Your Big Backyard: National Parks Vacations

Explore your own backyard with these amazing national parks, from Arizona to Wyoming.

We confess: we love America’s national parks. You caught us. But who wouldn’t go crazy for the incredible canyons, mountains, forests, deserts and beaches that make the United States such a gorgeous and diverse place? That’s why our national parks vacations are some of our favorite itineraries. So if you’re ready to take a look around your own backyard on your next vacation, we have got some great suggestions for you.

Just take a quick look at what’s out there. From the deepest lake in the United States  (Crater Lake) to the tallest peak in North America (Denali), the national parks system includes the most extreme, beautiful and astonishing natural landscapes in the country. And it’s all open for you to see. Planning national parks vacations can be tricky, though, because there’s just so much to see. How will you ever choose? We’re here to help. Here are some of our favorite national parks itineraries, designed to get you to the heart of America’s most beautiful landmarks.

Southwest National Parks Vacations

National Parks Vacations might include Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Photo: Flickr/Robert Wilson

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Photo: Flickr/Robert Wilson

The American Southwest has got something very special going on. Its history and culture are all wrapped up in its incredibly unique landscapes, creating a sense of place unlike any other.

In Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, you’ll find canyons carved by ancient rivers. Stone sculptures handcrafted by a millennia of winds. Deserts colored by a palette of red, yellow, pink, orange and even lavender. Cliff dwellings carved from stone and pueblos villages which have been inhabited for a thousand years. Dark night skies filled with more stars than you ever thought possible.

A Supermoon balances on a rocky point at Arches National Park. Photo: Flickr/Arches National Park

A Supermoon balances on a rocky point at Arches National Park. Photo: Flickr/Arches National Park

To explore the southwest’s treasures, try national parks vacations which include stops in top spots like Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, and of course, the Grand Canyon. These parks include pine forests clinging to the sides of rocky mountains, impossibly deep gorges, multi-colored rock formations, and otherworldly landscapes of towering rock monuments over flat valley floors which must be seen to be believed.

Some itineraries from Virgin Vacations, like the 8 Day Canyonlands, Arches & Mesa Verde National Parks, include stops at modern outposts like the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, with valuable insights into the way the American Southwest has influenced art and culture in modern times. These landscapes continue to inspire visitors every day. How will they inspire you?

West Coast National Parks Vacations

Go west — all the way — to find some of America’s most iconic national parks and natural beauty. In California, Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the majestic Big Sur coastline await nature-lovers. Fans of rugged mountains and crashing waves will be enthralled with Big Sur. Here, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise up from the Pacific Ocean to reach peaks of more than 5,000 feet. And of course, any national parks vacation in California will have to include Yosemite. This park, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is where the concept of protecting national lands for future generations was first born.

Yosemite National Park, California's natural wonderland. Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

Yosemite National Park, California’s natural wonderland. Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

See it with the 8 Day Yosemite & California’s Gold Coast vacation. You’ll experience San Francisco, Monterey and other gorgeous California spots on your way to an exploration of Yosemite. Here, you’ll find astonishing waterfalls crashing down sheer rock faces, sequoia forests, and amazing wildlife.

Crater Lake, nearly two thousand feet deep and famously dark blue. Photo: Pixabay/tpsdave

Crater Lake, nearly two thousand feet deep and famously dark blue. Photo: Pixabay/tpsdave

A little further north, you can visit one of North America’s most beautiful lakes, the astonishing Crater Lake. Famously dark blue and incredibly deep, Crater Lake gleams from beneath cliffs in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano which blew itself apart more than 7,000 years ago. You could fit five Statues of Liberty within its blue depths.

Crater Lake stars along with Redwood National Park and Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on the 8 Day Pacific Northwest with Columbia River Gorge tour. Departing from Portland and ending in San Francisco, it also includes the beautiful canyon of the Columbia River Gorge, the vineyards of the Willamette Valley, and California’s famous Avenue of the Giants, twisting through ancient Sequoia trees.

Alaska National Parks Vacations

For the opposite of red rock deserts, Alaska is waiting. Vacations in Alaska always offer incomparable wildlife and landscapes. With eight national parks and tens of millions of acres devoted to wilderness preservation, it’s easy to see why. The big must-see is Denali National Park. From glaciers to wildflower blooms, Denali is a true natural masterpiece. On high mountain passes and in the deep valleys below its peaks, you’ll be transported to another world. The 10 Day Classic Alaska tour includes an amazing ride by Deluxe Dome Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, giving you even more sightseeing opportunities. Plus, it includes Kenai Fjords National Park, where you’ll see glaciers and watch for humpback whales, seals and other marine life.

Glaciers, stunning fjords and marine life wow visitors to Kenai Fjords National Park. Photo: Pixabay/skeeze

Glaciers, stunning fjords and marine life wow visitors to Kenai Fjords National Park. Photo: Pixabay/skeeze

With landscapes and wildlife found nowhere else in the world, America’s national parks are treasures just waiting to be explored. Get more out of your national parks vacations with an escorted tour. You’ll enjoy expert guides who know and love their subject. You’ll skip the lengthy planning process as you decide on routes between different parks. And you’ll be sure of seeing the best of each park, so you can relax and let someone else do the driving. You have pictures to take!

See all of our national parks vacations by visiting our USA travel packages page, and book the perfect vacation for you and your family!