The Summer Road Trip that Will Blow your Mind

Summer Road Trip

In the beginning of June, Dang Travelers will pack up the car and head out on what we are anticipating to be the most epic road trip we have taken to date. We will be on the road 80 days from start to finish. That is 11 weeks and 3 days. 1,920 hours. 115,200 minutes. 6,912,000 seconds of road trip bliss. 22% of the year 2016 for us will be on one awesome road trip driving over 6,000 miles!

We will be passing through twelve U.S. states and one Canadian province:


We will be hiking throughout eleven National Parks (9 in the United States and 2 in Canada):

  1. Badlands National Park
  2. Yellowstone National Park
  3. Glacier National Park
  4. Banff National Park
  5. Jasper National Park
  6. Cascades National Park
  7. Mount Rainier National Park
  8. Grand Teton National Park
  9. Arches National Park
  10. Canyonlands National Park
  11. Rocky Mountain National Park

Check out breathtaking photos and read about some of these incredible parks in Top U.S. National Park Destinations.

468x60 - National Park Lodging

Summer Road Trip
Banff National Park in Canada

We will be visiting a few other National Park Service destinations:

Summer Road Trip

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Lodging Experiment

We will be breaking up our lodging between campgrounds, hotels and a few nights staying with family.

Summer Road Trip

As you can see, the majority of our time will be spent camping. Our temporary housing for the summer will be a pop up camper we are borrowing from our parents.

Pros of the pop up are that it is small so we are able to tow it with our current vehicle and it can be parked in almost any size campsite, it’s off the ground if it rains, and it has a fridge and stove top.

The cons are that it is small so we will be in SUPER close quarters for a LONG period of time, it does not have a shower or bathroom (which means 76% of the time showering at campgrounds – oh the joy) and we may grow tired of setting it up and taking it down at each site.  Either way, it does seem more luxurious than our usual truck camping!

We dream of one day owning an RV, camper or a van that we can travel far and wide with. We hope this little adventure will help us decide what we need and want for our future travels.

Summer Road Trip
Our fancy summer home!

Cost of the Longest Road Trip We’ve Ever Taken

Unfortunately, summer is the busiest season for most of these parks so we are not able to book as we go and are stuck with a rigid itinerary as campgrounds book up regularly. On a positive side, it has allowed us to have full transparency before we hit the road on how much this crazy ride will cost us!

We redeemed a free night earned previously with’s Reward Program– stay 10 nights, earn one free. We are also using IHG hotel loyalty points to cover two additional hotel nights. These three free stays combined with the seven free nights with family, significantly reduce our overall lodging costs. Taking into account our hotel stays, campground fees and staying with family, our average cost per night is $29. Excluding the free family nights (as some of you might not have that option) the average cost per night is $33.




For more travel hacking tips see How to Travel for Free.

What’s the longest road trip you have ever taken? Have any tips?

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The Summer Road Trip of a Lifetime. Across 11 US states and 1 Canadian province. Hiking through 11 national parks, this is road trip will blow your mind!

54 Responses

  1. Chris Travels

    Your extended road trip visiting some of the most beautiful national parks in North America will be amazing! Having been to many of the ones on your itinerary, it brings back some great memories for me. Start each day with a great cup of Joe to rev your metabolism and enjoy the ride! Safe travels to you!

    • We are anticipating it to be an epic adventure. I haven’t gone to any of these parks and Dave went as a child so he is looking forward to it as well. We can’t wait to explore, hike and experience all that America has to offer.

  2. Awesome itinerary! One suggestion — you absolutely must hike in North Cascades National Park. It looks like you’ll be driving right through (point I on your map). NCNP is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and it also happens to be one of the 10 least-visited National Parks in the US, meaning you can easily find campsites even in the heart of summer. There are some amazing hikes in the park with stunning 360-degree mountain views, like this one to Thornton Lakes and Trappers Peak:

    Looking forward to following along!

    • Thanks for the info Matt! We are going to spend 3 days in Cascades National Park (including driving the scenic loop) then 3 days down near Leavenworth. I haven’t done much research yet on hikes there so thanks. We went to Olympic two years ago and fell in love with Washington so we are really excited to get back to that part of the country!

  3. That looks like an epic trip! And the camp trailer looks great – at least you’ll be inside if it rains! Enjoy!

  4. This looks incredible and one heck of an adventure! And you’re hitting some beautiful places – Banff, Jasper and Yellowstone are high on my list. Hope you have an amazing time – and those campground showers will all be worth it!

    • Thanks Vicki! Yea, the campground showers will be fine. I remember seeing pictures of Banff and Jasper a few years ago and they looked surreal.

  5. Great plan ! We’ve done a lot of the places you wish to visit last summer, don’t hesitate if you’ve any question 😉
    Can’t wait to follow your trip ! Enjoy

  6. Wow that sounds like great and very ambitious road trip I would love to have the chance to do! Good luck and have fun!

  7. I love that you are doing this! My longest US roadtrip was a little over 100 days, just me and my 4 boys who at the time were all under the age of 7. We went from Utah to Portland, down the west coast, then out to the Mississippi River, and back to Utah. We camped a total of 56 days, stayed with family a bunch, and did throw in a few hotel stays as well. We loved it!

    • What a great trip with amazing memories for your family! The boys had to love that. We would love to do one of the west coast. I heard it is full of incredible scenery. One day! Our list keeps growing and growing of things we want to do!

  8. Looks like an amazing trip coming up look forward to reading your stories

  9. Oh my that’s definitely an epic trip for sure! I’m actually going to be in Banff later this summer – let’s compare photos 🙂

  10. Your trip looks amazing and the sights will be awesome!
    Have fun and keep checking back so we can be envious of what you’re doing 😉

    Love, May x

  11. What an amazing summer road trip you have planned! May God guide you well! 🙂

  12. In 1974, my husband and I took a 7-week trip in a slide-on camper, from Miami to Seattle and back. We hit St. Louis, Rocky Mt Nat Park, Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier [Aug4th they were blasting 14ft of snow out of the Going to the Sun Road pass!],[skipped Banff because we had a pistol with us that we knew wouldn’t make it across the border], the World’s Fair in Spokane [bypassed the Cascades], Mercer Island [skipped Mt. Rainier because of a huge event occurring there], the Olympic Peninsula [giant tree ferns next to giant redwoods leading down to the Pacific and many whale sightings], the Oregon coastline [mostly fogged in] but lots of flower farms and Tillamook cheese factory, Redwood Forest, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Calif. coast highway/Big Sur, west to Needles & the Grand Canyon, across N. Tex. bluebonnet fields, and home via the Gulf Coast. It was good to do when young and the memories you’ll make on this trip will last a lifetime.
    p.s. Honeymooned in Utah — consider a detour to Zion and/or Bryce Nat. Park.

    • Sounds like you had an epic adventure yourself! Can’t believe there was 14ft of snow in August. Well I guess I can, they say it’s an extremely small window for the “summer” season. You visited so many awesome places! It was so hard to choose the route because we kept adding and adding…wanting to see everything!

  13. Looks fantastic. I’ve not done a big road trip in a camper in the US. Have driven from Boston up through Canada, down through Niagara, Pennsylvania, and all through NY state. We will get to do it in an RV one day. We’ve done 12 weeks, 7 weeks and 6 week stints in the motorhome in Europe though and absolutely love it. Enjoy !! It will be a fabulous trip.

    • I think an RV would be ideal. I like the idea of having a shower and bathroom, but unfortunately we are not ready for that step just yet. We go back and forth if it’s worth the cost difference. Hopefully, we will learn a lot on this trip of what we like and don’t like for future decisions.

  14. Mary Kay Parnell

    Your trip will be wonderful. Our family did a lot of camping years ago. Our longest trip was driving to Alaska from Indiana. You must put this on your bucket list. If you do go to Alaska, buy the book, Mile Post, the year you go. It is a must to have while you travel. So much information. I have been to most of the places you are going. It is all beautiful !! When camping where there may be bears, put your food in the car for the night. As far as the showers at the camp ground, most are nice. Hint: put on a terry cloth robe before going to the shower house, then you are not having to deal with carrying everything. Flip flops are a must and a ” johnny bucket” to hold your supplies. Take lots of picture and safe travels.

    • Thank you so much Mary Kay! Your trip sounds amazing!! We would love to drive from Alaska down. There are just so many places to see, it’s almost overwhelming. Those are handy tips we will definitely use. I need to get a list going of all the things we need to buy and to bring. We are counting down the days now!

  15. When do you start?

    • Mid-June and we have to get our butts in gear because we don’t have even half of the “what we are doing when we get there” part figured out yet!

  16. From the map it looks like you will be hitting both Alberta and British Columbia, so two Canadian Provinces. Looks like an amazing trip!

    • Thanks! We will be in Banff and Jasper National Parks! I can’t wait to explore these areas. We’ve seen pictures and read about both parks in the past and they look and sound fascinating!

  17. What a beautiful route – and so cheap too! Have you worked out how much you think you’ll spend on food/ attractions etc? I’d be interested to see how much it costs all together!

  18. There is some chance we may overlap. It would be great to learn from experienced campers. The National Parks Marathon Project will be my first long term camping-based travel adventure. I have a lot to learn. I also don’t want to be on a rigid schedule but if I want a spot in a campground seems like I should be booking now! Hope to meet you.

    • It would be great if we could meet up somewhere along the way! Your trip seems like it will be quite the adventure. I’m sure we will all learn many things from each experience!

  19. Can I please come with you guys? This looks amazing. For years, I’ve been trying to carve out time out for a road trip like this, just 3 weeks is all I want. Heck, I’d even settle for 2. We’re headed out west for a week at the end of the month, so I will take it. But I can’t wait to see your adventure. every single one of those national parks is on our list.

    also thanks for sharing the “real cost” of your accommodations. I hope you do more budget updates. Can’t wait to follow along

    • We could probably fit one more in our camper! Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard for most of us to get this much time off especially a big block at once (one of my biggest issues with corporate America 😊) A week is still a week and you will have a fabulous time! We are planning on keeping the transparency going with all our groceries, gas and excursions as well. Thanks for following along on our adventure!

  20. Hi. Good luck with this, it looks amazing. Yellowstone is on my bucket list and did Jasper & Banff in 2012 but always open to going again. I might just plan something similar myself for next year.

    One suggestion though, we travelled from Vancouver to the very crowded and slow moving border crossing on the Interstate and returned to Canada on the much quieter crossing inland near Lynden. It might save an hour or so!

    My blog for our Banff and Jasper adventure, we did stay in hotels though, can be found on (Oct 12).

    • Thanks for reading and for the tip, Richard! I’ll take a look at your posts for our research on what to do & see. I’m running out of time for planning!!

  21. I’m so excited to follow your trip! In August my mother, my 2 daughters and I will be heading on a road trip west. We will be visiting many of the parks you have listed.

    • So excited for you guys! So far, it has been incredible and we have so much more to go. Hopefully we can help you out on your plans!!

  22. Charlotte

    So excited for you! We did this road trip last year, except Canada. We went down to San Diego too.Started from Pittsburgh. We love road trips. Been to the 48 contiguous states and had a blast. Have fun and go with the flow..

  23. Must visit Lake Moraine @ Banff. We were doing a 17 days trip on summer 2015. Hoping will return Banff & Jasper area for more exploration in 2017.

  24. We went on a road trip in 2014 for 25 days, over 7000 miles of driving. We hit 31 states, passing through a lot of love. Highlights include: Carlsbad caverns, New Mexico, San Antonio river walk and the Alamo, French quarter, New Orleans-swamp and plantation tour, smoky mountains Tennessee-zip lining and rafting, Gettysburg, Hershey, and Philadelphia-liberty bell, independence hall, New York City-statue of liberty, Empire State Building, Ellis island, bus tour, Central Park, show, Boston Massachusetts-duck boats, freedom trail, reveres house, Niagara Falls, Michigan-ford museum, St. Louis-arch tour, four corners and home. Sooooo much fun. Can’t wait to do it again. We did part of your route the year before. Road trips are the best!

    • Carri, that sounds amazing! We’ve been to many of these places too, but not on one long road trip! Road trips are the best. We just hit 30 days on the road yesterday and it has been awesome!!

  25. I’m loving your site and can’t stop reading! Your photos are gorgeous! My husband and I just returned home from a very similar (at least the first part…we didn’t make it to Canada or further west than Glacier and Yellowstone, and we were not gone nearly as long) road trip. We have five children ages 13-6 and the 7 of us had a blast visiting a lot of the same places you guys are! I’m reliving our trip vicariously through you! 😊 Have a fun and safe journey! Blessings!

  26. So excited for you! each destination to have a very beautiful and interesting ! I’m loving your site and can’t stop reading! Your photos are gorgeous! <3

  27. Dina Resnick

    Hi! Your itinerary looks amazing, and I’m actually thinking of using some of your ideas for my own trip I’ve been planning with a few of my friends. I’m just curious as to how your trip was. Did you love it? What were your favorite/least favorite parts? Any advice for someone who is planning a trip like yours?
    Also, how long were you on the road for?

    • Awesome! If you click through on the website, I did write ups on each place we visited over the 80 days we were on the road. It’s so hard to pick favorites because they are all so different. What do you like to do? Hike, bike, scenic drives, short walks? Maybe I can pick a few must-dos based on what you like. I did love it but wished we took a few down days vs being on the go so much. As far as advice goes: book as early as you can, keep a detailed spreadsheet with all your information (phone #s, addresses, dates etc) and an app like Navigator b/c you don’t have phone connections in most places.

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