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Yosemite National Park has long been one of my favorite places on earth. The tunnel view. Half Dome. Its place in the history of the National Parks Service. John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt. I love everything about it … but I’d never actually been there.

So, about a year ago, after several shorter trips north and south that proved our boys had grown to be excellent road warriors, Jeff and I decided that now was the time to drive across the country. I grew up road-tripping along the east coast every summer so flying was never a real consideration. There is so much beautiful countryside and varying landscapes to explore between North Carolina and California so this desire to see Yosemite Valley quickly blossomed into a 20-day epic family road trip.

We set out on this adventure last spring, drove over 6,000 miles across the country and back with our two sons, ages 8 and 5-turning-6, in our small SUV. We still love each other and would do it again in a heartbeat! We explored six National Parks, visited with family, celebrated a birthday, earned five Junior Ranger badges, and saw some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth.

This trip was the result of a full year of research and planning. On this blog, the entire trip will be revisited, one day at a time. Then, I’ll discuss the “how” of the trip: the planning, packing, boredom-squashing car activities, and all the other details that actually made this trip possible.

The Route

The basic route followed I-40 westward and then a state north via I-70 for a different view on the drive back east. The letters below represent the route markers in the map above.

20-day Family Road Trip