There’s really nothing quite like driving through a gorgeous national park while on a road trip, especially if you’re a fan of taking the scenic route. You can incorporate camping and hikes into your trip, but if that’s not your thing, you can still enjoy the timeless beauty of the national parks just the same. Make sure to check the status of the roads before you make your way, as some are only open seasonally. Here are some of the best national parks to explore while driving your way through the country.
Death Valley Scenic Byway, California & Nevada
Death Valley is known for its salt flats, incredible mountains, temperature extremes, history, and its extreme elevation that ranges from 282 below sea level to 11,049 above sea level. The temperatures are mild and you can take in stunning sights of wildflowers during the spring, though summer is a popular time for those who are willing to take the heat, as temperatures can get up to 120s F.
Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah Park goes along the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Virginia. Here you’ll find wetlands, mountain peaks, forests, waterfalls, hiking trails, picnic spots, and plenty of wildlife. If you start at the Front Royal Entrance you will reach the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center after about 4 miles. You can take in the view and plan out your hikes and waterfall viewings. You’ll be able to see deer, groundhogs, bears, and wild turkeys throughout the road even from your car as well.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, Zion National Park, Utah
Zion is known to be one of the most scenic national parks that offers stunning sights including colorful peaks, mountains, sandstone formations, waterfalls, cliffs, canyons, and lots of wildlife. Due to its popularity, there are actually vehicle limitations but also two shuttle routes during March to November. The scenic route starts at Highway 9 and I-15 where the two intersect and goes all the way until Mt. Carmel Junction. You can drive the whole way yourself during November to March, but during the spring and fall you can take a shuttle that goes along an hour and a half long route and makes nine stops.
Crater Lake Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park is found in southern Oregon along the Cascase Mountains. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country that was formed by a volcanic eruption about 7700 years ago. You can hike, fish, bike, and camp along the stunning lake that is crystal clear thanks to the fact that it is fed only by precipitation. You can take a trolley tour in the summer where the ranger will narrate the 33 mile Rim Drive.