National Parks Travel Guide

By Taysha Billinger
Feature Image by Irish D.

Summer 2022: the best time for mindless roaming and exciting adventures. 

The cross-country adventure of the season is here! Follow us down the iconic I-25 N to embark on a National Park expedition from Texas to Montana. And if you’re already traveling, just hop in along the way.

No matter where you start your journey, let’s prepare for this summer’s voyage together.


Get Set 

Every destination is accessible through Interstate 25, whether you go from Texas to Montana, start backward, or even go out of order. We’ve made it so that this journey is accessible from any point.

Before we take off. If you’re unsure what to pack, we have a few blogs that’ll give you a good idea of what you should bring– don’t forget your water! 

Check them out here:

Before you arrive at each destination, call ahead or check online to make sure you are allowed to start a fire if you’re planning to bring your fire pit or camp stove. Since burn bans can go into effect at any time, without any notice, we recommend planning ahead and staying prepared for any scenario.


Okay, travelers, the journey starts now. Let’s get into it. First stop:

Palo Alto Battlefield- Brownsville, TX

If you’re a history buff, our first stop is just for you. Palo Alto Battlefield is beautifully preserved land that lends itself to nature’s best sights.

What’s there to do?

  • Take a hike and interact with some wildlife

You won’t be hard-pressed to find a flock of bunnies or a few deer during your explorations here. Palo Alto’s diverse set of habitats makes way for all kinds of wildlife. From bobcats and tortoises to a wide variety of butterflies and birds, Palo Alto’s kingdom of wild animals is endless and a staple of the park.

Aaaaand 180.3 miles away is–

Padre Island National Seashore- Corpus Christi, TX

coastal landscape near padre island texas

Get ready for camping out in the seashore’s summer moon. Padre Island is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier in the world– A.K.A., the perfect spot for nautical camping adventures. 

There are 5 campgrounds to choose from.

  • Malaquite Campground 
  • Bird Island Basin Campground

Dry camping only

  • South Beach Primitive Campground 
  • North Beach Primitive Campground 
  • Yarborough Pass Primitive Campground 

Padre island is an oasis for all dreamers. With beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico and beach days at Laguna Madre, this island is perfect for those who like to escape. Daily activities range from wind surfing to kayaking to bird watching so you’ll never have a dull day.

Okay, it’s been some days (or one day if you’re speedy). Let’s move on to our next destination 633.6 miles away in Salt Flat, Texas:

Guadalupe Mountains- Salt Flat, TX

Our next stop is paramount (and my favorite). Guadalupe Mountains: home to the four highest peaks in Texas, and the great protector of the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef. 

  • From a Hiking Dream, to Backpacking Adventures You Won’t Forget, to the Salt Basin Dunes

Guadalupe Mountains has 20 hiking trails that span across 80 miles of flourishing vegetation. From high terrains and silent walks to diverse patches of ecological heaven, each trail offers miles of open space. And for those looking for a more primitive outdoor experience, backpacking in the Guadalupe Mountains is the way to go. 

At the park’s lowest elevation point are The Salt Basin Dunes: home of beautiful sand sculptures crafted from years of earthquakes and moving winds. 

Now let’s get out of Texas and travel 365 miles north to…

Bandelier National Monument- Los Alamos, NM

Bandelier is chock-full of sights to see, landmarks to visit, and lessons to learn. The adventuring here is incredible, from guided tours and outdoor events, to short hiking trails, and even long ones! 

Feeling overwhelmed? Let’s explore a few options:

  • A meal with mother nature (Picnicking!)

Think about it. When was the last time you went outside with a red and white blanket, a brown wicker basket, and a swiss cheese charcuterie board? 

–Okay, I’ve never done that either. But I have gone outside with a (maybe washed?) blanket, an old Yeti cooler, a few Lunchables, and a few friends and I had just as good of a time. In a place like Bandelier, you don’t need to be perfect in a space the world has made perfect for you. 

  • Take a hike, bud!

The best thing about Bandelier is that it’s not just any old national monument; it’s a preserved national monument. If the old weather rocks and boastful canyons could talk, they’d tell a novel. 

Got a good idea? Okay, our next stop is 474.4 miles away. To Arizona!

Montezuma Castle- Camp Verde, AZ

Montezuma Castle is home to some of America’s richest natural history. From the wildlife to the incredible night views, this stop is perfect for those who love geographics.

Bird Watching, guided tours, and more! 

  • Lie on your back and enjoy Montezuma Well’s extensive variety of birdlife. And when you’re ready to learn something new, Montezuma Castle’s staff includes a wonderful group of tour guides who know their biz. Whether you walk with a guide or alone, you’ll be sure to bump into some furry friends you might recognize (or don’t).

And then there was one. Our last stop! Coming in at a total of 1,022 miles and 16 hours away is the great…

Big Horn Canyon- Fort Smith, MT

Here you are, your final stop on the Solo Stove Summer Expedition, and we’re glad we got to help. As you travel across your last 16-hour stretch of open road, here’s something to ask yourself: what did I learn along the way? Nature has an awesome way of quieting our brains and reminding us of everything important to us. What did mother nature remind you?

And that’s all, folks! No matter where you go, be mindful to Leave No Trace and have fun! Want to share part of your journey with us? Submit your photos here. We can’t wait to see you on the road!

Want to Share Your Journey With Us?