Cross-Country Road Trip: Thirteen States and Ten National Parks

Angela is a San Diego girl who hadn’t been back to visit her California roots since she was a toddler. I was a Tennessee guy who had circled the world without ever seeing the western United States. But we recognized the unrequited love of travel in each other and vowed to make it an integral part of who we would become, ranging further with each passing year.

California Girl.jpeg

Angela, California dreaming as a wee lass in San Diego

We had taken some interesting trips before, finding the lost corners and unexplored regions that could be easily reached from our home base. The unscripted camping adventure where we discovered the wonderful state parks of Cloudland Canyon and Hard Labor Creek on our way to Congaree National Park. The weekend of luxury spent at Hot Springs. The impromptu day trip that lasted a week and took us to Niagara Falls.

But we were looking for something more. It was time to pull the trigger on a family vacation greater than a weekend getaway and experience what it would feel like to be truly gone, with the very real possibility of never returning.

Together, we embraced the adventure we had already married and charted a route from our present home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Angela’s childhood home just outside La Jolla, California. The trip took over three weeks, traversed thirteen states, and provided the opportunity to visit ten national parks. I bought a new pickup truck and a 30-foot travel trailer for the epic journey, and we set out just after the conclusion of the boys’ school year.


To provide something of an overview for this adventure, I have included the trip map above and a compilation video that we shot on a GoPro camera as well as a list of the locations we visited.

We hope you’ll join us for this epic American adventure!