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National Park Road Trip with Travel Mom Larissa
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National Park Road Trip with Travel Mom Larissa

It was a National Park Road Trip out West this summer for Travel Mom Larissa and her family. Read on for ALL the details on their 3,000-mile adventure!

Get more inspiration for your family’s next travel adventure from additional podcast episodes. Adventure Awaits!

National Park Road Trip Canyonlands

What was your last big family adventure?

We love to travel, and when we had kids, we wanted to keep that going. So we decided we’d see as many National Parks with the kids as we could while they are growing up.

This summer, with COVID, we decided we didn’t want to fly. We planned a driving adventure from our home in Southern California to Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada with our 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

How was planning different this year with COVID?

Initially, we were going to do an RV but decided to take our Jeep instead to do some off-road adventuring on the trip.

As I looked into hotels, I called ahead to check on their safety procedures. We only stayed in places where we didn’t need to use an elevator and had suites to prepare our own food.

And the plus during this time as visitor numbers were way down at the National Parks, we barely saw anyone on the hikes and felt like we had these masterpieces of nature to ourselves.

Tell us about your National Park Road Trip Stops

We covered 3,000 miles in 10 days. It was a lot! And as it was hot, we did hiking and biking early in the morning or later in the evening and traveled during the day.

Our first stop was St. George, Utah, where we celebrated July 4th and saw some fantastic fireworks. This is an amazing place. You could spend a week here doing everything outdoors from Aspiration Trail to the Narrows at Pioneer Park.

Then we drove up through Utah through Capitol Reef National Park. “Why is it called Capitol Reef?” my son asked. When you see the towering orange and grey rocks that look like ocean reefs, you realize how it got its name. Here we did the Grand Walsh and Cassidy Arch Trail and Chimney Rock trail.

The next stops were in Moab, Utah…Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point State Park. More of the gorgeous orange and blue colors.

We came down through Colorado and did Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. In Colorado, we also visited fun small towns…Telluride, Silverton, Durango, and Grand Junction. Then Mesa Verde, Farmington, and Four Corners, New Mexico, Petrified Forest National Park, then came back to California through Flagstaff and Bearizona, Arizona.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Capitol Reef National Park Chimney Rock Trail

What Were Your National Park Road Trip Favorites?

Arches, Canyonlands, and Dead Horse Point State Park were my favorites. They were incredible…the views, spectacular sunsets, and scenery. Pictures don’t do them justice. So you must go to see them!

We had some Moab mountain biking adventures as my husband loves mountain biking.

And we did the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This was something my husband did as a child, so we wanted to check it out. We did the steam option with an open-air experience. It was fun for everyone!

National Park Road Trip Canyonlands

What was the BEST part of the trip for the kids?

I like to have the kids focus on something they are looking forward to for our trips. On this one, they decided they wanted to collect rock animals. They would ask Rangers and locals where they could find them and then take pictures of them.

When I asked them what their favorite parts were they said exploring the unique smalls towns like Telluride and Durango.

Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad

Durango & Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad

Larissa Travel Tips

  • Just roll with it if things don’t work out. Pull out your phone and google what’s around. That’s how we found Bearizona outside of Flagstaff. It was a fun unplanned stop.
  • Download apps that have guides for the kids. You can learn about history, area, best views. Or walking tour apps can also be fun. It adds so much value to the trip.
  • Think about something to collect like Smashed Pennies or Junior Rangers.
  • Look at off-season opportunities in busy destinations.
  • Look for those unique experiences you wouldn’t normally do.
  • The 4th-grade pass for National Parks is a great deal.

Why do you travel with your kids?

It opens the door to new experiences and helps them appreciate nature and being outside. Kids Our kids need to be more resilient, and travel helps them with that. And it’s great bonding for the family.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Next trip you’re planning or dreaming about?

On the National Park route, I’d love to do the Great Smoky Mountains. In a few weeks, we’re doing Mammoth Mountain, California, which is gorgeous in the Fall.

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Thank you so much, Larissa, for joining us to share your National Park Road Trip adventures!

Check out Larissa’s GoLoveBe Instagram and Facebook for more inspiration. Visit her website Go Love Be…Go Somewhere, Love Someone, Be Something… for more travel ideas, lifestyle tips, and parenting tips and hacks.

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Get ideas for your family’s next travel adventure with more podcast episodes. Adventure Awaits!