National Park Road Trip of a Lifetime

Imagine being on the open road for 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 on one awesome summer National Park road trip across the United States and into Canada driving over 10,000 miles!

What does this EPIC national parks road trip cover? 13 states, 15 national parks, and two Canadian provinces.

  • U.S. States: Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa.
  • National Parks: Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Jasper, Waterton, Kootenay, Yoho, Cascades Loop, Mt. Rainier, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of Gunnison, and Rocky Mountain.
  • Canadian Provinces: Alberta and British Columbia.

Our road trip planner below includes detailed information, maps, pictures, and a full itinerary to get you started in planning your unforgettable trip!

But if you like guidebooks, pick up a Fodor’s National Park Road Trips book to take with you on your journey! It has multiple itineraries, things to do, local insider advice, and a detailed national parks map. 

Road Trip Map

You can customize our Google National Parks Map to make your very own road trip USA planner by making a copy and saving it to My Maps in Google.

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: To view the layers and see the names of the places on this map, click the tab in the top left corner. You can select the checkmarks to show or hide certain layers. If you select the icons on the map, you will get more information about the point of interest.
HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP: If you select the star icon, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. To view it, open Google Maps on your desktop or on your phone, select the menu button, go to “Your Places,” scroll to the right to Maps, and you will see this map.


Summer National Park Road Trip Itinerary Summary

National Park Road Trip from Chicago, Illinois

  • Austin, Minnesota (1 night)
  • Badlands National Park, South Dakota (1 night)
  • Custer State Park, South Dakota (7 nights)
  • Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming (1 night)
  • Yellowstone National Park (7 nights)
  • Butte, Montana (1 night)
  • Glacier National Park, Montana (7 nights)
  • Banff National Park, Canada (7 nights)
  • Jasper National Park, Canada (7 nights)
  • Kamloops, British Columbia (1 night)
  • Cascades Loop National Park, Washington (3 nights)
  • Leavenworth, Washington (3 nights)
  • Mount Rainier National Park (7 nights)
  • Baker City, Oregon (1 night)
  • Twin Falls, Idaho (1 night)
  • Pocatello, Idaho (1 night)
  • Moab, Utah (5 nights)
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (2 days)
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado (2 days)
  • Vail, Colorado (5 days)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (7 nights)
  • Lincoln, Nebraska (1 night)
  • Chicago, Illinois
80 day national park road trip itinerary that will blow your mind: Passing through thirteen states and thirteen national parks.
Click the links within the post to follow along on our national park road trip blog.

Keep Scrolling for Detailed Information on Lodging and Cost

Day 1: Chicago, Illinois to Austin, Minnesota

If you have your own RV, trailer, or tent then great! If not, and you are interested in renting an RV from Chicago or your home state, check out RVShare, one of the largest RV rental marketplaces. 

On day one, we drove to pick up our borrowed pop up trailer and received a crash course on how to use it since it is a first for us. 

It’s time for you to head out on your first full day of adventure!

From Chicago, stop in the lovely river town of La Crosse, Wisconsin for the afternoon where you will find a great lunch place with local beer, a beautiful shrine with a walking path, and an awesome view of the Mississippi River. 

Things to Do: Welcome to Wisconsin Sign, The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Grandad Bluff, Dublin Square Irish Pub, Riverside Park, and Gardens. 

Driving Info: 305 miles, 5hrs 40 minutes

Where to Stay: Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in Austin, Minnesota

Full Disclosure: Some of the links included in this article are affiliate links, if you book through it we will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Sioux Falls in South Dakota

Day 2: Austin, Minnesota to Kadoka, South Dakota

It is time for goofy roadside attractions to break up the long drive to South Dakota! Today is basically a driving day to get you where you need to go. You’ll be on Interstate 90 all day and it’s quiet with the exception of some quirky stops along the way.

Who can pass up a jolly green giant, a palace made of corn, or THE most well-known roadside attraction in the entire United States?

Things to Do: SPAM Museum, Jolly Green Giant Statue, Falls Park in Sioux Falls, Corn Palace, and Wall Drug Store.

Driving Info: 475 miles, 6hrs 50 minutes

Where to Stay: Americas Best Value Inn in Kadoka, South Dakota

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Badlands National Park

Day 3: Badlands National Park to Custer State Park, South Dakota

If it’s your first time visiting Badlands National Park expect to be blown away! It is like being on the moon. No, like being on another planet. Wait, no. It’s something you can’t put into words, you just have to see it with your own eyes. 

If you aren’t traveling with camping equipment, check out Custer’s Bavarian Inn. With indoor and outdoor pools and rave reviews, i’s on our list for future travels.

Things to Do: Top 6 Things to Do in Badlands National Park

Driving Info: 155 miles, 3hrs 30 minutes

Where to Stay: Stockade Lake Campground, Custer State Park

Days 4 – 10: Custer State Park, South Dakota

If you can afford to spend at least five days in Custer State Park, you will not be disappointed. Our Top 10 Reasons to Custer State Park covers all the amazing things to see and do in and near the park. 

You’ll see wildlife up close and personal,  hike to the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains, witness the world’s largest mountain carving at Crazy Horse, walk the streets of the Wild West, experience the famous national historic monument, Mount Rushmore, and watch cascading waterfalls on Spearfish Scenic Byway, one of the prettiest drives.

Your takeaway from this week will be: how is this state park not a national park?

Things to Do: Wildlife Loop Drive, Crazy Horse Memorial, Lead, Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave National Park, Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Needles Highway, and Black Elk Peak.

Where to Stay: Stockade Lake South Campground, Custer State Park, South Dakota

An epic US road trip across the country.
Bighorn National Forest

Day 11: Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

The next stop is Yellowstone National Park. If you take a look on the route to see if there’s anything interesting on the way, you’ll notice a big green space, the Bighorn National Forest. Add it to your itinerary because it is super scenic. 

Driving Info: 222 miles, 3hrs 30 minutes

Where to Stay: The Budget Inn Express, Sheridan, Wyoming

The must-see national parks in the United States.
Old Faithful at Yellowstone

Days 12 – 19: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Today, you’ll arrive at the first national park in America: Yellowstone. Oh happy days, oh happy days. Our 5-day Yellowstone Itinerary and 2-day Grand Teton Guide will help you experience all the best places in a limited amount of time. 

Like the four must-see natural wonders, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and where to see wildlife like when we saw our first grizzly bear sighting. Find out what it is like camping with no electricity in Yellowstone

Where to Stay: Grant Village Campground, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Day 20: Butte, Montana

It’s a boring day of driving, but up next is Glacier National Park and there’s nothing boring about that.

Driving Info: 323 miles, 6hrs 23 minutes

Where to Stay: Best Western Plus, Butte, Montana

Days 21 – 27: Glacier National Park, Montana

Be still my beating heart Glacier National Park! If you can’t make it to every national park on this list but are looking for a few that will blow your mind, add Glacier to your trip. You will not be unsatisfied with that decision.

Read here for a full Glacier National Park Itinerary.

Things to Do: one of the most beautiful drives in America, waterfall hike and a celebrity sighting, crossing over Canada to see what their national park is all about, and the craziest experiences in Glacier when we hiked with a grizzly bear and her cub.

Driving Info: 265 miles, 4hrs 30 minutes

Where to Stay: St. Mary Campground, Glacier National Park, Montana

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

Days 28 – 34: Banff National Park, Canada

At this point, you’ll realize you chose the absolute best order of things because the sights and sounds keep getting better and better.

When you get to Banff National Park, you’ll probably find yourself on a loop. Saying over and over again, “this looks like a fake backdrop. How can this be real? I always thought the pictures of this place were filtered.” Guess what? NOPE.

Things to Do: Our Best of Banf List includes Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Parker Ridge Hike, Tunnel Mountain Drive, postcard-worthy locations like Vermillion Lakes, the unforgettable Icefields Parkway, with a side trip to Kootenay National Park.

Driving Info: 257 miles, 4hrs 25 minutes

Where to Stay: Tunnel Mountain Campground, Banff National Park

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway

Days 35 – 41: Jasper National Park, Canada

It is week five of the road trip and you will have seen so much! Next is Jasper National Park where you’ll ride the tram to soaring heights with amazing views, take one of the prettiest hikes you’ve ever been on, climb 2,100 feet in a day, soak your weary bones in a hot spring, and take a boat ride to incredible scenery.

You’ll find it all here at Jasper National Park Things to Do.

Driving Info: 204 miles, 2hrs 25 minutes

Where to Stay: Wabasso Campground, Jasper National Park

Day 42: Kamloops, British Columbia

It’s another driving day to get some miles behind you before crossing back into the United States. 

If you aren’t too exhausted when you arrive, an optional viewpoint in the area is the Kamloops Viewpoint in Riverside Park, where the two rivers meet. 

Driving Info: 304 miles, 6hrs 10 minutes

Where to Stay: Quality Inn, Kamloops, British Columbia

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Old Western Town of Winthrop

Days 43 – 45: Cascades Loop National Park, Washington

Before you cross over the border, you’ll be passing through a huge orchard area with a ton of farms, vineyards, and markets. Plan to stop by and pick up some fresh fruit at a local stand. 

Then you’ll arrive in the adorable town of Winthrop. In this day and age of technology, it is extremely difficult to be surprised by anything. Yet on this segment of the trip, I think the small town of Winthrop will throw you for a loop. It has an Old Western feel and you’ll dig it.

Also, the Heather Maple Pass hike in Cascades Loop National Park will leave you speechless.

Driving Info: 247 miles, 5hrs 40 minutes

Where to Stay: Big Twin Lakes Campground, Winthrop, Washington

Days 46 – 48: Leavenworth, Washington

Old-world charm is what you’ll get in Leavenworth, Washington. The beautiful streets lined with bountiful flower baskets amid a mountain backdrop is the perfect stop for a few days.

Take a wild white water rafting ride on Wenatchee River before eating and drinking at one of the many restaurants in Leavenworth.

Driving Info: 113 miles, 2hrs 10 minutes

Where to Stay: Alpine View RV Park, Leavenworth, Washington

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Bavarian town of Leavenworth.

Days 49 – 55: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

After a short city break, you’ll head back to the mountains. Since Mount Rainier National Park’s main focus is the mountain, we thought it was going to be a one-hit wonder. We could not have been more wrong!

We loved every minute of being in the park, here are the highlights: the paradise trail, canopied old growth towering trees, our absolute favorite hike, and walking on an active volcano at Mount St. Helens.

Driving Info: 180 miles, 3hrs 20 minutes

Where to Stay: Cascade Peaks Campground, Randle, Washington

Day 56: Baker City, Oregon

Another long driving day to get you closer to Idaho. 

Driving Info: 315 miles, 5hrs 20 minutes

Where to Stay: Bridge Street Inn, Baker City, Oregon

Summer Road Trip
Banff National Park in Canada

Day 57: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

After exploring a little of Idaho, you’ll be fondly saying, “Idaho isn’t just potatoes!”

You’ll discover many awesome things to do in Idaho including what felt like a walk on the moon, an impressive gushing waterfall, and the spot where Evil Knieval failed at his attempt to skyrocket over a huge gorge.

Things to Do: Malad River Canyon, Twin Falls, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and Shoshone Falls Park.  

Driving Info: 250 miles, 3hrs 50 minutes

Where to Stay: Quality Inn, Twin Falls, Idaho

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Craters of the Moon National Monument

Day 58: Pocatello, Idaho

No major stops today, just make your way to Utah. Since you’ll be near a university, there are a lot of restaurant options, head over to the below brewery for a beer and fantastic food to cap the day off.

Things to Do: Portneuf Valley Brewery.

Driving Info: 117 miles, 1hr 45 minutes

Where to Stay: Days Inn, Pocatello, Idaho

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Waterfall in Idaho

Days 59 – 60: Arches National Park, Utah

It is time to switch gears and go from the rugged mountain landscape to glowing red rock country. Did you know Arches National Park has the largest number of sandstone arches in the country?

Check out our 2-day Arches itinerary of this remarkable park.

Driving Info: 395 miles, 6hrs

Where to Stay: Canyonlands RV Park, Moab, Utah

Passing through thirteen states, thirteen national parks and two Canadian provinces, this epic summer road trip will blow your mind.
Arches National Park in Utah.

Day 61 – 62 Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Sitting on a mesa overlooking the extraordinary landscape of Canyonlands National Park and you’ll feel small and insignificant yet powerful and important all at the same time.

Utah is a powerful place; it definitely speaks to your soul.

Where to Stay: Canyonlands RV Park, Moab, Utah

Looking for a Utah road trip? Stop at Canyonlands National Park.
Canyonlands National Park

Day 63: Dead Horse State Park, Utah

So many people overlook state parks and if this trip doesn’t reinforce the theory that some of them are just as magnificent as national parks, I don’t know what does.

Dead Horse State Park only has seven miles of hiking and is a small park, but the panoramic views from the rim are unbelievable. That view may look familiar to you if you’ve ever seen the movie, Thelma and Louise.

Where to Stay: Canyonlands RV Park, Moab, Utah

The ultimate Utah bucket list: Dead Horse State Park.
Dead Horse State Park

Days 64 – 65: Mesa Verde National Park 

At Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll be taken back to early civilization days. Discover ancient cliff dwellings and archeological sites at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest archeological preserve in the United States. 

Things to Do: Ranger-guided tour of Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Long House Dwellings, Self-Guided Tour of the Step and Bruce Tree House, hike the Petroglyph Point Trail, Chapin Mesa Museum, drive the Mesa Top Loop, Park Point Fire Overlook, Soda Canyon Overlook, and Far View Sites.

Driving Info: 128 miles, 2hrs 20 minutes

Where to Stay: Morefield Campground

Places to see in Wyoming, the ultimate summer road trip.

Days 66 – 67: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks

Two words come up often when researching Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: deep and steep. It is a unique park with sheer dropoffs, striking landscapes, and a raging river that has shaped the area. 

Things to Do: East Portal Scenic Drive, a boat ride from Curecanti National Recreation Center, North Rim, Cimarron, Montrose County Historical Museum, Rim Rock Nature Trail, and the Chasm View Nature Trail.

Driving Info: 180 miles, 4hrs

Where to Stay: South Rim Campground 

Days 68 – 72: Vail, Colorado

Summer is a fabulous time of year to be in Colorado. The flowers are blooming, the air is warm, and the charming small towns are lively with festivals and events. Here are a few of the best things we found in and around Vail.  

Things to Do: Copper Mountain Chairlift, Hanging Lake Hike, Independence Pass Scenic Drive, Minturn, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Horseback Riding, and Glenwood Hot Springs.

Driving Info: 200 miles, 4hrs

Where to Stay: Gore Creek Campground

Days 72 – 78: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Your final national park of the road trip, number fifteen is Rocky Mountain Park! Can you believe it? 15 national parks in one road trip!

Rocky Mountain National Park is the third most visited park in the United States because of its close proximity to the city of Denver. The soaring mountains are softened by quiet valleys and gentle slopes. The park is not only lovely but the town of Estes Park is ideal for walking around.

Driving Info: 158 miles, 3hrs

Where to Stay: Estes Park Campground, Estes Park, Colorado


Looking for an awesome summer road trip? Hit the road with this epic itinerary.
Lincoln, Nebraska

Day 79: Lincoln, Nebraska

Time to pack up and hit the road to work on getting home to Chicago.

Take the traveler’s route in Nebraska across historic Lincoln Highway, stop at the world’s largest rail yard, take in views at the state capitol building and wander around a sunken garden.

Driving Info: 525 miles, 7hrs 40 minutes

Where to Stay: Red Roof Inn, Lincoln, Nebraska

Day 80: Chicago, Illinois

Home sweet home Chicago. And so they say, that’s the end of the road folks! Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did!


Summer Road Trip
Our home for 3 months!

Cost of 80 Day National Park Road Trip

*Special Note: We attempted to stay at low-cost but good-reviewed hotels when driving to and from areas when we just had 1 night here and there so we didn’t have to set up. Some of these motels/inns have changed names or closed so I linked to comparable places above so you could get an idea of the cost if you were to follow our exact itinerary*

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 the 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 complimentary 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.



The total cost of 80 days on the road was $6,233, that’s $78 per day and includes all costs. See our expense breakdown for more detail. 

Summer Road Trip

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What’s the longest road trip you have ever taken? What do you think are the best road trip destinations in North America?

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Summer Road Trip


Follow Angela:

Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

84 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!

    • Dang Travelers

      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. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    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!

    • Dang Travelers

      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. Jenny

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

  4. Vicki | MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld

    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!

    • Dang Travelers

      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.

      • Colette🐌 Rodriguez

        It sounds like an adventure of a lifetime! Happy travels!!

  5. Nestor

    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. S

    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. Michelle

    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!

    • Dang Travelers

      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. mark

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

  9. Hung Thai

    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. May

    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. Keast

    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.

    • Dang Travelers

      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!

  12. Kerri McConnel

    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.

    • Dang Travelers

      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.

  13. 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.

    • Dang Travelers

      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!

    • Dang Travelers

      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!

  14. Susann

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

    • Dang Travelers

      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!

  15. Claire

    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!

  16. Bill Sycalik

    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.

    • Dang Travelers

      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!

  17. jasmine@makingrestorations

    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

    • Dang Travelers

      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!

  18. Richard Read

    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 (Oct 12).

    • Dang Travelers

      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!!

  19. Robin

    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.

    • Dang Travelers

      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!!

  20. 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..

  21. Alfred

    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.

  22. carri

    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!

    • Dang Travelers

      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!!

  23. Missy

    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!

  24. 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?

    • Dang Travelers

      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.

  25. Jackie

    I did a 3 week road trip this past summer (2016) with 4 kids! We started by flying from Phoenix to Denver and then we road-tripped through the midwest and ended up in Maine. We mostly stayed with family – cabins in SD. And a few nights in hotels. and then we flew back home to AZ from ME. The kids are all asking where the next trip is. And they are all coming up with their ideas of where to go

  26. J

    I had been through all the national parks!!!!you will definitely enjoy the trip!!!..will definitely be following your trip journey!!!

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks J! We visited 13 national parks in the summer and 1 in the fall. It was wonderful. Right now we are backpacking on the El Camino de Santiago!! We are walking 500 miles across the northern part of Spain. Thanks for following along.

  27. rent apartment Ljubljana

    Wow. What a great adventure. Been to most of those places, but looks like my bucket list just got longer…

  28. Anne

    A few years ago my husband and I (in a van) spent 42 days on a trip which covered many of the points you suggested; we drove 7,000+ miles. A suggestion when traveling in the west: bring something for lunches. We found ourselves in western WY miles from anything at lunchtime day and had to go without lunch until almost 3 p.m.! We later purchased a refrigerator that plugs into the power outlet in the auto and now when we travel we stop at a grocery store somewhere and purchase sandwich stuff. The fridge is so much handier than an ice chest and there is no mess. They are not very big, so you have to be selective about your purchases, but a few days on the road will teach you what to pack and how much! With a bit of sandwich meat, bread and bottled water, you won’t starve and you will not spend a fortune on food at tourist stops. We ate a hot breakfast and dinner and had a sandwich from the fridge for lunch. Saved a ton of money on food! And we always had cool water–a plus in the hot west!

  29. Craig

    Great trip, we did similar motor home trips in 2011-2013, had to sell to put kids in college…now kids are almost done ready to hit it again. Did you get to Wind Cave National Park in SD, it is totally amazing to visit when you are near the Black Hills! Great website BTW.

    • Dang Travelers

      Hey Craig, Thanks so much! No, unfortunately we didn’t get to Wind Cave. We went to Jewel Cave instead (which we enjoyed) but next time we will definitely get there. Sounds like you guys will be ready to roll soon. How exciting!

  30. Suzanne

    Great trip! Two years ago, we drove Highway 20, which goes from Newport Oregon to Boston. I believe it’s the longest continuous highway in the US. We have a Casita trailer which was perfect as it has a toilet, wet shower and really, everything we needed. Our agreement was we would save money on campgrounds and pull over where and when we needed-we knew the further east we traveled, we’d need some type of a campground. Highway 20 includes Yellowstone, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, among others. A few side trips included Niagara Falls, Dearborn Michigan-The Ford Museum is a must see. We also spent a week seeing the sights in Maine-amazing. Our goal was to stay on country roads/highways and avoid freeways if possible. Nearly 7 weeks and 8500 miles later, we were home, different sights going home. We are planning another cross country trip next year and already are looking forward to it. We’d like to see Highway 20 again, but will probably navigate a different route. Happy and safe travels everyone!

    • Dang Travelers

      Wow Suzanne, that sounds fantastic!! What a trip!
      We are hitting the northeast this spring, starting in Maine and working our way down to follow fall color. I’m not sure what the exact route is since we haven’t sat down to do the research just yet.

  31. Nicola

    Wow, what an epic road trip! You’ve summarised it really neatly here. I would love to visit that part of the world and having read this I definitely agree that a roadtrippin is the best way to do it. All the mountains and national parks look awesome. I would especially love to visit and hike in Banff someday.

  32. Gaye

    Some of these, I’ve been on…we did a 4,900 mile trip from Idaho to Wisconsin, Las Vegas, NV and back home in 9 days…brought back memories. Also, Idaho isn’t just potatoes…and the “waterfall in Idaho” picture you have above is actually a bigger drop for a waterfall than Niagra Falls in NY, it is Shoshone falls, just outside of Twin Falls, ID. The canyon that Evil Knieval tried to jump is also a deeper canyon than the Grand Canyon, just not as wide, but it is long… it follows the Snake River from the Yellowstone National park through southern Idaho, then is the border of Idaho and Oregon all the way up to Clarkston, WA, where the Snake drops into the Columbia. Just a bit of trivia.

    • Dang Travelers

      Wow, that sounds like an awesome trip. Did you visit any national parks or state parks near Vegas? We’d like to get to Death Valley at least. Very cool fun facts! Thanks Gaye!!

  33. D. Curtis

    We live in Loveland Co and are planning a trip South Carolina then west to home. Any suggestions we will be on the road for two months.

    • Dang Travelers

      Depends on what you guys like. As for cities along the way, I’d say Wichita (haven’t been but heard good things), Kansas City (way underrated city- check out the art district, beer & bbq, WWI museum), Columbia, Missouri (cool college town), St. Louis (Arch, Forest Park), Nashville (Hermitage, Parthenon, live music on Broadway), Ashville (drive a little on Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore Estate) and Charleston & Savannah.

      I have a bunch of info on my site for a lot of these. You can pull them up under destinations or in the search box on the right-hand side. If you are into nature: kayak or tube the crystal clear Current River in Missouri, Elephants Rocks & Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Parks are unique too, Shawnee National Forest (Garden of Gods and Wineries) in southern Illinois or if you like small towns Cape Girardeau is cute (where Gone Girl was filmed), and Smoky Mountain National Park.


    please put on Bryce Canyon on this guide. BEAUTIFUL, heading toward Grand Canyon, North. SO BEAUTIFUL.. local forest canyon.. Mr and Mrs. Richard Leonard, Volant, PA

  35. Kristy

    You need to make a new adventure. You missed the Great National Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado (worth seeing- best in the spring when the creek is flowing) and Carlsbad Caverns in Southern New Mexico.

    • Dang Travelers

      Hey Kristy, Yes, we’ve done both and they are great! This was a specific itinerary for an 80-day road trip we did and tried not to be on the move too much. It was our first “long-term” road trip and we did not want to burn out plus we had a pop up camper so we didn’t want to move it every few days so we chose to stay at most parks for a week. It was an unforgettable trip and we did not tire out at all. It was perfect so we wanted to share that itinerary with our readers!

  36. Judy Kowitz

    My longest road trip was in the summer of 1998. We started out from our home just north of Atlanta Ga and drove to St Louis Missouri. From there we travelled west to our first stop in Loveland Co.We went north from there through Denver into Wyoming. Visited Custer State Park, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons. Then west thru Idaho into Oregon. Visited with family in Florence, Or. Drove the Pacific Coast Hwy. south into Sacramento to San Francisco. East back to Lake Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas to Mesa Verde National Park then went to Arizona to the Grand Canyon. They to New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and back to Ga. Home for few days then to Savannah to Hilton Head Island SC for 3 days and finally back at home. If I remember correctly almost 8000 (+or-) miles in less than a month

  37. Alasdair

    In the Black Hills, I’d add Wind Cave National Park, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and Pinnacles Highway. Heading out of the Black Hills, I’d add Devils Tower National Monument. Admittedly, that would add a couple of days.

    In Washington, I’d add Mount Saint Helens National Monument and, if you have time, add a detour to Crater Lake in Oregon.

    In Utah, I’d Bryce Canyon and, if you have time, Zion, the south side of the Grand Canyon and Escalante National Monument.

    Just some quick thoughts based on some of my favorites roughly along that route. I’ve made 3 cross-country trips so far and hope to add more.

    • Dang Travelers

      Hello! Thanks for the info. Wow, three cross-country trips… that’s great! We will definitely get back to experience Wind Cave in South Dakota; it’s been on our list for some time. We chose to do Jewel Cave last time we were there. We did many of these things and included them in the article. The USA is such a cool country to road trip in! We are heading out along the Gulf Coast soon.

  38. Carolyn

    Wow, we are from New Zealand and heading to the USA next year to visit some of the National Parks and I had no idea where to start. Your article is fantastic and will certainly make my planning much easier. (May even follow your route exactly, although I did want to visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon so may look to include that somehow – and we don’t need to go to Chicago so May take that out.
    Thanks for making this available to us all.

  39. John Gould

    We’ll be doing part of this come April or May. We previously did South Dakota, (wind Cave rather than Jewel), spent some time in Custer State Park, being stopped for almost an hour by a crossing herd of Buffalo, and accosted by Burro’s (Donkey’s?) wanting handouts. The pig tails in Custer are simply amazing. We rented a 4wd 4Runner, and it was perfect for the trip. We also made it to Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons, along with Twin Falls (staying at the Quality Inn). We then went to Crater Lake, over to the redwood forest, down the pacific coast highway to and made a left to wine country in Napa and Sonoma Counties, then to San Fran and a flight home. This time will be flying to Portland most likely – heading north to visit the national parks in Washington State, Then Vancouver island, Then back east to visit Canada’s wine valley. Then continuing on to Banff, and back down across the border to see Glacier National Park. From there back home. Hoping to get another 4Runner for this trip.

    • Dang Travelers

      Sounds like a great trip!! We’ve haven’t been to Napa or Sonoma yet. How was it? We’d love to make it out there at some point. And this year’s trip sounds awesome as well. Banff and Glacier are mind blowing!

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