Go on the adventure of a lifetime with this cross-country road trip itinerary. Each of these stops features fantastic outdoor activities as well as opportunities to explore some of the nation’s most-celebrated attractions. Stay with KOA and explore the best of the USA with these amazing stops along a coast-to-coast road trip.
Florida Space Coast
Drive distance: This is your starting point.
Start your trip on the Atlantic side of Florida, home to the Kennedy Space Center and nicknamed Florida’s Space Coast. You’ll find some of the state’s favorite beaches in the area, including Cocoa Beach, Sebastian Inlet State Park, and Melbourne Beach. At the Titusville / Kennedy Space Center KOA, you’ll have easy access to Playalinda Beach and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Of course, make sure you take the time to explore the Kennedy Space Center as well, where you can see the country’s history of spaceflight up close—you may even get to see a launch while you’re in town.
Driving distance: 62 miles
Next stop Disney World! Stay at the Orlando / Kissimmee KOA Holiday and experience the magic of Disney and beyond. Orlando is home to 10 world-class theme parks, including the Disney World theme parks, Legoland, SeaWorld, and Universal. Base yourself at the KOA for a fun-filled few days of riding roller coasters and meeting your favorite movie characters.
Driving distance: 646 miles
After you’ve had your fill of funnel cakes and roller coasters, head north to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wander around the historic town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Now’s the time to purchase an America the Beautiful Pass, since this cross-country road trip itinerary heads to many of the nation’s best national parks. Watch the sunset on Clingman’s Dome, go underground in the Forbidden Caves, take a scenic drive through the park, or hike part of the iconic Appalachian Trail. Stay at the Gatlinburg East / Smoky Mountains KOA Holiday, which is just outside the national park.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Driving distance: 639 miles
Next, head to the Great Lakes region for some watery fun! Explore the town of Grand Rapids or head to the water’s edge. Make a splash with plenty of lakeside beaches and boat ramps. The Huron-Manistee National Forest boasts plenty of wooded hiking and biking trails. Stay at the Allendale / West Grand Rapids KOA, which is just minutes from the Lake Michigan beaches.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Driving Distance: 749 miles
As you head west, there are vast distances between destinations. Break up the long drives with a stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The town features beautiful waterfalls nearby where you can cool off or go for a hike or bike ride. There’s a unique butterfly house, lots of historic buildings, and a chance to slow down and enjoy the small-town vibe. You can even catch a minor league baseball game. The Sioux Falls KOA Journey is a big-rig friendly campground with a heated pool, playground, and minigolf—and it’s close to everything you want to see in Sioux Falls.
The Black Hills of South Dakota
Diving distance: 386 miles
Continue west towards Mount Rushmore and the iconic Black Hills of South Dakota. Visit the presidents carved into the rock, as well as the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial. Stay a few days exploring the beautiful Black Hills. On the way from Sioux Falls, don’t forget to stop at Badlands National Park for a chance to see the intricate wind-carved sandstone formations rising from the plains. Stay at the Custer /Mount Rushmore / Black Hills KOA Holiday, which is centrally located among the five major Black Hills attractions.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Driving distance: 484 miles
Next stop Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Plan to spend several days (or weeks) in one of the most beautiful mountain towns in America. Jackson Hole is a great basecamp to explore both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Renting bikes is a great way to explore the parks, or take some time to hike some of the many iconic trails. Activities include scenic hikes, nature drives, mountain climbing, backpacking, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, and more in this adventure mecca. The Jackson Hole / Snake River KOA is located on the Snake River, and the campground is shaded by surrounding aspens, cottonwoods, and spruce trees. Take a hike to—and then soak in—the nearby Granite Hot Springs.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Driving distance: 472
It’s time to drive south along the Continental Divide. The town of Estes Park lies right on the border of the incredibly beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a scenic drive through the park along Trail Ridge Road, go rock climbing right in Estes, or take a detour to the quieter west side of the park and make a pit stop at Grand Lake. You’ll want to spend several days here soaking up the mountain sun. If you yearn for some city action, Boulder is only about an hour away, and Denver is less than two hours. Estes Park KOA Holiday is located just five miles from the national park, and during the summer you can take a free shuttle to both the park and downtown Estes Park.
Driving distance: 250 miles
Next head to the western slope of Colorado to visit the town of Gunnison. Located near the spanning Canyon of the Gunnison in Gunnison National Park, the Gunnison KOA Journey features stunning mountain scenery and laid back vibes. It is a far cry from the crowds of Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain national parks. Relax and enjoy the view, or take an intrepid hike to the bottom of the canyon. You can even make a side trip to the ski and mountain biking town of Crested Butte. This tucked-away gem is home to some of the most beautiful high mountain wildflowers and fall colors.
Driving distance: 240 miles
Head west to the desert and explore the adventure hub of Moab, Utah. Home to two national parks, Canyonlands and Arches, along with world-class climbing, biking, and Jeep trails, there’s something for every kind of adventurer in Moab. Plan to spend several days here to get a good taste. Keep in mind that the summers are brutally hot in the desert, so plan to arrive in spring or fall. Stay at the Moab KOA Holiday where you can relax at the resort-style swimming pool between adventures.
Monument Valley, Utah
Driving distance: 139 miles
Just a few hours south of Moab lies the iconic Monument Valley. Located within the Navajo Nation, this sacred site is home to impossibly tall desert towers that rise out of the flat landscape like sentinels. Stop here for a lesson on native history and cultures. Remember to respect the delicate desert landscape and stick to trails. The Monument Valley KOA Journey is known for its sunrises, sunsets, and dark night skies that are perfect for stargazing.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
Driving distance: 276 miles
No cross-country road trip is complete without a visit to the mighty Grand Canyon. Soak in the views from both the north and south rims (separated by a 4-hour drive) to get the most out of the park. The south rim is far more crowded, but warmer, while the north rim sits over 1,000 feet higher for grander views without the crowds. However, it’s much more difficult to access the north rim. The Williams/ Exit 167 / Circle Pines KOA is a convenient place to stay when visiting any part of the park. Take the Grand Canyon Railway for a unique way to get to the national park.
Palm Springs, California
Driving distance: 358 miles
Make your way to California for some desert glamour. The town of Palm Springs has plenty of amenities and luxuries. Head to Joshua Tree National Park to spot funky rock formations and plenty of fun photo ops. The Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA is just 10 minutes from downtown and features a large pool and three hot-tub spas.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Driving distance: 296 miles
Head north up the throat of California toward the towering Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. Drive through the world’s tallest trees and admire the massive forests. You can also use this stop as a base camp to access Kings Canyon, Inyo National Forest, and Yosemite National Park. Plan to spend several days at the Visalia / Sequoia National Park KOA Journey, which is centrally located to it all.
Mount Shasta, California
Driving distance: 425
Continue north towards Mount Shasta and spend a few days soaking in the views of this snow-capped volcano and relax after the hustle and bustle of Sequoia. There are a few lakes nearby to relax or fish. Stay at the Mount Shasta City KOA Holiday, which is located at the base of the peak.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Driving distance: 174 miles
Cross into Oregon to explore the brilliant blue waters of Crater Lake. Formed by a collapsing volcano, the lake gets its color from its crystal clear waters and immense depth (the deepest point is nearly 2,000 feet deep). Within the national park, you’ll find plenty of viewpoints and hiking trails. At the Lemolo Lake / Crater Lake North KOA, you can rent a kayak and enjoy some incredible views of the area.
Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Driving distance: 587 miles
Continue north to where your road trip ends in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Plan on spending a few days here exploring the temperate rainforests, incredible sights, and ocean views. You can enjoy a variety of activities, including whale watching, kayaking.. The Olympic Peninsula / Port Angeles KOA Journey is an excellent spot to enjoy forests, glaciers, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls, and the Olympic Mountain Range.
Of course, while our cross country road trip ends here, yours doesn’t have to with all of the KOA locations across the US and Canada. You can use this itinerary as a guide or create your own epic cross country road trip of your dreams.
Written by Meg Atteberry for Matcha in partnership with Kampgrounds of America.