There are so many US summer road trip destinations where you’ll see wild beauty, stunning natural formations, and a pinch of human creativity everywhere you go.
One of the best summer vacation ideas is taking a road trip across different states in the US.
To enjoy your summer road trip, you need a good itinerary and packing plan. Check out our US road trip ideas to make sure you’ve got everything covered before you go!
These summer road trip destinations are some of the best you can take to explore the US.
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WHAT TO PACK FOR SUMMER VACATION
Check out our Summer Packing List for National Parks
- Hiking shoes/boots!
- Darn Tough hiking socks!
- Trekking poles
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Water bottles or hydration backpacks
- Healthy snacks
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Insect repellant
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Camera Gear – DOWNLOAD our free checklist!
9 Summer Road Trip Destinations in the US
1. The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the top summer road trip destinations.
Between the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains is this 469 miles’ road that promises abundant beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, and mountain ridges.
There is a lot to see as you wind your way around the Appalachian Mountains enjoying the stunning landscape.
You’ll see waterfalls, the sprawling forest in the Great Smoky Mountains, and cliffs and caverns that were designed to awe the weary traveler.
You can take a moment to rest and immerse in preserved history at the Southern Highland Folk center before you continue driving the view more natural wonders along this parkway.
2. Utah National Parks Road Trip
A road trip to all 5 Utah National Parks in the summer is a bucket list vacation!
Use our Utah National Park road trip itinerary that starts the trip at the southern end of Utah by visiting Zion National Park first. Explore the Zion hiking trails and be rewarded with stunning views!
From Zion you’ll head toward Bryce Canyon that’s famous for the colorful hoodoo formations.
When visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, we recommend you drive to Rainbow Point and work your way back toward the amphitheater. Take amazing photos of Bryce Canyon at each stop along this scenic drive!
Drive Scenic Byway 12 from Bryce to Capitol Reef. There are many fun things to do at Capitol Reef National Park like pick fresh fruit in the orchard and enjoy homemade treats at Gifford Homestead.
Next you’ll work your way toward Moab, the home of Arches and Canyonlands!
We’ve got an extensive Arches and Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide to help you plan your time exploring and photographing these two parks.
- Utah National Park Vacation Ideas
- Visit Arches National Park
- Visit Bryce Canyon National Park
- Visit Canyonlands National Park
- Visit Capitol Reef National Park
- Visit Zion National Park
3. Black Hills of South Dakota
As you drive around the Black Hills area of South Dakota, you’re likely to encounter bison. They are reluctant to get out of the way, so stay alert.
There are many attractions you can visit within a hundred miles’ radius here.
A famous roadside attraction in the area is Wall Drug. They offer free ice water, 5-cent cups of coffee and food for weary travelers. There’s also nearly 80,000 square feet of fun and games and entertainment.
Badlands National Park is a must-see for a road trip in the Black Hills area. The eroded rock formations are the highlight of this park.
4. The Alaska Highway
Start your journey at Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada. From there you will drive 1387 miles along the Alaska Highway. Your journey will end in Delta, Alaska.
There will be many stops along the way at some of the most historic spots in America. For instance, at Charlie Lake, you get to see the Alaska Highway Monument which commemorates the 12 soldiers who drowned here in 1942.
Other notable stops along the way include the Pink Mountain campsite, the Bucking Horse River Lodge, the Andy Bailey regional park, and the Muskwa River Bridge for outdoor lovers.
Be sure to make a stop at the Muncho lake to take a picture before following the winding highway to Liard Rivers Hot Springs.
There will be so many other spots to explore on your journey here, so take your time.
If you love hiking, stop at the Soldier’s summit and take a hike to the top. You will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the lake.
5. The Loneliest Road in America
If you are looking for a quiet and peaceful summer road trip, few can measure up to this stretch found on the US-50 route that connects Maryland’s Ocean City and California’s Sacramento.
US-50 runs coast-to-coast for 3,200 miles through the heart of America.
Along the route you’ll find some of the country’s most magnificent landscape: the Sierra Nevada, Appalachian and Rocky Mountain ranges; the endless farmlands of the Great Plains; and the harsh deserts of Utah and Nevada.
Most of this road you’ll experience miles of clear blue skies and long straight roads, with mountains on the horizon.
Planning and preparing for this road trip in the summer is important. Be sure to pack enough water and other supplies. Should something happen to your car, the deserts and open plains can be cruel.
6. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
Yellowstone has always been a popular summer road trip destination.
Grand Teton National Park is known for its beautiful snow-capped peaks and huge alpine meadows begging for exploration… and photography!
We’ve created a Grand Teton photography guide listing all the best spots to capture the beauty of the Tetons.
There are may outdoor activities you can do on your Yellowstone and Tetons vacation like hiking, biking, white water rafting, horseback riding, and more!
- Yellowstone Vacation Planner + 4 Day Itinerary
- How to Plan the Perfect Yellowstone Vacation
- Grand Teton National Park Guide
- Yellowstone Tours
7. Historic Route 66
Before the interstate, the road connecting Chicago and Los Angeles was a 2400-mile-long stretch, spanning over 8 states, and is now known as Historic Route 66.
If you’re planning a summer road trip through the southwest, you’ll probably drive along Route 66 at some point.
There are many small towns on this road, many with historic significance as well as unique and quirky roadside attractions.
Some of the main and roadside attractions you will come across include the Meramec Caverns in Missouri, the Blue Whale in Oklahoma, Cadillac Ranch in Texas, and Elmer’s Bottletree Ranch in California.
- Southwest US Road Trip Ideas
- Best Roadside Attractions Along Route 66
- Roadside Attractions Coloring Book
8. Pacific Coast Highway in California
If you want to enjoy an ocean view, then drive the Pacific Coast Highway in California on your summer road trip.
From San Francisco to San Diego, this road takes you through quaint beach towns, vibrant cities, and the wild vastness within a 655-mile stretch.
You will be able to drive close to the sea for miles on end, enjoying the beautiful beach views and the gentle ocean breeze blowing across your face.
Places you should not miss along this route include Monterey, Big Sur, Morro Bay, Solvang, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.