Bass Harbor Head Light NPS Photo by Kent Miller

Five Road Trip Worthy National Parks to Visit on Independence Day

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Planning an epic experience for the July 4th celebration of America’s birth?

National parks are open 365 days a year, so we think celebrating the holiday by taking a road trip to one of our nation’s beautiful national parks is a great way to spend the holiday!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Most Visited National Park

One of the most popular National Parks for good reason, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. It is home to spectacular vistas, a huge variety of wildlife from salamanders to bears, and it’s located at one end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you haven’t driven along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s a particularly scenic drive that is definitely road trip worthy. You could even drive from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park all the way to another park that made our list, the Shenandoah National Park, if you had a few days to devote to the trip. Best of all? There’s no entrance fee!

Rainbow Falls credit

Acadia National Park – Tallest Mountain on the East Coast

Located on the coast of Maine, Acadia National Park features the tallest mountain along the Eastern Coast of the United States. Park Loop Road is perfect for viewing the shoreline, mountain vistas and wild forests from the comfort of your automobile. If you are more adventurous there are hiking trails and campgrounds to more fully experience the park.

Bass Harbor Head Light NPS Photo by Kent Miller
Bass Harbor Head Light NPS Photo by Kent Miller

Shenandoah National Park – Over 500 Miles of Trails

Unlike most other National Parks, humans lived in large parts of Shenandoah National Park before the park was created. Over 450 families who had been farming the land for over 100 years moved out after Virginia officials bought the land and donated it to the nation. It’s hard to tell now, since the forest has mostly grown back. Skyline Drive was constructed to take advantage of broad vistas, and depending on weather you can see for many miles while driving along it. It’s a very recreational drive, since the speed limit is only 35 mph along the entire 105 miles.

View from Bearfence Mountain NPS Photo

Badlands National Park – Experience the Night Sky

Top reason to visit the Badlands National Park in South Dakota? The millions of stars you’ll see if you stay overnight. There’s something awe-inspiring about a night sky where it really gets dark, away from the light pollution of major cities. There is even an Annual Badlands Astronomy Festival from July 6 – 8 if you have a few days to spare. But the night sky will be just as spectacular on the Fourth of July, even without the traditional fireworks!

Brilliant Jupiter and Milk Way rise above the moonlit Castle Trail. Photo by Wally Pacholka / AstroPics

Yellowstone National Park – The World’s First National Park

We couldn’t finish off this list without mentioning the granddaddy of all National Parks, and probably the most well-known, Yellowstone National Park. There is a lot to see at Yellowstone National Park, including the impressive geyser Old Faithful, colorful hotsprings and amazing canyon vistas.  You can fish, hike or take a guided tour on horseback, just to name a few of the many outdoor activities available. Plan on your cell phone being out of range!

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