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Best National Parks to Drive to This Father’s Day

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Best National Parks to Drive to This Father’s Day

Classic Porsche parked on the side of the road in Shenandoah national park

Father’s Day is a perfect occasion to hit the open road and explore the stunning landscapes of America’s national parks. What better way to celebrate than by cruising through scenic routes in your classic car?

Here are 5 National Parks that offer breathtaking drives, ideal for a memorable Father’s Day road trip:

Glacier point lookout at Yosemite national park
Photo via Sierra Rec Magazine

1. Yosemite National Park, California (West Coast)

Yosemite National Park is a crown jewel of the national park system, known for its towering granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and ancient giant sequoias. Driving your classic car through Yosemite Valley, you’ll be treated to iconic views of El Capitan and Half Dome.

  • Must-See Stops: Glacier Point for panoramic views, Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoias, and Tunnel View for the quintessential Yosemite photo.
  • Scenic Routes: The Tioga Road, which traverses the park from east to west, offers spectacular views and less crowded roads.
  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning to avoid the crowds and enjoy the serene beauty of the park.
Aerial photo of clingmans dome
Photo via Little River Trading Co

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina (East Coast)

Straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is renowned for its mist-covered mountains and diverse wildlife. Driving through the park provides endless opportunities to witness its beauty.

  • Must-See Stops: Cades Cove for wildlife viewing and historical buildings, Clingmans Dome for a breathtaking panoramic view, and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for a peaceful drive.
  • Scenic Routes: The Newfound Gap Road, which crosses the park and offers numerous scenic overlooks.
  • Best Time to Visit: Late spring or early summer when wildflowers are in bloom and the weather is pleasant.
RV driving on the Badlands loop road in South Dakota
Photo via Black Hills South Dakota

3. Badlands National Park, South Dakota (Midwest)

Badlands National Park is a striking landscape of eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires, combined with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. It’s a dream destination for those looking to experience a unique and rugged terrain.

  • Must-See Stops: The Pinnacles Overlook for expansive views, the Fossil Exhibit Trail to learn about the park’s prehistoric past, and the Badlands Loop Road for a scenic drive.
  • Scenic Routes: The Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) is a 39-mile route that winds through the park, offering stunning views and numerous pull-offs for photo opportunities.
  • Best Time to Visit: Early morning or late afternoon to see the dramatic light and shadows play on the landscape.
Classic Porsche parked on the side of the road in Shenandoah national park
Photo via Travel Experience Live

4. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (East Coast)

Shenandoah National Park is a haven of rolling mountains, dense forests, and cascading waterfalls. Located just a short drive from Washington, D.C., it’s an accessible yet tranquil escape for a Father’s Day road trip.

  • Must-See Stops: Skyline Drive, the park’s main thoroughfare, offering 105 miles of scenic beauty; Dark Hollow Falls, a popular hiking destination; and Big Meadows, known for its abundant wildlife.
  • Scenic Routes: Skyline Drive itself is a scenic route, stretching the length of the park and providing countless vistas and overlooks.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring or early summer when the park is lush and green, and the weather is perfect for a drive.
Classic red truck traveling along the Going to the Sun road
Photo via Visit Glacier Park

5. Glacier National Park, Montana (Midwest/West)

Known as the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park boasts rugged mountains, pristine forests, and sparkling lakes. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking dramatic landscapes and a bit of adventure.

  • Must-See Stops: Going-to-the-Sun Road, an engineering marvel offering unparalleled views; Logan Pass, the highest point on the road; and Many Glacier, often called the “Heart of the Park.”
  • Scenic Routes: Going-to-the-Sun Road, which traverses the park from west to east and provides a journey through diverse ecosystems and breathtaking scenery.
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer, when the roads are fully open, and the park’s full beauty is on display.

Whether you’re cruising along the rugged coastlines of Yosemite, exploring the misty peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, or marveling at the dramatic landscapes of the Badlands, these national parks offer the perfect setting for a Father’s Day road trip in your classic car. Each park provides a unique and unforgettable experience, making this Father’s Day one to remember. Pack a picnic, fill up the tank, and set out on an adventure that celebrates both the beauty of nature and the timeless allure of classic cars.

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