VISIT USA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL NATIONAL PARKS IN 30 DAYS
You can do a lot of km in 30 days! In this itinerary that I created and tested in 2013, you will discover 6 very popular US National Parks, 2 State Parks and two major American cities. Of course, you must love the road to enjoy this trip but do not let yourself be impressed by these big numbers that represent the distances. The itinerary offers enough time to enjoy the sights!
Itinerary at a glance
- Boonddocking (1 nuit)
- Van Burren State Park, Michigan (3 nights)
- Boonddocking (1 night)
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota (2 nights)
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (4 nights)
- Boonddocking (1 night)
- Las Vegas, Nevada (3 nights)
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (2 nights)
- Monument Valley, Arizona (1 night)
- Moab, Utah – Arches National Park and canyonland National Park (3 nights)
- Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado (3 nights)
- Boondocking (1 night)
- Chicago area, Illinois (3 nights)
- Boondocking (1 night)
Day 1 – 800 km
About 1200 km separates you from the first stop. Plan to drive at least 800 km on day 1. Plan to make a stop in transit for the night.
Day 2 – 400 km. Arrive at Van Burren State Park, MI
You will arrive at Van Burren State Park on day 2 around noon. Enjoy the day in the Park. Camp for 3 days in the Park.
Day 3 & 4 – Van Burren State Park, MI
On the outskirts of Lake Michigan, this provincial park in Van Burren County offers beaches worthy of the East Coast. Recharge your batteries and enjoy the park and the pretty villages around. The city of South Haven just minutes from the campsite could easily be the inspiration for a novel by Nicholas Sparks.
Day 5 – 900 km
The next two days are spent on the road towards Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Aim to drive 900 km on day 5. Plan to make a stop in transit for the night.
NB. Note: Be sure to shop fro grocery before entering the area. Grocery stores are far away and small shops on nearby reserves offer limited varieties. On the other hand, you will find authentic souvenirs crafted by Sioux artisans.
Day 6 – 700 km. Arrive at Badlands National Park
After crossing 1600 km, you will arrive at the Badlands National Park in South Dakota at the end of day 6. You're officially in the Wild West! Camp in the National Park or at one of the private campsites near the park such as White River KOA that we enjoyed.
JDay 7 – Badlands National Park, South Dakota
In the heart of the Sioux territories, this mythical place North of the Great Plains offers unusual scenery. The best way to visit this park is by car on scenic roads and stopping in the many viewpoints.
The place is rich in history, do not miss to visit the interpretive centers of the Park to learn about the Indian tribes of the region. Although the land appears arid, the fauna is also well present. If you are lucky you will see hordes of wild bison.
Day 8 – 800 km. Stop at the Mount Rushmore Memorial. Arrive at Yellowstone National Park
Head early towards Yellowstone National Park which is 800 KM away. After driving for approximately 2 hours, you will reach the Mount Rushmore Memorial. This is the perfect stop for a break. 90 minutes is enough to visit this monument and admire the impressive sculpture of the faces of four of the most prominent Presidents of American history. The organization is impeccable and you will be able to park your RV without any problem.
Enter Yellowstone National Park from the East entrance (city of Cody), to get to the Fishing Bridge RV Park Fishing Bridge RV Park located right in the heart of the Park, ideal place to visit this vast park. Camp in or around the park for 4 nights.
Note: Because of the presence of wild animals in the Park, the campsite allows access to trailers and RV's only. No tent allowed. The campsites inside the park don't have any BBQ pads or picnic table thus avoiding to leave traces of enticing smells for the bears.
Day 9, 10, 11 – Visit Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The Park is known for its magnificent thermal springs, mudflats, geysers, waterfalls, unique natural phenomena and incredible wildlife. 3 days will not be too much to explore the natural wonders found there.
The park is visited by car. Distances and driving times can be longer than expected because you will be at one time or another in a traffic jam caused by a hord of bisons or a bear that suddenly crosses the road. It's a popular Park. Be patient.
Day 12 – 900 km
Leave the Park by South entrance and head to Las Vegas. You will drive through Grand Teton National Park on a very scenic road. Plan to make a stop in transit for the night.
Day 13 – 300 km – Arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada
Since you're in Vegas, why not camp directly on the famous strip? Beware, this is not the most picturesque campsite! The Circus Circus RV Park is actually a parking lot with all the amenities of a campsite. It may sound wacky but if you want to be in the heat of the Vegas action, I recommend it!
Day 14 & 15 – Visit Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas does not need an introduction. Have fun and enjoy all that this city has to offer for the next two days.
Day 16 – 450 km. Arrive at Grand Canyon National Park
You will reach the Grand Canyon National Park en moins de 5 heures. in less than 5 hours. Take a few stretches of the mythical 66 road to get there.
If you book early you will be able to camp out in the National Park. Alternatively, opt for a campsite near the city of Flagstaff.
Day 17 – Visit Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is one of the geological gems of the United States and a must-see destination. Given its immense size and its impressive choice of activities and things to do and see, I reccomend you plan your stay well in advance.
Day 18 – 300 km. Arrive at Monument Valley, Arizona
There's little driving to be done on day 18. Take your time. Head to Monument Valley within 300 km of your departure point. Camp 1 night in the vicinity of the Park.
Day 19 – Visit to Monument Valley. Drive 250 km. Arrive in Moab, Utah
Visit Monument Valley lin the morning before the crowd, then drive 250 km to the city of Moab,Utah.
Iconic symbol of the American West and the sacred heart of the Navajo nation, Monument Valley tribal Park is notable for its geomorphological formations; the famous Mesas.
You will arrive in Moab, Utah in the evening. Moab will be your base camp for the next segment of the trip. Camp in Moab 3 nights.
Day 20, 21 – Moab, Utah
Arches National Park is one of the main reasons why people come to Moab. Spend at least one day exploring it. I think it's the most beautiful park in this itinerary.
Canyonlands Nayional Parklocated nearby, is less known but is well worth a short ride from Moab. Don't miss Island in the Sky located about 40 minutes from Moab or take a short hike to Mesa Arch for a phenomenal scenery!
Day 22 – 600 km. Arrive at Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado
Drive the 600 km that separates you from the next stop in Colorado. You should reach the Rocky Mountains National Park in the late afternoon. Camp 3 nights in the park or in the city of Este Park. You will be well located to visit the park.
Day 23, 24 – Visit Estes Park and Rocky Mountains National Park
Estes Park is a place for outdoor activities, excellent culinary experiences and delicious craft beers. With so much beauty around you, you're sure to want to spend a few days here. It is the ideal base camp for visiting the American Rocky Mountains. Be sure to drive on Trail Ridge Road, a stretch of Highway 34 that runs through the park and reaches up to 12,000-foot peaks. You will see some of the most beautiful views of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Day 25 – 900 km
The next two days are spent driving. You have to travel 1700 km to your next destination. Take on as many km as possible on day 25. Plan to make a stop in transit for the night..
Day 26 – 800 km. Arrive at Illinois Beach State Park, IL
After a long day drive. you will arrive in the Chicago area. Camp at Illinois Beach State Park, IL for 3 nights
Day 27, 28 – Visit Chicago, IL
Illinois Beach State Park offers a great proximity to the city of Chicago for a day trip. Zion Metra Station is right on the doorstep, allowing you to easily get to downtown Chicago by train.
Stretching for 6 1/2 miles along the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, this park is known for its unique flora, beaches, boating, hiking, picnics and especially biking!
Day 29, 30 – 1500 km. Arrive home
Head back to Quebec. Allow two days to travel 1500 km. Plan to make a stop in transit for the night.
Feel free to ask me questions about this itinerary in the comments. I loved this trip. Writing this post makes me nostalgic and the desire to leave is itchy! I hope I was able to spark the idea in you to see the wonderful places I had the chance to discover during this memorable trip to the US Midwest.