Our family is obsessed with National Park road trips. If fact, we have a goal to visit them all! Since we live in Kansas City, we’re not incredibly close to any of them, so the best way we’ve found to check them off our list is via epic road trips.
This itinerary took us from Kansas City through five National Parks and several other amazing stops along the way. It’s doable in 9 days, which means it can be done with a full week with weekends on both ends.
Granted, this itinerary does not give enough time at any one location. Each National Park listed deserves several days to explore by themselves, if not a full week.
Road Trip Dilemma: Quantity or Quality?
This fact presents the always-present dilemma of road trips: quantity or quality? Do you try to see as many things as possible, cramming in stops and activities? Or do you slow down and only visit a couple of spots and get a more immersive experience?
We’re doers by nature and feel the time crunch of our kids only getting older, so we more often opt for the fast-paced, cram-as-much-as-you-can type of trips. Our itinerary below reflects our desire to see and do as much as possible as a family in the limited time that we have on the road.
9-Day Southwest National Park Road Trip Itinerary
- Day 1: Drive to Colorado Springs; Garden of the Gods
- Day 2: Pikes Peak, Drive to Mesa Verde
- BONUS: San Juan National Forest
- Day 3: Mesa Verde National Park + drive to Grand Canyon North Rim
- BONUS: Four Corners National Monument
- Navajo Bridge
- Day 4: Grand Canyon National Park North Rim hike + Drive to Bryce Canyon
- Day 5: Bryce Canyon National Park
- Day 6: Zion National Park; hike The Narrows
- Day 7: Drive to Capitol Reef National Park
- BONUS: All-American Highway 12
- Day 8: Hiking at Capitol Reef; Sulfur Creek
- Day 9: Drive back to Kansas City (overnight in Denver)
This is an amazing itinerary, driving over 2,790 miles with almost 50 hours of windshield time. It stops at 5 National Parks and several other National or State Parks, Forests, Monuments, etc.
Do you have a few more days to add to this road trip? Great! There are some amazing stops that you can add that are either on-route or just a short detour away.
- Arches National Park
- Goblin Valley State Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
More National Park Road Trip Itineraries
We’ve put together several other amazing itineraries for adventuring as a family:
Family Road Trip T-Shirt Ideas
Part of the fun of road trips is the gear! We love making custom t-shirts and sweatshirts for our stops. It’s much more affordable than buying them in the gift shops, and you can coordinate in advance to make sure all the right sizes and colors are available for your family.
We’ve put together these National Park logos, available for download and use on your personal and family custom t-shirts and hoodies.
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