America’s National Parks — How To See More And Save More
Jump in the car and get the most out of nature this season!
For all the nature and adventure lovers out there, fall (and even winter) is a perfect time to explore the many national parks the United States has to offer. There are 423 national park sites throughout the country, each offering something unique and glorious. Here’s how you can see and experience more in one trip.
Utah National Parks
Southern Utah has five national parks, all sure to offer unique and unforgettable experiences. Among the most popular are Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest park and is distinguished by its steep red cliffs. There are hiking trails for all levels, each with stunning views of Zion Canyon. Some of the most popular trails are Angels Landing, Emerald Pools, Canyon Overlook Trail, and The Narrows (prepare to get wet!). If you’re not much of a hiker, you can still witness the beautiful vistas of the park on the 54-mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
After spending a few days in Zion, hop in the car for a two-hour drive to Bryce Canyon. Though much smaller than Zion, this park is known for having the greatest number of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) on earth. Popular hikes include the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop Trails, but you can always do a scenic drive and stop for a photo op at each of the viewpoints.
Next on the Utah National Park tour is Moab – home to Arches National Park. Arches is known for its more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, one of the most popular being the Delicate Arch. Guided tours are available, but it’s easy enough to drive through the park on your own and make stops at the designated viewpoints. Be sure to check the map ahead of time, so you know which arches you want to visit!
California National Parks
California has nine national parks, and by car you can easily visit them in one trip and experience very different landscapes. Joshua Tree is characterized by rugged rock formations caused by extreme climate changes. It’s home to two distinct desert ecosystems: the Mojave and the Colorado. Drive along Park Boulevard for scenic views and explore the many hiking trails available. Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park, making it a land of extremes, but still home to plenty of wildlife. Popular sites include the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the Ubehebe Crater, and getting as low as you can go (elevation-wise in North America) at Badwater Basin. There are also a few lesser-known parks that you might want to add to your list including, Lassen Volcanic, Channel Islands, and Pinnacles National Parks.
Montana National Parks
Montana is home to eight national parks, one of which is Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. It’s known for unique hydrothermal and geologic features and includes an access point to the 1,000-foot-deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Consider also visiting Glacier National Park, which showcases melting glaciers, alpine meadows, carved valleys, spectacular lakes, and over 700 miles of trails. The Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile paved highway that spans the width of the park, is an excellent option if you want to explore by car.
The benefit of a trip to New England is you have access to several states offering so much. There’s one “true” national park – Acadia in Maine – but there are other national park service sites worth a visit too. Start your New England tour at the Boston National Historical Park, which includes both the Freedom and Black Heritage Trails. Then travel to the Cape Cod National Seashore, where you can enjoy pristine ponds, woods, and beaches, plus a drive along Old King’s Highway, a national scenic byway. Round off your trip at Acadia National Park in Maine, where you’ll find scenic lookouts and stunning vistas along 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, and the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic.
No matter which park you’re heading to, a good, reliable rental car is a must. Luckily Budget is here to help. When you use your AARP member benefit with Budget, you can save up to 35% when you use the Pay Now option at checkout. Plus, members save up to 30% off base rates, get an upgrade on compact through full-size car class bookings (based on availability), an additional driver at no cost, and more. That means more savings you can put towards your road trip.
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