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Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out West

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Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out WestIn 2015, I took a road trip from my home in Arkansas out to California. My goal was to experience some of America’s greatest sights and cities. A road trip out West is something I believe every nomad with a reliable car should partake in. The National Parks were my favorite parts of the three-week excursion. Here are the parks that will make any Western road trip memorable.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out West
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a United States National Park located in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

This park is tucked away in San Luis Valley, Colorado. Bring your own piece of cardboard and slide down the tallest sand dunes on the continent! You will feel as though you are in Egypt or Namibia until you look behind you and see the dark, towering mountains you more likely associate with Colorado. The view is stunning.

Arches National Park

Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out West
Arches National Park landscape view with blue sky and white clouds, Utah, USA

Arches is in Moab, Utah. I had low expectations for this park. Natural arches? What’s so special about those? But the scenery blew me away. You can easily spend an entire day at Arches, taking light hikes and exploring the unique rock formations such as the Windows, the Delicate Arch, and Balanced Rock.

Zion National Park

Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out West
Amazing landscape three patriarchs zion national park blue sky

Also located in Utah, Zion is a hiker’s paradise! For a light hike, stroll along the Emerald Pools Trail. For a more difficult hike with a rewarding view, trek up Angels Landing. If you want a view without all the hassle, take a shorter walk on Overlook Trail.

Yosemite National Park

Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out West
The sunset in Yosemite National Park, California

Of course, you can’t skip what is perhaps American’s most iconic National Park! Spend time in Yosemite Valley, where you can admire Yosemite Falls, the Half Dome, and El Capitan. Make sure you drive or hike to Glacier Point for the best view of the park.

Grand Canyon National Park

Top 5 National Parks for a Classic Road Trip Out West
Jagged rocky mountains rise steepy from the floor of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

My personal favorite, the Grand Canyon is everything it’s cracked up to be. I recommend the North Rim for the best sights and photos. If you have a few days to spare, go hiking or kayaking in the canyon.

There is no bad time of year for this road trip. If you go in the summer, the parks are more crowded but the weather is nice. If you go in the winter, as we did, some hiking paths may be closed due to snow and ice. However, the views are more unique than the millions of pictures you can find online.

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17 Comments

  1. robin Rue says

    The Grand Canyon is amazing. I would love to take my kids back there.

  2. Stacie says

    Thanks so much for sharing this list. I love all the ideas here. We’ve actually been planning a trip to see Zion.

  3. Colleen Lanin says

    There are some great picks here! I’ve always wanted to see Sand Dunes. I’ve seen a few of the others.

  4. Bill Sweeney says

    I’ve been to Yosemite, as well as Zion. I would love to hit all the others on this list, too. You can’t beat the beauty of nature.

  5. Jen Rattie says

    Thanks so much for sharing this list. All the theme parks in the world don’t compare to the beauty of nature.

  6. Marcie W. says

    Having all of these amazing national parks nearby is one of the many reasons I love living in Southern Nevada. Nothing beats that gorgeous desert landscape!

  7. Maureen says

    I love visiting National Parks, your list is a perfect list of National Parks to see in the west. The photos really capture the beauty too making me want to do a little road trip!

  8. Liz Mays says

    I’d seriously love to do a large-scale road trip with a camper and everything. Another visit to The Grand Canyon could be super nice.

  9. Jeanine says

    These all look amazing! I haven’t ever been to any of these parks but would love to. I think they’d make a fun road trip!

  10. Pam says

    I have always wanted to visit Zion National Park. All of these look like beautiful destinations for a road trip.

  11. Crystal says

    As a kid, we went on lots of road trips. We loved Zion so much we drove out there two years in a row. My strongest memory was riding on a horse named Spud.

  12. Our Family World says

    Woah! That’s really stunning view! All of these are such a perfect place for destinations.

  13. Shannon Gurnee says

    I’ve been to 4 of the 5 national parks you mentioned and they were amazing! So many breathtaking views! I visited Zion as a kid, but would love to go back as an adult. Bryce Canyon is beautiful too!

  14. Rosey says

    I do want to see Yosemite. It’s been on my BL for quite awhile now. The pics here are fabulous.

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