America has a treasure trove of parks. It has 58 National Parks in total and you’ll find many of the most impressive USA parks in the South West of the Country. As you drive through Arizona, Nevada, California and Utah your jaw will drop as the scenery changes right before your eyes. Red rocks, deep canyons, dusty deserts and lush forests are waiting to be explored. Each park is vastly different from each other and they are only a few hours apart. From the dry and arid land of Death Valley to the giant sequoia trees of Yosemite there is a something for every type of nature lover.
During our road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles we had the opportunity to witness some the most iconic landscapes in the world. We made stops at many of the top USA parks and with our park pass, we could drive right through without delay. Driving across four states through such memorable routes as Route 66, the Las Vegas Strip and over the Golden Gate Bridge, our road trip was the drive of a lifetime.
USA Parks in Photos
Enjoy our favourite images of the parks we visited during our time on the open road.
The Grand Canyon is the mother of all USA parks. Who hasn’t dreamed of laying eyes on the Grand Canyon. It was our first time witnessing it and it didn’t disappoint. It is so vast that one can only see it to understand just how big it truly is. Grand indeed, it’s name says it all.
With such iconic names as The Half Dome, the Nose and El Capitan, it’s no wonder that Yosemite National Park is one of the three crown jewels of the USA.. This view is from Glacier Point and it is one of the most scenic views in the park. Don’t miss visiting Glacier point at sunset, it’s truly spectacular.
It’s a long and lonely road when driving through Death Valley National Park and one can only imagine what hardships the early settlers had to endure. With a temperature of 120?F (49?C), stepping outside the comfort of our rental car’s air conditioning was not high on our list. How did the mules and horses survive their desert crossings over a century ago? Death Valley is as barren as it is beautiful but it can also be deadly.
The towering cliffs of Zion National Park glow a golden hue in the setting sun. Unlike the Grand Canyon where visitors view from above, Zion National Park is meant to be viewed from below. One must look up at the surrounding monoliths to truly appreciate their majesty. And what a view it is.
Las Vegas may be known as Sin City, but just 20 minutes outside the Vegas Strip, you’ll find the most beautiful red rocks. It’s a rock climbing mecca with hundreds of bolted sport climbing routes. Visitors can take several day hikes through the canyon or they can simply drive their cars through the loop around the park. If you have a USA Parks pass, you get in free!
The Sequoia Trees may be inside Yosemite, but it feels like it’s own park in its own right. Mariposa Grove is where you will find the world’s largest trees. They may not be the tallest trees in the world nor the widest trees but when you combine the two together and they make up the largest trees on the planet and they are impressive.
Littered with twisty, distorted and spiky trees, Joshua Tree National park is named after it’s most famous residents. The USA park is located just a few hours from Los Angeles and not only does it house these unique trees, you’ll also find unique rock formations, high lookouts and cactus gardens.
Antelope Canyon is lesser known than the other parks, but this canyon located in the Navajo Nation is one of the most photographed locations in the American Southwest. A slot canyon rising 40 metres (120 feet) into the air will take your breath away as the sun shines through for just a few minutes each day. There is a two-hour time limit within the canyon and you must hire a guide to enter, but it is worth every minute to witness this once in a lifetime scene.
More USA Parks
We needed much more time to truly explore all the USA parks in the area. We missed out on Bryce Canyon, Redwood National Park, Arches NP and Kings Canyon. There is so much to see and do, it could take months to really see the great USA parks of this area. But we look forward to getting the chance one day soon. For us, exploring this part of America was one of the most breathtaking trips we have ever taken.