10 National Parks You Can Explore Sans Car

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While automobiles can make it easier to explore some national parks, they’re not always necessary. 

You can make priceless memories in some of the country’s best national parks without a car. It may take more effort and planning, but you can have an unforgettable time.

We’ve compiled a list of the ten best national parks to explore sans car. Which ones will you add to your travel plans?

Let’s look and see!

Benefits of Exploring National Parks Without Your Car

America’s national parks are some of the most beautiful and unique landscapes. While having a car can make it easier and faster to access certain areas, an automobile isn’t always necessary. 

By seeking alternatives, you reduce carbon emissions and your environmental impact.

In addition, public transportation can help reduce the wear and tear on the park’s infrastructure. This helps keep these gorgeous areas clean and in good condition for as long as possible.

As a result, future generations can experience and enjoy the natural areas.

However, it’s not just about the environmental impact. Exploring national parks without your car makes for a much less stressful experience.

Using public transportation allows you to let professional drivers do the driving for you. This way, you can sit back and enjoy the views as you navigate in and around the various parks.

Finally, some national parks restrict access to specific areas. The park’s transportation system is often the only way to access these areas. In these situations, you’ll be able to see and experience things that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Pro Tip: How Many National Parks Are There in the US? Click to find out, and learn what the other national park designations there are.

The Zion National Park shuttle bus driving down the main road.

10 National Parks You Can Explore Sans Car

We visited many national parks during our travels and can’t wait to see our next unit. Some of the best experiences were those where we didn’t have to worry about parking or doing the driving.

Here are ten national parks where you can get by without having a vehicle at your disposal.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of our favorite national parks to explore without a car. The park provides an efficient and eco-friendly shuttle system throughout the canyon. The shuttles operate throughout the year and are the primary mode of transportation for many guests.

These buses drop off adventurous hikers at some of the park’s most popular trailheads and viewpoints. They help to reduce congestion and enhance the overall visitor experience. If you’re looking to explore the Weeping Rock Trail, the Emerald Pools Trail, or the Narrows, they’re easy to access by the shuttle system.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park covers over 1,900 square miles. Luckily, the park’s incredible shuttle system makes it easy to experience many of them. Park your vehicle at the visitor center and hop on these free buses.

The Hermit Road and Village Route shuttles will take you to the park’s best viewpoints, trailheads, and other attractions. Visitors often use these to access trailheads and other incredible experiences. Some of the bravest adventurers hike several miles down into the canyon. This provides a unique view of how Mother Nature has shaped the area.

Pro Tip: Looking to save some cash? You Can Get Free Entry to the National Parks Only on These Days!

The Grand Canyon on a clear blue day.

Acadia National Park

The Island Explorer makes exploring the nearly 50,000 acres of Acadia National Park easier. These shuttles move visitors throughout the park and the surrounding area.

Passengers can hop on the bus and get off in local communities, Bar Harbor-Hancock County Regional Airport, or several stops within the park.

If you want to explore Acadia on your bike, the buses have a bike rack that can hold up to six bikes. Additionally, they allow well-behaved pets to hop on with their owners. 

Acadia National Park is an epic park you don’t want to miss. It features 120 miles of hiking trails and some breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re enjoying the view from Cadillac Mountain or walking around Jordan Pond, this is one park you don’t want to miss.

A RAD Electric bike parked in Acadia National Park on the bike trail called Carriage Road.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the premier national parks in the country and on many people’s bucket lists.

This iconic destination is in California and covers roughly 1,200 square miles. Between the massive granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and diverse ecosystems, there’s much to experience here.

Thankfully, the park’s vast shuttle system operates throughout the year. Visitors can experience popular attractions like Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and Tuolumne Meadows.

Additionally, many visitors use the transportation system to access the incredible hiking trails throughout the park. Half Dome Trail, Mirror Lake Loop, and Yosemite Falls Trail are remarkable adventures awaiting you.

The Valleywide SHuttle operates every 12 to 22 minutes from 7 AM to 10 PM. On the other hand, the East Valley Shuttle serves Yosemite Village, Curry Village, Pines Campground, and the trailheads in eastern Yosemite Valley. These run every eight to 12 minutes from 7 AM to 10 PM.

Ranked: These Are the Best National Parks in the USA.

People loading up at one of the Yosemite Shuttle bus stop.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is just over 400 square miles. It sits approximately an hour and a half outside of Denver. It’s another epic national park unit that offers a fantastic shuttle system to help visitors navigate the park without driving.

This shuttle system features a few different routes that access a variety of trailheads and other popular spots. The Bear Lake Shuttle is a seasonal route with stops at the Park & Ride, Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, Glacier Gorge Trailhead, and Bear Lake.

Another seasonal route that’s available is the Moraine Park Shuttle Route. It stops at the Park & Ride location and at Sprague Lake/Glacier Creek Stables, Hollowell Park, Tuxedo Park, Moraine Park Campground, Cub Lake Trailhead, and Fern Lake Bus Stop.

The Hiker Shuttle is another possibility if you’re looking for more adventure. It departs from the Estes Park Visitor Center and stops at popular trails. However, it does require a reservation.

Hop on one of these shuttles, sit back, and enjoy the view. They make it easier to enjoy the view and watch for wildlife. 

Denali National Park

You can only explore some of the six million acres of Denali National Park. It’s some of the most remote, rugged, and impressive landscapes you’ll find anywhere in the world. The park wants to do all that it can to preserve these beautiful lands. As a result, most of the park is closed to private vehicles.

Only the first 15 miles of the park’s main road are accessible to private vehicles. Any guests wishing to go further must use the Denali VIsitor Transportation (DVT) system.

It enables you to travel further down the 90-mile road. You’ll enjoy stunning vistas, wildlife sightings, and catch a glimpse of North America’s highest mountain, Denali.

You can choose between narrated and non-narrated shuttles. The non-narrated shuttles allow riders to hop on and off at various stops throughout the park. Make sure you check the shuttle schedule at the bus stops. You won’t find paper copies anywhere in the park, and cell signals are practically non-existent throughout the park.

Jason take a selfie with Rae in the background at Denali National Park.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is in Washington State. It has approximately a million acres of lush rainforests, alpine peaks, and miles of rugged coastline. Some of the most popular spots in the park, like Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rain Forest, and any of the coastal areas, can get very crowded during peak season.

One of the easiest ways to experience Olympic National Park without a car is to use the Clallam Transit System (CTS). The county operates a bus line that services the surrounding area, including numerous stops within Olympic National Park. It stops in Port Angeles, Sequim, Forks, and several locations along Highway 101.

To sweeten the deal, CTS announced they were eliminating fares on almost all of their routes in 2024. As a result, you’ll be able to save money while using these shuttles to explore the Olympic Peninsula, including Olympic National Park.

The ocean with tons of washed up trees in Olympic National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country. As you might assume, traffic and parking can get chaotic. As a result, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the shuttles while exploring the 800 square miles of this beautiful national park.

Unfortunately, the park doesn’t have its own shuttle services. However, you’ll find numerous authorized shuttle providers that operate within the park’s boundaries. Most companies offer stops at destinations like Newfound Gap, Alum Cave Trailhead, and Chimney Tops Trailhead.

As mentioned, scoring a parking spot at some of the most visited locations can be challenging. Clingmans Dome is a trendy spot with only 167 parking spaces. Similarly, Grotto Falls Trailhead is another incredible spot to adventure, but it only has 17 spots for visitors to park their vehicles. A shuttle service will be your best bet for most locations.

Rae and Jason posing in front of a lookout on one of the hiking trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park is 850 square miles and only accessible by boat or seaplane. As a result, it makes it nearly impossible for visitors to bring their vehicles with them. However, while you won’t see any cars, there’s still plenty to see and do.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities at this national park. Visitors can choose from 160 miles of hiking trails. Luckily, they have options that range from easy to challenging. The Greenstone Ridge Trail is one of the most famous trails on the island. It provides some remarkable views of the park and its boreal forests.

Because there are no roads and accessing the park is challenging, the park experiences very few visitors annually. In a typical year, approximately 20,000 people visit the park. This means you’ll be able to explore and enjoy some time in nature without worrying about crowds.

Pro Tip: These are the 10 National Parks Everyone Needs to Visit At Least Once!

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is in central Kentucky and contains almost 53,000 acres. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation or shuttles available in the park. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not easy to experience once you park your vehicle.

Many visitors bring bicycles to explore the park. In fact, several roads within the park are a part of the US Bicycle Route System. The  Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike and Bike Trail is a 9-mile scenic route between Mammoth Cave National Park and Park City, Kentucky.

Whether riding or hiking, you can enjoy some epic park views.

You Don’t Always Need a Car to Explore National Parks

While having a car can make it easier to explore national parks, it’s not always necessary. Public transportation, biking, and hiking can be a unique and environmentally friendly way to enjoy these beautiful parks. Parks with a shuttle system make it easier to enjoy yourself without stressing about parking and navigating unfamiliar areas.

What is your favorite way to explore national parks without a car?

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