Posted by on June 27, 2020

There are lots of methods to strategy a West Coast or National Parks road journey.  Critically, you are able to do the Pacific Coast Freeway from the Olympic Peninsula of Washington all of the option to Tijuana, Mexico, or you may shoot down the I-5 hall, making intentional stops inside an hour or two off the freeway. You could possibly even simply wing it and pop throughout the place. Road journeys are an incredible household journey expertise and to not be missed.  We’ve obtained many nice choices on our website, however for now let’s plan a west coast National Parks road journey.

This National Parks road trip plan hits the best parks from Sequoia to Olympic National Park. Complete itinerary with time plan and lodging options from California to Washington.

We’re not going to cowl each National Park, however we’ll share with you the high National Parks in the mountains that we’ve visited and really feel can’t be missed, beginning in California and ending in Washington.  That is the important west coast National Parks road journey itinerary that covers 12-17 days price of journey… however you may all the time modify down or do extra!  And don’t overlook to convey your National Parks Passport, since you’re going to want it!

Be aware:  at the finish of our itinerary we’ve obtained a enjoyable infographic to remind you of our ultimate National Park road journey plan.  You’ll be able to obtain it or Pin it for later!

We began in Seattle and headed down the I-5 hall to our first vacation spot… after which headed north to get again house.  For us, the aim with our first day’s drive was simply to get previous Portland and all main visitors hiccups.  We stayed with buddies the first evening as a result of they’re superior folks and we love our buddies… From there got here the locations we had been so excited for, beginning with…

Joshua Tree National Park

Let’s begin in considered one of the most uncommon landscapes in California: Joshua Tree National Park. It’s not only a grove of the weird Joshua Timber, but it surely’s stuffed with mountain climbing spots, bouldering, tremendous blooms, cactus fields and even palm oases. You could possibly spend two days right here touring, or simply make it a day journey from Palm Springs.

Highlights to not miss if you happen to’re simply doing sooner or later embrace:

  • Cholla cactus backyard – not an precise backyard, however a naturally occurring grove
  • Break up Rock for bouldering
  • Cap Rock for a simple nature path with unbelievable Joshua Timber and desert life

Joshua Tree National Park is superior and also you’ll be so glad you began right here!

Botanic Nature Walk at Cap Rock Joshua Tree National Park California 2

The place to remain at Joshua Tree National Park

We recommending staying in Palm Springs if you happen to’re not tenting. The town is actually enjoyable and there are many issues to do. Climbing Palm Springs’ Indian Canyons is one other must-do exercise, so staying on the town is a simple manner so as to add that to your epic National Park road journey plan.

If you wish to camp inside Joshua Tree National Park, there are a number of choices. Reservations are beneficial, however if you happen to can’t get one and wish to camp, there are alternatives in the Coachella Valley (south aspect) or Morongo Valley (north aspect).

Pool at Best Western Plus Las Brisas Hotel Palm Springs 3

Sequoia National Park

Someway in all of our travels and thru visiting so many National Parks we by no means visited Sequoia National Park.  Properly, we lastly obtained to do it and it was unbelievable.  True, our go to was dotted with bizarre experiences, together with placing snow chains on the automobile when it had been 80 levels a number of days prior, but it surely was stunning.  There’s ample mountain climbing and actually nice Guests Facilities.

The steep cliffs you drive alongside, the crimson sequoia trunks towards the greenery (or snow) and the breathtaking forests that make you are feeling so small… Sequoia National Park was an incredible place to start out our #2TDgoparks2016 west coast National Park road journey. 

Spotlight:  the Common Sherman Tree hike – the hike down by means of the grove is actually breathtaking, and will be as simple or as prolonged as you want. The enormity of the timber and the colours are unreal. It’s an incredible option to start a west coast National Parks road journey.

Allotted time:  2-Three days

Giant Sequoia Tree in Snow Sequoia National Park 1

The place to remain in Sequoia National Park

Since we have been there mid-spring and have been welcomed by the Wuksachi Lodge, we obtained to remain in a comfy lodge inside Sequoia National Park.  It was an excellent choice for household journey.  Had we been there in the summer time, there have been a number of campgrounds that regarded good; we like to be in the timber once we’re tenting.  Subsequent time, we’ll attempt to camp at Lodgepole, Chilly Springs or Buckeye Flat campgrounds.  E-book the Wuksachi Lodge right here!

Chris Taylor and kids Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

We HAVE TO GO BACK to Kings Canyon National Park.  Since we obtained hit with a snow storm once we have been planning on mountain climbing by means of the most stunning valley in California, we have to get the full Kings Canyon expertise with sunshine.  We did love exploring the Grant Grove and getting actually up shut and private with the large sequoias, together with strolling by means of hollowed out fallen logs.  It’s a extremely cool National Park.

Spotlight:  exploring the Grant Grove of Sequoia timber is ideal with children. Right here you may truly get within fallen timber and amidst burned out trunks.

Allotted time:  2 days

Taylor Family Hiking through Sequoia Trees in Grant Grove Kings Canyon National Park 1

The place to remain in Kings Canyon National Park

The John Muir Lodge was house for our brief keep in the park.  We appreciated having loads of house in the rustic foyer and out in the rocking chairs for the children.  It was additionally nice being near Grant Village, which is the place the Guests Heart and some tenting choices are positioned.  So long as you’re visiting in the summer time, all tenting must be open.  Including a lodge keep to a west coast National Parks road journey, both right here or one other park, is a pleasant option to break up the journey.  E-book the John Muir Lodge right here!

Tip:  Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are manner up there in elevation.  It’s best to anticipate chilly nights, even in the summer time, so be sensible about packing.  Peek at our article about tenting in Yellowstone for concepts to make tenting at excessive elevations successful.

John Muir Lodge in Kings Canyon National Park California 1

Yosemite National Park

Despite the fact that Yellowstone was the first National Park (Sequoia was second), Yosemite was the first assortment of Federally protected lands in the United States.  Yosemite National Park is in contrast to some other place we’ve been.  The granite cliffs, valley ground and ample waterfalls make each flip in the Park extra superb than the final, and make it integral to a west coast National Parks journey.  Since we have been right here with the children this time, we didn’t do too intense of mountain climbing, however have some strategies:

  • Nevada Falls and Half Dome – actually unbelievable views and mountain climbing in the Sierra forest, entry to the again of Half Dome – medium w/o children
  • Tunnel View to Glacier Level – intense
  • Bridal Veil Falls – best mini-hike ever and actually cool with children
  • Yosemite Falls – simple strategy and simple hike if you happen to’d prefer to get to the high of the Decrease Falls
  • Hetch Hetchy / Wapama Falls – simple hike w/o children, troublesome w/ children as a consequence of solar publicity and rock steps.  Wonderful although.  

We had loads of enjoyable picnicking and doing the Yosemite Valley Tram Tour, in addition to simply having fun with the sights, comparable to Tunnel View.  Even with all the folks, you’ll have an incredible time.  And if you happen to’re avoiding the crowds, spend a day at Hetch Hetchy and hike to waterfalls and placing views.

Spotlight:  Hetch Hetchy. Despite the fact that each cease in Yosemite is iconic, spending time in Hetch Hetchy was superb. 1/10 the quantity of individuals and 2X the magnificence.

Allotted time:  3-Four days

Chris Taylor and TinyMan in Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park 2 POL

The place to remain at Yosemite

Inside Yosemite National Park there are a number of superior tenting choices.  We’ve camped at Higher and Decrease Pines campgrounds and each are tremendous, however each are additionally fairly open and reasonably crowded.  We’ve seen bears in each areas.  Oh, and there are a number of nice lodge selections too, each inside and out of doors the Park.  We are able to attest to the ones outdoors…

Tip:  tenting or not, check out our wildlife security article for some ideas and tips for wildlife viewing and precautions in National Parks.

Taylor Family at Entrance Sign in Yosemite National Park 3

Tenaya Lodge

At the southwestern finish of Yosemite National Park is the Tenaya Lodge.  Not like its sister lodges in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Tenaya Lodge is positioned outdoors of the Park and is REALLY GRAND.  It’s a gorgeous property with swimming pools, numerous eating choices and tons of on-property actions.  

This can be a good spot to remain if you happen to’re planning on doing different actions in the Sierra Nevadas and likewise wish to go to Yosemite National Park.  It’s 45 minutes+ to the Yosemite Valley, however there are many mountain climbing choices between there and the Tenaya Lodge, and on the grounds of the Tenaya Lodge you’ll discover extra enjoyable and leisure than you most likely anticipate.  It’s a bit expensive, but it surely’s stunning and breaks up the wilderness time.  E-book the Tenaya Lodge right here!

Grand Lobby at Tenaya Lodge Yosemite

Evergreen Lodge

We’re in love with the Evergreen Lodge.  Like we stated in our article about the Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite, it’s very clear that the lodge and whole property was constructed with household in thoughts.  It’s obtained every part from zip traces and a pool to strolling trails and recreation rooms.  We’d like to return right here with our prolonged household, because it’s an unbelievable property that’s simply excellent for household journey.

The Evergreen Lodge is extraordinarily shut the the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite National Park.  It’s an ideal house base in case your objectives are sightseeing, mountain climbing or enjoyable.  E-book the Evergreen Lodge right here!

Be aware:  the Evergreen Lodge has fantastic household cabins which might be excellent if you happen to’re touring with children.

Lawn area by play room at Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite

Crater Lake National Park

Okay, we didn’t get to go to Crater Lake National Park on this journey, however can testify that it’s an incredible place.  A few of our blogger buddies did go lately, Tip and Tarah at Match Two Journey, and so they’ve obtained some highlights to share from their go to to Crater Lake National Park.  Being the deepest lake in the United States, it’s no marvel it’s so blue.  The Rim Drive will take you totally round Crater Lake, and as you go you’ll discover ample mountain climbing and picnic alternatives.  And there may be an island in the lake, Wizard Island, which you’ll go to through boat tour.

Crater Lake National Park tenting can be a good way to make time in the park memorable (seasonally out there).

Spotlight:  early morning (view from east rim) and nightfall (view from west rim) images. Wonderful!

Allotted time:  2 days

Crater Lake National Park FitTwoTravel 1

The place to remain at Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park provides tenting, cabins and a National Park Lodge.  We advocate the tenting route, which we’d like to do there.  Relying on the kind of campground you’re on the lookout for or what aspect of the lake you’re planning to spend the majority of your time on.  The principle campgrounds are in the south finish of the park, however backcountry allow tenting is out there in different areas.  So many choices!

Crater Lake National Park FitTwoTravel 4

Mt Rainier National Park

Gosh, let’s imagine a lot about Mt Rainier National Park, however we’ll maintain it to this:  go for a day or every week and also you’ll have an incredible time.  Take a look at our articles about the waterfalls of Mt Rainier National Park in addition to our information for straightforward mountain climbing with children for some concepts.  It’s very easy to make a house base on both the north or south aspect of the mountain after which change to the different aspect.  

Mt Rainier is all about mountain climbing although, so if you happen to’re seeking to spend a number of days simply enjoyable, this might not be the cease for you.  True, you are able to do some nice porch sitting at both of the National Park lodges, however for the waterfalls and superb views, you’ve obtained to do some mountain climbing.

Spotlight:  the Grove of the Patriarchs and Silver Falls are our two favourite hikes, and each have fewer guests than Paradise.

Be aware:  the south aspect of Mt Rainier National Park is the busiest, but it surely’s additionally the most developed with the most notable sights.  The north aspect is rather more distant with fewer vacationers.  It’s 90% hardcore hikers.

Allotted time:  2-Three days per aspect, or simply Three days on the south aspect

Myrtle Falls Mount Rainier National Park from Paradise in Fall 7

The place to remain at Mt Rainier National Park

We’ve camped at the Cougar Rock campground for the majority of our visits.  It’s in an excellent location on the south aspect of Mt Rainier National Park, has a wide range of website sorts and it’s near most of our favourite hikes.  Ohanapecosh is the different campground we’d advocate.  It’s very totally different with extra deciduous timber and far flatter space round the river and Grove of the Patriarchs.

Should you’re going for the National Park Lodge kind of lodging, there’s both the National Park Inn in Longmire or the Paradise Inn up on the mountain.  The Paradise Inn is superb with the most fantastic, alpenstyle interiors.  And the bison meatloaf in the eating room is to die for.  Each have the excellent quantity of rustic attraction, very similar to the Chateau at the Oregon Caves, however the Paradise Inn is rather more grand and nearer to the mountain climbing motion that the south aspect of Mt Rainier has to supply.

Fall Colors National Park Inn Longmire Mount Rainier National Park 4

Olympic National Park

That is truly our yard, so we all know Olympic National Park extremely properly. Should you’re visiting as a part of a west coast National Parks road journey, you’ll wish to go to a number of websites. We advocate hitting all three of the ecosystems inside Olympic NP:  alpine mountain climbing, exploring the rainforest, and having fun with the seashores of the Pacific Ocean.  You’ll discover that as a consequence of Olympic National Park being centered on a central mountain vary, you can not drive by means of the park. You’ll as a substitute circle the park on Freeway 101.

Tip:  take a look at our Olympic Peninsula road journey plan for particulars in methods to add this to your journey.

The perfect mountain climbing is discovered at Hurricane Ridge, with sweeping views of the area all the option to Canada.  The perfect rainforest is discovered on the west aspect at the Hoh Rainforest.  The perfect seashore is Ruby Seaside: excellent sand, ample wildlife, and epic rock formations.  Probably the most beautiful waterfall in Olympic National Park is Sol Duc falls, and because it’s between the two predominant areas it’s a simple addition to the road journey.

Spotlight:  visiting the Hoh and Quinault rainforests in the fall when the colours are altering. The rainforests present a few of the greatest fall foliage in National Parks.

Allotted time:  Three days, as you’ll wish to discover one or two of the small cities bordering Olympic National Park.

Taylor Family and Sea Stacks at Ruby Beach Olympic National Park 3

The place to remain at Olympic National Park

Since we’re locals, we ALWAYS select to camp at Olympic National Park. Should you’ve packed for it, tenting is the option to go. West coast National Parks are made for tenting. Olympic National Park has many tenting areas. Coronary heart O’ the Hills is ideal for mountain climbing at Hurricane Ridge and exploring Port Angeles. Tenting at Kalaloch is good for visiting the Hoh Rainforest, Ruby Seaside and the different seashores of the Olympic Peninsula.

There are additionally a number of lodges surrounding the Park, however it’s essential to make reservations far upfront.  E-book the Kalaloch Lodge right here!

Mossy gorge and waterfalls in Rainforest Sol Duc Falls Olympic National Park 9

Past the ones in our mountain National Park road journey itinerary above, you may add a number of extra superb National Parks (and a few superior state parks too).  Simple add-ons embrace:

Like we stated, our fundamental mountain National Park road journey itinerary is ideally accomplished in 12-17 days.  Everyone has time restraints although, and relying on the time of yr, much less time could also be wanted.  Should you’re enthusiastic about doing a a road journey by means of the West Coast parks and historic cities and lighthouses, take a look at our different NPS coastal road journey itinerary article.  It’s all doable as one big journey, however in the gentle of household journey and never carrying anyone too skinny, splitting the journey up is good to have the ability to get sufficient time in every National Park.

Pin this itinerary!

Obtain or Pin this enjoyable infographic for later!

Ideal plan for a West Coast National Park road trip, visiting the various mountain National Parks!


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