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BY ANDREA SAUNDERS
Hit The Road: Discover U.S. National Parks & More
Pack up the car, hit the pavement and find an unforgettable adventure with a multi-stop, national parks (and more) road trip. Set your sights on some of the most beautiful places in the country with stays at your favorite Club Wyndham resorts (and WorldMark by Wyndham resorts, available through Wyndham Club Pass) nearby.
Mid-Atlantic & Southeast
Take a little history with your wildlife on a three-park excursion that just so happens to be within reach of the nation’s capital. Start your national parks road trip at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Hike on more than 500 miles of trails or stay in the car and cruise Skyline Drive to take in the striking beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You’re a little more than an hour away from Washington, D.C. where you can check out monuments, memorials, and museums.
Spend a day or two in Williamsburg for another dose of American history. Then plan a day to make the trek south to Congaree National Park in South Carolina where you won’t want to miss the chance to float through an old-growth forest in a canoe or kayak on Cedar Creek.
When you’re ready, set your sights on Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. It’s one of the top national parks, with 520,000 acres to discover. But don’t get overwhelmed — there are also more than 380 miles of road to tour the park by car.
Check off eight top national parks with an epic road trip through California. Start with the truly unique Channel Islands National Park — five separate islands that are a one-hour boat ride (and practically a lifetime away) from the California mainland. When you’re done exploring the islands, head east. Stop to enjoy the hustle and bustle in the City of Angels (a.k.a. Los Angeles) before continuing to Joshua Tree National Park for a desert adventure surrounded by the park’s namesake Joshua trees.
Death Valley National Park is up next. It’s the hottest, driest, and lowest park according to the National Park Service but it also offers vast, flawless skies and more than three million sprawling acres to experience. You’ll find the closest resorts in Las Vegas where the lights and sights are a perfect counterbalance to the dark skies and expansive landscape of the park.
Once you’re done exploring the Entertainment Capital of the World, buckle up and head back over the state line into California. Aim for the coast and stay in Monterey or San Francisco. Take in the salty sea air and seaside sights before venturing to Pinnacles National Park. We owe this park — and its distinctive landscape — to a volcanic eruption that happened 23 million years ago. Visit two parks at once with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks — these two parks border each other and feature five unique areas with their own climates and sights to explore. Last, but not least, is Yosemite National Park. Get your cameras ready because this park is well known for glistening waters, stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, and wildflowers.
Plan a Pacific Northwest road trip to see four top national parks in Oregon and Washington. Gaze at America’s deepest lake, created nearly 8,000 years ago by an erupting volcano at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. The park also features the scenic Rim Drive, a 33-mile drive with 30 overlooks to stop and experience the impressive views.
Plan a day’s drive to take in the scenery as you make your way to Seattle where you can settle into an urban locale. Get your fill of coffee and culture in the Emerald City before checking out Mount Rainier National Park, less than two hours away. Here you’ll discover more than 235,000 acres and 260 miles of trails, plus the park’s namesake (and still active) volcano. Also, approximately a two-hour drive from Seattle is Olympic National Park. You can explore wilderness, mountains, rainforests, and coastline in this massive, nearly one million-acre park. Next, close out your national parks road trip at North Cascades National Park, where you can see glaciers, hike through mountain country, and view wildlife and birds (the park has 200 species of birds including two endangered species).