It’s been said that 2020 is the year of the road trip. With pandemic concerns, and it being hard to socially distance on an airplane, an epic road trip is a great compromise. We live in Central Florida, which has been a hotspot for the pandemic lately. So it made sense for us to get out of town. As I’ve previously shared, we have a family goal of visiting all 62 National Parks. And this summer, we were able to check off 10 National Parks from our list! This itinerary included camping, cabins, condos, wildlife, and more. It made for a summer we’ll never forget! Check out my national parks road trip itinerary and start planning your own epic adventure.
This itinerary begins in Orlando, Florida. But depending on where you live in the country, it can work for you too! Simply add on the distance from your home to the first stop on our itinerary. And then you can follow along with our plans exactly.
National Parks Road Trip Itinerary Overview
In case you want the quick overview of our road trip, here are some lists.
National Parks and Monuments
- Hot Springs National Park
- Gateway Arch National Park
- Badlands National Park
- Wind Cave National Park
- Mount Rushmore National Monument
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park
- Devil’s Tower National Monument
- Grand Teton National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Hot Springs, Arkansas
- Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
- Lead, South Dakota
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Yellowstone National Park
- Grand Lake, Colorado
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Shreveport, Louisiana
- Orlando to Hot Springs: 14 hours
- Hot Springs to Gateway Arch: 6 hours
- Gateway Arch to Lake of the Ozarks: 3 hours
- Lake of the Ozarks to Lead, South Dakota: 14 hours
- Lead, South Dakota to Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 9 hours
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming to Yellowstone: 2 hours
- Yellowstone to Grand Lake, Colorado: 8 hours
- Grand Lake Colorado to Black Canyon: 3 hours
- Black Canyon to Great Sand Dunes: 5 hours
- Great Sand Dunes to Shreveport, Louisiana: 13.5 hours
- Shreveport, Louisiana to Orlando, Florida: 13.5 hours
This list just includes the places that we spent the night. Otherwise, we drove from place to place in one day. This did make for some long days, but more on that later!
Hot Springs National Park
For our first stop, this was a 14 hour drive from Orlando to Hot Springs. This made for a long drive for our first day, but we made a lot of progress on heading out West. We camped in the Crystal Springs campground in Lake Ouachita. It was a beautiful setting right on the lake and we spent two nights there. The kids played in the lake and the weather was mild in June. The showers were clean and the water was hot. I would recommend this campground if you’re in the area!
Hot Springs National Park can be done in just one day. Due to the pandemic, the inside of the building was closed so we could just hike around the Park. There was beautiful hiking with great views!
Gateway Arch National Park
Again, because of the pandemic, the Park was mostly closed. We weren’t able to go up into the elevator that takes you to the top of the Arch. But we could still walk around and be amazed at the architectural wonder. And we basically had the place to ourselves! We also learned about the historic Dred Scott case and watched videos in the car to learn more about this American hero.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
I’ll be honest. The entire reason I wanted to go to the Ozarks was because of the Netflix show of the same name. However, I would come to later find out that the show is mostly filmed in northern Georgia. HA! However, Lake of the Ozarks did not disappoint. This area was so beautiful! I wish we could have stayed longer than two nights. We stayed in a really fun condo right on the lake. I could have looked at that sunset for weeks!
If you visit this area, be sure to check out Ha Ha Tonka State Park! Even though it’s just a state park, it’s one of our favorite places of the whole trip. I wrote a whole post about it for you to know what to expect!
Check out these great listings to find the home that’s perfect for you in Lake of the Ozarks. If you want my recommendation, be sure to find one right on the Lake! (affiliate link)
South Dakota: Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave, and Theodore Roosevelt
We stayed in Lead, South Dakota for 4 nights in a gorgeous cabin that I wish we could have stayed at even longer! From this central location, we were able to visit so many amazing places. From here, we went to Badlands National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Wind Cave National Park and Mount Rushmore National Monument. We also visited Wall Drug, which is one of my favorite stops from the trip. There’s so much to see in this area of the country, I would highly recommend staying longer than four nights.
Check out this cabin we stayed in! It was beautifully decorated and the kids absolutely loved the foos ball table and kid’s zone in the basement. If you use my link, it would help our family!
National Parks Road Trip Itinerary Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is a must-do for any trip out West. This is a beautiful spot, that’s located adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. It’s possible that when you think of mountains out west, you think of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We had a wonderful time rafting as a family on Snake River and highly recommend that experience! There’s so much to do in both Grand Teton National Park and in Jackson Hole. Stay tuned for full posts on this area!
Yellowstone National Park
In Yellowstone National Park, we camped in Grant Village Campground. Yellowstone is such a huge park, it’s really a good idea to stay inside of the Park to cut down on your drive time. This Park spreads across three states, so even when you stay inside the Park, you’ll have some distances to travel to see the great wonders of Yellowstone. Again, stay tuned for more specifics on how to see Yellowstone with kids!
Grand Lake, Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park
Lake Granby in Grand Lake, Colorado is basically next door neighbors to Rocky Mountain National Park. Most people stay in Estes Park when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. However, by staying on the other side of the Park, you cut down on a lot of crowds and can also enjoy boating and enjoying the lakes. The home that we stayed in was absolutely gorgeous! We actually ended up spending less time in the Park because the home was so gorgeous. There was a home theater, kayaks to use, and direct lake access. Use my link to book for yourself!
Great Sand Dunes National Park
The lodging in this area is very sparse. We stayed in a campground that I would definitely consider roughing it. However, we did have the use of a camper, which was nice in the chilly dessert nights. There’s not much in the area surrounding Great Sand Dunes National Park. So be sure that you have lodging lined up before you head that way! It’s absolutely incredibly and worth the trip, but it’s in the middle of nowhere!
On our way home, we had two long days of driving from Colorado to Orlando. We stayed at a Homewood Suites in Shreveport and it fit our family perfectly. It was a very long trip home, but we were happy to be home!
If you have any questions about our trip, where to stay, or need any help planning, be sure to reach out! You can find me at:
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Take the trip! Make the memories!