My 2014 North American Summer Road Trip

Ever since 2009, I try spend in my time in North America to take advantage of the summer months. In 2009 I did a huge road trip through the western United States. In 2010 I went east through Washington DC and up through New England to the northernmost tip of Newfoundland. In 2012 I explored Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Last year I went island hopping in the Caribbean.

This year, I’m going to focus on visiting national parks in the western US and Canada.

Today I’m taking off in my car for more than two months on a trip which take me to the Northwest Territories of Canada, most of the province of Alberta, the northwoods of Minnesota, the shore of the Pacific Ocean, and the Great Plains. I’ll even get a chance to visit my 10th and final Canadian province: Saskatchewan!

As I announced last year, I’m on a long term quest to visit all 104 national parks in the United States and Canada. To date I have documented visits to 23 parks. Over the next two and a half months I hope to visit 18 more. These include:

  • Isle Royale, Michigan
  • Voyageurs, Minnesota
  • Riding Mountain, Manitoba
  • Grasslands, Saskatchewan
  • Waterton Lakes, Alberta
  • Jasper, Alberta*
  • Elk Island, Alberta
  • Wood Buffalo, Alberta
  • Nahanni, Northwest Territories
  • Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia
  • Kootenay National Park, British Columbia
  • Glacier, British Columbia
  • Yoho National Park, British Columbia
  • Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
  • Gulf Islands National Park, British Columbia
  • Mount Rainier, Washington
  • North Cascades, Washington
  • Badlands, South Dakota
  • Wind Cave, South Dakota

I had previously visited Wind Cave and Badlands National Parks, but I never was able to document and photograph my visit.

In visiting Nahani and Wood Buffalo National Parks, I will also have visited all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Canada.

Visiting the National Parks in the continental US and Canadian provinces isn’t that difficult. All the parks are drivable and it is really just more a matter of making the time and having the desire to do it. I’m planning on doing a short trip in Ontario at some point to visit several of the parks there. I’ll do my summer road trip next year in New England and the Atlantic Provinces to visit some of the eastern parks. I’ll probably even visit parks in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California next winter in between the travel shows I’ll be speaking at.

The real challenge comes in visiting the parks which are above the Arctic Circle, especially the Canadian Parks. These parks get less than 100 visitors per year and sometimes less than 10 per year!

Traveling by car is always much easier for me if for no other reason than I don’t have to fit everything into a single bag. I can carry more clothes, more camera gear and more equipment because I have an entire car I can put stuff in.

A road trip also gives you freedom to go where you want and to stop when you want. Even though I do have a schedule, I have plenty of leeway in terms of what I do along the way.

If you happen to live in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver or Seattle, I will be coming through your town. Let me know if you would like to meet up!

23 thoughts on “My 2014 North American Summer Road Trip”

  1. Yes! Thanks for this post, Gary! I wanted to take the roads of America before this year ends and now I have a terrific plan, thanks to you :)

  2. It’s a little further south than your current endpoint in Vancouver, but I’d recommend visiting Seattle, because Seattle is awesome. And also visiting Banff in Alberta. And the Enchantements, in the Cascade range just south/southwest of Leavenworth, WA.

  3. Sounds like a great itinerary! We haven’t been into the NW Territories or Yukon, but our favorites of the others on your list are Banff & Jasper (with a beautiful drive between them), as well as the Pacific Rim. Have a great trip!

  4. You’ll enjoy Pacific Rim, as Tofino is a really chilled out place, sandwiched between the wild Pacific and the mountains of Vancouver Island. The drive in alone is totally worth it for the giant trees of Cathedral Grove and the mountain scenery beyond Port Alberni (90 minutes of nothing between that small city and the towns of Ucluelet, Tofino and Pacific Rim Nat’l Park)

    Have fun Gary!

  5. Gary, nice to hear you are visiting some of our western Canadian national parks with opportunities for some amazing wildlife photography. If you know your ETA in Edmonton I’d love to meet up!

  6. Looks like a great trip! I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures with that journey. Enjoy the travel!

  7. Hey Gary! Looks like a great trip. We are heading out on our first trip to Jasper tomorrow! We live in Calgary and visit Banff & area several times per year, so this trip is long overdue. We just visited Point Pelee National Park in Ontario and really loved it. If you’re in Calgary when we are I’ll buy you dinner!

  8. Gary, have you every considered doing a Mexican road trip? My husband and I are just completing our third long road trip in Mexico. There are so many wonderful things to see and places to visit.

    • Yes I have. Mexico has one of the largest number of world heritage sites on any country and I have only visited a handfull.

  9. Yeah – Seattle. Let us know when you’ll be in town. Looking forward to hearing about this epic trip.

  10. Hope the trip will be as wonderful as it sounds! Looking forward to your posts. How is the internet coverage north of the arctic circle?

  11. You’re missing a great national site to visit that wouldn’t be too far out of your way to Grasslands in Sask. Fort Walsh national historic site! It’s in a beautiful forest with an exciting bit of history! And hey if you want a guide, I’d love to show you around! You’re an inspiration to me!

  12. Gary, I’ll be spending the rest of June, July, and early August in a S. Dakota town close to Wind Cave and Badlands. I plan on visiting both. If you are coming through during that time period, I would love to meet up and talk about nomad-ing and travel photography. That’s how I spend all my time!

  13. I urge you to visit one (or more) of Nature Conservancy of Canada’s properties while you are in the west coast!

  14. Hey fellow traveler! Sounds like an awesome set of trips. I love your vision! When you are in the Calgary area give me a heads up. You can camp or couchsurf in my digs. Leslie (wrrldgrrl). :-)

  15. Hi I am living in Peace River and have done the Nahanni if you are driving through, shoot me an email and drop by!

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