A family travel expert with nearly 10 years working as the Editor in Chief of a TripAdvisor travel site and a speaker at travel shows across the country, including the New York Times Travel Show, I know how to plan and research trips. Yet, it still took me WEEKS OF RESEARCH to plan the route, find the hotels, review the activities and create a budget. My itinerary across 2,000 miles to see 16 national parks on a 10-day, 8-night adventure went off without a hitch. (See video blogs of our adventures.)
I’ve already done all of the work with proven success. If you’re interested in taking the Great American Road Trip, you can follow my itinerary, complete with road map, hotel details, activities and attractions, basic pricing, and all the links you'll need for booking.
One of the most gorgeous national parks you’ll ever see, you'll have a full day to enjoy the park. There are all levels of hiking trails, including a difficult one where you'll crawl-through river spaces. There are also natural pools you can take a dip in, hidden away from the other tourists visiting the park.
Enter Arches National Park ideally as the sun is rising so you can get great views and shots of the light awakening this beautiful park. As the sun rises further into the sky, the shadows change for different views. There are many hiking trails at Arches, one of the best parks on your tour.
Start your morning at Mesa Verde, home to cliff dwellings that date back to 600 to 1300 AD. You’ll join a tour to visit the cliff dwellings of a long-gone people, climbing ladders and crawling through small caves for one of the most unique national parks in the United States.
Here comes the biggie: The Grand Canyon. You’ll spend an entire day (or two) here, hiking, taking a mule ride to the bottom, or river rafting – it’s up to you.
You’ll climbed a paved path nearly a mile up the side of a mountain that climbs to nearly 7,000 feet. Once near the summit, visit the Timpanogos Caves, before making your way back down the mountain.
Enjoy a driving tour through the national park that has been a feature in numerous movies (particularly John Wayne flicks) for its collection of natural rock monuments in varying shapes.
A visit to Antelope Canyon will give you ride in the back of a safari-style truck to get to the Horseshoe Bend, passing through landscape so beautiful, it’s been featured in numerous movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
This national park features more than 800 paleontological sites with fossils of dinosaurs, including 1,500 dinosaur fossils at the cliff face of the Quarry Exhibit Hall, as well as many petroglyphs for a step back into time.
Meteor Crater (in Winslow, Arizona, if you are an Eagles fan!) is 560 feet deep and nearly a mile in diameter. Crashing into the earth 50,000 years ago, you can take a quick tour of the crater and its visitor center.
Bryce Canyon climbs to 9,000 feet and you’ll find hoodoos -- tall rock spires standing from original canyons that have eroded over time -- in the hundreds and with a reddish hue. If you can get to the park for the sunrise, the shades of red create a unique glow.
A much-smaller national park, Canyon de Chelly is filled with even more towering hoodoos. The park features a 2-hour scenic driving tour.
With its fascinating and easy hike through the Rainbow Forest, you will see a collection of petrified woods in a forest here 225 million years ago when tectonic plates pushed up colorful sediments that brought colors to the layers of rock.
Canyonlands is an underrated park, with fantastic canyon views and hiking with less crowds and restrictions of the Grand Canyon. It’s minutes away from Arches and Moab, with a great drive along the Island in the Sky offering the best way to get the views.
A stop at Four Corners to grab that much-coveted photo straddling four different states at the same time -- Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Utah – is a must.
So named for its white sandstone domes that are reminiscent of the U.S Capitol, this national park features a number of hiking trails.
Follow my 10- to 12-day itinerary featuring a map and driving distances, hotels and attractions with links to directly book, basic pricing and all the tools you’ll need for your summer vacation –
SAVING YOURSELF WEEKS OF PLANNING.
You don’t need a tour guide, and you don’t need a travel agent to plan the trip.
You can do this on your own, minus the hours of planning.
Order your 10- to 12-day itinerary for just $50.
You'll receive your full itinerary for a 2,000-mile adventure, visiting 16 national parks within 24 hours of your order, which includes one consultation to offer changes and suggestions to better suit your needs.