By Madeline Klein on June 15, 2018.
Everybody needs some more nature in their life, right? National parks make for an ideal vacation spot for you to soak up the outdoors. Whether you’re looking for family fun or hoping to spend some quality time with friends, you can’t go wrong with a national park adventure.
Besides the camping opportunities, many national parks are known for their beautiful roads to drive on. Check out a list of our favorite national park roads and start drooling over these beautiful views.
1. Going-to-the-sun Road - Glacier National Park
This scenic road stretches 50 miles through Glacier National Park. You’ll catch beautiful views of rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and what the park is named for, glaciers. This road is well known for its gorgeous views, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled the entire drive. Keep in mind this road closes from late fall until well into the spring due to the snow.
2. Skyline Drive - Shenandoah National Park
Skyline Drive is chock-full of beautiful rolling hills. This 105-mile drive sits atop the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you love animals, this is a great drive to wildlife watch. There are 75 pull-offs, and you’ll want to stop at every one. We suggest taking this drive in the fall to really appreciate the foliage.
3. Cathedral Valley Loop - Capitol Reef National Park
This is a rough terrain drive for our more adventurous travelers. You’ll need extra supplies like emergency water and fuel, but the views will make it worth the effort. You’ll be in awe of the desert views and sandstone monoliths no matter what direction you look. So download your favorite podcast and settle in for this drive.
4. Summit Road to Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park
If you start this drive early enough, you could be one of the first in the country to see the sunrise because Cadillac Mountain is one of the first places to catch a glimpse of a new day. This route is shorter, only lasting 3.5 miles. But because Cadillac Mountain is one of the highest points along the Atlantic, you’re sure to get some stunning views that will last for miles.
5. Teton Park Road - Grand Teton National Park
This 42-mile road is the perfect way to take in the beauty of Grand Teton National Park. You could fill multiple days of adventure with the numerous turnoffs and many hiking trails. You’ll see meadows, mountains, and wildlife. What more could you want from a National Park?
6. Badlands Loop Scenic State Byway - Badlands National Park
The Badlands landscape is different from most everything else you’ll find in the U.S. There are sandstone hills paired with striking green grass. And, you’ll likely recognize the multi-colored spires from photos and movies.
7. Hurricane Ridge Road - Olympic National Park
Hurricane Ridge Road isn’t for the faint of heart. The 17-mile road has a steep 7 percent grade. You’ll want to be sure you are up-to-date on your car maintenance for this trip. The steep grade is worth it though for the breath-taking mountains, meadows, and alpine-covered peaks you’ll get to take in.
8. Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park
If you love mountains, this is the road for you. This was the first road built in the Rocky Mountains, and there’s no doubt why. You’ll get incredible views of the continental divide with peaks and valleys along every turn. Fair warning: those prone to car-sickness may want to skip out on this drive because of the many tight turns.
With any of these roads, be sure to check with the park and ensure your route is safe and clear to drive. Many are closed throughout the year for weather, as well as regular maintenance. And we’d hate for you to miss your chance to drive one of the roads because of that.