I’ve been busy getting ready for my two month USA National Parks road trip. Seeing the amazing parks out West has always been something I’ve wanted to do. I want to camp and hike in the backcountry. The things that always stopped me is that I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the gear, and I didn’t know how to do it.

I made the time, I bought the gear, and I’m learning what I need to know. At the same time, I’m getting rid of most of my stuff, and mailing the rest home, which doubles the work. I only have two weeks until I leave, so I’m down to the point where I have to get rid of everything I couldn’t sell. Tomorrow I plan to call the Salivation Army and make an appointment for them to come pick everything up.

I wish I could just get in a car and go, but because I’ll be visiting popular National Parks and camping in the backcountry, a lot of planning is required. I have a spreadsheet in which I account for every day. I have a rough plan for what I’ll do every day, and where I will sleep. I think it will be the most rigorously planned two months in my life.

Here’s the plan so far.

Badlands National Park and Minuteman Missile Historic Site
A convenient stop on the way to see some strange terrain, and some Cold War history.

Wind Cave National Park
More than just a cave. Also one the few remaining preserved parries. It’s possible to camp in the backcountry, so I’d like to practice for my more ambitious upcoming wilderness adventures.

Mount Rushmore
I always wanted to see it. I didn’t know there is a light show at night.

Devil’s Tower
The mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind!

Yellowstone National Park
Along with the Grand Canyon, this has always been a place I’ve really wanted to visit. I have a week here, includeing a night alone in the woods.

Grand Teton National Park
Amazingly rugged mountains. I want to spend four days hiking the Teton Crest Trail.

Rafting the Grand Canyon
Another major life goal will be accomplished! Six days on a non-motorized raft, camping in the canyon.

Zion National Park
Seeing the Southwest has always been a dream. I’m going to hike the Narrows, where you walk in the river at the bottom of a canyon. I’ll also hike the West Rim Trail, spending a night in the backcountry. I don’t like heights, so I’ll see how far I get up Angel’s Landing.

Bryce Canyon
A unique red rock amphitheater.

Either Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument or Goblin Valley State Park
GSENM is huge, and looks fascinating. But it’s also undeveloped and difficult to visit. If I’m feeling ambitious I’ll figure out how to see it.

Capital Reef National Park
Red rock cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges.

Canyonlands National Park
Like three parks in one. I’ll visit the Island in the Sky and hike the Synchline Loop. In the Needles I’ll backpack to Chesler Park and camp below the stars.

Moab, Utah
I’ve got a lot of time here to catch my breath, but there’s a lot to do. Maybe I’ll take a hot air baloon tour, or go mountain biking.

Monument Valley
I’ve wanted to see this since watching Westerns as kid.

Mesa Verde National Park
Heading to Colorado. This is an ancient historic site I’ve wanted to see since reading about it in elementary school.

Durango, Colorado
An Old West town worth exploring for a couple days.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
To be honest, I’ve never heard of this, but it’s on the way, and looks impressive. Things aren’t planned out in detail this far out.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Camping on the dunes!

So that’s the plan so far. Two weeks to go!

I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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