Top 5 National Parks to Visit This Summer

With the summer travel season in full swing, RelayRides blogger Brad Iger shares his favorite national parks and rides to get your there

In 1864, Senator John Conness of California sponsored an act to transfer the valley and nearby Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the state so they might “be used and preserved for the benefit of mankind”. President Abraham Lincoln would go on to sign this act of Congress later that year, granting oversight of the grove, along with Yosemite Valley, to the state of California “for public use, resort, and recreation–inalienable for all time.” And thus, the first of many national parks across the United States was born. With summer upon us, and the weather continues to beckon us outdoors, here’s a look at a few of our favorite parks across the nation.

Summer is here! If you’re looking for the perfect summer escape, get a car from RelayRides and head to a National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Distance from Los Angeles metro area: 130 miles

Directly due east of Los Angeles and just north of Palm Springs lies Joshua Tree National Park. Covering more than 1,200 square miles, this expansive park is actually a bit larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. Containing various types of desert ecosystems as well as a massive wilderness area, Joshua Tree is the ultimate “get away from it all” destination, and has become a recreational haven for hiking, rock climbing, camping, 4-wheeling, and star gazing.

How to Get There: For a desert excursion like Joshua Tree, Tony’s rugged 2013 Jeep Wrangler is just the ride for the job.

Yosemite National Park

Distance from San Francisco: 190 miles

With the special recognition as the original national park, Yosemite National Park is recognized the world over for its spectacular natural beauty. Spanning more than 750,000 acres across the Sierra Nevada, the park is home to many breathtaking granite mountain ranges, waterfalls, extensive hiking trails, groves of ancient Giant Sequoia trees, and multitudes of different species of wildlife.

How to Get There: If you’re in need a of vehicle capable of handling the rough roads around Yosemite, Cheryl’s all-wheel drive 2012 Subaru Forester will make short work of the terrain.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Distance from Chicago metro area: 50 miles

Running along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore offers a wholly unique type of national park. Beaches, sand dunes, swamps, marshes and rivers provide a rich ecosystem for one of the most diverse plant communities in any park within the National Park System, and more than 350 different species of birds have been observed within the park as well. An ideal place not only to hike and camp, the lakeshore also provides great cycling trails, horseback riding, and fishing as well.

How to Get There: If you’re in need of an SUV to get all your gear there, David’s 2008 Nissan Xterra has all the room, comfort and capability you’ll need.

Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

Distance from Boston: 50 miles

Known as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, the Blackstone River’s currents powered America’s first successful cotton spinning mill, helping the nation transform into industrial commerce superpower. Comprised of 24 cities and towns along the river, its special role as a living historical monument provides a unique national park experience, and the Blackstone River is also a wonderful venue for canoeing, kayaking, and boating while taking in the lush surroundings.

How to Get There: And with its longbed configuration, camper shell and carpetted bedliner, David’s Ford F-150 pickup is an ideal vehicle to take on this river adventure.

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Distance from Washington D.C.: 75 miles

This park truly has something for everyone all year round. From the fanstatic views of the Mather Gorge and Great Falls, to the camping, cycling, hiking, picnic areas, boat rides through the canal and tours of historic sites, this national park will certainly keep you busy during the warmer parts of the year. And when the tempuratures start to dip, the ice skating and cross country skiing during the colder months also provide sensational wintertime fun. With this much to do at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, it’s no suprise that this national park is host to more than 4 million visitors annually.

How to Get There: With 4WD, GPS, and tons of cargo capacity, Graham’s 2007 Toyota 4 Runner is up to the task no matter what time of year you choose to go.

Thinking about heading out to one of these great national parks? Find the perfect vehicle for your next road trip on the RelayRides marketplace today!