When it comes to summer road trips, it’s less a question of “Which national parks can I visit in this season?” and more “How do I narrow down the list of epic national parks I can’t wait to see?”
While there are a few parks like Joshua Tree that should be mostly avoided in summer, and a secret few like Yosemite we think are actually best during their lesser visited months, there is very good reason why most national parks see their highest visitation in the summer. When you have everything from the Olympic National Park coast to mild hiking temperatures in the mountains to choose from, how do you narrow down your National Park Summer Wish List? Here are our top 4 national parks to visit this summer.
Mount Rainier National Park
While all of Washington’s parks see a beautiful summer, Rainier has the shortest visitation window, making it a summer must-see. This national park is vast, so even on a weekend it’s easy to find less crowded trails with still stunning views.
Rainier is only about an hour and a half from Seattle, so it’s an easy addition to a longer route through Washington and Oregon, or a great spot for a quick escape from the city to rest and recharge in nature.
Redwood National and State Parks
On the Northern California coast, you’ll find mild temperatures year-round, but the summer sees the least rain in the redwoods, making it the ideal time to visit. You’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of nature here with the combination of enormous trees and sprawling ocean views.
Highway One is one of the most iconic road trip routes in the world, and the redwoods are an essential part of the experience. From hiking to tidepooling, from campsites nestled in the forest to nearby pull offs with ocean access, a trip through Redwood National and State Parks will be unforgettable.
Crater Lake National Park
Oregon’s only national park is another one with a short peak season. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US, and because all of the water comes directly from snow or rain, it’s one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the world. With an average 43 feet of snow each year, this park is one of the snowiest places in the country.
Visit this underrated location in the summer to catch breathtaking sunrise and sunset views and enjoy enchanting forest hikes.
Glacier National Park
Summer is the peak time to visit all of the stunning national parks in the mountain states, but we’re especially excited for Glacier. This portion of Montana is a beauty to behold. In the summer season, it certainly draws a crowd, but we think it’s still one worth exploring.
If you’re road tripping to Glacier from Seattle, stop in Coeur d’Alene for some summer fun by the lake, and make your way back through Canada.
Pushing your trip out to shoulder season? Check out our Top National Parks to Visit in the Fall.