadtrip!


Kim January 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Sooooo excited to see Savannah! We have friends there and I can’t wait for them to show us all the spots. Savannah looks beautiful and warm and sunny. Ahhh.


Douglas Barton April 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm

When will you be doing Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming –> Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming?


Kim April 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Hi Douglas. We’ll be in Yellowstone/Tetons in late June/ early July.


Jocelyn April 30, 2012 at 1:13 am

Hi Kim, what a great way to share your thoughts and hear about tips from other road trippers! I’m so glad i found your blog, as my husband and i are also embarking on Road Trip USA 2012 in mid-June.

I’ve noted down all the recommendations, however, there doesn’t seem to be much mention of the east coast – the Carolinas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and the lake states up north. And I’ve heard these are all spectacular – the architecture and the scenery. One tip I’ve had is the Great Smoky Mountains where i want to go horse riding, but I’m still not too sure about specifics. Happy to bumble our way up the coast, but love a good tip.

Also, I’m not sure about yourselves, but I’m an avid horse riding fanatic and if you or anyone knew of some great spots to get a good value, adventurous ride, i’d love to hear about it.

All the best, I’ll stay tuned!


Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Jocelyn, how long will you be road tripping? So exciting!!

The reason that there aren’t many tips on the east coast is because we aren’t traveling much to the east coast. I would love to get up to New England again and especially Maine. I’ve spent some time in the Smokey Mountains but I don’t know much about horse riding- perhaps you could call the ranger station? I’ve found rangers at every park to be incredibly kind and helpful.

I wish I could help you more. Have a great time on your trip.


Jocelyn April 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Of course that explains it, I just scanned your itinerary and saw georgia on the list and wondered about the east. I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to US geography (I’m from Melbourne.)

We’re pretty much circumnavigating the country, roughly from LA to NoLA to New York to Portland and back down to LA, for 3 months. Really into hiking and national parks. Would like to do a farm stay too, maybe in north California.

I’ve also found in Australia rangers are always ready to help and often have great stories. Thanks again for all the help you’ve provided. Great minds! Have a wonderful trip.


Kim April 30, 2012 at 8:57 pm

If you need tips for Oregon and Washington please email me! I live in Portland, OR and do a lot of hiking- I have a lot of great tips for the area. You are going to have such an amazing time!!


Jao May 6, 2012 at 6:19 am

Hi there I am so excited for you. Me and my best friend just visited 5 national parks and 1 state park in 7 days. It was alot of driving and i wished I could of stayed at least 3 days at each park. Here is what we encountered…. No matter what my best friend says Zion has the best night sky and the sky was ultra blue, make reservations at the camp site if you are tenting the first come and first serve are much better set up and less rugged, but you will be close to your neighbor. They are also doing construction there from 8 am to 5 pm by the campsite hopefully it’s a new bathrooms. Ther is no shower in the park and don’t go to the ponderosa ranch that is a 1-1.5 hour drive from
The campsite. The other shower facilities are closer but they close earlier. The shower cost about 5 bucks, but the town is nice. Bryce has a great general store and they have the best burning wood, there is a laundry and shower lol 2 dollars for 8 minutes. Even though it’s knot two hours from each other there was a 20 degree difference we went at the end of April it was 80-90 at Zion and 60-70 at Bryce. at Bruce the camping is more of first come first serve I found campsite even out they said it was full from reservation camping. Yosemite we stayed at housekeeping camp it was nice because there is shower and towels but it was not a bargain staying there and we perfered to stay in a tent instead. When we went to sequioa and kings canyon np crystal cavern wasn’t open but hey will be by may 12 it’s a guided tour and you can get tickets there I think the ranger told us its about 2 hours but check the time I think last one is at 2 pm ish… Please remember to gas up before you enter Yosemite and sequioa np everywhere you go it’s like 1.5 hour to the closest town and gas inside Yosemite was at 5.08 per gallon. Take your time and have a wonderful time. I am so excited for you guys I wished I can go again already, all te parks we visited was breath taking. Good luck and have fun:) drive carefully:)


Kim May 12, 2012 at 9:45 am

Wow, thank you for all of these wonderful tips! I am writing them all down!!


Luanne Zoller June 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

I hope Mesa Verde is on your list. So spiritual, beautiful, mysterious and moving!


Kim June 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Yep, it is. I can’t wait!


Alana January 6, 2013 at 1:43 am


I know this is going to make me sound like an ignorant tourist, but I would love to do Yosemite one of these days. We live in Morris in New Jersey, and we just got bit by the travel bug the other day after doing a cruise to Egypt. I am bookmarking this and will be closely modelling our next road trip to yours!



Kim January 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I don’t think you sound like an ignorant tourist at all. I think Yosemite would be a wonderful adventure and I hope you get to do it soon. Let me know if you need National Park tips. We visited a lot of them over the summer.


JB June 10, 2014 at 4:21 am

This seriously got me SO excited! We’re looking at doing this with our family of 4 (ages 8 mo to 6) at the end of this summer … also in our 1995 Toyota Landcruiser. I can’t wait to read your other posts!!!


Kim June 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Have a great time!!!


Ian May 28, 2015 at 3:47 am

I’m really interested in doing a national parks roadtrip through the southwest, and northwest of the U.S., possibly crossing over to Canada to visit the Canadian rockies national park then back down to the U.S. again, starting mid-July of this year.

I’m just wondering regarding how difficult is it to find a campground during the summer in national parks, since it looks you folks started your roadtrip around summertime? I don’t plan to reserve or book campgrounds ahead of time because I want to be flexible in my itinerary.


Aaron Raub December 23, 2016 at 8:36 am

I’m curious on how much you spent on your road trip. I would like to do something similar and am trying to gauge on how much to set aside.


Kim December 31, 2016 at 7:06 am

Hi Aaron… I wish I could remember but unfortunately I can’t. I think it was somewhere around 2K per month (all expenses included). Gas was much more expensive then but we did stay with friends quite a bit to keep costs down.


Kim January 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm

You’re badass!


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