30 Mar Our National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
When we quit our jobs back in April 2011, we thought we’d have a few short months before our departure into Peace Corps service. Our plan was to move out of our apartment and do a massive road trip to see the National Parks of the West.
We eventually found out that our Peace Corps placement would be delayed almost nine months. It was a little disappointing but we quickly embraced the gift of extra time. We followed through with our plan to leave work behind and hit the road.
We loaded up our Subaru with camping gear and our iPhone with audiobooks and podcasts to get us through the drives.
Many of our campsite reservations had to be made almost a year in advance because summer is peak season in the National Parks. My goal was to make sure we had access to a shower and internet at least every third night. Sometimes this was available in a campsite or when we stayed with friends- other times it meant we “splurged” for a night in a budget hotel room to break up a week of camping with more basic amenities.
See the videos and photos from our road trip here:
Here’s a video montage of our times in the super volcano! We spent five days/four nights in a cute little budget cabin just steps from Old Faithful, and enjoyed a range of weather conditions from pleasantly sunny to blustery snow.
Yellowstone is an unbelievable place with so many things to see. We especially enjoyed geyser chasing for exercise (checking the ranger forecasts for geyser eruptions and hiking around to see as many as possible) and seeing all the buffalo everywhere!
We passed through Grand Tetons National Park and spent the weekend in Jackson, Wyoming with a good friend from college. The recap video is mostly of her kids, so we’ll skip that one here.
Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef
After Salt Lake City, we started our big tour of Utah’s National Parks. Since the weather didn’t permit camping in Yellowstone, the parks in Utah ended up being our first chance to camp. From one of the most unique camping sites in Arches I’ve ever seen, we were able to explore areas that seemed to be from another planet. Here’s a look at our time in Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks:
Bryce and Zion
Bryce and Zion were certainly two of the most spectacular parks we’ve seen- so unique and intriguing. We loved our hikes on the Navajo/Queen’s Trail (Bryce) and Angel’s Landing (Zion).
While, yes, the Grand Canyon is in fact very grand, it doesn’t quite stand up to the footage we’ve gotten from some of the other places on our trip. Highlights of our stay at the North Rim included scoring a sweet camping spot near the rim and encountering some interesting wildlife while out on our hike. Can you identify the large reptile on the trail?
Sequoia and King’s Canyon
We had a great three nights camping in King’s Canyon where we could explore the canyon, rivers, lakes, huge trees, neighboring Sequoia National Park, and- of course- encounter more wildlife! The highlight of this part of the road trip was definitely the bear on our hiking trail.
Many say Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in the country, so we decided to spend five nights there. After an arduous hike, the view from the top of Yosemite Falls was well worth the climb. Another hike took us to an unforgettable waterfall at Hetch Hetchy Resevoir in a section of the park that has fewer visitors and allowed us to escape the weekend crowds. One of Jedd’s college friends, Tyler, was able to fly out to meet us to experience this leg of the epic road trip together. We’re appreciative that he made the effort to join us! As in many of the other parks, we also took advantage of the Ranger programs, which always provides deeper insight to our experience (and usually good laughs from the cute things enthusiastic children contribute to the talks).
Redwoods and the Oregon Coast
After Yosemite, we had one of our longer driving days to get to the Redwoods. We decided to spend only one night in the Redwoods area so we could join family who were camping in Honeyman State Park, Oregon. As you’ll see in the video, Jedd was very excited to end the trip catching two fish back to back since his other catches the week beforehand were too small to keep.
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