2021 in the rearview: This year’s top road trip trends and destinations

More than 3 million people used Roadtrippers to plan trips in 2021—these were the most popular stops

Photo: Shutterstock

Before we put 2021 in the rearview mirror and set our sights on new adventures, we’re taking a look back at what made this such a great year for road trips.   

Looking at how Roadtrippers members used our trip planning tools in 2021, we were able to see some clear trends. The road trip season started slightly earlier than normal and slowed in early fall, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, more than 3 million people planned trips using Roadtrippers this year—3,268,476 to be exact. 

Here’s where your travel planning took you this year, plus a look ahead to what to expect in 2022.


Top 15 states with the most stops added to trips

Roadtrippers planned the most stops in these states.

an illustration of the united states with pins indicating the top 15 states added to trips in 2021

1. California
2. Arizona
3. Utah
4. Wyoming
5. Colorado
6. New Mexico
7. South Dakota
8. Texas
9. Tennessee
10. Montana
11. Oregon
12. Florida
13. Nevada
14. North Carolina
15. Washington

Highlights

  • 10 of the 15 states are located on or near the West Coast. The outliers are South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. 
  • There are a total of 17 national parks located in the top three states with the most planned stops.  

Top 50 stops added to trips

A road trip to all 50 of these destinations would take about 407 hours and span more than 24,000 miles. This trip would cost $3,600 or more in fuel, depending on the vehicle you drive.

1. Grand Canyon National Park
2. Yellowstone National Park
3. Zion National Park
4. Arches National Park
5. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
6. Glacier National Park
7. Yosemite National Park
8. Badlands National Park
9. Great Sand Dunes National Park
10. Crater Lake National Park
11. Grand Teton National Park
12. Sequoia National Park
13. Bryce Canyon National Park
14. Four Corners Monument
15. Horseshoe Bend
16. White Sands National Park
17. Monument Valley
18. Devils Tower National Monument
19. Garden of The Gods
20. Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial
21. The Hoover Dam
22. Cadillac Ranch
23. Death Valley National Park
24. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
25. Joshua Tree National Park

26. Acadia National Park
27. Rocky Mountain National Park
28. Canyonlands National Park
29. Shoshone Falls Park
30. Olympic National Park
31. Lake Tahoe
32. Mesa Verde National Park
33. Mammoth Cave National Park
34. Hot Springs National Park
35. Gateway Arch National Park
36. Petrified Forest National Park
37. Mount Rainier National Park
38. Bonneville Salt Flats
39. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
40. Graceland
41. Grand Prismatic Spring
42. Redwood National and State Parks
43. Capitol Reef National Park
44. Antelope Canyon
45. The Parthenon
46. Havasu Falls
47. Niagara Falls State Park
48. Hearst Castle
49. South Rim of Grand Canyon
50. Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Highlights

  • Of the 50 top points of interest, three are state parks located in California, New York, and Texas.
  • More than half of the top points of interest are national parks. Of the top 10 points of interest, only Mount Rushmore National Memorial is not a national park.
  • The most planned stop that isn’t a site managed by the National Park Service is the Four Corners Monument, which is part of Navajo Tribal Park.

Top 15 national parks added to trips

Based on how many trips they were added to this year, these were the most popular national parks.

an illustration of the united states with pins indicating the top 15 national parks added to trips in 2021

1. Grand Canyon National Park
2. Yellowstone National Park
3. Zion National Park
4. Arches National Park
5. Glacier National Park
6. Yosemite National Park
7. Badlands National Park
8. Great Sand Dunes National Park
9. Crater Lake National Park
10. Grand Teton National Park
11. Sequoia National Park
12. Bryce Canyon National Park
13. White Sands National Park
14. Death Valley National Park
15. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Highlights

  • 10 different states are represented in the top 15 national parks.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S. but ranked 15th among Roadtrippers members. It’s also the only national park in the eastern U.S. that made it into the top 15. 

Top 20 campgrounds added to trips

Based on how many trips they were added to this year, these were the most popular campgrounds.

1. Calico Ghost Town Regional Park
2. Taughannock Falls State Park
3. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
4. Patrick’s Point State Park
5. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
6. Point Sur State Historic Park
7. Norris Campground
8. Watchman Campground
9. Goblin Valley State Park
10. East Harbor State Park

11. Cades Cove Campground
12. Sylvan Lake
13. Cedar Pass Lodge 
14. Big Meadows Lodge
15. North Rim Campground
16. Grandfather Mountain State Park
17. Silver Falls State Park
18. Lava Beds National Monument
19. Snake River Overlook
20. Madison Campground

Highlights

  • Just shy of half of the top campgrounds are in state parks, while 7 are located in national parks. 
  • The top 20 campgrounds span 13 different states. 
  • All of these campgrounds are managed by public park systems.

Tips for planning a road trip in 2022 

We’re excited to see what the new year brings for road travel. Here are some expert planning tips from the Roadtrippers editors. 

1. Plan road trips to lesser-visited destinations.

These were the lower 48 states with the least planned stops in the Roadtrippers app in 2021: 

  • Delaware
  • Rhode Island
  • District of Columbia
  • Vermont
  • Connecticut
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi

2. Hit up a less popular national park.

Expect new reservation systems and timed entry at popular parks in 2022. To avoid crowds, consider a visit to one of the lesser-visited national parks. Just because a park is less popular, it doesn’t mean it’s any less scenic. It typically just means you have to work a little harder to get to it. 

These were the least popular parks in the lower 48 in 2021, according to Roadtrippers members: 

  • Voyageurs National Park
  • Dry Tortugas National Park 
  • Isle Royale National Park 
  • Biscayne National Park
  • Channel Islands National Park 
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • New River Gorge National Park 
  • Everglades National Park 
  • Great Basin National Park 
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park 

3. Skip national parks altogether, and visit nearby state parks instead.

National parks are crowded for a reason, but you can often find similarly spectacular landscapes in state parks. Instead of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park—which saw record visitation numbers in 2021—plan a visit to the equally stunning Dead Horse State Park. Click here for even more of our favorite state parks near national parks.  

4. If you’re planning on camping, make sure to book early.

Camping and outdoor adventures have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, and there’s no sign of that trend tapering off. Research your destinations well in advance, and try to make reservations as soon as they become available.

If your desired dates and locations are booked up, consider being flexible. Can you travel during the week instead of on the weekend? Or is there a less popular location nearby that may have more availability? If you have your heart set on a specific campground, it’s also worth keeping an eye on cancellations. 


Remove Ads