No plans for Labor Day? How about a last-minute road trip to a National Park? Below, we’ve ranked our top seven National Parks–which are your faves?
Hike in the shadow of Mount Olympus. Explore stunning Rialto Beach. Boat on Ozette Lake. Depending on your choice, getting there from Seattle can take a couple hours to half a day. After a scenic ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, follow State Route 104 to Highway 101. Stop in Port Angeles for park information, permits, lunch and any last-minute shopping.
Walk in a land of giant sequoias, vast caverns, powerful rivers and deep canyons. Located a little more than 5 hours southeast of San Francisco, this ruggedly beautiful wilderness boasts the world’s largest trees, including the famed General Sherman, and the stunning Crystal Cavern. For sweeping views of the park, visit Moro Rock.
3. Grand Canyon
Starting in Phoenix, the 225-mile trip to the canyon’s south rim is one for your bucket list. Along the way, you’ll want to stop in Verde Valley, Arizona’s wine country, before continuing to Sedona, home to stunning natural beauty, great dining and plentiful art galleries. Flagstaff is a great last stop before reaching your destination.
With more than 1 million acres of wilderness, this Montana park is a hiker’s paradise featuring more than 700 miles of trails. Wildlife ranging from mountain goats to grizzly bears abound, and there’s ample space for camping, backpacking and cycling in this Rocky Mountains paradise. The 2 1/2-hour drive north from Missoula features stunning views.
This amazing natural wonder on Hawaii Island is about 2 hours from Kona, and the drive to the park is a scenic treat. Once you get there, it’s even better. Active volcanoes Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are the stars, but there’s much more to see, including jaw‑dropping views from Halema’uma’u Crater and impressive lava flows into the Pacific Ocean.
With more than 360 species of birds, plus alligators, manatees and other endangered mammals, reptiles and amphibians, these wetlands are a naturalist’s dream. Add in gorgeous plant life and it’s a trip you won’t want to miss. Located on Florida’s southern tip, this park is a 42-mile drive from Miami, making it a perfect escape from the city.
Rocky beaches, granite peaks and verdant woodlands fill this 47,000-acre wonderland on Maine’s Mount Desert Island. Mountaineers can reach the top of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest peak on the East Coast. Day-trippers can enjoy all that the resort town of Bar Harbor has to offer. The 4 1/2-hour drive north from Boston offers great ocean and forest views.
Need a car for your road trip? Find one here.