The Great American Road Trip
At the top of nearly every traveler’s bucket list is always an American road trip. And for good reason! The US is an extraordinary land filled with endless national parks, camping spots, unique cities, and adventures waiting to be had. Even Americans themselves will tell you that they dream of hitting the open road with a van full of their closest friends to discover all that their home has to offer. It’s the ultimate taste of freedom. And though we recommend to drive with the windows down, music up and see what sort of magic you can discover on your own, here are some sweet spots that you just simply cannot miss while you are out there crossing state lines.
Read more: 5 Bucket List Adventures in New Zealand
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Most roadtrippers head to to the country’s southwestern region for noteworthy sights like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley. While both of of those attractions are magnificent, the “can’t miss” gem lies in the White Sands of New Mexico. Known for its dramatic landscape, the white gypsum sand dunes are squeezed between the Tularosa Basin and the San Andres Mountain range. This irresistible 275 square mile desert playground is the perfect place to stop for a day and stretch your legs on a hike, have a picnic, hop on a bike, or ride horses of the wild-west.
Where: The closest town is 15 miles away in Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA
Cost: Entrance fee is $5USD, but if you’re planning on doing some camping then it’s $8USD
Seven Magic Mountains, Nevada
Free art gallery on the side of the road that not many know about? The perfect spot for Instagram photos? And guaranteed to leave a huge smile on your face? Sign us up.
Located just a short drive south of the Las Vegas strip sits Seven Magic Mountains — the vibrantly colored, 35’ high rock pillars are practically defying gravity with its teetering formations which took nearly five years to make. The ultimate burst of colour on a dreaded day of driving through the endless Great Basin Desert, or to remind you there is hope for your hangover after a unruly night on the Las Vegas strip.
Where: Accessable via Interstate 15, ten miles south of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway.
Cost: No entry fee. It’s literally off the side of the road.
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
For your ultra-American history locale of your trip, Mount Rushmore delivers, for obvious reasons. Four of the country’s most prominent presidents faces, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, are carved into the mountain providing quite a sight. Dive a little deeper into the monument and its significance to discover that each sculpture (president) represents the birth, growth, development and preservation of this country. Mount Rushmore National Park is open 365 days a year with hotels, restaurants, walking trails and museums nearby.
Where: Black Hills region of South Dakota | 13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD, 57751, USA
Cost: There is no entrance fee to the park itself, however there is an $12USD fee to see the memorial.
Cadillac Ranch, Texas
Another public art installation that’s right off Route 66, only this one will leave your head spinning. Representing America’s hopes and dreams, art and commerce, materialism and spiritualism, folly and fame — ten, colorfully spray-painted Cadillacs are lined up and buried nose down in the dirt, supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. Definitely something you don’t see everyday. So don’t forget to bring your spray paint and a camera to snap some photos of your name on the infamous vehicles before they’re covered up by the next tourist with their own spray can.
Where: Off the infamous Route 66, west of Amarillo, Texas.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
It’s almost impossible to choose the best national park to visit during a road trip in the states, but we believe that Yellowstone quite literally has everything. After all, it is the world’s FIRST national park. Filled with hot springs, volcanoes, waterfalls, geysers, wildlife, hiking, camping, skiing, you cannot go wrong. Yellowstone has roughly 2,219,789 acres of land, so you’re guaranteed to be in for some crisis-inducing, natural beauty no matter what time of year. But for an otherworldly experience, we recommend going in the fall for a colourful show before the leaves hit the ground and for a chance to see some wildlife before they go into hiding for the drastic winter months.
Where: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming. There’s over 5 entrances to Yellowstone given it takes up over two million acres of land. However, we recommend the north entrance which is located in Gardiner, Montana, 50 miles south of Livingston, Montana at Interstate 90.
Cost: $25 park entrance fee with a vehicle.
Other places to check out in the U.S. on a road trip
With so much on offer, here are just a few of the other incredible things to do –
- Lake Tahoe, California
- The Oregon Coast
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Coastal New England area
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- The Grand Canyon, Arizona
- Antelope Canyon, Arizona
- Big Sur, California
- Monument Valley, Utah