6 Exciting West Coast national parks to Road Trip This Summer
2020 was definitely a summer of road trips and I have a feeling the trend will continue into 2021. Which, I am definitely not complaining about because there are so many amazing places to see here in the United States and I have just barely scratched the surface. I wanted to share about the amazing national parks we were able to visit last summer to help you plan some amazing adventures for this year!
There are obviously WAY more national parks in the west, but these are the ones I have been to. I hope to do a ton of California this summer and will be sure to add those places to the list when I do. For now, here are 6 exciting west coast national parks to road trip this summer!
HOW TO STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY on your road trip
Though being outdoors does hinder your chances of getting the virus, it’s not impossible so continuing to follow all safety protocols is important! Plus, it is now required to wear a mask on government land, which all national parks are. Be sure to put your mask on when you pass people on trails, in stores, gas stations, etc. Carry hand sanitizer and wipe down any surfaces you might be touching and you will be set!
IS IT SAFE TO RENT A CAR?
We have rented a few cars within the last month, as well as a camper van and felt safe doing so. Each place we rented from made it known that they were disinfecting and keeping their cars clean. We carried wipes and wiped everything down on our own as well just to be safe!
RESEARCH EACH STATE/ AREA BEFORE YOU GO
Last year we saw a lot of national parks closing, thankfully most of them are back up and running. While I don’t anticipate any closing again, be sure to check campground websites and official park websites for any closures such as bathrooms, general stores or certain attractions so you can plan accordingly.
WHERE TO STAY ON YOUR NATIONAL PARK ROAD TRIP
We decided to avoid hotels on our road trips and car camp. We stayed in both designated sites which can be found on recreation.gov or we used the Ultimate Campgrounds App to find free or inexpensive sites along the way.
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL PASS
Before your trip, decide if getting an America the Beautiful pass would be worth it for you. If you plan to go to 3 or more national parks this year, the pass will be worth it. Most parks cost $35 per vehicle for a 7-day pass, while the America the Beautiful pass is only $80 and gets you into all parks. It pays for itself! You can buy most passes at the entrance of national parks. We got ours as we went into Grand Teton.
THE 6 West Coast National Parks To VISIT THIS SUMMER:
Our latest road trip was to Grand Teton (my favorite Western U.S national park) and Yellowstone and I absolutely loved every second of it. On this trip, we car camped with a company called Nature Vans. It’s a small company out of Salt Lake City, which is where we were prior to our trip. Here are a few quick details on the trip.
– Where to stay: Many campgrounds are available, almost all on a first-come-first-served basis. We stayed at Colter Bay and thought it was great, though it was one of the busier campgrounds. There are bathrooms with running water, a gas station and general store with all the things you might need during your stay.
-What to do: Kayak or canoe on lake Jackson, watch wildlife, hike one of the many trails, visit the historic Mormon Row District.
Where to stay: We stayed at Bridge Bay campground and we were able to make a reservation prior to our stay. I liked the location of this campground and how secluded our spot was. Bison and Elk also live in the campground which we saw a bunch of! There are many other campgrounds and cabins available around the park.
-What to do: Watch wildlife, see geysers (old faithful!), mud pots, and more!
My home state has so much to offer and I plan to do an entire Colorado road trip guide, but for now here are two of our national parks!
Rocky Mountain National Park
-Where to stay: Moraine park campground and glacier bay campground are the first to open up in the park this year. Check back to see which other campgrounds open throughout the summer. You can also stay in the nearby town of Estes Park.
-What to do: Hike, bike, ride horses, have a picnic!
Great Sand Dunes National Park
-Where to stay: Piñon Flats Campground is within the park and requires reservations.
-What to do: Sandboard/ sled down the dunes, hike, swim in Medano Creek.
Utah is known for the “big five” national parks they have. While we haven’t been to all of them, they’re on our list! We have been to Arches and Zion so here is my info on those, but make sure to check out the other 3, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon.
Arches National Park
-Where to stay: It looks like Devils Garden Campground, the only campground inside the park, is closed for the season. Check out other campgrounds in the nearby town of Moab.
What to do: Drive and hike to various arches and rock formations in the park.
Zion National Park
-Where to stay: We stayed at a free campsite right outside of the park which was awesome. I can’t for the life of me find what it was called though! South and Watchman campground are both inside the park if you want to check those out!
-What to do: Visit the cute town area for a coffee before going on one of the incredible hikes in the park. Many hikes were closed when we went, so check the site to see which hikes you can do. We did the upper Emerald pools and absolutely loved it.
I plan to create more in-depth guides on each of these states, but for now, I hope this gets you excited to get out and see some of the national parks in the western U.S! Are you planning to stay domestic this summer or head somewhere international? I’d love to know below!
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