Cole and Elizabeth Donelson, perhaps better known as the Switchback Kids, quit their jobs and planned a year-long road trip in honor of the National Park Service's 100th birthday. The 26-year-old couple from Kansas City spent the last year visiting every one of the 59 national parks. Then we were lucky enough to have them guest post for us! Check out these 5 Incredible National Park Scenic Drives below, and be sure to check out the rest of their adventures on their blog!
By the Switchback Kids
Although getting out and backpacking, hiking, climbing, or kayaking are popular ways to experience a national park, sometimes a laid-back scenic drive can be the best and most accessible way to see what the parks have to offer.
The National Park Service is turning 100 on August 25th, and we celebrated by visiting all 59 national parks last year. During our travels, we discovered a few scenic drives worth noting. Some are popular, some are more secretive, but they are all beautiful.
1. Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, offers some of the highest and widest drive-to views in the country. Spanning 48 miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake, and fully contained within the park, the road surpasses treeline and peaks at the highest-elevation visitor center in the National Park Service.
2. Park Road, Petrified Forest National Park
A classic Route-66 road trip destination, Petrified Forest is located in Arizona and houses one of the world's largest deposits of petrified wood. The park road is conveniently positioned so visitors can drive the length, all 28 miles, and link back up to the highway without doubling back. Along the drive, be sure to stop and walk a short trail among these giant crystalized logs.
3. Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park
Beautiful mountain vistas, retreating glaciers, and abundant wildlife can be seen from Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana. The road stretches 50 miles across the park, so make plans to loop around or backtrack through this gorgeous drive. Be careful with scheduling; it is one of the most difficult roads to plow in the spring and the road often does not open until July.
4. Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Redwood National and State Park
An iconic California adventure includes driving up the 101 to Redwood National Park. While you are at it, detour off 101 onto Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway and you will be rewarded with thick forests of giant redwoods and a very winding road. Slow down and enjoy the views, and be sure to stop and gaze up -- way up -- at the huge trees around you.
5. Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park
If you decide to partake in one seasonal wonder this year, take a scenic drive in the Northeast during fall. One of our favorites was the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. This 27-mile loop, mostly one-way, offers access to park features such as Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, and the iconic Cadillac Mountain. When the fall colors have turned, enjoy peering out the windshield at the crisp beauty.
However you decide to visit the national parks during its hundredth birthday, you can be sure you will experience amazing views along the way.