Road Trip: 5,000 Miles Through 12 National Parks
The leafs were rapidly changing colors and starting to fall. Temperatures were slowly dropping and a voice inside of my head kept telling me it was time to hit the road before it would get too cold and covered in snow. So I did exactly that, but where would I go? Having been to the Pacific Northwest before, I decided to revisit. This time I would drive up to Seattle from Los Angeles then cut to the neighboring mountain states, and eventually make my way back to Los Angeles. All together I would be visiting and passing through nine states, five cities, and twelve national parks. Bags were packed, tank was full of gas, and my coffee was steaming; which meant it was time to explore.
You can never be truly prepared for what you'll experience on the road. Having taken a road trip through the Southwest just a couple of months earlier, I knew that preparation was key to a successful trip. What sights did I want to see? Coming up with an itinerary should always be first on the agenda. I wanted to see the famous half dome in Yosemite, have a maple bacon bar at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, marvel at the deep blue waters of Crater Lake, have a close encounter with bison in Yellowstone, gamble on The Strip in Las Vegas, and walk the sand dunes of Death Valley.
I would also be camping for certain portions of the trip, so mapping out were I'd sleep for the night was very important. I opted to go with KOA's due to the added amenities like wifi, which would be crucial for my work. The total road trip would take 5,000 miles; so before hitting the road I made sure the oil was changed and tires got rotated. The last thing I wanted was to get stranded in the middle of nowhere!
As a Los Angeles native, I found that there are certain cities that give me the same feeling as being in Los Angeles, like San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. So much so that I've visited each of these cities at least twice in just the last couple of months. They tend to be more liberal, freethinking, artsy, and usually eclectic. If you have no sense of whats cool or hip then you'll certainly have some idea after visiting one of these cities.
They are also tend to be diverse and just a short drive from incredible natural wonders. This time around I was more focused on the national parks, so I chose to only spend two days exploring the city. It worked out well since I had already done the "touristy" things on my prior trips.
Did you know that there are 58 national parks in the United States? Being from California I am lucky to have eight within only a couple of hours driving distance. On this road trip I visited a total of twelve national parks, including America's first national park Yellowstone. They were the highlight of my trip, nothing compares to the feeling of exploring nature. National parks contain many of the nations most treasured landscapes, that can be enjoyed time and time again for generations to come.
Half way through the trip and I had already seen five national parks, from a sunrise over half dome in Yosemite National Park to the deep blue waters of Crater Lake. It's an indescribable feeling once you arrive to your destination, I often found myself pulling over dozens of times to soak it all in and capture photos in an attempt to freeze the moment. Having only camped once before I wasn't sure what to expect this time around, but my worries where soon eased the moment I had the camp fire going underneath the stars.
What can be said about Yellowstone National Park? Well, for one it's the oldest and first national park in the country! Once the territories first explorers and arrived they knew they had discovered something that had to be preserved for generations to come. Driving through the Rocky Mountain scenery before arriving to the park was an experience onto its own; I was pleasantly greeted by the quaint little town of Gardiner, Montana, which sits right at the north entrance of Yellowstone. As soon as I had entered the park I was immediately greeted by the Mammoth Hot Springs, a testament to the deep volcanic forces that work within the park. Throughout my time spent in Yellowstone I was bombarded with one amazing experience after another, from a heard of bison crossing the road right in front of me to witnessing the eruptions of several geysers as if I where transported back to prehistoric times. My time in Yellowstone was definitely the highlight of my trip and recommend that everyone visit its natural wonders at least once in their lifetime!
Sadly all things must come to an end. Twelve national parks and 5,000 miles later I am back at my home base in Los Angeles. It has been yet another successful road trip, built of great moments turned memories. I hope to hopefully inspire those looking to get out and explore, and what better place then the immense beauty of the United States!
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In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.