Our desire to embark on an epic National Park Family Road Trip sprang as reality hit us one crisp winter day in December. Our little family of six, with our four little angels, was no longer as little as we imaged. Our oldest had recently turned 16 and it suddenly dawned on us that we only had two more summers with our family as we know it before graduation, college, and a church mission would upset our family apple cart. I immediately started planning how we could cram as many memory-making moments into our next summer vacation.
We had been bitten by the National Park bug a couple times over the past two summers, and we became enthralled as a family on “collecting” as many National Parks as we could. This obsession became the cornerstone of our National Park Family Road Trip requirements. Our road trip itinerary must:
- Hit as many National Parks as possible
- Be no longer than one month
- Pass through Southern CA for a family reunion
- Pass through Brookings, OR to visit grandparents
- Be as budget friendly as possible.
With those goals in mind, we started putting together our itinerary. We’ll share the details of our trip in future posts, but for now, here’s the overview:
- Day 1: Travel day; drive to John Martin Reservoir State Park, CO
- Day 2: Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Day 3: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Day 4: Colorado National Monument and Arches National Park
- Day 5: Canyonlands National Park
- Day 6: River rafting in Moab, UT
- Days 7 – 8: Capitol Reef National Park
- Day 9: Zion National Park, hike The Narrows or Angels Landing
- Day 10: Zion National Park and drive to Vegas
- Day 11: Death Valley and Mojave National Preserve
- Day 12: Joshua Tree National Park
- Days 13-14: Southern CA; Disneyland plus family reunion
- Day 15: Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks
- Day 16: Yosemite National Park; hike Half Dome
- Day 17: Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Days 18 – 20: Redwoods National Park and Brookings, OR
- Day 21: Crater Lake National Park
- Day 22: Mt. Rainier National Park
- Day 23: Olympic National Park
- Day 24: North Cascades National Park
- Days 25-27: Glacier National Park
- Day 28: Bighorn National Forest and Medicine Wheel
- Day 29: Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park
- Day 30: Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park
- Day 31: Badlands National Park and drive home
It was an aggressive itinerary, driving over 7,500 miles, sleeping in 23 different places, and visiting over 33 National or State Parks, Forests, Monuments, etc.
So, how did it go? In a word: amazing! We had the time of our lives and, by and large, everything went very smoothly and according to plan. We had the usual detours and opportunities that we couldn’t pass up, so naturally had some changes. We’ll tell you all about it in future posts!
Have you done an epic family road trip? What stops would you recommend?
More Family Road Trip Ideas
We’ve put together several other amazing itineraries for adventuring as a family at our National Parks:
National Park Custom Logos
Are you visiting a National Park this year and looking for a logo? We have created our National Park logos for you to make custom family road trip T-shirts, hoodies and more. You can download our National Park Logos here.
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Debbie Goss says
Mandy, what a great trip! My husband and I want to start visiting the National Parks especially those in the western states, so I will be suing your blog as one of my travel guides!
Mandy Beyeler says
you’re going to love it!!
Denise Wilson says
That is incredible! My family and I went on a similar trip when I was 16 and it was the best month of my life!!
Trevor Beyeler says
Thanks! We loved it! Such fun memories!!
Elizabeth Little says
Oh my, you were so close to the Grand Canyon 🙂 We are near Denver and a few years ago we did a weekend trip to Phoenix and back by way of Utah. This is on my bucket list but my family isn’t convinced lol
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Mandy Beyeler says
We did the Grand Canyon the summer before 😉 We wanted to stop again, but you know, so many options, so little time!