Tag: nature

10 Of The Best Day Trips From Boston

There are plenty of wonderful attractions just a few hours away from Boston. While the largest city in Massachusetts is an exceptional destination in its own right, we all need a getaway from the hustle and bustle of a city sometimes. We’ve hand-picked 10 of the best day trips from Boston.

Take a look at the map below for driving directions to each attraction.

Click one of the links below to jump to each section of the article.

  1. Cape Cod National Seashore
  2. Wompatuck State Park
  3. Myles Standish State Forest
  4. Halibut Point State Park
  5. Good Harbor Beach
  6. Rockport
  7. Glendale Falls
  8. Mount Tom State Reservation Area
  9. Salem
  10. White Mountain National Forest

Without further ado, let’s jump into each one of the best day trips from Boston!

Cape Cod National Seashore

Visiting Cape Cod is one of the best day trips from Boston, MA. Sandy beach on a clear, sunny day on the East Coast.
lakewentworth

Distance from Boston: 100 miles (160km), 2 hours one way

Cape Cod is a well-known destination among beachgoers. After all, this region sees tens of millions of tourists from across the world every year. Most choose to come here during the summer, that’s when the weather is ideal for a day of sunbathing.

Best Beaches on Cape Cod

Cape Cod’s pristine sandy beaches are among the best on the East Coast. There are 18 different beaches to choose from, either run by one of the local towns or the National Park Service. You have to visit these three, at the very least:

  • Craigville Beach
  • Monument Beach
  • Nauset Beach

If you’ve seen Jaws, parts of Cape Cod may seem weirdly familiar. That’s because this famous blockbuster was actually filmed all over Cape Cod. Be sure to book a private tour to Martha’s Vineyard to visit some of the filming locations.

Consider going on a boat tour to experience the local marine life up close. There are plenty of operators that offer boat tours to spot whales, seals, and even sharks. Check out Bay Spirit Tours for a variety of daily boat trips.

Wompatuck State Park

rider mountain biking in Wompatuck State Park.
si_kor

Distance from Boston: 25 miles (40km), 40 minutes one way

Wompatuck State Park is easily one of the favorite day trips from Boston. This park is merely a 40-minute drive away from downtown, ideal for a dramatic change of scenery. Travelers can make the most out of over 5000 acres of forests, hike down one of the numerous trails, or stay overnight at the large campsite.

This state park is a top pick among local bikers. There are plenty of trails, ranging from the paved Whitney Spur Rail Trail through to thrilling off-roading trails, ideal for mountain biking. Click here to check out an interactive map of Wompy’s biking trails.

Note that there aren’t any bike rentals available at the Wompatuck State Park. You can, however, rent a bicycle from SouthShoreCycles around 15 minutes north of the park. Alternatively, you could also pick a rental in Boston before driving over to the park.

Myles Standish State Forest

Distance from Boston: 45 miles (70km), 1 hour one way

A visit to Myles Standish State Forest makes for one of the best day trips from Boston. This quiet park is located just an hour away from the city. There are plenty of things to do here all year round.

Visitors to Myles Standish State Forest can hike deep into the forest, the hiking trails add up to 13 miles in total. There are also plenty of trails for bicycles, as well as a campground where you can spend the night.

Cool off at College Pond an adventurous day at the park. Go for a dip in the refreshing water, or sunbathe on the sandy beach. You could also rent a canoe, kayak, or a stand-up paddleboard from Nemasket Kayak.

You can drop your car off at the College Pond car park. It costs $8 for vehicles registered in MA and $30 for those registered in other states.

Halibut Point State Park

Alan Wolf

Distance from Boston: 45 miles (70km), 1 hour one way

Note that Good Harbor Beach, as well as the cute coastal town of Rockford, are both located virtually next to Halibut Point State Park. Therefore, you can easily combine visiting three of these destinations at once for a long day trip from Boston.

This state park offers breathtaking scenery, as well as a serene vibe that’s simply ideal for a quiet afternoon out of town. The waterfront rocks make for a perfect spot to have a picnic, so be sure to bring some snacks with you. There are also lots of scenic hiking trails all over the park.

Keep in mind that swimming is not permitted at Halibut Point State Park. If you wish to go for a refreshing dip, you should head to Myles Standish or Cape Cod instead.

Good Harbor Beach

Distance from Boston: 40 miles (65km), 45 minutes one way

Fancy a beach day? It doesn’t get much better than Good Harbor Beach. This beautiful sandy beach sits less than an hour away from the heart of Boston, making it ideal for a quick day trip from the city. Whether you want to spend the day swimming in crystal-clear waters, or soaking in the sun, Good Harbor Beach is the place for you.

Beachside parking is available at a daily fee. Note that cars with a resident beach sticker are exempt from paying the fee. You can also check the Gloucester Beaches Facebook page for live updates regarding beachside parking.

Rentalmoose insider tip: If Good Harbor Beach is too full, try to visit one of the other sandy beaches in the area. Stage Fort Park Beach and Wingaersheek Beach are always worth a shot.

Rockport

Distance from Boston: 45 miles (70km), 50 minutes one way

Rockport is a cute coastal town located roughly halfway between Good Harbor Beach and Halibut Point State Park. It makes for a great stopover during your day trip from Boston to either one of these destinations. Here’s why.

A stroll through the main street of Rockport is a great starting point for your day trip. Admire the colorful houses and take in the quiet, peaceful vibe. You can unwind at one of the local eateries, too.

A visit to Front Beach is an absolute must, especially if you’re not planning to go to Good Harbor Beach afterward. This sandy beach is the go-to spot for both locals and tourists to unwind, hence it can get a bit busy during peak season and on sunny weekends.

Walk along the Rockport Harbor until you reach Bearskin Neck. Here, you can enjoy panoramic views of both the bay and the harbor.

Rockport- A Dry Town Since 1856

Did you know that Rockport remained dry for over 160 years? Back in 1856, a resident of this tiny village led a procession of over 200 women, destroying all alcohol products along the way. Alcohol has not been available ever since. That is until restaurants were allowed to serve beer and wine in 2006. Then, in 2019, local officials allowed the only grocery store in the village to sell alcoholic beverages, too.

Glendale Falls

Distance from Boston: 120 miles (200km), 2 hours 10 minutes one way

Glendale Falls is an absolute must-visit, and its proximity from Boston makes this destination ideal for a quick day trip from the city. In fact, these falls are among the longest in all of Massachusetts.

Go up to the falls to grab a photo like the one above (mind your step!), hike along one of the remote trails, or simply enjoy the 2-hour drive from Boston. You can learn more about the local attractions on the Glendale Falls website.

What’s more, the road leading to the falls is equally stunning as the destination. Scenic driving roads are the highlight of any great road trip, and they can also be a fun attraction on one of your day trips from Boston. Be sure to drive down Route 112, one of the state’s Scenic Byways.

Mount Tom State Reservation Area

Wilderness at the Mount Tom State Reservation Area. This beautiful getaway makes for one of the best day trips from Boston.
Doug Kerr

Distance from Boston: 100 miles (160km), 1 hour 40 minutes one way

A drive to Mount Tom State Reservation Area is one of the best day trips from Boston for any hiking aficionado. This spot is renowned for its vast forests, as well as seemingly endless hiking trails. Don’t take our word for it, just look at the trail map below.

black and white map of hiking trails in Mont Tom State Reservation Area, Massachusetts.
Courtesy of Mt Tom State Reservation

Once you’re at the top of Mount Tom, you can admire panoramic views of the Pioneer Valley. It’s also a favorite spot for birdwatching, as hawks can often be spotted in this part of the park.

Let’s not forget that Mount Tom State Reservation is a year-round destination, too. During the winter, you can come here to enjoy cross-country skiing along the snow-covered hiking trails. No matter what time of the year you visit Mount Tom, there’s always something to do here.

Salem

Famous Witch House in Salem, Massachusetts. Visiting this witch town is one of the most popular day trips from Boston.
Wikimedia Commons

Distance from Boston: 25 miles (40km), 40 minutes one way

If you’re in the mood for some local history, then a day trip from Boston to the town of Salem is an absolute must. This picturesque town sits less than 30 miles away from the city, making it the perfect destination for a quick afternoon trip out of the city.

This coastal town is famous for its historic significance, particularly the witch trials of the 1690s. You certainly have to visit the local Salem Witch Museum to find out more about these 1692 events. Admission costs $15 for adults, $13.5 for seniors over 65, and $12 for children under 14.

As Salem is known as the Witch Town, you should consider visiting one of the local psychic parlors while you’re here. Head down to Omen at 184 Essex Street, where you can find out about your future during a fortune-telling session. Omen specializes in anything from palmistry all the way to Tarot and Voodoo.

White Mountain National Forest

weesam2010

Distance from Boston: 160 miles (260km), 2 hours 30 minutes one way

At this point, you could argue that we’ve saved the best for last. While we won’t argue whether or not White Mountain National Forest is the greatest day trip from Boston, it is the furthest from the city. In fact, you’ll have to drive for roughly two and a half hours one way to reach this natural wonderland. Is it worth it? Continue reading to find out.

Scenic Drives in White Mountain National Forest

  • Kancamagus Scenic Byway
  • White Mountain Trail Byway
  • Southern Driving Loop

Scenic driving is one of the best activities in the White Mountains. Don’t miss the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, often considered to be one of the best roads in all of New Hampshire. Expect panoramic views, thrilling chicanes, and plenty of overlooks to safely pull over and take in the beauty. The loop stretches for 34 miles in total and connects with the White Mountain Trail Byway.

After you’re done with scenic driving, stretch your legs at one of the park’s numerous hiking trails. Pay a visit to Flume Gorge, the Elephant Head Trail, and the Basin-Cascades Trail.

You can also go on a tram ride to enjoy the best views, or go for a refreshing dip at Echo Lake Beach. The attractions here are nearly endless!

White Mountain National Forest is a great destination that can be enjoyed all year long. If you plan to visit this park in winter, put your skis on and enjoy the best runs at Cannon Mountain.

Rentalmoose insider tip: check out this blog post to properly prepare for a winter road tirp.

Bonus- The Best Way Of Getting Around Massachusetts

There you have it, those are the best day trips from Boston!

No matter which destination you pick, be sure to book a rental car. The comfort of being able to adjust your itinerary on the go can only be achieved when traveling by car. A private vehicle is also a safe way to travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

Unsure about renting a car or taking your own vehicle? This blog post may help.

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform!

These Are The Best Things To Do In Lake Tahoe

There are thousands of amazing things to do in Lake Tahoe all year long. Afterall, there’s a great reason why this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in this part of California. The lake is renowned for its jaw-dropping natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and all kinds of activities for the entire family.

We have divided this blog post into the following categories:

Without further ado, let’s jump into each one!

Fun Things To Do In South Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay State Park is a must-visit spot in Southern Lake Tahoe.
by Eric Simon

Visit Emerald Bay State Park

A visit to the Emerald Bay State Park should be on any traveler’s itinerary visiting Lake Tahoe. This bay is home to some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the area, and it’s bound to leave you breathless.

Don’t miss the Vikingsholm mansion, which looks like a monumental castle. Note that you’ll need to hike for around a mile from the car park to reach this attraction. If you ask me, it’s well worth it.

Consider packing some snacks when visiting Emerald Bay. After touring the Vikingsholm mansion, you can unwind at the picnic area nearby. You can also rent a kayak from Kayak Tahoe at their Emerald Bay location.

Don’t miss the Eagle Falls waterfalls right off the main road. You can drop your car off at the free car park and hike along the Eagle Falls trailhead that will eventually lead you all the way up to Eagle Lake.

If you’re a fan of NPs and State Parks, check out this list of the 7 best National Park road trips in the US.

Hike At D.L. Bliss State Park

The D.L. Bliss State Park is yet another must-visit point in the southern part of Lake Tahoe. This natural wonderland is located directly north of the Emerald Bay State Park, so you can easily visit one after the other.

Some of the best attractions at this wonderful State Park include hiking trails, pristine sandy beaches, landmarks, and remote campsites to spend the night.

by Andy Kasper

Hiking is one of the best ways to spend the day here. Don’t miss the Balancing Rock, Rubicon Point Lighthouse, or the sandy Lester Beach.

You can spend the night at the campsite for as low as $35 per night. Note that it costs extra to stay at the campsite located at the sandy beach, though it is well worth it for the killer views!

Gambling & The Resorts

While Lake Tahoe is all about the peaceful getaway to a natural wonderland, some travelers may want to take a break and spend the evening at a resort.

Gambling is only legal in Nevada, hence all of the best casinos are located in the southeast tip of the lake at Stateline Lake Tahoe. Some of the best resorts here include Harveys, Harrah’s, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino,

Best Things To Do In North Lake Tahoe

Unwind At Kings Beach

Once you visit Kings Beach in the north part of Lake Tahoe, you are bound to fall in love. This cute beach town has an amazing vibe that will just make you want to stay here forever. Drive along Highway 28 to admire some of the picturesque local hotels and restaurants.

Naturally, the vibrant beach is the main reason most tourists visit this town. Feel the sand between your toes, sunbathe or go for a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Photographers should bring their cameras along, as the scenery is unforgettable.

You can drop your car off at the beachside car park, right off the main road. Click here for directions.

Discover Local History At Donner Memorial State Park

The Donner Memorial State Park is yet another place worth visiting in the Lake Tahoe area. This park is home to lengthy hiking trails, peaceful picnic areas, and a local museum that contains many artifacts from the 19th century.

Travelers who want to learn more about local history should definitely pay the Emigrant Trail Museum a visit. It’s located in the town of Truckee, a short 20-minute drive out of Kings Beach.

Don’t miss the nearby town of Truckee and its cute Historic Downtown.

Best Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In The Summer

Day trip to Yosemite National Park

Fancy a dramatic change of scenery? Consider going on a day trip to Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite is one of the most famous National Parks in the country, and for a very good reason. The scenery here is truly breathtaking. You won’t miss the monumental Half Dome, as this peak overlooks the picturesque valley. There are thousands of great things to do in Yosemite, anything from scenic driving to rafting.

Learn more about Yosemite in our Nevada road trip itinerary.

Go On A Road Trip

Yosemite National Park is far from the only amazing destination near Lake Tahoe. If you want to discover more of the local gems, it’s best to go on a road trip across California!

You could, for example, drive down along Highway 395 all the way until you end up in Los Angeles. There are lots of amazing spots to visit along the way, including Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite.

Afterward, you could continue further until you reach San Diego, or head back to Lake Tahoe via the Pacific Coast Highway, which is one of the best roads in the whole world!

If you’re planning to drive across California in a rental car, be sure to check out this blog post for insightful tips.

Beach Day

Take it slow, pack a towel and a pair of your favorite trunks, and head to one of the best beaches in Lake Tahoe.

There are tons of beautiful beaches dotted along the shore. Listing them all would take forever, these are our favorite picks:

  • Kiva Beach– a 200-yard long sandy beach in South Lake Tahoe, near Emerald Bay
  • Zephyr Cove Beach– this mile-long beach is one of the busiest in Lake Tahoe. Expect jet ski and canoe rentals, volleyball courts and a bunch of tourists especially during peak season
  • Conolley Beach– you can spend the day at the Tahoe Beach Retreat, a local beach club
  • Emerald Bay– Emerald Bay State Park is home to various pristine beaches, ideal for a refreshing dip after a hike
  • Kings Beach- one of the most popular beaches in North Lake Tahoe. Easily accessible and full of tourists
  • Sand Harbor Beach– easily one of the best beaches at Lake Tahoe, located at the east shore over in Nevada. Extremely busy during peak season

Don’t forget to take sunscreen!

Go On A Cruise or Rent A Kayak

What better way to make the most out of your time at Lake Tahoe than to spend the day on the surface of the lake (or beneath it).

Boat tours

Consider booking a scenic boat tour to see Lake Tahoe from a whole new perspective. Choose a trusted operator, such as Tahoe Cruises. The company offers an array of different tours to choose from, such as 2-hour long cruises around Emerald Bay, sunset cruises, or sightseeing tours around the southern shore of the lake. All cruises depart from the Ski Run Marina, located roughly halfway between South Lake Tahoe and Stateline.

Rent A Kayak, Canoe, or A Jet Ski

You can head over to one of the sandy beaches and rent a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, canoe, or a bunch of other fun equipment. Sand Harbor Beach is home to a jet ski rental, while kayaks can be rented at various locations such as Emerald Bay.

During peak season, be sure to book your equipment ahead. Visit SUP Tahoe and their official website for information on pricing and availability.

Fun Things To Do In Lake Tahoe In Winter

Skiing and snowboarding is one of the main reasons tourists visit Lake Tahoe in winter. Snowboarders admiring the view at one of Lake Tahoe's ski resorts.
Photo by Nick Windsor

Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows Ski Resorts

Skiing and snowboarding fans will feel right at home at Lake Tahoe.

You simply have to visit Squaw Valley during your winter trip to Lake Tahoe. This renowned alpine resort is one of the best places to go skiing in all of North America. It even used to host the Olympic games back in 1960!

Although Squaw Valley is a year-round destination, it’s unarguably best to come here during the winter season. Afterall, this is when you can make the most of the 4 000 acres of ski terrain.

This resort is ideal for all skiing fans, no matter their skill level. As much as a third of the runs are aimed at beginners and intermediate skiers, while the remaining slopes are perfect for experienced travelers.

Both resorts are located a short 10-minute drive west of Tahoe City.

Northstar California Resort

This is yet another world-class alpine resort located near Lake Tahoe. If you have the time, be sure to visit Northstar California during your winter trip to Lake Tahoe.

Just like Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Northstar California is ideal for all skill levels. Similar to the other alpine resorts at Lake Tahoe, Northstar California is a year-round destination. During the summer, you can come here to try out mountain biking, play a game of golf or hike to take in the views.

This ski resort lays a short 10-minute drive northwest of Agate Bay at the Northern tip of Lake Tahoe.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort

Although not as big as Squaw Valley or Northstar, Diamond Peak is worth visiting too! It’s typically less crowded than the more popular resorts. The runs are ideal for beginners and families. Nearly half of the 30 runs here are suitable for intermediate skiers.

Diamon Peak Ski Resort is located off Crystal Bay at the Northeast tip of the lake.

Bonus: What is the best way of getting around Lake Tahoe?

A private car is an ideal way of getting around Lake Tahoe. That way, you can visit all of the attractions throughout the lake, as well as the surrounding area.

If you plan to rent a car for this trip, be sure to check out Rentalmoose for the best deals. We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform!

Unsure about renting a car or taking your own vehicle? This blog post may help.

Highway 395 Road Trip- Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe

The scenic Highway 395 makes for one of the best road trips you could take in this part of California. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to drive across diverse landscapes and endless natural beauty, with two of the area’s most spectacular National Parks just a small detour away?

What car is best for this road trip?

Like any other road trip, the answer is largely subjective. If you’re a fan of sports cars, you’ll surely enjoy a lavish roadster or a classic American muscle car. No matter what car you’re after, Rentalmoose has got you covered. Browse through options from the industry leaders and ensure you get the best deal with Rentalmoose.

If you’re hesitant about renting a car for the Highway 395 road trip and would rather use your own vehicle, check out this blog post. It may just change your mind.

What to see on Highway 395?

That’s the crucial question. Some of the attractions along this road trip include Red Rock Canyon State Park, Lone Pine, Mount Whitney, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Bishop, and Mammoth Lakes. There are also optional detours to Death Valley and Yosemite NPs!

Don’t forget to check out our guide to renting a car in California before setting off.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe road trip itinerary!

Los Angeles

by David Mark

This road trip begins in the legendary City of Angels. It’s hard to think of a better place to begin a Highway 395 road trip!

For your maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from LAX. Note that airport pickup is usually subject to an extra fee added on top of your rental bill. If you want to avoid a premium location surcharge, it’s best to pick up your rental car somewhere in the city.

While Los Angeles may not be the best place to drive around, the traffic is not as bad as you may have heard. The notorious “LA Traffic” is nowhere near as bad as rush hour traffic in Paris, for example.

What are the best things to do in Los Angeles?

Despite what some first-timers may think, there is a lot more to Los Angeles than just Hollywood or the Walk of Fame. Mulholland Drive, for example, is easily one of the best driving roads in this part of California. You can spot hundreds of bikers and petrolheads enjoying this chicane-filled drive each day.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Don’t forget to stop at the Mulholland Scenic Overlook for those classic views of the skyline! Check the map for the exact location.

The two LA attractions listed below are simply ideal for fans of the outdoors. We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city every now and again.

Runyon Canyon Park

Runyon Canyon Park is the perfect getaway located in the Hills above the city. You can enjoy an early morning jog, or simply hike up to admire unbeatable views of the Los Angeles skyline.

The North Entrance of the park can be accessed directly off Mulholland Drive. That way, you can stop for a hike while driving down LA’s favorite scenic drive. What a fun way to spend the day!

The park is open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week. Entrance is free of charge. Your vehicle can be parked at the North Entrance off Mulholland Drive.

Griffith Observatory & Griffith Park

Griffith Park isn’t exactly a hidden gem. In fact, you have probably already seen it plenty of times in various Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows. Nonetheless, the iconic Griffith Observatory is the place to admire those picture-perfect views overlooking the LA skyline.

You can find more great things to do in Los Angeles in this travel guide.

After a memorable night in one of the best hotels in Los Angeles (these are our favorite picks in town), it’s time to hit the road and begin your Highway 395 road trip!

Next stop on your road trip: Red rock Canyon State Park, 2 hours

Red Rock Canyon State Park

by Matthew Dillon

To be completely honest, the Southernmost tip of Highway 395 is a little underwhelming. The route starts in the town of Victorville and the first stretch isn’t exactly picture-perfect. That’s why we recommend taking the chicane-filled Angeles Crest Highway via the Angeles National Forest. You will then reach Red Rock Canyon State Park via Lancaster instead. It is a much more exciting drive.

The scenic Red Rock Canyon State Park is located roughly 2 hours north of Los Angeles. Once you’re here, you can admire jaw-dropping natural beauty. The park borders the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada, it’s filled with scenic canyons and hiking trails that overlook it all.

You can access the hiking trails via the park’s dirt road network. It’s open to any street-legal car, so you can safely drive around in your rental car!

Camping at Red Rock Canyon SP

Moreover, travelers who wish to spend the night here can set camp at one of the 50 campsites situated at the Ricardo Campground. Up to 8 friends can share one campsite at $25 per site, no campgrounds for larger groups are available.

Next on your Highway 395 road trip: Lone Pine & Mt Whitney, 1 hour 20 minutes

Lone Pine & Mount Whitney

by Khun Hans Photography

After spending some time at the Red Rock Canyon SP, it’s time to head north into the beautiful landscapes of Sierra Nevada. A short 20-mile drive up will take you to the iconic Highway 395. Follow it for around an hour, until you reach the cute town of Lone Pine.

A slight detour to Death Valley National Park is an absolute must, especially if you haven’t been to this park before. You could even extend the trip further to see the Grand Canyon over in Arizona, too!

The village is a well-known spot for fishing. It’s also surrounded by some more spectacular natural beauty, complete with winding hiking trails to take it all in. These are some of the must-do attractions in Lone Pine.

Museum of Western Film History

Movie buffs have to drop by the Museum of Western Film History. The museum gallery is full of Western memorabilia that any enthusiast will love. Visitors can get an insightful look at how some of the most iconic Western movies were made.

You can watch a Western movie at what is perhaps the world’s best Western cinema, located within the premises. The cozy theatre can sit up to 85 guests.

The museum is open 10AM to 4PM Thursday to Monday.

Fishing in Lone Pine

Like we mentioned previously, the Lone Pine area is a popular spot among fishing fans who visit Sierra Nevada. There are plenty of fishing spots to choose from in and around Lone Pine, such as:

  • Independence Creek
  • George Creek
  • Diaz Lake

Check out this blog post by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for a guide on fishing in the Lone Pine area.

Hiking & Enjoying The Outdoors

Without a doubt, the best thing you can do in Lone Pine is simply enjoying the outdoors. There are lots of hiking trails, such as the Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead that will take you to the iconic Mobius Arch rock formation.

The Mt. Whitney Trailhead is worth paying a visit, too. From there, you could hike over to the Lone Pine Lake, which is around 6 miles (10km).

Whitney Portal Road Scenic Drive

Don’t let the short length of Whitney Portal Road fool you, this scenic drive is an absolute must-visit! The 13-mile (19km) scenic drive will take you through the heights of Alabama Hills. Movie buffs will instantly recognize this scenery from hundreds of Western films that were shot here. This area was also featured in High Sierra, an absolute classic from 1941 starring Humphrey Bogart.

Stay The Night

Before continuing further, Rentalmoose recommends spending the night in Lone Pine. Consider checking in at the cozy Dow Villa Motel. This family owned business has been welcoming guests ever since its opening in the 50s! Make the most out of the outdoor pool while you’re here.

Next on your Highway 395 road trip itinerary: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, 1 hour 45 minutes

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

by Fred Moore

Technically, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest does require a small detour off of Highway 395. However, much like the Death Valley NP, it is highly recommended to visit it along the way. You will not regret adding merely an hour of driving, that’s for sure!

If, somehow, you’re still not convinced about adding Bristlecone Pine Forest to your road trip itinerary, you’ll definitely want to keep reading.

This precious spot is home to some of the oldest trees found on our planet. What exactly does that mean?

Well, many of the trees found in the Bristlecone Pine Forest are more than 4000 years old!

You can get more information about the area at the visitor center located at Schulman Grove. It’s open throughout the summer between 10AM and 5PM Thursday to Sunday.

After a hike through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, it’s time to continue along Highway 395 until you reach Bishop.

Next on your road trip: Bishop, 1 hour

Bishop

by Jay Huang

Bishop is yet another cute town that’s situated along Highway 395. It makes for one of the favorite local getaways from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Its beautiful surrounding area makes for a great destination to visit on your drive up to Lake Tahoe.

Climbing the Buttermilks

Those who are into climbing are probably well aware of what Bishop has to offer. The nearby Buttermilks feature some of the region’s most accessible and diverse climbing areas. Every climber can have a great time enjoying these impressive boulders, no matter the skill level.

The climbs here range from beginner-friendly ones, all the way to some of the country’s most challenging routes. The Buttermilks are located only a short drive west out of Bishop. Simply follow the appropriately-named Buttermilk Road along the McGee Creek.

You can learn more about bouldering and climbing in Bishop in this guide.

Nature in Bishop

As Bishop is famous for its scenic natural setting, it is an absolute must to visit at least a few of the best sites in the area. Hike up and down the challenging trailheads, go on a thrilling mountain biking adventure, or simply take in the views from the comfort of your vehicle. Either way,you simply have to enjoy the outdoors when in Bishop.

The Four Lakes in the Bishop Creek Basin

The scenic Bishop Creek Basin is home to four spectacular lakes. Ideally, you’d want to visit all of them as each one offers a different landscape. If you only have the time to see one of them, we recommend going to the South Lake.

  • North Lake
  • Lake Sabrina
  • Intake II
  • South Lake

Next on your Highway 395 road trip: Mammoth Lakes, 45 minutes

Mammoth Lakes

by Jeff Sullivan

A short 45-minute drive along Highway 395 will take you to the scenic town of Mammoth Lakes. Without a doubt, this may just be the most exciting stopover during this road trip. If you only had the time for one break between Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles, I’d strongly recommend to make it here.

Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Lakes is full of attractions, no matter the time of the year. During the magical winter, you should definitely head up to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. This resort is often considered to be the best of its kind in all of California!

Mammoth Mountain is easily the best place to go skiing in California. First-timers, as well as experienced skiers and snowboarders are all bound to have a good time here. If you’re not particularly into skiing, you can simply take the scenic gondola ride up to the summit. The views from there are magnificent.

Mammoth Mountain is a year-long destination. During the summer, travelers can play a game of golf or try out mountain biking. You can find more details about Mammoth Mountain on its official website.

Detour to Yosemite National Park

Did you know that one of the US’ best National Parks is just a small detour away? If you haven’t been to Yosemite NP before, it is strongly recommended to add a few days to your itinerary and visit it. You will not regret it, that’s for sure.

You can check out a guide around Yosemite National Park right here. Note that reservations are no longer required to enter the park!

Play Golf High Above Sea Level

Golf enthusiasts will surely have a good time when in Mammoth Lakes, as the town is home to two spectacular alpine golf courses:

You cannot go wrong with the Snowcreek golf resort. It was the first golf course in Mammoth Lakes, and is often considered to be the best one around. However, its elevation isn’t as high above sea level as the Sierra Star course.

Travelers can enjoy a game of golf accompanied by dramatic backdrops at each of the resorts. In addition, the Sierra Star golf course is also the highest-elevation 18-hole course in the entire state. You can see a driving increase of up to 10% when playing at this altitude, according to some experts.

Next on your Highway 395 road trip: South Lake Tahoe, 2 hours 30 minutes

Lake Tahoe

by m01229

This is it, the longest driving segment of your Highway 395 road trip. Follow the road up north for a little over 2 and a half hours, all the way until you reach the spectacular Lake Tahoe. The equally-amazing drive is perhaps the prettiest part of California’s stretch of Highway 395, too.

Welcome to one of the most beautiful lakes in the West part of the US! There are so many great attractions and fantastic things to do in this part of Lake Tahoe, it’d be impossible to list them all. Nonetheless, these are our top picks.

Vikingsholm Castle

Did you know that Lake Tahoe has its very own castle? The magical Vikingsholm is tucked away in the Emerald Bay, down at the southern tip of the lake.

Emerald Bay was the first destination where wealthy Californians would build their holiday homes in the late 1800s. The land where Vikingsholm is has seen summer cabins for over two centuries, though the beautiful castle erected in the late 1920s. It still remains here today, making for a truly magnificent spot.

by Mike McBey

You’ll probably quickly realize that Vikingsholm doesn’t exactly look like your typical North American building. The unique name is another giveaway of the property’s Scandinavian descent. In fact, Vikingsholm was commissioned by Mrs Lora Josephine Knight who had been in love with Scandinavian fjords. The natural setting of Lake Tahoe reminded her of Northern Europe.

Today, Vikingsholm welcomes tourists from across the planet. You can learn more about the property and all of its secrets during a guided tour.

Note that the property is 1-mile away from the car park, it is only accessible on foot or by boat.

Swimming & Sunbathing

Unwinding at a sandy beach does sound like the ideal way to spend the day. A well-deserved afternoon of relaxation isn’t exactly a road trip essential, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt. You should make the most out of the fact that swimming is permitted in Lake Tahoe. Enjoy the crystal-clear waters and impressive alpine backdrops!

These are some of the best beaches at South Lake Tahoe.

  • Kiva Beach
  • Zephyr Cove Beach
  • Conolley Beach
  • Emerald Bay
by Carandoom

Where to stay in South Lake Tahoe?

Travelers who wish to stay at a fun-packed resort should certainly consider booking a room or suite at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Resort. The 3-star property features spacious and modern rooms, though those who stay here will probably hang around the casino downstairs. Moreover, you can expect tons of live shows, cool bars to spend the evening at, and much more!

Alternatively, you could opt for the waterfront Beach Retreat & Lodge. At first sight, you may mistake the sandy beach of this hotel with an oceanfront resort on a Greek island or in Costa Rica. The 3-star property boasts modern rooms that overlook the lake, three waterfront restaurants, and a marina with kayaks and boat rentals.

Drop-off

After you’re done with your Highway 395 road trip, you could drive over to San Francisco and drop your rental car off there. Alternatively, you could drive back from Lake Tahoe to Los Angeles via the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, one of the best driving roads on the planet.

Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to find the best rental car deal for this road trip!

Post your pictures from your Highway 395 road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in our travel guides.

Get your car from Rentalmoose, we plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

The Best Mexico Road Trip Itinerary

Anyone should visit Mexico at least once in their lifetime. Afterall, this fascinating country truly has it all. Attractions range from postcard-like sandy beaches to Mayan ruins hiding deep in the jungle. Mexico will amaze any kind of traveler no matter if you’re going with your family, a group of friends, or by yourself.

If you’re planning the ultimate Mexico road trip itinerary, you have come to the right place!

Road Trip Overview

total driving distance: 2350km (1460 miles)

Cancun to Tulum- 130 kilometers (80 miles) 

Tulum to Lake Bacalar- 200 kilometers (120 miles) 

Lake Bacalar to Palenque- 650 kilometers (400 miles) 

Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas- 220 kilometers (140 miles) 

San Cristobal de las Casas to Campeche- 570 kilometers (350 miles)

Campeche to Merida- 270 kilometers (170 miles)

Merida to Valladolid- 160 kilometers (100 miles)

Valladolid to Cancun- 160 kilometers (100 miles)

This curated travel guide will take you on a 2300-kilometer long (1460 miles) loop starting in the paradise resort town of Cancun. For the best experience, we strongly recommend renting a car for this road trip.

Hesitant about renting a car for a road trip? This blog post will change your mind!

These are some of the beautiful spots you will visit during this Mexico road trip:

What is the best way of getting around Mexico?

Unless you’re planning to stick to just one city, the best way of getting around Mexico is by car. Click here to find the best rental car deals for your Mexico road trip.

That way, you’ll get to see scenic drives and see areas that you’d never get to visit otherwise. Not to mention the irreplaceable freedom of altering your itinerary on the go, whenever you please.

Rental Car Insurance in Mexico

Check out this informative blog post to learn all you need to know about rental car insurance in Mexico. It’s not as complicated as it may seem!

Contrary to popular belief, driving around Mexico is safe for tourists. Nonetheless, it’s best to come prepared and read through our rental car tips before the journey.

Book your car via Rentalmoose, a worldwide car rental platform with over 15 000 locations around the globe. Check out our website to compare rental car deals in Mexico.

Cancun- Your Mexico Road Trip Begins Here

Beautiful seaside resort in Cancun, Mexico. Pristine sandy beach, turquoise water and an empty pool. Enjoying the beach is one of the best things to do in Cancun.
Photo by Baumhan

Your Mexican road trip begins in the spectacular coastal city of Cancun! For maximum convenience, we recommend picking up your rental car directly from the Cancun International Airport as you arrive.

Remember to check Rentalmoose for the best deals on rental cars in Mexico.

Cancun is home to some of Mexico’s best beaches, make sure to spend some time in town before setting off on your Mexico road trip.

What to do in Cancun

Cancun is most famous for its pristine sandy beaches, don’t forget to soak in the sun before leaving town. You should definitely visit Playa Delfines, Playa Tortugas, or the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art.

Playa Delfines

The wide, sandy shore seems to stretch endlessly at the Playa Delfines. This quiet beach is favored among locals, and it’s a great escape from some of the town’s busier spots.

Soft sand, turquoise water, free umbrellas, and plenty of amenities, what more could you ask for?

Cancun Playa Tortugas, white sandy beach in Mexico's Cancun. Tall palm tree can be seen in front of the calm turquoise crystal-clear ocean water, clear day in Cancun Mexico.

Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas could very well be the best beach in Cancun. Apart from a wide, sandy shore as well as crystal-clear water that’s perfect for swimming, Playa Tortugas offers spectacular restaurants that serve guests practically right on the waterfront.

Don’t miss the wooden pier to enjoy the best views. Adrenaline junkies can bungee-jump from the tower at the pier, too.

Cancun Underwater Museum of Art

The MUSA is a museum unlike any other. Sure, you will find sculptures here. However, that’s as far as MUSA’s similarities to other museums go.

The sculptures found at MUSA are all, as the name may suggest, at the bottom of the ocean. In fact, the only way to see them is to take part in a scuba diving tour or snorkel beneath the surface.

Visiting MUSA is an unforgettable experience.

Cancun to Tulum by Car

Tulum Archeological Site is a must-see on any Mexico road trip in the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins are set in a picturesque setting, on a seaside cliff. After, visit the sandy beach below.
Tulum Archeological Site

Once you’ve spent enough time in Cancun, it’s time to get in your rental car and drive along the coast down to Tulum! The drive from Cancun to Tulum will take you roughly 2 hours.

What can you see on a drive from Cancun to Tulum?

Before you reach Tulum itself, check out the following hotspots along the way.

Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos is a picturesque port town only around half an hour from downtown Cancun. The town is home to even more spectacular, sandy beaches that are worth at least a short visit.

What’s more, the waters off of Puerto Morelos host a great treasure, the best-preserved section of the second largest barrier reef in the world is located right here!

Playa del Carmen

Stormy day, lots of clouds above playa del carmen near cancun in mexico. Cancun to Tulum by car, playa del carmen is one of the best places to see in yucatan peninsula.
Playa del Carmen looks beautiful- even on a stormy day!

Just a stone’s throw away from Puerto Morelos is Playa del Carmen, yet another picturesque coastal town that’s home to spectacular sandy beaches, just look at the photo above!

What’s more, you can take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to the nearby Cozumel island. If you have the extra time, it can make for a great addition to your Mexico road trip!

Adrenaline junkies should definitely drop by the adventure-packed Xcaret park. Some of the attractions inside include swimming in underground rivers, raft tours, visiting a wine cellar, or a children’s waterpark filled with slides and activities.

Akumal

Akumal is yet another coastal resort that you’ll pass on a drive from Cancun to Tulum. Keep your eyes wide open, turtles can often be spotted around here!

What are the best things to do in Tulum

Cenotes

Swimming in cenotes is likely an activity that’s worth marking down on any great Mexico road trip itinerary.

Cenotes are natural water-filled pits that are created after limestone bedrock collapses. They can be found scattered all across the region, and they make for exceptional spots for a swim.

The Cenotes Casa Tortuga can be enjoyed either on your own or during a guided tour. Either way, you will have to pay an admission fee to enter.

Note that a lifejacket and snorkeling equipment is included in your admission fee.

A great alternative is the Gran Cenote, which is perhaps even more breathtaking.

Rentalmoose insider tip: You will be asked to rinse off any makeup products and oils from your skin. Please do so carefully, in order to keep the water in the cenotes clean and crystal-clear.

Taking a boat tour through a river in the jungle, Mexico wilderness near Tulum. Stunning scenery on a cloudy day in the yucatan peninsula.

Mayan Port Ruins

It is no secret that Mexico is home to spectacular archeological sites. You’ve probably heard of the Teotihuacan near Mexico City or the Chichen Itza (which you’ll see later on this road trip). The site in Tulum may not be as monumental, yet it is still most definitely worth visiting when in town.

What makes this archeological site spectacular is its setting, the ruins are right next to the sandy beach. That means you can reward yourself with a swim in the crystal-clear water after touring the Mayan Port.

Open daily between 8AM and 5PM, admission costs 70 pesos per person.

Where to stay in Tulum?

Sophisticated travelers should consider renting a villa at The Strabon. This elegant property features luxurious villas and rooms, as well as an outdoor pool, a great restaurant, and a bar.

If you’re after a cheaper place to stay in Tulum, consider checking in at the LiveTulum. This aparthotel features air-conditioned rooms, a buffet breakfast, and a great location.

Lake Bacalar

Lake Bacalar is a beautiful lagoon in souther Mexico, and a great place to see on a Mexico road trip around the Yucatan peninsula.
Photo by Marc Tran

After a night in Tulum, it’s time to hit the road for your most intense day, driving-wise of course. We recommend setting off early in the morning, as the first milestone of the day is 2 hours away.

Is Lake Bacalar worth visiting

Most certainly! Lake Bacalar is a great under-the-radar destination that you’ll pass on your drive to Calakmul anyway, it’s definitely worth dropping by at least for a short visit.

Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar

Head to the center of this small town, park your rental car, and explore the stunning stone fort. Fuerte de San Felipe de Bacalar dates back to 1729. Inside, guests will find a museum full of precious, local artifacts, as well as decorative murals.

The fort also has a moat built around the structure, making for a great photo opportunity.

Open all week except Mondays between 9AM and 7PM.

Afterward, why not head into the town and explore some of the local eateries?

Cenote Azul

Don’t miss the opportunity to swim at the Cenote Azul, you’re on a Mexico road trip after all. After a dip in the cenote, you can enjoy lunch at the restaurant right by the water.

As the next point of interest is a 4-hour drive away, you may want to add an overnight stop here in Lake Bacalar. Luxury seekers should check-in at the lavish Mia Bacalar resort, while a great alternative would be the Hotel Urban Bacalar with an outdoor pool and a budget-friendly price per night.

Calakmul

calakmul archeological site, beautiful mayan ruins are hidden deep inside the jungle. Exploring them is a must on any Mexico road trip itinerary in the yucatan peninsula.

The next stop on your Mexico road trip is the spectacular archeological site of Calakmul.

The Mayan ruins of Calakmul are set deep inside the jungle. Not only does the remote location make exploring the ruins an unforgettable experience, it also lowers the amount of tourists!

Is Calakmul Worth Visiting

Yes! As getting to Calakmul requires a lengthy hike, many tourists decide to skip these ruins. What’s more, guided tours aren’t too frequent here, Calakmul is a real gem hidden in the jungle.

Expect to walk around 1.5 miles (2.4km) to get to the Calakmul ruins.

As visiting Calakmul will likely be an all-day adventure, it’s best to set off from your hotel early in the morning for the next stop on your Mexico road trip.

Admission costs 80 pesos ($4) per person.

Palenque

palenque archeological site. Large mayan pyramid is a must see in this part of mexico.
Photo by Dezalb

It’s time to leave behind the Yucatan peninsula (for now!) and head over to Palenque. As the town is almost 6 hours away from Calakmul, you may want to add an overnight stop somewhere along the way. You can spend the night at the 2-star Tutul-Ha in Escarcega, no detour required.

Unlike the Calakmul ruins, the Palanque Archeological Site is very easily accessible.

The ancient city of Palenque, together with Calakmul and Tikal, formed the three most significant cities of the Classic Maya period. The city was at its peak between 500 and 700 AD.

Due to its historical significance, the remains of the city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Admission to the Palenque archeological site costs 80 pesos ($4) per person.

Open daily between 10 AM and 3 PM.

Where can you stay in Palenque?

Luxury seekers should spend the night at the 5-star Piedra de Agua Boutique Hotel. The property features a secluded jungle feel, spacious rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and great staff.

Looking for a more budget-friendly stay? Spend the night at the affordable Axkan Palenque. The hotel features modern rooms, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant.

San Cristobal de las Casas

Agua Azul waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico. Great sight to see on a mexico road trip.
Agua Azul Waterfalls by Nathan Pickford

The journey from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas will take you 5 hours in total. However, do consider adding stops at these attractions along the way:

Misol-Ha Waterfall

You can drop by the spectacular Misol-Ha Waterfalls on your way to San Cristobal.

Some of the activities here include tours to the viewing deck where you can get the best view of the area, touring the grotto or visiting the tilapia (fish) farm.

Afterward, you can grab freshly-prepared fish for lunch at the Misol-Ha restaurant.

Movie fanatics might recognize this waterfall. Misol-Ha was a filming location for the Predator movie.

water flowing down at the misol-ha waterfalls in chiapas mexico, near palenque archeological site.
Photo by Angelika Fuss

Agua Azul Waterfalls

The Agua Azul Waterfalls simply cannot be skipped when visiting Chiapas. The picturesque waterfalls are famous for the blue-colored water, hence the name which translates to Blue Water.

Admire the picturesque waterfalls or the washed-up banks of the river shaped by mother nature herself. The scenery here is an absolute paradise for photographers!

Note that the color of the water is the best during the dry season between November and May.

What to do in San Cristobal de las Casas

Sumidero Canyon

Don’t miss the Sumidero Canyon, a monumental canyon around 90 minutes east of San Cristobal. The grand scenery is best observed from the surface of the water, hop on a guided boat tour and take in the views!

The body of water is surrounded by limerock walls that are 900 meters tall! These unbeatable views are perfect for photography.

Sumidero Canyon seen from the river on a cloudy day in Chiapas, Mexico. Sumidero Canyon is one of the best attractions to see near San Cristobal de Las Casas
Photo by Gretta Bartoli

Guadalupe Church

The Guadalupe Church is perhaps the most photographed landmark in town. Once you get here, you’ll likely find yourself taking lots of pictures as well!

This picturesque church is set atop a hill, providing a great overlook of the city after you climb up the stairs.

Later, step inside the church and admire the decorative interior. The best time to visit the Guadalupe Church is undoubtedly on Guadalupe Day (December 12th of every year).

La Maldita Restaurante

After spending a day in town, unwind at the La Maldita Restaurante. Enjoy dinner at the rooftop terrace, whilst watching the sunset.

La Maldita also offers budget-friendly accommodation where you can spend the night.

Alternatively, you can spend the night at Casa Santa Lucia. This traditional hotel offers stylish, classic rooms with free wi-fi set in a building from the 1700s. Add in the great location by the heart of town, and you have one of the best stays in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Campeche

surfer strolling down a sandy beach at sunset, orange sky and calm waves on the ocean. Beautiful evening in Campeche, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
CamboriuVisual

After you’ve spent time at San Cristobal de las Casas, drive back into the Yucatan Peninsula. After a lengthy 10-hour drive, you will arrive in the scenic city of Campeche!

What can you do in Campeche

Don’t miss these spots on your next visit to Campeche.

  • Fuerte de san Miguel
  • Malecon
  • Restaurant El Langostino

Fuerte de San Miguel

At first, this fort was used during local conflicts throughout the 19th century. Fuerte de San Miguel is a great example of military architecture in Campeche.

Today, however, the fortification is home to Mayan relicts found in nearby archeological sites, including the ones found in Calakmul. The precious items are stored in 10 rooms within the old fort.

The museum can be accessed for just 55 pesos ($2.7) per person.

Open Tuesday to Saturday between 9 AM and 3 PM.

Malecón

After a day of driving, stretch your legs as you stroll down the Malecón waterfront promenade. The path is favored among both tourists and locals looking to get exercise or to enjoy a peaceful stroll.

The path stretches for 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) and is a great spot for a jog, or a bike ride.

At the northern tip of the Malecón, you can reward yourself with fresh seafood for dinner. Opposite of the car park, you will find a row of cozy restaurants that serve some of the best food in town.

Don’t know which eatery to pick? You can’t go wrong with Restaurant El Langostino, of the favorites in Campeche!

What are the best hotels in Campeche?

Luxury seekers should most certainly check out the Hacienda Puerta Campeche, a lavish 5-star property right in the heart of the city. The hotel is set in a restored 17th-century Hacienda and features upscale rooms and suites, great decor, two swimming pools, and a spa.

Looking for a hotel that won’t break the bank? Spend the night at the Hotel Plaza Campeche. This property features well-equipped rooms, an outdoor pool, and a great location near the heart of Campeche.

Mérida

uxmal archeological site, mayan structures seen emerging from green  jungle rainforest. Storm and clouds in the distance. Must-see Mayan site on a mexico road trip
Uxmal photographed by Darvin Santos

On your way to Mérida, don’t miss the breathtaking Uxmal Archeological Site. It’s a must on any road trip in this part of Mexico.

Uxmal Archeological Site

The Uxmal Archeological Site could very well be the best Mayan site in all of the Yucatan Peninsula. For this reason, we believe it’s crucial to include it in your Mexico road trip itinerary.

Visitors can admire the famous pyramids, or pay attention to the details such as the decorative facades.

In order to get the most out of your visit here, consider hiring a guide to show you around. A licensed guide will cost you around 700 pesos ($35).

The site is open all week from 8AM to 5PM, though the entrance is closed from 4PM onwards.

Admission costs 418 pesos ($17) per person.

Progreso

If you’re looking to spend some time at a sandy beach, drive up to the coastal town of Progreso.

The wide, sandy shore stretches for miles and makes for a great spot for sunbathing or swimming in the ocean.

What’s more, Progreso is full of affordable, waterfront hotels where you can unwind for a day or two. Alternatively, you can hit one of the town’s beach clubs, too.

Izamal

beautiful yellow church and courtyard with blue and white flags over green yard in the town of izamal. A must-see town on a mexico road trip.

Izamal is a scenic town, largely undiscovered by tourists, a little over an hour east of Merida.

In fact, we suggest stopping here on the way to Chichen Itza to take a few pictures of the bright yellow-colored buildings, stroll down and take in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, the scenic architecture and an authentic vibe make Izamal a great addition to your Mexico road trip itinerary.

Valladolid

beautiful picture of chichen itza mayan pyramid during sunset, on a sunny day in Mexico. Chichen Itza is an absolute must see when visiting Mexico.
Chichen Itza by José Andrés Pacheco Cortés

Depart Mérida and begin the final leg of your journey before returning back to sunny Cancun. On your way to Valladolid, be sure to drop by the Chichen-Itza Archeological Site. You cannot miss it on your road trip!

Chichen-Itza Archeological Zone

The ancient city of Chichen-Itza is definitely the most famous archeological site in this part of Mexico. While the site is, without a doubt, breathtaking, keep in mind that it is usually packed with tourists.

Chichen-Itza was the capital of the region back between 987 and 1200 AD, the same period saw the peak times of the gigantic city.

The ancient city is dominated by the El Castillo Temple pictured above. Unlike some of the other sites in the Yucatan, guests are not permitted to climb the pyramid.

The site is open all week from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Admission costs 417 pesos ($20.7) for tourists.

Swimming in Cenotes

The are around Valladolid is home to some more colorful cenotes where you can go for a dip in the crystal-clear waters.

Cenote Samaal is one of the best cenotes in Valladolid. After paying an admission fee of 150 pesos ($7.5), you can swim in the crystal-clear water, while accompanied by the soothing sound of the waterfall. Adrenaline junkies can drop down into the water from the jumping area.

Cenote Samula cannot be missed on a road trip around the Yucatan Peninsula. Nearly all of this cenote is enclosed in a cave, resulting in otherworldly scenery as you swim across the water. In fact, it looks so amazing it is hard to believe that it’s not man-made!

Rentalmoose tip: If you only have time to visit one cenote in Valladolid, see Cenote Samula.

Cenote Samaal, large cenotes are sinkholes in mexico taht are popular for swimming. Swimming in cenotes is an unforgettable experience.
Cenote Samaal by Dolanh/Flickr

Zona Arqueológica de Ek Balam

Ek Balam is another Mayan archeological site that’s worth visiting when in the Yucatan Peninsula, it’s located around 25 kilometers outside of Valladolid.

The site features well-preserved structures in a beautiful, jungle setting. It may not be as spectacular as the Chichen-Itza, but it makes a great addition to the itinerary.

Ek Balam is easily accessible by car. The site is open daily between 8 AM and 5 PM, though the ticketing booth closes an hour earlier.

Admission costs 338 pesos ($17) for international tourists.

Rio Lagartos

Before returning to Cancun, make sure you stop by the Parque Natural Ria Lagartos. In this park, you’ll be able to spot thousands of flamingos in their natural habitat.

What’s more, you can take a boat tour around the area to see the spots that are otherwise inaccessible.

Don’t forget to see the beautiful pink lake, which is another highlight in the park!

Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to find the best rental car deal for this road trip!

Post your pictures from this Mexico road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in our travel guides.

Get your car from Rentalmoose, we plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

The 8 Best Day Trips From Mexico City

Mexico City can get a little overwhelming after a few days in town. Check out these 8 best day trips from Mexico City, to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital.

The 8 best day trips from Mexico City

The area surrounding Mexico City truly has it all, from touring volcanos and visiting Mayan ruins to exploring caves or celebrating the Day of The Dead.

The possibilities are endless! In fact, Cholula alone is famous for its 365 churches- one for each day of the year. In order to see all of these spectacular places, you’d have to move to Central Mexico.

Without further ado, let’s dive into each destination!

Teotihuacan

Large, monumental temples of Teotihuacan date back to the ancient times. The ancient city of Teotihuacan is only half an hour away from Mexico City, making it perfect for a Mexico City day trip.
Photo by German Rojas

A visit to Teotihuacan is unarguably one of the must-do day trips from Mexico City.

The ancient city of Teotihuacan dates back more than a thousand years prior to the arrival of the Aztecs, the homeless wanderers first came to the region in 1300 A.D.

If the Aztecs hadn’t arrived in Mexico at the time of the city’s construction, you’re probably wondering who built Teotihuacan.

Who built the Great City of Teotihuacan

Back when the Aztecs first discovered this town, it had already been abandoned for centuries.

Although the Aztecs did not build Teotihuacan, they are the ones responsible for its name.

Teotihuacan translates to ‘home of the gods‘, which is precisely what the Aztecs decided to name the mysterious abandoned city.

The Great city of Teotihuacan is believed to have been a vivid center of the region, with an estimated population of 200 000 inhabitants.

Though that may not seem like much today, its population was very similar to Rome or Beijing at the time.

Following extensive destruction, looting, and chaos, the city was abandoned by 750AD. It is uncertain what caused the sudden chaos that resulted in inhabitants fleeing Teotihuacan.

Today, Teotihuacan remains one of the most significant ancient ruins in all of Mexico. Don’t miss the famous Pyramid of The Sun, the largest pyramid in the city and one of the tallest in Mesoamerica.

Teotihuacan Entry Fee and Opening Hours

Admission to the Great City of Teotihuacan costs below 100 pesos (US$5) per person. Open daily between 9AM and 5PM.

Tlaxcala

Colorful yellow facades of traditional buildings in the town of Tlaxcala, Mexico. Tlaxcala is the perfect destination for a day trip from Mexico City.
Photo by Actek10

Tlaxcala is the smallest region in Mexico. The state’s capital, also called Tlaxcala, is a cute town with an unbeatable vibe. Visiting it makes for a perfect day trip from Mexico City.

Things To Do in Tlaxcala

  • Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Ocotlan
  • Palacio de Gobierno
  • Firefly Sanctuary
Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Ocotlán

The Basilica of Our Lady of Ocotlan is perhaps the most well-known attraction in the town of Tlaxcala. Many tourists come here from Mexico City just to see the Basilica!

Located just minutes away from the center of this cute town, the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Ocotlán can be admired from both inside and out.

Step inside and take in the decorative, gold-filled interior, or appreciate the monumental architecture from the outside.

Palacio de Gobierno

Get a grasp of the regional Tlaxcalan culture as you walk inside the gorgeous Palacio de Gobierno.

This structure dates back nearly 500 years and is home to decorative murals and an unbeatable vibe.

Palacio de Gobierno is a great under-the-radar destination in this part of Mexico.

History buffs should definitely peek inside the nearby museums. Afterall, Palacio de Gobierno is right in the heart of Tlaxcala.

Firefly Sanctuary

If you’re visiting Mexico between June and August, you are in for a special treat. During those months, local fireflies put on a breathtaking light show every night.

Check out this website to learn more and book your firefly experience. It’s a half-hour drive out of Tlaxcala.

Cholula & Puebla

Monumental facade of a cathedral in Puebla. Catedral de Puebla is one of the best things to see in Puebla.
Photo by Young Shanahan

A drive down to Puebla is another great day trip from Mexico City. This city is located roughly 175 miles from the country’s capital.

What To See in Puebla

The Great Pyramid of Cholula

Did you know that the largest pyramid in the world (by area, not height) isn’t in Egypt? In fact, it’s The Great Pyramid of Cholula.

You might be surprised when you get to Cholula, as the pyramid doesn’t look like a typical Mayan structure. In fact, only a small part of it has been excavated thus far.

Back in the 1600s, the Spanish built the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies atop the pyramid. Make sure you visit this beautiful cathedral, as it opens up to panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Mercado Cosme del Razo San Pedro Cholula

It should be pretty clear by now that Rentalmoose loves local fresh food markets. No matter whether you’re in Batemans Bay, Marmaris, or Malaga, we recommend visiting a local market.

We believe local markets are the perfect way to peek into the fascinating local life of any bustling town, village, or city. Mercado Cosme del Razo San Pedro in Cholula is no different.

In this traditional market, you’ll be able to find anything ranging from regional fruit and vegetables to handcrafted goods and artwork.

After spending some time in Cholula, it’s time to continue further into Puebla. This city is famous for its beautiful architecture, as well as the Puebla Cathedral and more!

Museo Amparo

Art lovers should not miss out on visiting the Museo Amparo. This museum, set inside a beautiful, colonial building, is home to one of the greatest art collections in Latin America. There aren’t many museums that make for good day trips from Mexico City, and this one is definitely worthwhile!

Admire hundreds of Mexican artworks from different historical periods. Afterward, head up to the terrace and take in the panoramic views of the city.

The best part? Admission is completely free of charge.

Note that Museo Amparo is closed on Wednesdays. Check their website for detailed opening hours.

Catedral de Puebla

Set in the heart of Puebla’s historic center is the monumental Catedral de Puebla. This monumental Baroque church was completed in 1690.

After photographing the grand facade of the cathedral, feel free to step inside and explore the decorative interior.

Open Monday through Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM, then 4 PM to 8 PM.

While you’re here, take a minute to stroll down Puebla’s scenic historic center.

Restaurante El Mural de Los Poblanos

No visit to Puebla would possibly be complete without indulging in the region’s traditional cuisine. Head to Restaurante El Mural de Los Poblanos, one of the top picks in town, for a delicious lunch or dinner.

This eatery serves some of the best Mexican food in town. Make sure to try the local specialty called Chiles en Nogada.

Open daily from noon to midnight, as well as 8 AM to noon for breakfast service.

Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park

Izta-Popo National Park near Mexico City is home to two famous volcanos. Visiting the park is a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City.
Photo by Russ Bowling

If you drive 2 hours out of Mexico City, you will reach the beautiful Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park.

The park is home to 2 of the most famous volcanos in Mexico: Popocatepetl and Iztachihuatl.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Note that it can get quite cold at this altitude. Bring appropriate clothing!

Paso de Cortes

Begin your visit of the park with a drive across the scenic Paso de Cortes. This chicane-filled road is one of the best scenic drives in Mexico!

This mountain pass was named after being used by Hernán Cortés back in the 16th century. Cortés was the one who conquested the Aztec Empire back in the 1500s and claimed Mexico.

Right by the large roundabout, you’ll see the park’s museum. You can head inside and learn more about local history. Admission tickets can be purchased here, too. From here, you can enjoy unobstructed views of both volcanos.

Open daily between 7AM and 9PM.

Iztachihuatl

After viewing the volcano from the distance, it’s time to come closer to it. Drive down the unpaved road towards the Iztachihuatl volcano.

You can leave your car at the La Joyita area and continue further up on foot. The climb is challenging and only recommended for experienced hikers. However, the views from the top are absolutely unbeatable.

Cascada Apatlaco

Drive back from the foot of Iztachihuatl Volcano and turn into a small road on your left. Follow the road and after a while, you’ll be able to see the spectacular Apatlaco Waterfalls.

Quezadilla Dona Gloria

On your way back down to Mexico City, make sure you stop by to try delicious quesadillas.

Pop by the cozy Quezadilla Dona Gloria to recharge your batteries before driving back to the city. The obscure cabin serves some of the best food you can find around the park.

Guided Tours

Although you can visit the Izta-Popo National Park independently, there’s also the option to book a private tour. An experienced guide will let you in on the park’s secrets and show you the hidden gems of the park.

Consider booking a guided tour of the park with Aztec Explorers.

Mixquic

Cemetery full of people and illuminated by candles during the spectacular Day of The Dead Celebrations in Mixquic. Make sure you see these celebrations, perhaps on a day trip from Mexico City.
Photo by カルロスVG

You need to go on a day trip from Mexico City to Mixquic, especially if you’re in town in early November.

The Day of The Dead celebrations is famous around the world. If there’s one place in all of Mexico that has the most spectacular, authentic celebration, it has to be Mixquic.

When is The Day of The Dead

November 2nd

Contrary to popular belief, the celebrations begin on the 31st of October. The bells of the beautiful San Andres Apostol ring 12 times, as the souls of the children are believed to arrive.

Although the celebrations continue on the 1st day of November, The Day of The Dead is on the 2nd of November every year. Undoubtedly, the most magical time to visit Mixquic is on that day, particularly after the sun sets.

Young girl smiling in makeup and costume during celebrations of the Day Of The Dead at a cemetery in Mixquic, Mexico. The Day Of The Dead is a must-see on any Mexico trip itinerary
Photo by Jordi Cueto-Felgueroso Arocha

As dusk falls, the pantheon is illuminated by thousands of decorative candles. The families spend the night in the company of their deceased loved ones. This emotional celebration is bound to leave you speechless for the rest of your trip.

Taxco

Beautiful Panoramic view of Taxco. Taxco is a former silver mining town that has become a great tourist destination. Located near the capital, it makes for great day trips from Mexico City.
Photo by Laurent Espitallier

Taxco is a breathtaking town, formerly a hotspot for silver mining. Despite the fact that the mines shut down over a century ago, Taxco has remained a spectacular and populated town. It’s the ideal authentic town that makes for great day trips from Mexico City.

Note that the best way of getting around the narrow, cobblestone streets of Taxco is on foot.

The Best Things To Do In Taxco

Santa Prisca de Taxco & Plaza Borda

Begin your visit of Taxco right in the heart of town. After you leave your car at the car park, stroll down the cobblestone streets on foot.

You will soon reach Plaza Borda, the booming heart of Taxco.

Take your time to peek into the many regional eateries and shops within the authentic colonial buildings.

Unarguably, the biggest landmark in Taxco is the monumental Santa Prisca de Taxco. The history of this church dates back to the mid-1700s, back when there was lots of silver mining going on around Taxco. Admire the facade or step inside the decorative cathedral.

Mina Prehispanica de Taxco

As Taxco was once a booming mining town, you should definitely visit Mina Prehispanica. The silver mine is estimated to date back to times when Mexico was a Viceroyalty of New Spain. It was likely hidden by the locals from the Spanish.

In 2013, the mine was accidentally rediscovered during the remodeling of a local hotel. The hotel bar was quickly turned into an archeological site, and today it serves as a great spot to visit what was once common in Taxco.

Open daily from 9AM to 6PM.

Cable Car & Montetaxco

Get a panoramic view of the area around Taxco when you take the Cable Car up to the upscale Montetaxco hotel. Seeing the sunset from up here is a must when in Taxco.

Rosa Amaranto

After a day of walking up and down the winding streets, relax at one of the town’s best restaurants. Head up to Rosa Amaranto for a great dining experience accompanied by an astonishing view of Taxco.

Open daily from 8 AM to 10 PM.

Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park

Photo by Christian Ramiro González Verón

The Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park is home to one of the largest cave systems on the planet. Hence it’s one of the most popular day trips from Mexico City, and it’s easy to see why.

The caves were rediscovered by a Mexican shopkeeper hiding in them from the authorities back in the 1800s. Since then, they’ve become a famous tourist attraction.

Today, anyone can visit the enormous cave system on a guided walking tour. The system is made up of 20 large halls, reserve around 2 hours to visit them.

Travelers can visit the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa every day from 9AM to 5PM. Admission costs 90 pesos ($4.5) per person. Note that most guides only speak Spanish, an English-speaking guide will likely cost more to hire.

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Photo by Rafael Saldaña

One of the best day trips from Mexico City is a visit to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside of the town. It’s criminally underrated, too.

Click here for a detailed guide to visiting the 4 butterfly sanctuaries here that are open to the public.

Don’t miss the El Rosario sanctuary!

Angangueo

Before heading back to Mexico City, pay Angangueo a visit. This cute former mining town, although not as spectacular as Taxco, is worth at least a short peek. Unlike the Butterfly Sanctuaries, Angangueo is a year-round attraction.

Don’t skip the town’s two beautiful churches. They are facing each other, making for a great spot for photos.

You can admire a panoramic view of Angangueo and its natural surroundings from the Monumento Al Minero terrace.

Lastly, take a photo with the colorful Mural in the heart of this little town.

Bonus- What is the best way of getting around Mexico?

The best way of getting around is by car, especially if you’re planning to go on multiple day trips from Mexico City.

That way, you’ll get to see scenic drives and see areas that you’d never get to visit otherwise. Not to mention the irreplaceable freedom of altering your itinerary on the go, whenever you please.

Rental Car Insurance in Mexico

Check out this informative blog post to learn all you need to know about rental car insurance in Mexico. It’s not as complicated as it may seem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe.

Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

The 10 Best Things To Do in Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is the most popular getaway in Baja California. Find out the best things to do in and around Cabo with our curated travel guide.

No matter if you’re on your way to Cabo San Lucas right now or you’re planning a trip for next summer, you’ll want to know what the best things to do in Cabo are.

  1. Visit Land’s End
  2. Unwind At The Best Beaches In Cabo
  3. Drive To San Jose del Cabo
  4. Dive At Cabo Pulmo Marine Park
  5. Whale-Watching Tours
  6. Go On A Day Trip To La Paz
  7. See Todos Santos
  8. Play Golf
  9. Explore Santiago
  10. Visit El Triunfo

Year by year, Cabo San Lucas continues to amaze international and domestic tourists as one of the best getaways in Mexico. After all, Baja California is home to exceptional beaches, spectacular landscapes, tasty cuisine, and quirky towns.

Bonus: Rent a Car In Mexico

Unless you’re planning to stick to just one city, the best way of getting around Mexico is by car.

Check out these blog posts to make the best of your next trip to Mexico.

These Are The 10 Best Things To Do In Cabo

Without further ado, let’s jump into each one of them!

Visit Land’s End

Spectacular rock formations at Land's End, which is one of the best things to do in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico.
Photo by Liezelzpineda

A visit to Land’s End is unarguably one of the best things to do in Cabo. The rock formations are perhaps the most famous landmark here, so you simply have to see them.

How can you get to Land’s End?

The only way to reach the picturesque Land’s End is by either water taxi, boat, or kayak. You can catch a water taxi from Cabo’s Medano Beach.

Rentalmoose insider tip: For the most unforgettable experience, consider hiring a glass-bottom boat!

The boat trip around the scenic rock formations is an absolute must-do when in Cabo.

Don’t forget to snap a picture of the world-famous El Arco.

Playa Del Amor

After a visit to Land’s End, see both Playa Del Amor and Playa de Los Amantes.

These two beaches are best accessed by water taxis. You could try walking across at low tide (from Divorce Beach) though it is not particularly safe. An inexpensive water taxi from Medano Beach is your best bet!

Keep in mind that the sandy beaches at Land’s End have no facilities. It’s best to bring your own snacks and water if you’re planning to spend time here. The crystal-clear water and spectacular scenery will make it worthwhile.

Spend a Day At One Of Cabo’s Best Beaches

Scenic beach resort in Cabo. Chilling at a sandy beach is one of the best things to do in Cabo San Lucas.
Photo by Robbert van Bloemendaal

In case you didn’t know, Cabo San Lucas is home to some of the best beaches in North America.

These are the best beaches in Cabo

If you’re looking for the best beaches in Cabo, be sure to check out the following spots:

Santa Maria Beach

Are you a snorkeling fan? If so, don’t skip Santa Maria Beach.

This pristine, sandy beach is absolute heaven for snorkelers, as Santa Maria Bay is filled with tropical fish. The crystal-clear waters make the waters here perfect to explore.

As the beach is around 15 minutes outside of Cabo itself, it’s less crowded than some beaches in town.

The best way to reach Santa Maria Beach is by car.

There’s a free car park, public restrooms, and showers available for beachgoers.

Playa El Chileno

Right behind Santa Maria Beach lays another one of the best beaches in Cabo, Playa el Chileno.

This sandy beach, much like Santa Maria Beach, is ideal for both snorkeling and swimming.

You can rent an umbrella at Playa El Chileno for around 200 pesos ($10) per day.

There are public restrooms and showers available for beachgoers. What’s more, there’s the upscale Chileno Bay Club at the end of the beach, where you can enjoy locally-caught seafood for lunch.

Cerritos Beach

Cerritos Beach is one of the favorites among surfers in the Baja California Peninsula.

This sandy beach is perfect for surfing, both beginners as well as experts. What’s more, the wide sandy shore is great for sunbathing and people-watching.

The coast is lined with upscale, beachfront hotels where you can spend the night.

After a day at the beach, pop by the waterfront La Mision Restaurant for an exceptional dinner overlooking the sea.

Cerritos Beach is a 45-minute drive away from the heart of Cabo. Todos Santos, a great town worth visiting, is just a stone’s throw away!

Playa Balandra

Playa Balandra isn’t exactly in Cabo. In fact, it’s a 2-hour drive away from Cabo San Lucas, near the town of La Paz. Is the drive worth it?

Simply put, yes. But don’t take our word for it, check out this video to see why you need to visit Balandra.

As you can see, Playa Balandra looks absolutely spectacular. To no surprise, it is often dubbed the best beach in Mexico.

A short look at virtually any photo of the beach on the internet is enough to understand why. Let alone being able to see it yourself.

When visiting Playa Balandra, make sure you also stop by La Paz itself.

Drive To San Jose del Cabo

Shoreline of San Jose Del Cabo, beautiful tranquil sandy beaches and palm trees, as well as elevated whitewashed buildings.
Photo by Alvaro Bejarano

Get in your rental car and drive east along the main highway, leaving Cabo behind. In around half an hour, you will arrive at the scenic town of San Jose del Cabo.

When in San Jose del Cabo, go for a stroll in the heart of the town.

Mision San Jose del Cabo, beautiful whitewashed church outside of the resort town is one of the best things to do around Cabo San Lucas, Baja California
Getty Images

Snap a photo with the picturesque Mision San Jose del Cabo (photographed above), or walk down the vibrant Art Walk, and explore the street lined with quirky galleries.

Octopus Aguachile is a seafood dish at Don Sanchez restaurant, one of the best Mexican restaurants in San Jose del Cabo in Baja California.
Octopus Aguachile, one of the go-to dishes at Don Sanchez

Don’t skip a meal at the scenic Don Sanchez Restaurant, one of the top picks in the region. Choose from a selection of delicious dishes, such as tacos or local seafood. Take a look at these mouth-watering photos of what you can expect at Don Sanchez. Yummy!

Surf and Turf Taco at Don Sanchez is a modern take on Mexican cuisine. Don Sanchez is an award-winning restaurant in San Jose del Cabo by Todd Chapman.
Surf and Turf Taco at Don Sanchez

Don Sanchez is open daily from 6 PM to 10 PM.

Catch the sunset at the panoramic Cielomar Rooftop located at the top of the upscale Viceroy Hotel. Admire the spectacular sunset while sipping on a refreshing drink, or pop by for dinner. Open daily until 10PM.

Dive At Cabo Pulmo Marine Park

Shore of Cabo Pulmo National Park seen from right above the surface of the ocean. Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is a diver's paradise near Cabo San Lucas.
Photo by Clr_flickr

A 2-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas will take you to a paradise among divers, Cabo Pulmo Marine Park.

The tiny Cabo Pulmo village was established back in the late 1980s to protect one of the gems of Baja California, the largest living coral reef on this continent.

Today, the village is a great starting point for unforgettable diving and snorkeling tours.

Companies like Blue Passion Baja offer a wide selection of diving tours, as well as introductory courses for beginners, every day of the week all year long. Make sure to take a look at their website to book your adventure.

If you’d prefer snorkeling, Blue Passion Baja also offer daily snorkeling tours to the breathtaking coral reef.

Cabo Pulmo has a few great alternatives for those who would rather stay on dry land as well. Admire the scenic natural beauty of the region during an ATV tour, and see spots that are otherwise inaccessible.

Adrenaline junkies should check out the 3.5-hour long Mountain Biking tour across the desert landscape. Keep your eyes wide open, this remote area is home to some fascinating wildlife!

Go Whale-Watching

A large whale is emerging from the surface of the water. Beautiful marine life is a reason why you should go on a whale watching tour in Cabo San Lucas. One of the best things to do in Cabo is whalewatching.

The marine life off the shore of Cabo San Lucas is diverse, lively, and perhaps some of the best in this part of North America. Afterall, Cabo Pulmo Marine Park is home to one of the largest living coral reefs in the world.

When can you see whales in Cabo?

The best time of the year to go on a whale-watching tour in Cabo San Lucas is from January to March, though the season starts in December and finishes in April.

If you go whale-watching during those months, seeing a whale is pretty much guaranteed.

There are various different whale-watching tour operators in Cabo San Lucas. Rentalmoose recommends booking your tour with Whale Watch Cabo. Unlike other operators, Whale Watch Cabo gives you a guarantee of sighting a whale.

If there are no sightings during your tour, you will be offered another one at no extra cost. Note that the Whale Guarantee is offered only during the whale season (December 15th-April 15th).

What’s more, the daily tours are guided by marine biologists who will share lots of insight about marine life with you.

Go On A Day Trip To La Paz

A family of three watching the sun set on a sandy beach in La Paz, Mexico. Some say Baja California is home to some of the most wonderful sunsets on the planet, and this vibrant photograph proves it.
Photo by Yotut/flickr.com

No trip to Baja California could possibly be complete without paying a visit to its capital, La Paz. Most travelers only focus on visiting the resort of Cabo, without considering to see La Paz. In effect, La Paz has become a more authentic, under-the-radar destination.

As La Paz is a 2-hour drive away from Cabo San Lucas, we recommend setting off early in the morning. That way, you can see most of what this fascinating city has got to offer.

Local Market- Mercado Municipal General Nicolas Bravo

Rentalmoose loves local food markets. We think they’re one of the greatest ways to take in the hustle and bustle of any city or town. No matter whether you’re in Athens, Cameron Highlands, or Tallinn, the local market is the vibrant heart of local life.

The fresh food market here in La Paz, Mercado Municipal General Nicolas Bravo, is a must-visit in town. Make sure to get here early, the market is open from 6AM daily.

Historic District

Spend some time at the cozy Jardin Velasco park, or cross the street and admire the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz. The cathedral dates back to the 1800s!

From there, you can cross a couple of blocks on foot and you’ll find yourself on the panoramic Malecon.

Malecon

This waterfront promenade stretches for 3 miles (5 kilometers) and it’s undoubtedly the favorite hangout among locals. You’ll find joggers getting their morning exercise here, or groups of friends hanging out at the sandy beach.

Across the street from the promenade, you’ll find amazing restaurants and bars that provide great views of the shore. Don’t know which one to pick?

Drop by Restaurantes Bismark, one of the best picks in town. Apart from serving a wide variety of tasty meals and drinks, this eatery provides unbeatable views of the Malecon.

Restaurantes Bismark is open daily between 8AM and 11 PM.

Oh, when you’re in La Paz don’t forget to drive up to Playa Balandra!

See Todos Santos

colorful traditional decorative flags waving in the air above a street in Todos Santos, a peaceful town 30 minutes away from Cabo. Todos Santos in Baja California Mexico.
Thomas Hawk/Flickr.com

Hop on the highway along the west coast of Baja California and drive along the coast. Around an hour after leaving Cabo, you will reach the popular town of Todos Santos.

Since 2006, The Mexican government dubbed Todos Santos a Pueblo Magico. The government selected only around 100 towns in the country for the title, honoring the spots for their cultural influence, natural beauty, or historical significance.

As beautiful as Cabo is, there’s no denying the fact that it is full of tourists. Todos Santos, on the other hand, feels like a completely different world. It’s so serene that it’s hard to believe that the booming resort town of Cabo is just an hour away.

Once you’re in Todos Santos, find an on-street parking spot in the heart of the town and explore it on foot.

Hotel California

Don’t skip a visit to the Hotel California. Despite the urban legend, this is not the place that Glenn Frey sang about. Nonetheless, the hotel is a major attraction in Todos Santos and it’s worth dropping by for a visit.

Punta Lobos

Punta Lobos is a secluded, sandy beach favored among surfers. If you’re lucky, you might spot a whale from the shore!

There’s a large boulder next to the beach. If you decide to hike up to the top, you’ll be presented with panoramic views of the area. For the most magical experience, get to the top during the sunset.

El Faro Beach Club

After the drive, why not relax at a sandy beach? Visit the upscale El Faro Beach Club for the ultimate luxury experience in Todos Santos.

Sip on a colorful drink while overlooking the ocean, swim at the infinity pool, or book a massage at the Arena spa.

If you’re willing to escape the Cabo craze for a little longer, you can spend the night at the beachfront Guaycura Hotel.

The beach club is open Wednesday thru Monday from 10:30 AM to 7 PM.

Play Golf

Photo by Jeff Shewan

Golfing is a big-time activity in and around Cabo San Lucas. There are tens of different country clubs, both public and private, where experienced golfers (as well as beginners) can head for a game.

The only issue with golfing in Cabo is deciding which club to pick.

The best golf club in Cabo San Lucas

Quivira Los Cabos

Without a doubt, the most spectacular golf club in Cabo is the Quivira Los Cabos. This incredible golf course has earned countless awards, including a spot in the top 100 best golf courses in the world by Golf Digest.

This 18-hole course spans over 7000 yards, opening up to spectacular waterfront views.

After an exciting game, head over to the Quivira Golf Clubhouse for a juicy steak, or to simply take in the views once again.

Explore Santiago

Canon De La Zorra, Santa rita hot Springs are two scenic spots in Santiago Baja California. One of the best things to do in Cabo san Lucas, Mexico.
Photo by J M/Flickr.com

Much like Todos Santos, Santiago is a cute little town that can serve as a great escape from the craze of Cabo.

This tiny town dates back to the early 1700s, it specialized in agriculture. Over the last centuries, the town hasn’t really changed. Its untouched beauty makes Santiago one of the best places to visit around Cabo San Lucas.

When you’re in town, don’t miss the pretty Mision de Santiago Church that can be admired both inside and out.

Make sure you head up to the Canon de la Zorra. Admire the waterfalls set in a beautiful, desert setting.

This scenic spot is perfect for a swim, or simply photographing the beautiful views. You can either visit it independently (the entry fee is around 150 pesos [$7.5]) or on a guided tour.

Note that the only way to get to the canyon is via a sandy, unpaved road.

Before heading back to Cabo, stop by the Santa Rita Hot Springs. Open all week except Wednesday between 7AM and 7PM.

Visit El Triunfo

Photo of El triunfo mining town sign, stating the city only has 327 inhabitants as of 2010. El triumfo is a great under the radar destination near La Paz, Baja California, Mexico.
Photo by Amante Darmanin

If you’re a fan of spots that are very under-the-radar, you will love El Triunfo. As you can see in the photo above, El Triunfo has a population of just 327 people.

To be completely honest, El Triunfo is far from an attraction-packed tourist hotspot. In fact, the top-rated attraction in town, according to Tripadvisor, only has 3 reviews. Believe it or not, that’s exactly why the rustic town of El Triunfo is worth visiting.

The town was first established in the 1700s as a mining town. Once the mines shut down in the 1920s, the majority of the population moved elsewhere. Until fairly recently, El Triunfo remained essentially untouched for the past century.

In order to attract tourists, the 327 inhabitants began restoring some of the historic buildings and turning them into quirky restaurants, galleries, and other touristy attractions.

Today, El Triunfo remains one of the best-preserved former mining towns in all of North America.

What can you do in El Triunfo?

The highlight of any visit to El Triunfo is the town’s landmark, La Ramona Chimney. From there, you can see the rest of the mining complex, including Panteon Ingles and El Mirador.

Afterward, explore the heart of town right across the monumental chimney. For the best pizza in town (frankly speaking, there is no competition, though the pizza here is in fact great!), pop by Cafe El Triunfo.

Before leaving, pop by one of the town’s museums or galleries. The El Triunfo Piano Museum is set inside a 19th-century building, and well worth a visit when in town.

Don’t forget to book your rental car in Cabo with Rentalmoose, a worldwide car rental broker with over 15 000 locations around the globe.

We plant a tree for every booking made with us.

El Capitan boulder in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park. You can see this park along one of our curated road trip itineraries around the best national parks in the United States.

The 7 Best National Park Road Trips You Need To Take

El Capitan boulder in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park. You can see this park along one of our curated road trip itineraries around the best national parks in the United States.

In this blog post, we will cover 7 different road trip itineraries perfect to explore different National Parks around the US. Feel free to use this blog post as a National Park road trip planner for your next adventure!

These are the road trip ideas that will be covered in this blog post:

  1. Best of Utah’s National Parks- 5-day road trip itinerary
  2. Death Valley, Yosemite, Great Basin & more- Nevada road trip itinerary
  3. The Ultimate Colorado road trip itinerary for nature lovers
  4. The Great Smoky Mountains by car- Scenic Drives
  5. The Ultimate Grand Teton & Yellowstone Itinerary by car
  6. These are the best day trips from Seattle for nature lovers
  7. The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

What are the must-see National Parks in the United States?

There are 62 National Parks in the United States, scattered all around the country. As much as we recommend experiencing each and every single one, these are the national parks that we find to be the best in the US.

  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Great Canyon
  • The Great Smoky Mountains
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion National Park

Before you go- America The Beautiful Pass

Before you set off on your National Park road trip, take a look at the America The Beautiful Pass.

This annual pass covers admission to over 2000 federal recreational sites, including entry passes to the majority of national parks in the country.

If you’re planning to visit multiple parks, it may be worth purchasing the America The Beautiful Pass.

For example, if you’re planning to go on a road trip around the parks in Utah (look below), you would have to spend nearly $200 on admission fees to National and State parks along the way. Instead, you could purchase the annual pass for just $80 per year (pricing as of November 2020).

What’s more, you can go to even more national parks within a year of purchasing the pass.

Do keep in mind, however, that most parks charge admission fees per vehicle. If you split the cost between you and your passengers, it may turn out cheaper (per person) than purchasing an annual pass.

Your America The Beautiful Pass can be purchased here.

Note that day use fees, plus fees for any activities, are charged separately.

1. Best of Utah’s National Parks- 5 Day Road Trip Itinerary

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The unique rock formations are famous around the world. Canyon seen on a hot summer day.
Bryce Canyon photographed by Oskaline

Starting point: Salt Lake City, Utah

Finishing point: Las Vegas, Nevada

Driving distance: 740 miles (1190km)

Highlights: Zion, Arches, Bryce Canyon

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Fall, Winter

Click here for the detailed travel guide.

Which parks will you see during this Utah road trip?

  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
  • Grand Staircase National Monument
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park

This 5-day road trip itinerary is an absolute must for any traveler who wants to see some of the best National Parks in the western United States. The trip begins in Salt Lake City, Utah. Then, you will head on a 740-mile road trip to Las Vegas via Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the scenic parks around Moab.

The road trip to these parks is perfect for travelers who want to enjoy hiking, drive down Scenic Byways and go off-roading!

What’s more, if you’re planning your ultimate road trip to see every National Park in the US, Utah can be a great place to set off!

From here, you can cross into Nevada to see Death Valley and Yosemite, or head east into Colorado to see the Great Sand Dunes and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Yellowstone and the Grand Teton are just a 5-hour drive

2. The Ultimate Nevada National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Death Valley National Park, wonderful rock formations and otherworldly scenery seen from an outlook at Artists Drive. Drive down the scenic drives in Death Valley on our Nevada road trip.
Death Valley

Starting point: Las Vegas, Nevada

Finishing point: Las Vegas, Nevada

Driving distance: 1400 miles (2300 km)

Highlights: Death Valley, Yosemite, Great Basin

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Fall

Click here for the detailed travel guide around the best National Parks in and around Nevada.

What are the must-see parks in Nevada?

The following National and State parks are all included in our detailed road trip itinerary.

  • Death Valley National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Cathedral Gorge State Park
  • Valley of Fire State Park
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds

This road trip itinerary forms a great loop around Nevada (and brushing up on California, specifically Yosemite National Park) and its most spectacular parks. It’s a great getaway for both locals as well as travelers who are crossing Nevada during a long road trip.

This itinerary can easily be extended to see Arizona and the Grand Canyon, Utah and the state’s spectacular parks, or even further into Colorado and the Rockies.

3. The Ultimate Colorado National Park road trip itinerary for nature lovers

the great Sand Dunes National Park on a cloudy day. Amazing scenery in Colorado, enjoy it during our national park road trip through the best parks in the US.
The Great Sand Dunes by Sid Litke

Starting point: Denver, Colorado

Finishing point: Denver, Colorado

Driving distance: 1200 miles (2000 km)

Highlights: The Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde

Best time of the year to visit: Summer, Winter

Click here for the comprehensive travel guide.

What National Parks are in Colorado?

Colorado is home to four national parks, and all of them are included in this road trip itinerary!

  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • The Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park

During this road trip, you will also visit the following state parks and other POIs.

  • Garden of The Gods
  • Pikes Peak Scenic Drive
  • Roxborough State Park

This road trip itinerary is ideal for travelers who want to thoroughly explore the must-see natural beauty in Colorado. The trip departs in Denver, The Mile High City.

The 1200-mile long loop will take you through Garden of The Gods, Pikes Peak, The Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and the Rocky Mountain before heading back to Denver.

Some of the attractions along the way include the scenic drive up Pikes Peak, off-roading at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and spectacular lookouts at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

The curated itinerary includes some of the best lodgings you can find in Colorado, along with some really quirky attractions. Have you ever heard of the UFO watchtower? Or a drive-in cinema with an attached motel? Check out the Rentalmoose travel guide and plan your ideal road trip!

Visit Colorado during the winter to see the scenery transform into a magical, snowy wonderland!

4. The Great Smoky Mountains by Car- Scenic Drives

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to many scenic drives. The scenery looks the most magical during Fall Foliage in Autumn.
The Smokies photographed by Airren Parsons

Starting point: Atlanta, Georgia

Finishing point: Atlanta, Georgia

Driving distance: 1000 miles (1600 km)

Highlights: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Best time of the year to visit: Summer, Fall

Click here for the detailed itinerary!

What is the best national park on the east coast?

The Great Smoky Mountains are an absolute must, it’s one of the best national parks in the east part of the US! Click here for our curated travel guide to visiting this national park by car.

Although this road trip starts in Georgia, the itinerary actually focuses just on the Smokies and the park’s countless attractions. However, if you are planning to visit the park via a rental car do consider flying to Atlanta, as the major international airport here has more rental cars to choose from. Use Rentalmoose to find your ideal rental car for this road trip.

This road trip is perfect for travelers who want to visit the Smokies by car. Apart from must-see attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the guide focuses on scenic driving roads scattered around the park. A combination of chicane-filled scenic drives plus awesome attractions to stop by and stretch your legs will make this road trip a great adventure in the east part of the US!

Unarguably, the best part of the year to visit the Smokies is during the magical Fall Foliage (mid-October to November). The weather is pleasant during the summer, though it is also the peak of the tourist season. Visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during winter and spring to avoid the crowds.

5. The Ultimate Grand Teton & Yellowstone Itinerary By Car

Grand Prismatic Thermal Spring in Yellowstone National Park. The geothermal activity can be seen during our itinerary for Yellowstone & Grand Teton.
Thermal Spring in Yellowstone by WikilImages.

Starting point: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Finishing point: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Driving distance: 430 miles (700 km)

Highlights: Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Fall

Click here for our itinerary!

During this road trip, you will see the following National Parks.

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park

Where is Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone National Park is located in the north-west tip of Wyoming, directly north of the Grand Teton National Park. For this road trip, it’s best to fly to Jackson Hole Airport, which is the only airport located inside a National Park in the country, and continue by car from there.

Alternatively, you can drive from a major city. Salt Lake City in Utah is around 5 hours away from Yellowstone National Park.

This road trip is an absolute must! Yellowstone is the oldest National Park, the most popular, and perhaps the best one to visit, too. What’s more, Grand Teton National Park is just a stone’s throw away! During this road trip, you can see both of these stunning parks.

As for extending this trip itinerary, consider adding a trip south to Utah. From there, you can easily drive over to Colorado or Nevada.

6. The Best Day Trips From Seattle For Nature Lovers

Mount Shuksan and its reflection in a crystal clear alpine lake seen in North Cascades National Park. The beautiful park is driving distance from Seattle, making for a perfect day trip from the city.
North Cascades by WikilImages

Starting point: Seattle, Washington

Finishing point: 3 beautiful National Parks, 1 National Monument, and a coastal scenic drive

Driving distance: 1300 miles (2100 km)

Highlights: Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainier National Park

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Click here for our itinerary!

These are the National Parks you can expect to see on this trip.

  • Olympic National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park

This travel guide isn’t exactly a traditional road trip itinerary. Instead, we showcased some spectacular natural sites all within driving distance from Seattle, Washington. That way, you can pick one or two of these destinations for a quick getaway from Seattle. Alternatively, you can simply drive between each of the points we’ve listed and turn it into one long road trip instead!

Washington State is home to some amazing natural beauty, Olympic National Park simply cannot be missed. A drive along the scenic North Cascades Highway deserves a spot on your bucket list, and seeing the alpine landscapes in Mount Rainier National Park is joyful for the entire family.

You can extend this Washington road trip and head to Yellowstone National Park over in Wyoming. The drive is a little over 11 hours, and you can stop by the Glacier National Park (Montana) along the way.

7. The Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

Large boulders and rock formations in Yosemite national Park seen through fog.
Yosemite photographed by Pexels

Starting point: Los Angeles, California

Finishing point: Los Angeles, California

Driving distance: 1800 miles (2900 km)

Highlights: Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreational Area

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall

Click here for the road trip itinerary.

These are the must-see parks in California.

  • Yosemite
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park

A lengthy California road trip sounds like the plot of a mediocre movie, though in reality, it is an absolutely unforgettable experience! Our itinerary for this trip stretches for nearly 2000 miles and loops from Los Angeles, passing the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, Monterey, San Francisco, Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon, and more!

During this trip, you can take a small detour to see other national parks in California, like the Joshua Tree National Park or Kings Canyon National Park.

For a dramatic change of scenery, consider extending the trip further into Nevada, Utah, or even Colorado and Washington.

Bonus: The Great National Park Road Trip

If you’re the ultimate road tripper, you can combine all of the itineraries above and plan your epic road trip! That way, you’ll see over 20 different parks in total, scattered around the entire United States!

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

These Are The Best Day Trips from Seattle For Nature Lovers

We all need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of a city as busy as Seattle, Washington. This blog post will cover the best day trips from Seattle, perfect for both locals and tourists visiting the area.

What are the best things to do outside of Seattle?

Seattle is one of the most frequently visited cities in the United States. Many visitors stay within the city, overlooking some of the great attractions that are accessible just a drive away from town. These are the best day trips from Seattle.

Beautiful sunset and Mount Rainier National Park make the perfect backdrop for the skyline of Seattle, Washington.
Sunset in Seattle

What is the best way to travel around Washington?

Unarguably, the best way to see all of these spectacular attractions around Washington State is by car. If you’re here by car, that’s great!

However, if you flew into Seattle, or you don’t have access to a car, it’s best to get a rental car for these day trips. Use Rentalmoose to browse tens of rental cars available in the city and pick your ideal car for this trip.

Olympic National Park

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes one-way.

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington, United States of America. Spectacular rock formations on a dark, sandy beach
Photo by Roger Mosley

The Olympic National Park is one of the best parks in the entire nation, and an absolute must on a day trip from Seattle. Take note that the drive to this National Park is around 2 and a half hours one-way, though you can easily add an overnight stay around the park.

Before visiting the park, check the official website for any closures and safety alerts. The entrance fee, as of October 2020, is $30 per vehicle.

Note: If you love National Parks, check out this blog post where we showcase the 7 best National Park road trips!

What are the best things to do in Olympic National Park?

Kalaloch

The first stop on your drive from Seattle to the Olympic National Park will be Kalaloch, one of the most popular destinations within this park. Kalaloch Beach is a perfect spot to catch the sun rising or setting. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of the park’s diverse wildlife.

If you wish to stretch your legs after the drive from Seattle, hike the mile-long Kalaloch Nature Trail through the vibrant forest.

Don’t miss the spectacular Tree of Life, located near the Kalaloch Campground. The tree is alive despite its roots being clearly visible, creating a truly impressive sight.

Kalaloch is home to a campground, as well as the waterfront Kalaloch Lodge, where you can spend the night.

Ruby Beach

Before you head back inland, make a stop at Ruby Beach. This spot is a beach like no other. Instead of sunbathing or swimming in the ocean, travelers come here to admire the spectacular rock formations, photograph wildlife, and hike the nature trails.

Ruby Beach is worth at least a short stop on your day trip from Seattle.

Hoh Rain Forest

After a drive along the coast, turn right into Upper Hoh Road and drive into the vibrant rainforest. The winding road will take you to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, where you can pick up a comprehensive map ideal for your self-guided tour of the Olympic Park.

Hike along one of the trailheads and explore this lush forest. There are two pleasant hiking trails that form 1-mile loops around the forest: The Hall of Mosses (0.8 miles/1.3km) and The Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles/1.9km). If you’re down for a longer stroll, hike The Hoh River Trail which is over 17 miles long (27.4km) in total.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach is a perfect destination in the Olympic National Park, where you can observe the breathtaking force of the ocean. Waves crash against the coastal rocks, putting on a spectacular show to admire.

Don’t miss the Hole In The Wall, this location is perfect for exploring tide pools and makes a great photo opportunity. Beware of high tides, as the area may quickly become accessible. Click here for details.

Lake Crescent

This deep-blue lake, carved by a glacier, is another incredible spot at this National Park. It’s a perfect getaway, located just west of Seattle.

During the summer and autumn, travelers can rent a canoe and explore the lake on their own. There are different hiking trails that you can hike to take in the serene vibe of this part of the park.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is yet another must-see during a day trip from Seattle. Drive down the Hurricane Ridge Road to get here. Leave your car and admire the panoramic views. Afterall, Hurricane Ridge is the most accessible mountain area in the park.

During the glorious winter season, you can enjoy snowshoeing or skiing. You can get more information about the winter activities and equipment rental right here.

Note that Hurricane Ridge Road is only open on weekends during the winter (if the weather permits it), and all-week during the summer season. Consult the park’s website for information on current closures.

Alternatively, check out the other day trips from Seattle listed below.

Mount Rainier National Park

Travel time: below 2 hours one-way.

Reflection of snow-covered Mount Rainier seen in crystal-clear alpine lake surrounded by tall, green trees. Washington State
Photo by Skeeze

Mount Rainier National Park is another must-visit destination, ideal for day trips from Seattle. The park is located just south of Seattle. Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in all of Washington State.

Check for any closures and safety alerts on the park’s official website right here. The admission fee costs $30 per vehicle, as of November 2020.

What are the best things to do at Mount Rainier?

Paradise

Take the scenic chicane-filled Paradise Valley Road until you reach Paradise. As the name suggests, this area looks straight out of a fairytale. Expect truly spectacular scenery, including tall waterfalls and wildflower meadows. Take in the view at Inspiration Point, this pullout offers amazing mountain views.

Rental Moose mascot sitting happily on a wooden bench overlooking the forest in Washington, United States. See Mount Rainier with the best Seattle day trips with Rentalmoose

You can pop by the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center and pick up a comprehensive pamphlet to learn more about the park.

This part of the park is home to exciting hiking trails, such as Nisqually Vista Trail, Alta Vista Trail, or Pinnacle Peak.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Drive up to the Reflection Lake and take the perfect photo, capturing the mountain’s reflection in the deep-blue water. Remember to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

Grove of The Patriarchs Trail

This fascinating 1-mile (1.6 km) trailhead will take you to a fairytale-like island, via a fun swinging suspension bridge. Once on the island, travelers are surrounded by thousand-year-old Douglas fir trees.

The grove is easily accessible, perhaps the easiest hike in the entire national park. Don’t miss it on your day trip!

Silver Falls Trail

The Trail to Silver Falls is a moderate, 3-mile (4.8km) loop ideal for an afternoon stroll. The total duration to cover this loop is around 2 hours, the easy hike is child-friendly and perfect for a family adventure.

What’s more, you will also see natural hot springs when hiking along this trail. After the hike, feel free to pop by the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center to learn more about the area.

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park, beautiful autumn colors on green hills, alpine lakes and snow-covered mountains in the distance.
Photo by E. Thorsen

Travel time: 2 hours one-way.

The North Cascades National Park is widely regarded as one of the best National Parks you can visit in this part of the United States. It is just 2 hours away from Seattle, making it the perfect destination for one of your day trips from Seattle.

You can easily spend one day to cross this scenic park by car, stopping at different overlooks, and completing a few hikes.

Before visiting the park, make sure to double-check the current safety alerts and closures on the official website. North Cascades can be visited free of charge!

What are the best things to do in North Cascades National Park?

North Cascades Highway Scenic Drive

Enter the park via the scenic North Cascades Highway. Expect wonderful panoramic views during this 30-mile (50km) drive, scattered with pullouts and overlooks where you can stop by to take in this wonderland. Pretty much all of the park’s attractions are situated along this drive.

If you’re short on time, make sure to at least see Diablo Lake from the Diablo Lake Vista Point.

Sterling Munro Trail

This trailhead is the perfect chance to get an unobstructed view of the impressive mountains. Trust me, the views are simply unbeatable!

The 300-foot long (90 meters) boardwalk is worth at least a short visit. Its easy accessibility makes it perfect for the entire family.

What’s more, you can pop by the North Cascades Visitor Center which is right at the beginning of the trail.

Diablo Lake Vista Point

The Diablo Lake Vista Point is unarguably one of the prettiest sights in the entire park, you simply have to see it on your day trip from Seattle. The picturesque Diablo Lake is known for its unique, nearly turquoise shade of water. It makes for a perfect photo opportunity, with the enormous mountains as a backdrop.

Ross Lake Overlook

The point that overlooks Ross Lake may not be as impressive as the one overlooking Diablo Lake, though it is still worth at least a short peek. This overlook is located right on the North Cascades Highway, no detour required.

Rainy Lake

Continue further down the North Cascades Highway and stop at the Rainy Pass car park. Leave your car here and follow the 2-mile (3.2km) paved trailhead to enjoy a perfect view of the serene Rainy Lake.

Take note that you need to be a Northwest Forest Pass holder to hike down this trail. It is sold for $5 at the trailhead.

Washington Pass Observation Point

The final must-see in the North Cascades during your Washington day trip is the Washington Pass Overlook. You can admire the view as Highway 20 twirls around the monstrous Liberty Bell Mountain. It is the perfect sight to take in before heading back to Seattle.

Mount Saint Helens National Monument

Travel time: 3 hours one-way

Mount Saint Helens National Monument, erupted back in the 1980s causing enormous damage to the state of Washington. Snow covered mountain seen during sunset on a clear day
Source: Public Domain Pictures

Mount Saint Helens is a volcanic site, infamous for its eruption back in May 1980. This eruption, the most catastrophic in US history, claimed 57 lives and ruined hundreds of homes.

What are the best things to do at Mount St. Helens?

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

Before heading to see the Volcanic Monument itself, be sure to pay a visit to the Visitor Center located in Silver Lake. Inside, you can learn about the history of the mountain, and the terrible effects of its eruption.

You can check the opening hours and the admission fee on this website. As of October 2020, the visitor center remains closed due to COVID-19.

Coldwater Lake

Coldwater Lake is a fun recreational area at the foot of Mount St. Helens. During the summer season, visitors can enjoy canoeing on the waters, or go for a picnic at one of the tables near the parking area.

If you wish to stretch your legs after the 3-hour drive from Seattle, hike down the Birth of A Lake. The 0.6 miles (1km) trail is easily accessible and opens up to panoramic views of the lake.

Windy Ridge Viewpoint

Don’t miss the Windy Ridge Viewpoint during your day trip from Seattle. From here, visitors can get a true sense of the scale of the volcano’s eruption. This eerie sight, although beautiful, is a chilling reminder of what nature is capable of.

The access road to Windy Ridge Viewpoint is closed in winter.

Chuckanut Scenic Drive

Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes

View of the Pacific Ocean seen from Chuckanut in the northern part of Washington State. Chuckanut is famous for its scenic coastal drive
Photo by E. Thorsen

The Chuckanut Scenic Drive is a Scenic Byway less than 90 minutes north of Seattle, and it is the perfect destination for day trips from Seattle. It is the only spot where the Cascades meet the ocean, providing some spectacular natural beauty.

Oyster Dome Trailhead

One of the must-see stops on this coastal drive is the beginning of the Oyster Dome trail. This scenic hike will take you up to the Samish Overlook, where you can admire the perfect views from an elevated perspective. On a clear day, you should be able to see San Juan Island!

Larrabee State Park

Pass the town of Chuckanut and turn right into the Larrabee State Park, Washington’s first-ever State Park. This area is known among locals for its great hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and shellfish harvesting. Off the coast, the waters are a popular dive spot.

Bellingham

The scenic drive finishes in the cute town of Bellingham, which is another must-see during a day trip from Seattle. This small town is the northernmost city in the United States (excluding Alaska, of course). Pop by the town and peek inside its local museum, shops, or head for lunch to one of the cozy restaurants.

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Ultimate Grand Teton & Yellowstone Itinerary by Car

This road trip itinerary will take you around Yellowstone as well as Grand Teton. Explore what could very well be North America’s most picturesque National Parks. Explore both parks with our insightful Yellowstone itinerary by car.

Before You Go

What is the best time to visit Yellowstone National Park?

This National Park is open all year long, and the best time to go to Yellowstone largely depends on what you would like to see in the park.

If you visit the park during the Summer (June-August), expect the hottest weather and hordes of tourists. You can catch a glimpse of the Summer’s weather when visiting during the shoulder season (right before June and directly after August).

The weather is milder during Spring and Fall, and there are fewer tourists around the park. Most of the seasonal attractions close down around the end of October.

Yellowstone is magical during the Winter. Do expect, however, that you will have to alter your itinerary as some of the attractions and roads will be inaccessible. What’s more, only the North and Northeast entrances operate during the winter.

On the other hand, you can enjoy seasonal activities such as snowshoeing or snowmobiling. Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins, and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are the only two lodges open during winter.

What is the closest airport to Yellowstone National Park?

If you’re flying in from within the United States, arrive at the Jackson Hole Airport, located only around an hour away from Yellowstone. As this is a small airport, international visitors can try flying into Salt Lake City in Utah. The drive is around 5 hours one-way.

Road Trip Extension to Utah

If you’re a fan of Yellowstone and national park itineraries in general, consider extending your trip further into Utah. You can see more of the country’s best National Parks, such as Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Arches.

Click here for our itinerary.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our Grand Teton and Yellowstone itinerary by car!

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton national park seen from Snake River. Beautiful summer day, tall trees and deep blue river, teton is covered by clouds.
Photo by Klaus Stebani

Welcome to one of the most spectacular parts of the United States! Your Yellowstone road trip begins in Grand Teton. Spend at least a day here before continuing on to Yellowstone, and feel free to extend the itinerary to spend some more time in this park.

Getting to Grand Teton

For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from Jackson Hole Airport as you arrive. Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) is the nearest airport to Yellowstone, it is located within the Grand Teton National Park.

If you can’t find flights to Jackson Hole, try flying into Salt Lake City in Utah and driving over from there.  The drive from Salt Lake City to Grand Teton will take you below 5 hours.

Did you know that Jackson Hole Airport is the only airport located within a National Park?

Grand Teton National Park has an admission fee of $35 per vehicle. The entry is valid for 7 consecutive days. Consult the park’s website for information on current closures and safety alerts.

What are the best things to do in Grand Teton National Park?

The following attractions are the absolute must-see on your Yellowstone itinerary!

Jackson Hole Aerial Tram

Before diving into the heart of this National Park, drive over to the Teton Village right outside of the park. This resort is home to great eateries, lodging, and equipment rentals. During the winter season, grab a pair of skis and rush down the slopes.

No matter what time of the year you’re here, a trip up to Rendezvous Peak is an absolute must. Take the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram up to the peak, where you can admire panoramic views from what seems like the top of the world.  At the top, a portion of hot waffles served at Corbet’s Cabin is not to be missed, either.

Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center

Begin your tour of the Grand Teton National Park with a visit to the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Inside, you can pick up a pamphlet with the park’s trailheads, obtain a boating permit, or enjoy the screening of a video showcasing the park.

You can go on a program led by one of the park’s rangers, click here for details.

Note that the Center is closed between November and March.

Menor’s Ferry Historic District

Another must when in Grand Teton is a trip to Menor’s Ferry Historic District, just a few hundred yards north of Moose. Hike the .5 mile (800 meters) trailhead for an authentic look back at the early days of Jackson Hole, homesteading, and a replica of the ferry that crossed the Snake River back in the early 1900s.

Pay a visit to the Chapel of the Transfiguration, a wooden Chapel with the Grand Teton serving as its spectacular backdrop.

Check out more details on the Menor’s Ferry Historic District on the park’s official website.

Mormon Row Historic District

Before heading further north into the park, stop at the Mormon Row Historic District, just minutes away from Menor’s Ferry Historic District. This settlement dates back to the 1890s when Mormons established nearly 30 homesteads in the area.

Today,  the Moulton Barns, as well as the Chambers homestead, are adored by both tourists and photographers. Read more about their history here.

Wooden barn in Mormon Row Historic District, part of the attractions at Grand Teton national park. The barn is illuminated by the setting sun, grand tetons can be seen in the distance
Photo by Mike Goad

Taggart Lake Trailhead

The Taggart Lake Trailhead is a moderate, 3-mile (4.8km) hike to the shore of a crystal-clear alpine lake, with the Teton Range as a breathtaking backdrop.  The trail begins right by Teton Park Road. A convenient car park makes it hard to miss, too.

Hikers should dedicate between 1 and 2 hours to complete this trail.

This trailhead is open year-round.

Amphitheater Lake Trail

Anyone looking for a longer hike should definitely consider the 9-mile (14.5 kilometers) Amphitheater Lake Trail. At the end of the trail, you will be rewarded with the Amphitheater and Surprise Lakes.

If you still want to continue further, hike beyond the two lakes all the way up to Disappointment peak. Don’t be fooled by the name, the panoramic views from here are nothing short of amazing!

Jenny Lake

Continue along the Teton Park Road and turn left into the Jenny Lake complex.  Depending on the weather, guests can boat the lake’s crystal-clear waters, swim, and fish.

If you’re up for a long hike, consider the 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) Jenny Lake Trailhead that loops around the lake. That way, you’ll get unobstructed views of the Cascade Canyon, Storm Point, and Symmetry Spire. The hike is easy to complete, despite its length.

Hike up to Hidden Falls, the trailhead is around 2.5 miles round-trip (4 kilometers). Follow the Jenny Lake Trail and turn left into the Cascade Canyon Trailhead. Alternatively, you can use the seasonal boat shuttle. The departure dock is practically by the car park.

hiking trail next to Jenny Lake. Cloudy day in grand teton national park, the grand tetons can be seen in the distance behind a green hill.
Photo by Laserdad

Signal Mountain

If you’re a fan of scenic, chicane-filled driving roads, the road up to the peak of Signal Mountain is definitely the perfect pick for you. As you continue along Teton Park Road north of Jenny Lake, turn right into Signal Mountain Road. At the peak, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Tetons.

Signal Mountain Road remains closed during winter.

Where to stay at Grand Teton National Park?

Jackson Lake Lodge

If you want to stay in the heart of the Grand Teton National Park, consider booking a room or cabin at the upscale Jackson Lake Lodge. The property is located just 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Yellowstone National Park. Some of the local activities include horseback tours, rafting, and a heated outdoor pool.

Colter Bay Tent Village

Traveling on a tighter budget? Consider spending the night at the Tent Village inside Colter Bay. This property features rustic tent cabins at an affordable price.

Camping in Grand Teton National Park in 2021

It is finally say goodbye to the first come, first serve rule in campgrounds around Grand Teton!

Starting on the 26th of January 2021, you will be able to book campgrounds online via the recreation.gov website.

That way, travelers will have a guaranteed spot at the campground when visiting Grand Teton National Park in the 2021 season.

Online reservations will be available between the 26th of January up to the 26th of July, 2021. Afterward, the time frame will be updated for the next six months of the year.

Travelers will be able to book the following campgrounds online:

  • Signal Mountain
  • Gros Ventre
  • Colter Bay
  • Lizard Creek
  • Jenny Lake
 
 
 
 
 
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After a visit to Grnad Teton, it’s time to explore Yellowstone.

Next on your Yellowstone itinerary by car: Yellowstone National Park, 10 minutes

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Geothermal hot spring in magical blue, green, yellow and red colors. Sunny day in yellowstone national park in wyoming
Photo by Mike Goad

After spending at least a couple of days exploring the Tetons, it’s time to visit Yellowstone! This spectacular park is famous around the world, it is America’s first National Park and the most popular attraction in all of Wyoming.

You will drive into the park through the Yellowstone South Entrance.

The entry to Yellowstone, as of October 2020, is $35 per vehicle. The admission pass is valid for 7 consecutive days.

Click here to learn about current closures and safety alerts within Yellowstone.

What are the best things to do in Yellowstone?

Old Faithful

Old Faithful is undoubtedly the first thing many travelers have in mind when they think of Yellowstone. The spectacular geyser attracts countless tourists every year, and seeing its eruption is an absolute must on any Yellowstone trip.

How often does Old Faithful erupt?

Old Faithful Geyser erupting, spectators are observing on the wooden boardwalk. Trees in the background and overcast weather, cloudy day in yellowstone national park.
Photo by Mike Goad

This geyser erupts on a surprisingly predictable schedule. The Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes, on average.  Each eruption typically lasts around 4 minutes. You can check when the next predicted eruption will take place right here.

To view the famous eruption, you can either sit down at the boardwalk near the geyser or hike up to the viewing area across the Firehole River. The elevated viewing area at the end of the Observation Point Trail tends to be less-visited by tourists than the accessible boardwalk, hike there if you wish to avoid the crowds.

Alternatively, you can walk inside Old Faithful Inn and wait for the eruption while enjoying a refreshing drink. You can spend the night at the cozy Old Faithful Inn if you wish. Click here for details on Old Faithful Lodge.

Upper Geyser Basin

Old Faithful may be the world’s most famous geyser, but the Upper Geyser Basin nearby deserves some credit, too! The area is made up of over 150 geothermal features, all of which can be seen from the wooden boardwalk. The stroll will take you up to two hours to complete. If you’re lucky, you might catch the Castle Geyser’s eruption. It only occurs up to two times per day!

Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook

After a stroll around the Upper Geyser Basin, drive North until you see the Fairy Falls parking lot to your left. Follow the Fairy Falls Trail until you reach the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, and admire the unbeatable views of the hot springs. The round-trip hike will take you less than an hour to complete.

Fairy Falls

Once you’re at the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook, continue hiking the trail until you reach Fairy Falls, the largest waterfalls in Yellowstone. This moderate hike is around 5 and a half miles, or 8.9 kilometers, round trip.

Midway Geyser Basin

Leave Fairy Falls and turn into the Grand Prismatic Spring parking lot just a few hundred yards down the road. Drop your car off and continue on foot.

Explore the Midway Geyser Basin via the wooden boardwalk. Don’t miss the iconic Grand Prismatic Spring, this hot spring is an absolute highlight of Yellowstone. There are smaller hot springs worth taking a look at, too, such as the Opal Pool, the Turquoise Pool, and the Excelsior Geyser. The scenic hike will take you around an hour to complete.

Norris Geyser Basin

As you continue through Yellowstone National Park, be sure to stop by at the Norris Geyser Basin. This is yet another hotspot of geysers and hot springs. If you’re lucky, you might see the eruption of the unpredictable Steamboat Geyser. This is the world’s tallest active geyser, it can erupt over 300 feet (90 meters) in the air!

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs is another must-see during your Yellowstone road trip. The complex is located at the north tip of the park, in the town of Mammoth.

Stroll down the boardwalk and enjoy the viewpoints, or go for a longer hike along the Beaver Ponds Trail.

Mammoth hot springs, water dripping from the top and large mountains in the distance. beautiful spot in yellowstone national park in wyoming
Photo by Holtzter

Boiling River Hot Springs

The Boiling River Hot Springs is a popular swimming spot, located just north of Mammoth Hot Springs. The hot springs enter the river, giving the water a pleasant, enjoyable temperature. Go for a dip!

You can drop your car off at the roadside parking lot.

Lamar Valley

After a dip in the hot spring (if the weather allows it, that is), drive towards the northeast entrance. After roughly one hour behind the wheel, you will reach the large Lamar Valley. This seemingly endless valley is the best place to spot wildlife in the park, it simply has to make an appearance on your Yellowstone itinerary. The best time of day to visit Lamar Valley is directly after sunrise and right before sunset.

What kind of wildlife can you see in Lamar Valley? There are countless opportunities to see the following animals around the valley, get your camera ready!

  • bison
  • bear
  • coyotes
  • wolves
  • elk
  • pronghorn

If you have the time, drive down the valley all the way until the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone for the absolutely best views.

Dunraven Pass

As you make your way back towards Mammoth, turn right onto the scenic Dunraven Pass. This great driving road will open up to absolutely otherworldly views of Yellowstone. What’s more, there are lots of opportunities to stop and take in the view. Simply take a break at one of the many overlooks and admire the scenery.

Note that the Dunraven Pass remains closed during winter.

Grand Canyon of The Yellowstone

We’ve all heard of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but did you know that you can find a spectacular canyon in this National Park? It’s another must when visiting Yellowstone.

First, drive along the one-way North Rim Drive. There are great viewing points along this part of the canyon, including:

  • Brink of The Lower Falls
  • Lower Lookout Point
  • Lookout Point
  • Grand View
  • Inspiration Point

If you have the extra time, consider dropping your car off at the car park and hiking between each viewing point. Alternatively, you can get around the North Rim Drive by car. If you’re short on time, prioritize seeing the Brink of The Lower Falls, as it’s arguably the best point.

Next, make your way to the South Rim of the canyon. These are the viewpoints along South Rim Drive:

  • Upper Falls View
  • Uncle Tom’s Trail
  • Artist Point

If you’re short on time, be sure to at least visit Artist Point to get a great perspective on the Grand Canyon. Spend some more time by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and spend the night in one of the lodges in the Canyon Village.

beautiful dramatic landscape at Grand Canyon of the yellowstone. Yellowstone river in the bottom, and tall canyon surrounding it. Sunny day in Wyoming
Photo by Skeeze

Hayden Valley

As you head towards Lake Yellowstone, stop by at the picturesque Hayden Valley. Much like Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley is the perfect place to encounter wildlife. Do keep in mind that Hayden Valley tends to be more crowded than Lamar Valley, as it’s closer to the center of the park.

Don’t be surprised if you get stuck in a traffic jam, bison love crossing the road and jamming it!

West Thumb Geyser Basin

The final must-see spot in Yellowstone National Park is the West Thumb Geyser Basin, located at the foot of Yellowstone Lake.  This complex of geysers is famous for its gorgeous backdrop: Lake Yellowstone. Any trip to Yellowstone wouldn’t possibly be complete without a visit here!

Stroll along the wooden boardwalk and admire the geothermal activity right next to the large lake.

Where to stay in Yellowstone?

There are a total of 9 different lodges within Yellowstone National Park. Continue reading to find out the best places to stay in Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful Inn

If you are willing to splash out on the best accommodation in Yellowstone, check-in at the Old Faithful Inn. It’s located right by the Old Faithful area and offers cozy rooms with private bathrooms. Click here for more details on this property.

Once you get hungry, you can head to the famous Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.

Wooden interior of the Old Faithful Inn. The beautiful lodge is expensive and has rooms that offer a view of old faithful geyser, here in yellowstone national park in wyoming
Photo by Steppinstars

WorldMark West Yellowstone

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, consider staying outside of Yellowstone National Park. The pricing for accommodation within the park can get crazy, especially during peak season, and it is not always worth the hefty price tags. WorldMark West Yellowstone is a cozy property that features well-equipped rooms, an indoor pool, and various activities.

A car park is available free of charge.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Grand Teton & Yellowstone itinerary by car and tag #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Ultimate Nevada Road Trip Itinerary

This travel guide will take you on a journey across the best places to visit in Nevada, United States. The 1200-mile road trip will take you to Las Vegas, The Great Basin National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Yosemite National Park. You’ll also see some of the area’s less-popular, yet equally beautiful State Parks. Check out our ultimate Nevada road trip itinerary!

Before you go: What are the must-see National Parks in the west US?

The West of the US is home to nearly 30 different National Parks. You can find the most parks around California, Utah, and Nevada. Some of the best National Parks on the West side of the US include:

Are you a fan of National Parks?

National Park lovers should definitely take a look at this blog post, where we list out the 7 best National Park road trips you need to add to your bucket list next year!

Road Trip Extension to Utah’s National & State Parks

Why not extend your road trip to see even more spectacular National and State Parks? Utah is home to some otherworldly parks, such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Arches. Click here to check out our road trip itinerary around Utah’s best national parks and extend your road trip further!

Road Trip Extension to Arizona and The Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon National Park is an absolute must-see for any tourist visiting this part of the US. Click here to check out our curated travel guide to The Grand Canyon National Park and extend your road trip further!

Las Vegas

scenic driving road next to lake mead recreational area, on the outskirts of Las Vegas Nevada.
Lake Mead, right outside of the city. Photo by Esudroff

Your National Park Road Trip begins in Las Vegas, dubbed the Sin City. For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from the McCarran International Airport. Find the perfect rental car for this road trip via our online platform.

What is Las Vegas known for?

The unarguable highlight of Las Vegas is the city’s countless casinos, extravagant resorts, and vivid entertainment venues. If you’re looking for the best nightlife in Vegas, take a look at this travel guide. As this road trip itinerary is made especially for nature lovers, we’ll skip out on the city’s craze and instead focus on the spectacular natural beauty around Las Vegas.

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

The Tule Springs Fossil Beds is a spectacular site just north of Las Vegas. The area, once home to mammoths, camels, and lions, is a fresh addition to the list of the American National Monuments. In fact, it was recognized as a National Monument in 2014.

As the park has only been open for a couple of years, there is no visitor center and the facilities are rather limited. You can leave your car by the side of the road and reach the monument on foot. On the other hand, admission is free of charge.

The Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument is open between sunrise and sunset from Monday through Sunday, 365 days a year.

You can find more details on the park at the official website.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead is an artificial reservoir that was America’s first-ever National Recreation Area. It is only about 25 miles out of the center of Las Vegas, and is definitely worth the slight detour!

This National Park is packed with fun attractions to spend the day (and night!). You can hike around the massive slot canyons, swim in the clear waters, or get a different perspective during a boat tour of the lake. After dusk falls, the night skies are ideal for stargazing.

When in Lake Mead, you can’t skip the iconic Hoover Dam!

Consider spending the night at one of the local campgrounds. Keep in mind that there is no reservation system, spots are subject to a first-come, first-serve availability.

You can learn more about Lake Mead and its local attractions on the park’s official website.

An entrance pass to Lake Mead costs $25 per vehicle, it is valid from 7 days from the date of purchase.

Rentalmoose insider tip: be sure to see the Valley of Fire State Park, located pretty much right after the Lake Mead park. Alternatively, you can drive through both of these parks on your way back to Las Vegas from the Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is perhaps the favorite local escape from the Las Vegas craze. On top of tens of various hiking trails, Red Rock Canyon is known for its spectacular 13-mile-long Scenic Drive. Scenic driving roads are the highlight of any proper road trip, and this is no exception.

The stunning Scenic Drive is open all year from 6 AM until the late afternoon. A 1-day entry pass costs $15 per vehicle.

Learn more about the Red Rock Canyon on the park’s website.

Where to stay in Las Vegas?

Within Las Vegas itself, the majority of the extravagant resorts, casinos, and restaurants have reopened since the COVID-19 outbreak. Room rates for the city’s iconic hotels are still lower than last year, this could be the perfect time to try out a 5-star resort that would usually be out of the budget.

The Venetian

Consider booking a room at the lavish 5-star Venetian Hotel, right on the famous Las Vegas Strip. The resort is full of attractions, including a casino, an outdoor pool, restaurants, as well as spacious rooms and suites.

Flamingo Las Vegas

Staying along the world-class Las Vegas strip does not have to break the bank, and the 3-star Flamingo Hotel proves it. The renovated hotel is situated between lavish resorts, yet the rooms here are available for a fraction of the price. Some of the amenities include a variety of restaurants, an outdoor pool, and a spa.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Death Valley, 2 hours

Death Valley

Death Valley National Park, wonderful rock formations and otherworldly scenery seen from an outlook at Artists Drive. Drive down the scenic drives in Death Valley on our Nevada road trip.
View from Artists Drive.

Head towards California, leaving behind the lively city of Las Vegas. After roughly 2 hours behind the wheel, you will arrive at the Death Valley National Park.

Admission to the Death Valley National Park will cost you $25 per vehicle (with unlimited re-entry). The pass is valid for 7 days from the date of purchase. Consult the park’s official website for details and local alerts.

What is there to do in Death Valley?

Badwater Basin

Once you’re inside the National Park, be sure to stop by the famous Badwater Basin. The giant salt flat spans across the horizon, it is also one of the hottest spots in all of the United States! Be sure to stay hydrated, it is not recommended to stay in the Basin for too long during the hottest months.

Artists Drive

Artists Drive is a spectacular one-way scenic driving road. The drive is around 9 miles long and takes below 30 minutes to complete. The panoramic views along the way make Artists Drive an absolute must-see when visiting Death Valley.

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is the most popular lookout in the park, be sure to drop by when driving around Death Valley. For the best views and absolutely magical experience, come here during sunrise or sunset.

Ubehebe Crater

Drive up to the Ubehebe crater located in the Northern part of Death Valley National Park. Admire the views from the car park, you can even walk around the rim of the crater during the winter months. The drive up to the crater itself is an attraction on its own, as well.

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

Drive up the scenic Emigrant Canyon Road. At the end of the road, at around 5000 feet (1500 meters) above sea level, you will find a complex of 10 charcoal kilns. These are believed to be the best-preserved examples of such kilns in this part of the country. Charcoal kilns aside, the drive up the mountain will provide unbeatable views, too.

Rainbow Canyon

As you drive across Death Valley National Park, be sure to stop at the Father Crowley Overlook. Leave your car at the car park and admire a panoramic view of the Rainbow Canyon. If you’re lucky, you might see low-flying fighter jets, as the area is frequently used for military training.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Yosemite National Park, 3 hours

Yosemite National Park

green pinetrees and small river with grand boulders in the background. The scenic beauty of Yosemite Valley in California attracts thousands of tourists every day.

Leave Death Valley behind and continue North towards Yosemite. Death Valley is around 3 hours away by car from Yosemite National Park, and it is the third stop on your road trip itinerary.

Is Yosemite open?

YES! From the 1st of March onwards, reservations are no longer required to enter Yosemite National Park! Find out more about visiting Yosemite during COVID-19 right here.

Can you drive within Yosemite?

Yosemite National Park can be accessed by private vehicles, making it the perfect park to see during a road trip. However, some of the roads can remain closed during winter. Consult the park’s website for current closures.

How much does it cost to go to Yosemite?

As of 2021, the admission cost to enter Yosemite National Park is $35 per vehicle. An admission ticket is valid for 7 days from purchase, with unlimited re-entries.

What to see at Yosemite National Park?

Although there are tens, if not hundreds, of beautiful spots worth visiting in Yosemite, we have listed the major must-see attractions below. Be sure not to miss these activities during your road trip to Yosemite National Park!

Tuolumne Meadows

Once you enter Yosemite National Park, make sure to pay a visit to the Tuolumne Meadows. This peaceful Highland is home to wonderful, moderate hiking trails.

You can learn about the local history at the Parsons Memorial Lodge, right by the Pacific Crest Trail.

Keep in mind that Tuolumne Meadows is only accessible between June and October.

El Capitan

Next, drive to the heart of the Yosemite Valley. Stop by the El Capitan Meadows and photograph El Capitan, the world’s largest granite monolith.

Take a pair of binoculars and try to spot rock climbers as they try to reach the top of El Capitan. Travelers can stretch their legs and enjoy a hike along the El Capitan trail. Afterward, you can enjoy a picnic at the El Capitan Picnic Area just off Northside Drive.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls are divided into the Upper, Middle, and Lower waterfalls. The three waterfalls combined make up the highest waterfall in all of North America, spanning a whopping 2425 feet (739 meters).

If you’re a beginner hiker, be sure to stroll around the easily-accessible Lower Falls. Advanced hikers can take the advanced trailhead to reach the Upper Falls.

When visiting Yosemite Falls during Spring and early Summer, be sure to take rain gear and dress appropriately.

Half Dome

The Half Dome is perhaps the most famous landmark in Yosemite and an absolute must-see on any road trip to this National Park.

Travelers can admire the Half Dome during a hike down to Mirror Lake, the trailhead begins by the Yosemite Valley Stables by the Merced River.

If you’re an experienced hiker, you can hike along the hard Half Dome Trailhead. Note that a permit is required to access the trailhead, it is recommended only for highly-advanced hikers.

Glacier Point

Before leaving Yosemite National Park, be sure to drive up to Glacier Point. Drive down Wawona Road, leaving behind Yosemite Valley (don’t worry, you’ll pass it again on your way out of the park!). Then, turn left into Glacier Point Road. Drive until you reach the end of the road.

Glacier Point will provide you with unbeatable views of Yosemite Valley, more than 7000 feet above sea level. For the most magical experience, consider heading to the overlook during sunset.

Keep in mind that Glacier Point Road, the only way to access the overlook by car, remains closed during winter. What’s more, the drive will be closed to all traffic in 2021 and the only way to access the overlook will be via hard trailheads, such as the Four Mile Trail.

Consult the park’s official website for current closures.

Wawona Tunnel

As you return back from Glacier Point, enjoy the view as you pass the Wawona Tunnel. The scenic Wawona Tunnel opens up to panoramic views of Yosemite Valley. You can stop by the Wawona Tunnel View to enjoy the view, it’s located right by the exit of the tunnel.

The Ahwahnee Dining Room

A day of exploring Yosemite National Park will surely make you hungry. Don’t miss the grand Dining Room located in the famous Ahwahnee Lodge. Movie fans might find this lodge familiar, as the monumental interior of the Ahwahnee inspired Stanley Kubrick when creating The Shining’s Overlook Hotel.

The Dining Room is open all year long for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. Despite suspending tableside service, guests can still enjoy their delicious meals while admiring panoramic views of the Valley.

Click here for details on the Dining Room.

The Ahwahnee

Before setting off back to Nevada, consider spending the night in Yosemite National Park. You can’t go wrong with the iconic Ahwahnee. Enjoy cozy rooms with unbeatable views, as well as luxurious facilities such as a heated pool and legendary dining at the Dining Room.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Lunar Crater, 5 hours 30 minutes

Lunar Crater

Nevada is famous for empty, deserted roads. Empty two-lane road in the middle of nowhere, red rocks in the distance. Nevada, USA
Photo by Esudroff

Leave Yosemite National Park and drive back to Nevada. Although the next National Park on this road trip is the Great Basin, around 7 hours from Yosemite, there are lots of cool spots around Nevada worth dropping by along the way.

Detour to Goldfield

You can make a small detour and head south from the town of Tonopah. Continue driving for around half an hour until you reach Goldfield. This small town is home to quirky attractions, such as the International Car Forest.

Enjoy a refreshment at the Santa Fe Saloon in Goldfield, the town’s oldest continuously-run business. It has been welcoming guests since 1905!

Nevada’s Lunar Crater

The Lunar Crater was first recognized as a National Natural Landmark back in 1973. Turn right off of the US-6 and follow the dirt road that will take you around the crater.

The crater is 430 feet (130 meters) deep and makes a cool sight to see. Perhaps it’s not as impressive as the Yosemite Valley, but it can make a great addition to your National Park road trip.

For the best views, stop at the elevated overlook along the east rim of the crater.

The drive to Great Basin National Park is around 3 hours. If you’re tired, consider spending the night at Lane’s Ranch Motel by Preston. There isn’t much of a choice, as the cozy 3-star motel is essentially the only hotel in the area. Click here for directions.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Great Basin National Park, 2 hours 50 minutes

Great Basin National Park

Skygazing at the clear skies in Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Milkyway can clearly be seen as the sky remains free of light pollution
Great Basin is a great destination for skygazing, photo by Skeeze

The last major stop before heading back to the south of Nevada is the spectacular Great Basin National Park, an absolute must during your Nevada road trip. The Great Basin provides a dramatic change of scenery compared to the rest of Nevada.

The entrance to the Great Basin National Park is free of charge. However, do note that some activities within the park may require a special permit. Admission to the Lehman Caves is not free of charge, either.

What to do in Great Basin National Park?

Lehman Cave Tours

Once you drive into the Great Basin National Park, be sure to stop at the Lehman Caves. Admire impressive rock formations while strolling around two natural caves within the complex.

You can enjoy a tour of the two caves guided by the park rangers. Check the park’s website for information on ticketing and the opening hours. The cave tours are available year-round.

Keep in mind that the temperature in the cave is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Dress appropriately. Admission to the Lehman Caves is not free of charge.

Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive

The route to Wheeler peak is yet another Scenic Drive during this road trip to national parks. This wonderful road stretches for 12 miles and will take you up to the majority of the attractions in this national park.

Drop by Mather Overlook, a viewpoint around halfway up the road, for a great photo opportunity. Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car for your next trip!

Note that the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is closed during Winter. Consult the park’s official website for current closures and other safety alerts.

Once you reach the end of the drive, drop your car off at the Bristlecone Parking Lot and continue exploring on foot!

Alpine Lakes Trailhead

Drop off your car at the car park and follow the Alpine Lakes Trailhead. The trail forms a 2.7 mile (4.4km) loop, passing two pristine Alpine lakes: Stella Lake and Teresa Lake. What’s more, the trail offers panoramic views of Wheeler Peak for that perfect photo from your road trip.

Bristlecone Trailhead

Before heading back to your car, hike up the Bristlecone Trail. This trailhead is famous and an absolute must-see during your visit to the Great Basin National Park.

When following the Bristlecone Trail, you will stumble upon the oldest organisms on Earth. Bristlecone pines are significant trees that can be found in this part of the park, they date back to ancient times!

Stargazer Inn

Great Basin National Park has some of the darkest skies in all of the US. Why not take advantage of the dark skies and enjoy some stargazing before continuing on your road trip?

Book your room at the Stargazer Inn, located just minutes outside of the park itself. The small hotel features quiet rooms and a seasonal restaurant. Check their website for details.

Next on your Nevada road trip: Cathedral Gorge State Park, 2 hours

Cathedral Gorge State Park

unique rock formations are what makes Cathedral Gorge State Park in nevada famous. Unique landscapes in this part of the USA
Photo by Natalie Faulk

Your final stop on this road trip before making your way back to Las Vegas is the monumental Cathedral Gorge State Park. This State Park is only around a 2-hour drive away from the Great Basin National Park.

Cathedral Gorge State Park features otherworldly slot canyons that were formed over thousands of years. It is also one of the original State Parks in Nevada.

Find information regarding current pricing and closures on the state park’s official website. As of October 2020, the admission fee to the park is $5 per vehicle.

What to do in Cathedral Gorge State Park?

Cathedral Gorge State Park Visitor center

Be sure to drop by the visitor center during your road trip to the Cathedral Gorge State Park. Inside, you can gather insight about the park and its local history before setting off to explore it yourself.

Bullionville Cemetery Trailhead

After a short peek in the Visitor Center, it’s time to explore the park! Follow the Bullionville Cemetery Trail, it will lead you to an eerie cemetery that’s been around since the early 1900s.

Miller Point

Miller Point is perhaps the best trail and attraction within this state park. If you’re only dropping by for a short visit, be sure not to miss this beautiful trailhead. You’ll get to see the absolute best parts of the park, including breathtaking slot canyons. Not to mention that an elevated overlook will open up to spectacular, panoramic views, perfect for another photo opportunity in the Cathedral Gorge State Park.

Next: Las Vegas, 2 hours 30 minutes

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for this Nevada road trip.

On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your Nevada road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

The Great Smoky Mountains Scenic Drive- Ultimate Itinerary

This curated road trip itinerary will take you along the best scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains. Explore the best driving roads, as well as the best things to do in the Smokies. Check out our curated travel guide around the Smokies.

This is what you can expect to find in our blog post.

Before You Leave

Photo by Airren Parsons

If you’re a fan of National Parks, check out this blog post to learn about the top 7 National Parks you need to visit as soon as possible!

Can you drive through the Smoky Mountains National Park?

Absolutely! The Smokies are one of the best parks in the United States to be explored by car. The must-see attractions are scattered around the large park, and the best way of getting around is by car, either your personal vehicle or a rental car.

Find your ideal rental car for this road trip via Rentalmoose.

How long does it take to drive through the Smoky Mountains?

Technically speaking, you could drive through the Smokies in just a day. However, seeing the Smoky Mountains in just a day means lots of driving, as well as having to miss out on some great attractions.

Rentalmoose recommends spending at least three days driving around the Smoky Mountains. Some of the attractions in the park can only be accessed by a long hike, it’s best to spend at least three days here if you want to see all of what the park has to offer.

Can you drive to the top of the Smoky Mountains?

Yes! Don’t miss Clingman’s Dome Road. This scenic road will take you right up to the summit of the tallest mountain within the park.

This road is seasonal and remains closed during winter.

What is the closest airport to the Smoky Mountains?

McGhee Tyson Airport- Knoxville, TN

Domestic travelers can fly into the McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, around an hour away from the Smokies. Keep in mind that this is a regional airport with a limited amount of facilities. International travelers might have a hard time trying to find flights here.

Hartsfield Jackson- Atlanta, GA

Wait a minute, isn’t Atlanta all the way in Georgia?

Yes, Atlanta is in another state. However, the drive from Atlanta to the Smokies will only take you around 3 and a half hours!

What’s more, Atlanta is home to the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. This is a major airport with lots of facilities for travelers, including a selection of rental cars. Click here to check out rental cars at this location.

Drive: The Best Scenic Drives in the Smokies

Photo by Airren Parsons

Driving down the best scenic drives is an essential part of any great road trip. You’ll be happy to know that the Smoky Mountains are home to tens, if not hundreds, of different scenic drives. Although nearly every road in the park is scenic, make sure you don’t miss the following 8 scenic drives when driving in the Smoky Mountains.

For the ultimate experience, it’s best to pair the following scenic drives with the best attractions in the Smokies (you’ll find them further below).

Newfound Gap Road

If you follow our road trip itinerary precisely, the Newfound Gap Road (US 441) will be the scenic road you’ll drive on in the Smokies. This 31-mile (50 kilometers) Great Smoky Mountains scenic drive will take you to the heart of the Smokies, passing many of the park’s best attractions along the way.

Pullouts and parking lots are plentiful, paired with panoramic overlooks that guarantee the best views of the Smokies. Some of the best attractions that you’ll find while driving down this road include the Newfound Gap, Alum Cave Bluffs, and Chimney Tops.

Rentalmoose insider tip: When driving down this scenic road, don’t miss the seasonal Clingman’s Dome road, too!

Newfound Gap Road can be accessed free of charge, just like the rest of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Little River Road

Little River Road is a great scenic drive that will take you from Gatlinburg to Townsend. This scenic drive spans 18 miles(29 kilometers) and ends at the Cades Cove Loop Road, another drive that’s a worthy addition to your road trip itinerary.

Along the way, you will see lots of trailheads and attractions, such as the Laurel Falls Trail. You can even spot a waterfall that’s directly next to the road! The Sinks waterfalls are hard to miss, as the scenic drive passes directly next to them.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Cades Cove Loop Road

The 11-mile (18 kilometers) long, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road is perhaps the most popular scenic drive in the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s a fantastic way to explore some of the park’s wonderful scenery, especially the Fall Foliage if you’re here during Autumn, all from the comfort of your car. There are plenty of pullouts where you can stop to take in the panoramic views.

If you wish to stretch your legs, stroll down one of the many hiking trails located off of Cades Cove Loop Road. Some of the best attractions along this scenic drive include Abrams Falls Trail and Cades Cove.

Cades Cove Loop Road can be accessed free of charge, like the entire national park.

Rich Mountain Road

Rich Mountain Road is one of the best-kept secrets of the Smoky Mountains. This one-way, gravel scenic drive stretches for 8 miles (13 kilometers). Drive down the road all the way, and you will end up in Tuckaleechee right by Townsend.

If you want to stretch your legs, hike the Rich Mountain trailhead right off the gravel road. Note that there isn’t any car park by the trail, make sure you won’t block the road if you choose to leave your car along Rich Mountain Road.

Rich Mountain Road is closed during winter.

Foothills Parkway

The Foothills Parkway is another absolute must-drive on your Great Smoky Mountains itinerary. This elevated scenic road begins in Wears Valley, and can take you all the way to the Tail of The Dragon. It’s a great way to take in the spectacular views around the Smokies.

Foothills Parkway is open all year long.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Wears Valley Road

This 15-mile (24 kilometers) scenic drive will take you from Townsend down to Pigeon Forge. As Wears Valley Road is away from the center of the park, you can expect less traffic and a calmer experience overall. This scenic drive is the best scenic route to Pigeon Forge, TN.

Getting hungry? Drop by the charming Friendly Falls for a quick snack accompanied by the glorious waterfalls.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a beautiful scenic drive. The 5.5 miles (8.9 kilometers) long one-way loop begins in Gatlinburg. Along this scenic drive, you will be able to see the spectacular scenery of the Smokies, as well as well-preserved historic cabins and grist mills.

There are various overlooks where you can stop and take in the scenery. There are some more great hiking trails that begin at the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, such as the Noah Bud Ogle Place Nature Trail.

The Tail of The Dragon

The Tail of The Dragon is a scenic route that’s an absolute treat for any petrolhead visiting the Smoky Mountain roads. This 11-mile (18 kilometers) driving road features over 300 curves! This drive is a real treat for any car enthusiast or biker who is on a Smoky Mountain road trip.

See: What are the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains?

Photo by Airren Parsons

As much as we all love driving down the best scenic drives on any proper road trip, it’s crucial to get out of the car and experience the natural wonderland of the Smokies up close. Below, you’ll find a list of the absolute must-see attractions and the best things to do when visiting the Smoky Mountains.

Clingman’s Dome

Pass the village of Cherokee and enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The scenic driving will begin as soon as you enter the park! Follow the Newfound Gap Road and turn left into Clingman’s Dome Road. This seasonal road (closed during winter) will take you up to the summit of Clingman’s Dome, the tallest mountain in the entire park.

Once you’re at the end of Clingman’s Dome Road, find an empty parking spot and enjoy the panoramic views at nearly 6500 feet (2000 meters) above sea level! Take the short hike up to the observation deck for the most breathtaking view.

Drop by the visitor center to pick up a handy map of the park.

You can see up to six states from the summit of Clingman’s Dome on a clear day.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Andrews Bald

Andrews Bald is a picturesque field, the highest in all of Smoky Mountains, that can only be accessed on foot. The 3.5-mile hike is worth it to admire the panoramic views. Visiting Andrews Bald is a great way to escape the crowds that you might run into at the peak of Clingman’s Dome!

To get to Andrews Bald, you have to make your way to the summit of Clingman’s Dome. The trailhead is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) round-trip.

Newfound Gap

After you return back down from Climgan’s Dome, don’t miss the Newfound Gap. Turn left from Clingman’s Dome Road and enter the nearest car park on your right, along the Newfound Gap Road. Drop your car off at the spacious Newfound Gap Car Park and admire the views.

The view from Newfound Gap is arguably less exciting than the view from the summit of Clingman’s Dome, though it is a great alternative if the Clingman’s Dome Road is inaccessible.

Alum Cave Trail

As you make your way along the chicane-filled main road, enter the small Alum Cave Bluffs Parking Area. From here, you can follow the Alum Cave Trail up to the summit of Mt. LeConte, the third-tallest mountain in this national park. Along the way, you will pass by the 100-feet high Alum Cave Bluffs and the Arch Rock.

The Mount LeConte Lodge is located near the summit, it’s the only lodge within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The total round-trip distance of this trailhead is 11 miles.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Chimney Tops

The Chimney Tops Trail is infamous for its steep final section.

There are two ways to access the Chimney Tops: you can approach it from the northern end of the trailhead located right off the main road, or take the longer route that begins at the Newfound gap.

The hike, starting at the northern end, is 3.3 miles (5.3 km) round-trip. It is a moderate hike, not recommended for novice hikers.

If you want to enjoy similar views without the difficult hike, consider going to the Chimney Tops Overlook further down the road.

Laurel Falls

As you continue further into the Smokies, don’t miss the left turn into Fighting Creek Gap Road. Drive down the scenic road until you reach the Laurel Falls parking area. Drop off your car and follow the Laurel Falls trail.

This intermediate 2.6-mile (4.2 km) round-trip trailhead will take you up to the stunning Laurel Falls. It is very accessible, the entire hike is paved. Keep in mind that due to its proximity to Gatlinburg, the trailhead tends to be crowded.

Elkmont

After hiking to Laurel Falls, continue driving along the Fighting Creek Gap Road and turn left into Elkmont Road. This part of the park is a must-see for history fans, it was first established in 1840 and became a ghost town overtime. Today, some of the historic buildings are preserved and can be visited by the general public.

Elkmont is also home to some more hiking trails, including the Elkmont Nature Trailhead, as well as a campground where you can spend the night. Get more details on the campsite here.

The Sinks

Drive back down Elkmont Road and turn left into Little River Gorge Road. Follow the hairpins and chicanes until you see The Sinks Parking Lot on your left.

The Sinks are the most accessible waterfalls in the Smokies, they’re practically right next to the road! If you have limited time, or don’t want to hike up to Laurel Falls, The Sinks are your best bet.

From here, you can also hike the Meigs Creek Trail. This moderate trailhead will take you along the calm Meigs Creek. The total length is 7 miles (11 kilometers) round-trip.

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls is a spectacular site off of Cades Cove Loop Road, a scenic drive here is already an attraction in itself. As you drive down the loop road, turn right into Abrams Falls Road. You can leave your car at the large car park right by the end of the road and follow the Abrams Falls Trail on foot.

The Abrams Falls Trail is around 5 miles (8 km) long round-trip.

You can also pop by Cades Cove down the one-way road, where you will find well-preserved historic homesteads.

Grotto Falls

Grotto Falls is located off the scenic Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a picturesque driving road which is a major attraction in its own right.

You can leave your rental car at the Grotto Falls Parking and continue along the 3-mile (5 kilometers)Trillium Gap Trail to reach Grotto Falls. This easy hike is perfect for families.

Ramsey Cascades

The northern part of the park is home to the Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains. The Ramsey Cascades Trail begins at the end of Ramsey Prong Road, you can access it by driving down on Greenbrier Road from East Parkway.

The trail is 8 miles (13 kilometers) long round-trip, and it is one of the most difficult hikes in the park. The total elevation gain is 2190 feet (670 meters), and the trailhead features some really steep sections! It is only recommended to reach Ramsey Cascades for experienced hikers in good shape. Otherwise, this may not be the best spot for you.

Photo by Airren Parsons

Stay: Where can you stay in the Great Smoky Mountains?

The smoky Mountains and the surrounding area provide lots of great accommodation options. Find anything from camping under the stars up to a luxurious lodge.

Under Canvas

If you want to try out glamping (a luxurious form of camping), give Under Canvas a shot. The award-winning resort, situated between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, welcomes guests between May and November. The luxurious property features lavish tents, as well as an array of complimentary camping activities during your stay.

The Appy Lodge

The Appy Lodge is a luxurious lodge located in Gatlinburg. The lodge, beautifully situated right by the heart of the Smokies, features spacious and well-equipped rooms, as well as amenities such as an outdoor pool.

Don’t have a car you can take on a road trip? No problem!

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from the Great Smoky Mountains scenic drive online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

Sunrise at crystal clear alpine Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Beautiful pine trees and snow covered mountain in the distance

The Ultimate Colorado Road Trip Itinerary For Nature Lovers

This road trip itinerary will take you on a picturesque Colorado road trip around the state’s best National parks. See the state’s best natural beauty with this curated travel guide.

Driving directions:

Denver to the Garden of The Gods– 70 miles (120 km) 

Garden of The Gods to Great Sand Dunes – 230 miles (370 km) 

Great Sand Dunes to Mesa Verde– 200 miles (330 km) 

Mesa Verde to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison– 240 miles (380 km)

Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Rocky Mountain– 450 miles (720 km) 

Rocky Mountain to Denver– 70 miles (120 km) 

2000 miles (3200 km) in total

Before you go

Are there any National Parks near Denver?

Yes! Denver itself is known as a city that provides a great mix between urban life and natural beauty, and the Rocky Mountain National Park is only around 90 minutes away from the city center. This park is a must on any Colorado road trip.

What National Parks are in Colorado?

Colorado is home to four different National Parks:

  • Great Sand Dunes
  • Mesa Verde
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison
  • Rocky Mountain

This Colorado road trip itinerary will take you across all four of these parks, along with some other great attractions!

Road Trip Extension to Utah

Why not combine this road trip with a drive around Utah and the state’s spectacular parks, such as Zion or Bryce Canyon? When in Mesa Verde, you can continue west into Utah and explore some of the best natural beauty in this part of the US! Click here for the itinerary.

Denver

Denver colorado, often called the mile high city, seen from above. Aerial view of the city, rocky mountains in the distance, clear skies
Photo by David Mark

Your road trip begins in Denver, the largest city in all of Colorado. For maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from the Denver International Airport. Unless you’ve driven here in your private vehicle, of course.

What is Denver known for?

Denver, often referred to as the Mile High City due to its elevation precisely one mile above sea level, is a fascinating city where culture meets the outdoors. The city’s countless outdoor attractions are overlooked by the iconic Rocky Mountains. Proximity to parks makes Denver the perfect destination for a road trip.

Continue reading to check out some of the best attractions for nature lovers in and around the city of Denver.

Denver City Park

The City Park is a peaceful park near downtown Denver that dates back to the 1880s.

Some of the attractions within the City Park include a selection of trails ideal for a stroll or cycling, a golf course, tennis courts, and the world-class Denver Zoo.

If you’d like to spend your day actively, consider renting a bicycle from Wheel Fun Rentals directly within the park.

Admission to the City Park is free of charge, though some of the attractions inside may require a ticket. Tickets to the Denver Zoo have to be booked online, consult the official website for details.

Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

The Red Rocks Amphitheater is a one-of-a-kind attraction that’s an absolute must during a road trip in Colorado. Come by for one of the live shows (check the calendar on the venue’s website) or to simply enjoy the spectacular backdrop.

If you get hungry, grab a bite to eat at the Ship Rock Grille, all while taking in the spectacular views.

Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park is a great scenic getaway around 40 minutes away from Downtown Denver. Admire red rock formations as you stroll along the winding hiking trails. Choose from a large network of trailheads, each ranging between .5 to 8 miles in length. For more details, check out the park’s official website.

Admission to this state park costs $9 per vehicle.

The Fort Restaurant

A day of exploring the city will surely make you hungry. In this case, head over to The Fort Restaurant, dubbed Denver’s favorite Western eatery. This restaurant features delicious regional dishes with an elegant twist.

Tasty food aside, The Fort is worth visiting even just for its authentic decor.

Check the restaurant’s website for opening hours, reservations, and the menu.

Four Seasons Denver

Consider spending the night in town before continuing on your road trip. Luxury seekers should check-in at the elegant Four Seasons Denver. The 5-star property features upscale rooms and suites, as well as countless amenities such as a rooftop pool, a spa, and a fitness center. Add in a perfect location in the heart of the city, and you get one of the best stays in town.

Warwick Denver

Travelers on a slightly tighter budget should consider spending the night at the Warwick right in the heart of Denver. This classy property features modern rooms & suites, along with facilities such as an outdoor pool.

Next: Garden of The Gods, 1 hour

Garden of The Gods

spectacular red rock formations in garden of the gods park in colorado springs near Denver. Pikes peak can be seen in the distance.
Photo by B Wellensiek

The first leg of the journey is a short drive to the Garden of The Gods, a State Park near Colorado Springs. The drive from Denver to the Garden of The Gods will take you around an hour. Admission to the park is free of charge, and it is not to be missed during a Colorado road trip!

Consult the park’s official website for current opening hours as well as any closures.

What to do at Garden of The Gods?

Visitor Centre

Begin your visit to this public park by dropping by to the visitor center. In here, you can pick up a map of the park with a highlighted 15-mile trailhead network within the park.

Once you’ve picked up your map, drive inside the park and admire the spectacular rock formations from the comfort of your car. There are lots of different photo opportunities and lookouts throughout the park. Follow the one-way Juniper Way Loop.

Kissing Camels

After you drive into the park, a walking tour of the Kissing Camels rock formation is an absolute must during your road trip. Drop your car off at the car park and follow the paved trailhead. The moderate hike is wheelchair accessible and provides breathtaking views along the way.

Siamese Twins

Next, continue along the one-way Juniper Way Loop, then turn into Garden Drive. Next, leave your car at the Spring Canyon car park and follow the Palmer Trailhead until you reach the Siamese Twins rock formation. The elevated rock formation is known for panoramic views of the rocks, as well as Pikes Peak in the distance.

The Palmer Trail is a little more challenging than the previous, paved trailhead. The hike is around 0.5 miles (800 meters) round trip.

Balanced Rock

The final must-see point in the Garden of The Gods is the Balanced Rock formation at the southern tip of the park. The gravity-defying rock formation is hard to miss- it’s directly next to the road. Stop by for a great photo opportunity.

Balanced Rock is a popular tourist attraction in Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs near Denver.
Photo by Beverly Lussier

Don’t forget to post your photos from this trip online using #rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car!

Pikes Peak Highway Scenic Drive

Before you continue to the next point on this road trip, consider driving up the scenic Pikes Peak Highway up to the summit of America’s Mountain. It is the essential point of any road trip in Colorado, it’s one of the best scenic drives in the country!

The scenic drive is open all year round, as long as the weather allows it. Admission costs around $15 per adult as of October 2020. Check this website for current information on pricing and closures.

Next: Great Sand Dunes National Park, 2 hours 40 minutes

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park are a spectacular sight not to be missed on a Colorado road trip.
Photo by Mike Goad

The second leg of this road trip is a drive from the Garden of Gods to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, into the heart of Southern Colorado. It should take you below 3 hours to complete this leg of the journey.

The admission fee to the park is $25 per vehicle for a 7-day visit. Note that the fee is not charged when the visitor center and entrance station is closed.

Check for current closures and updated pricing information on the park’s official website right here.

What are the best things to do in Great Sand Dunes National Park?

These are some of the best must-see attractions in the newest National Park in the United States.

Hike the sand dunes

Pass the Visitor Center and enter the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drop your car off at the large car park off of Medano Creek Road and explore the dunes on foot!

The great thing about this National Park is that pets are, unlike most parks, allowed to roam the area with you.

If you want the absolute best panoramic views of the area, hike the 750-feet (230 meters) High Dune. Don’t forget to post your photos online using #Rentalmoose for a chance to win a free rental car for your next road trip.

Rent a Sand Board

Sandboarding and sledding are great activities for all ages. Rent your equipment from the Oasis Store and hit the dunes! It’s an experience like no other to be able to go sledding in the sand.

A full-day board rental costs around $20 as of October 2020.

Drive down the Medano Pass

If you came here in a 4WD vehicle, why not drive down the Medano Pass Primitive Road? The 22-mile road will prove challenging for any off-roading enthusiasts, and a great adventure for the entire family. Pass through creeks, admire the panoramic views, and don’t get stuck in the sand!

A 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance is required to drive the Medano Pass Primitive Road. For current conditions, check the park’s website and consult the Visitor Center before departing.

Are you a fan of camping? There are 21 camping sites along the pass, each one is free of charge. Free spots are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Zapata Ranch

If you want to spend more time in the area, consider checking-in at the Zapata Ranch. The working ranch features upscale accommodation, great cuisine, and a wide array of activities. Explore the natural wonderland during a horseback tour, or give rock climbing a shot. After dusk falls, enjoy stargazing at one of the darkest skies in the country.

Note that the Zapata Ranch requires a 2-night minimum stay during the winter, and at least three nights during the summer season.

Best Western Movie Manor

It is no secret that Colorado is filled with quirky stays and attractions, and the Movie Manor is definitely one of them. Located less than an hour west of the Great Sand Dunes, the Best Western Movie Manor is an absolute must-see for any cinema enthusiast on this Colorado road trip.

This is possibly the world’s only drive-in cinema with an attached motel. Yes, you read that right. Instead of a small TV in the room, guests can peek outside the bedroom window and enjoy a movie screening.

UFO Watchtower

If you’re a fan of quirky attractions like the Movie Manor, be sure to drop by the UFO Watchtower. It only requires a small detour on the way to the drive-in motel, yet it is arguably even quirkier. The small watchtower features panoramic views of the San Luis Valley, infamous for UFO sightings.

Admission, as of October 2020, costs $2 per person. For the ultimate quirky experience, spend the night at the campground by the tower for just $15 per tent.

Next: Mesa Verde National Park, 4 hours 20 minutes

Mesa Verde National Park

cliff dwellings in mesa verde national park, colorado.
Photo by Kristy Lee

This is the longest leg of this Colorado road trip. The drive will take you around 4 and a half hours.

Rentalmoose insider tip: This part of Colorado is very close to Utah. Take a look at this national park travel guide to Utah and extend the trip further.

The fee to enter Mesa Verde National Park is $20 per car between May & October and $15 outside of those months. Take a look at the park’s official website prior to visiting to see current information on pricing, closures, and any safety alerts.

What to do at Mesa Verde National Park?

These are the must-see attractions in Mesa Verde during your Colorado road trip.

Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

Pay a visit to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum when visiting this Colorado park. That way, you can learn about the history of the region before exploring it for yourself.

The museum itself dates back to 1922, when it replaced a small cabin that had previously stored the park’s precious artifacts. It’s one of the oldest archeological museums in any national park in the US.

You can check the opening hours on the park’s website.

Petroglyphs

Did you know that Mesa Verde National Park is home to some of the best-preserved Petroglyphs in all of Colorado? You can admire them along the Petroglyph Point Trail. The moderate hike is around 2.4 miles (3.9 km) long. The hike begins right next to the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

Cliff Dwellings

Don’t miss Mesa Verde’s famous cliff dwellings, the park is known for these sites that date back as far as the 13th century.

The best way to see these dwellings is during a guided tour. You can book your tour in advance at the park’s official website, or pop by the Visitor Centre at the park’s entrance. Note that the tickets are given on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s best to book them online during peak season.

The most popular dwellings in this park are:

  • Cliff Palace
  • Long House
  • Balcony House

COVID-19 Update: As of October 2020, the Cliff Dwelling tours are suspended until further notice. Check the park’s website for updates.

Mesa Top Loop Road

If you have a limited amount of time, be sure to at least drive around the scenic Top Loop Road within the Mesa Verde National Park. The 6-mile driving road features at least 12 different stops along the way, either to admire archeological sites or to enjoy the panoramic views from overlooks.

Don’t be fooled by the road’s short length. Expect to spend plenty of time here, you’ll be stopping practically every few hundred yards to take in the breathtaking landscape.

Metate Room

Before departing, consider booking a table at the Metate Room restaurant for dinner. This upscale eatery features a selection of delicious meals served with a panoramic view of the park.

Rentalmoose insider tip: Walk-ins may be possible based on availability, though it is highly recommended to book a table in advance!

Spend the night

Looking to spend extra time in Mesa Verde? Stay the night at one of the park’s lodges. The Metate Room is located within the Far View Lodge.

If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, check out some accommodation alternatives in Cortez, a town just a stone’s throw away from Mesa Verde. Consider checking-in at the Holiday Inn, for example.

Next: Black Canyon National Park, 3 hours 30 minutes

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

black canyon of the gunnison, stunning canyon and rock formations seen during a colorful sunset in colorado.
Photo by rjdoc

The 3-and-a-half hour drive to Black Canyon is one of the most scenic highways in this part of Colorado. The road, full of exciting turns and elevation changes, will take you across green hills and mountains.

Million Dollar Highway Scenic Drive

When going to the Black Canyon, check the driving directions carefully. The shortest route will be the 145, however, one of Colorado’s most scenic drives is just a stone’s throw away. Drive along the 160 to Durango, and head north along the Million Dollar Highway. The detour will only add 10 minutes to your trip, and it is well worth it!

This park got its name from the monstrous dark cliffs that plummet 2000 feet down (600 meters) into the Gunnison River. It’s an otherworldly view that’s a must-visit point on any Colorado road trip itinerary.

The entrance fee for the Black Canyon National Park is just $15 per vehicle. Check the park’s official website for current closures and safety alerts before coming.

What to see at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park?

These are the best attractions in Black Canyon National Park. The majority of the park can be seen by driving down the roads listed below.

South Rim Road

Begin with driving down the South Rim Road. This 7-mile road hosts 12 panoramic overlooks of the Black Canyon. Make sure to stop at the following overlooks for the best views in Black Canyon National Park:

  • Gunnison Point
  • Pulpit Rock Overlook
  • Chasm View
  • Painted Wall View
  • Sunset View

The South Rim Road finishes at the High Point, the short trailhead offers some more panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Note that the South Rim Road is closed beyond Gunnison Point during winter.

East Portal Road

The East Portal Road is an exciting driving road that will take you down to the Gunnison River. This steep road (16% grades) features lots of chicanes and tight hairpins. Once you’re down by the river, you can relax at the Curecanti National Recreation Area. Here, road trippers can enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, and picnicking.

During the summer, you can take part in a ranger-led boat tour of the Gunnison River.

Note that vehicles longer than 22 feet (6.7 meters) are not permitted to enter the East Portal Road. The drive is closed during winter.

North Rim Road

Before continuing to the next destination on your Colorado road trip adventure, drive down the North Rim Road. This road offers 6 different viewing points. The best viewpoints and overlooks along the North Rim Road are:

  • The Narrows View
  • Exclamation Point
  • Island Peaks
  • Kneeling Camel View

Much like the majority of this park, the entire North Rim Road remains closed throughout winter.

The Inn at Tomichi Village

After dusk falls, consider booking a room at The Inn at Tomichi Village. This well-rated property features cozy rooms with complimentary wifi, a pool, a gym, and free parking.

Next: Rocky Mountain National Park, 4 hours 40 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunrise at crystal clear alpine Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Beautiful pine trees and snow covered mountain in the distance
Lake Haiyaha by Skeeze

The last leg of this Colorado road trip is a drive up to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Follow the scenic driving road as you cross the mountains and approach Denver.

A 1-day pass to the Rocky Mountain National Park will set you back $25 per vehicle. For current closures and safety alerts, consult the park’s official website.

What are the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Trail Ridge Road

Arguably, the best way to enter the Rocky Mountain National Park on your Colorado road trip is via Trail Ridge Road. This picturesque drive is one of 10 America’s Byways in Colorado, and a national All American Road. You can’t miss it!

Driving along the Trail Ridge Road, you will see unbeatable views of the Rockies virtually everywhere you look. Expect to make many stops along this 48-mile road, the route is packed with overlooks to take in the unbelievable views.

Old Fall River Road

The Old Fall River Road is a piece of local history, it was the first road constructed within this National Park back in 1920. The narrow road has a speed limit of just 15 miles per hour, it is definitely worth a drive if you have the time. The road passes through the subalpine forest and offers an intimate, one-on-one experience with the local nature.

Beware, the road is relatively safe for motorists but there are no guard rails.

Old Fall River Road is closed during winter.

Hiking- Bear Lake, Glacier Gorge & Emerald Lake Trail

Stretch your legs after hours of driving during this road trip. Drive up to the beginning of the Bear Lake Trailhead, right by the Bear Lake Comfort Station. From here, you can stroll around the picturesque Bear Lake, or choose from one of the other trails.

Alberta Falls is worth dropping by, too. Follow the Glacier Gorge Trailhead until you reach the spectacular waterfall. Alternatively, follow the 3.5-mile Emerald Lake Trail and see crystal-clear lakes along the way.

Check out more details about the local trailheads here.

Next: Denver, 1 hour 30 minutes

Don’t forget to book your rental car via Rentalmoose for your next adventure. On our platform, you can find the top rental companies at the best price, along with tens of curated travel guides around the globe. Get your car from Rentalmoose!

We plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.

Post your pictures from your next road trip online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in the upcoming blog posts.

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