Travel and Leisure

USA National Parks: 5 Places For an Amazing Car Journey

The planet’s natural diversity is impressive. Especially, when it comes to completely different formations located within one country: mountain peaks, hot deserts, tropical swamps, the world’s tallest trees, and much more! In the vastness of the United States, there was enough space for many national parks.

Yes, each US national park is like a separate mini-planet with its own landscapes, nature, and interesting places. Therefore, it’s not for nothing that many travelers, including Americans, like to visit these masterpieces.

If you want to join them, then you need to rent a car first, because the public transport network won’t allow you to properly explore all the natural beauty. Family travelers can rent a 10 passenger van, while a compact or full-size car is perfect for 2-5 people. Don’t know where to rent a car? Look for suitable deals online or use the convenient rental car app.

Well, the car is booked and suitcases are collected. Now let’s decide which national parks to visit…

Grand Canyon, AZ

The park needs no special introduction: people come there to see His Majesty the Grand Canyon, a natural wonder of the world. As you admire the breathtaking panoramas of one of the deepest canyons in the world, go on hiking or horseback riding and try rafting.

How to get to the Grand Canyon?

The closest airports to the Grand Canyon are located in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Flagstaff. Picking up a car rental in one of these places will be the best transport solution.

What’s the best time to reach it?

The park is open all year round, but you can admire the canyon from the north rim exceptionally in summer. According to the park’s statistics, only 10% of visitors reach the north rim of the canyon, so you can catch all the popular photo-angles on the south rim.

Most of the travelers go to the park in summer, spring, and autumn. The park’s management advises in any case to reserve campsite in advance.

Rocky Mountain, CO

Rocky Mountain is a scenic trekking paradise. This is an outstanding place to take beautiful photos, conquer the Rocky Mountains, relax on alpine meadows, and catch incredible reflections in the cleanest lakes.

How to get to Rocky Mountain Park?

The closest airport to the national park is located in Denver. There’s no public transport in Rocky Mountain, you can only get there by rental car. Shuttle buses run through Rocky Mountain Park.

What’s the best time to reach it?

The park is open all year round. It can be cold in Rocky Mountain from December till March, but many travelers like this period due to excellent ski opportunities.

In April and May, the weather is unpredictable – some trails are still blocked because of the snow. You can enjoy the best weather conditions for trekking from late May till mid-October.

Badlands, SD

The visiting card of the Badlands is the largest protected prairie in the United States and the round badlands sharpened by erosion, which gave the park its name. In order to observe the prairie life, it’s enough to drive through the park by car rental using a single route, but there are also hiking trails in the Badlands.

Remains of ancient extinct animals such as saber-toothed tigers have been found in the park, and today you can see some of the archaeological finds right in the Badlands.

How to get to the Badlands?

The most convenient way to get to the Badlands is from Rapid City: you can rent a car or use a taxi.

What’s the best time to reach it?

The park is open all year round. The weather in Badlands is capricious: it’s very cold in winter, but dry and hot in summer. 

Zion, UT

The reddish-bronze Zion Canyon, the picturesque Kolob Canyon, and numerous trekking trails are ideal backdrops for hiking, filming, and just a weekend in stunning natural surroundings.

How to get to Zion?

Parking lots in Zion are usually full in the morning. Park officials recommend that you leave a rental car in Springdale and take a free shuttle to Zion itself. You can move around the park by shuttle or bike. In the low season when shuttles are not available to run, it’s allowed moving by personal or rental car.

What’s the best time to reach it?

The park is open all year round, with most travelers from February till the end of November.

The Great Smoky Mountains, TN and NC

In this park, any promenade turns into an epic hike as you walk the world’s longest continuous Appalachian Trail! Along the way, admire the views from Clingmans Dome, breathe in the forest air, find the most beautiful waterfalls, explore historical buildings, and watch elk and black bears.

How to get to the Great Smoky Mountains?

The most convenient way to get to the Great Smoky Mountains is by car rental. There’s no public transport running to the national park, but private excursions are available from Knoxville and Asheville.

What’s the best time to reach it?

The park is open 12 months per year, but some roads may be closed due to weather conditions. Most travelers go to the park from June 15 till August 15 and in October, especially on weekends. In order to avoid crowds, plan your trip for a different time: for example, in September, when it’s still warm, but there are fewer people.

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