There are a few reasons that July is one of the most popular months for Americans to travel. In much of the country, the beautiful weather and warm temperatures compel folks to get out and hit the road. It is typically cool enough at night to sleep in a tent and warm enough in the day to swim in lakes and pools.
For folks down South, July is a time to escape the heat and humidity by heading north or to go to the seashore to bask in warm breezes and cool waves. July is also a busy travel month because for a lot of us it's the only time we can travel. The kids are off from school, work has slowed down, and you're finally able to take some away. The best time to travel is whenever you can, but the best places to travel to in July takes a little more thought.
July is peak season, so wherever you go you'll almost certain to be sharing it with your fellow travelers. For the most popular and iconic destinations, that means you have to start planning and booking now. If you're still trying to figure out where to go, use this list as not only a guide to the best places to travel in July but also as motivation to get off your butt, make your plans, and start packing. There's a little bit for everyone: iconic national parks, beaches, cool cities, epic places to camp and hike. No matter where you choose, you're guaranteed to have a July you'll never forget.
15. Glacier National Park, Montana
Let's get this out of the way first. Yes, July can be a crowded time in Glacier National Park. But it's also the best month to visit this gem of a national park in northwest Montana, because it may be the only time all year that you are able to drive the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. The spectacular alpine terrain that road traverses is buried in snow long into summer, and many years the Park Service cannot open the road until July. It's worth the wait.
One of America's most iconic drives, Going-to-the-Sun will take you through the "crown of the continent," under jagged peaks, past clear blue alpine lakes, up above the tree line, and through some of the most spectacular scenery you'll ever see. Glacier uses a permit system to keep crowding down and preserve this one-of-a-kind experience, so you should start planning now.
After the drive, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail. There are over 700 miles of trails in the park, and it's backpackers paradise. Don't forget to pick up bear spray, because this is grizzly country.
14. Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Yeah. This place is incredible. New Yorkers will say Watkins Glen is one of the prettiest places in Upstate New York. We can't really argue with them. Take a look at that picture and tell us you've seen anything like it lately. We'll wait!
With around 20 waterfalls, a wide variety of hiking trails, and ample camping options, Watkins Glen is the perfect option for those in the northeastern United States who need a fun road trip.
For a side trip, check out the nearby Finger Lakes Wine Festival. Happening July 7-10, this is a celebration of the vineyards in this beautiful little wine region. There are seminars, cooking demonstrations, great food, and of course wine tastings. Sounds like a great way to spend a July.
13. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Maybe it's because it's the deepest lake in the U.S. or maybe because it's really a huge volcanic caldera, Crater Lake National Park is a bucket list item for many avid adventurers. It can sometimes be hard to enjoy in all of its glory, however, because of the temperamental Oregon weather.
That is why it is one of the best places to travel to in July , as you may get the lucky chance to swim in this one-of-a-kind body of water. Keep in mind that Crater Lake is sacred to the Klamath tribe of Native Americans. If you visit, show some respect and make an effort to learn about the native culture.
12. Maui, Hawaii
Is there a bad time to visit Hawaii? No, July is a great time because the beaches and resorts aren't crowded with snowbirds trying to escape the winter.
Maui, Hawaii, is everything you could want in a dreamy Pacific island paradise: beautiful beaches, warm weather, tropical plant life, friendly people. Take a scenic drive on the famous Road to Hana, spend a day kayaking in Honolua Bay, and enjoy a refreshing beverage at Maui Brewing Company.
11. Channel Islands National Park, California
Sometimes referred to as the Galapagos Islands of North America, this small island chain off the coast of Ventura, California, seems like another world. If you love camping and water sports, you'll wonder what took you so long to visit.
This national park offers a stunning variety of marine life and five islands to explore. Favorite activities here include snorkeling, whale watching, camping, and kayaking. The only issue? You have to ferry over there.
10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana
This year Yellowstone has a birthday. Our first, and perhaps most iconic, National Park turns 150, and for millions of visitors it remains a incomparable experience. Sure Yellowstone is crowded in the summer, but are you going to leave the kids back home in school while you spot bison, wolves, and bubbling pits of mud? July is also the only month in the park where you won't get snow (probably). The wildflowers are in full bloom, and it's great time of year in the Northern Rockies.
Start planning your trip now so you can reserve the best campsites, and get up early to beat the crowds.
9. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a well-know ski destination, but this gorgeous mountain town has so much to offer in the summertime when the wildflowers are in full bloom. Take a whitewater rafting adventure, fly fish in the Snake River (this time of year big cutthroat trout are hammering grasshopper flies), and do some high-end shopping in the historic town center.
Jackson Hole is fairly close to both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone, so you can combine a stay in town with a trip to either park.
8. Acadia National Park, Maine
An island of tranquility in the tallest rocky headlands on the Atlantic coast of North America, Acadia National Park is one of the best places to travel in July. This park is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the U.S. and has 158 miles of hiking trails, multiple camping sites, and natural wonders.
Daytime temperatures typically sit in the seventies and eighties to create a prime environment for outdoor recreation. Get up before dawn and make it to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S., and you'll be among the first people in America to see the sun rise that day.
7. Los Angeles, California
Yeah, yeah. Cliche. But the fact remains: In July if you want to catch some sun and surf, head to Los Angeles, California. This west coast staple may get busy in the summertime, but there is no better time to beat the heat and soak in the rich culture of this bustling city.
6. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park is both beautiful and strange. It's unique geological deposits and eroded buttes and gullies show striking layers of vibrant colors. At over 244,000 acres, there is a lot to explore. There are great fossil beds, and it's an excellent place for seeing wildlife, stargazing, camping, biking, and hiking.
The warm weather and long days this time of year can keep visitors out and exploring well after suppertime. Bring sunscreen and a hat; shade can be hard to come by.
5. Seattle, Washington
July in Seattle means a beloved break from the typical Pacific Northwest rain. If you don't want soggy weather to dampen your trip, now is the time to go. Visitors can take in the vast beauty of the Puget Sound, swim at Alki Beach, go to a music festival, or traverse Pike's Place Market without an umbrella.
Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are also within a half-day drive of this west coast city. Don't forget to hit up a Mariners or Timbers game!
4. Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park spans almost one million acres and features diverse ecosystems, temperate rain forests, and glacier-tipped mountains. Discover over seventy miles of untouched coastline, camp near the Hoh Rainforest, or kayak on Lake Crescent.
Add this park to your road trip bucket list if it is not already on there. It's absolutely gorgeous.
3. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores, Alabama, has hands-down some of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast. These famed white-sand beaches (32 miles of them) were formed thousands of years ago by the Appalachian Mountains. There is a lot more to do than play on the beach. Book a fishing charter, play a round of golf, take a kayaking tour to see dolphins and other wildlife.
When the day is done, grab your cooler, fix a drink, set up your beach chair, and take in the gorgeous sunsets from the beach at this coastal paradise.
2. Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon, presents a mecca of food, nature, and culture. The "Rose City" is ideal for visiting in July as the rain gives visitors a much-needed break from the wet weather. The dry season in Oregon provides clear views of Mt. Hood, amazing hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, and a taste of rare patio weather at the city's best restaurants.
1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
The only American national park named after a single person, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is a fitting tribute to the man who did more for National Parks and Forests than anyone else before or since. Roosevelt came to the Dakota Territory as a young man to hunt, and he fell in love with the place. It's easy to see why. This beautiful prairie grasslands will give you a sense of how America's Great Plains once looked. Just driving through this expansive landscape is thrill, but make sure you get out and hike the trails, ride your bike, or camp. You'll see bison, pronghorn, mule deer, and maybe some feral horses. If you come back to this far north park in the winter, you'll realize why July is the best time to visit.
To talk about your favorite place to visit in July, share your trip on the Wide Open Roads Facebook!
This article was originally published on February 25, 2021
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