The Ultimate Guide to my 2020 Road Trip During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
2020 is a year we all would like to put behind us. In the beginning of the year I had a goal to visit a new country every month, which could be relatively easy while living in Miami. This began with a trip to Dominican Republic in January and was to be followed up with a trip to Grand Cayman, and then Malta. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. All travel plans came to a halt and I began researching yet another road trip. After last year's perfect road trip, I was sure it would be my final....for a few years at the very least.
I researched several scenarios on the west coast again but I decided to focus on parks that I had not yet visited. I came up with the itinerary outlined in this post which would knock off another 8 parks to bring my total to 39 (as of July 2020).
Remember: You can create your own itinerary with Roadtrippers. Use my code: JORDINARY for a discount. Every penny earned from this website goes to creating more content.
Disclaimer: This post does not encourage travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, it just shows that it is possible.
PS: The Social Distancing Score for each stop is my opinion on the overall cooperation of guests and staff at the parks, restaurants and hotels to wear masks and socially distance each other.
Another PS: I will publish my belated 2018 and 2019 road trip recaps as well, stay tuned!
Key Road Trip Statistics
2020 Road Trip Map
July 5th, 2020
My Lodging: Hotel Indigo
Lodging Score: N/A
My Dining: Black Market Bar & Grill
Birmingham was simply a layover for me as my goal was to get as far as possible with reasonable accommodations on Day 1. It was a complete ghost town due to strict COVID-19 procedures.
July 6th, 2020
I stopped here to briefly check out the park. It was lacking activities and nearly no one was practicing social distancing, so I moved on. Hot Springs seemed like a very nice town which I would have liked to explore, so it's a shame that the implementation was so poor.
President Andrew Jackson set aside Hot Springs as a protected area in 1832, 40 years before Yellowstone became the first national park. The land of Hot Springs was deemed a national park in 1921.
Hot Springs is the smallest U.S. National Park at only 5,550 acres.
The thermal waters of Hot Springs heat naturally to 143°F and is odorless and chemical-free.
Each day around 700,000 gallons of water flows from the hot springs into a reservoir system. This water is then used by the commercial bathhouses and also flows through fountains where locals can fill up their own jugs for free.
Baseball teams such as the Red Sox were known to visit Hot Springs for training and recovery back in the 1880s to 1940s.
Hot Springs was surprisingly a hotbed for organized crime from the late-1800s through the mid-1900s. Gambling, prostitution and bootlegging were common and the area was a popular hangout spot for Al Capone, Frank Costello, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, and other infamous mobsters.
Hot Springs National Park had 1,544,300 visitors in 2016 – 218,581 more than in 2013.
My Lodging: Hammock
My Dining: Snacks and camping food
This was incredible...so incredible that I wrote a separate blog post for it here.
July 7th, 2020
My Dining: True Food Kitchen
I stopped in Branson, Missouri as well but deciding to keep going and reach Kansas City for lunch before continuing on to Sioux Falls. True Food Kitchen is a great spot for healthy eating!
My Lodging: ClubHouse Hotel & Suites
Lodging Score: 2.5/5.0
My Dining: Carino's (onsite/room service)
My stay in Sioux Falls was to get as far as possible to allow myself more time during the following day, and it was a great decision.
July 8th, 2020
My Dining: Devils Tower Gulch
On my way to Devils Tower, I made a pit stop at the famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. What a waste of time, sorry. It's somewhat cool to look at and if you like gimmicky places, then go for it! Zero social distancing there FYI.
Lunch at the Gulch was very good, but bear in mind the staff does not practice social distancing (as of July 8th, 2020). I "cheated" and had a bison burger. Devils Tower is a fascinating monument. I managed to trail run around it and get a nice workout in. Afterwards, I spent far too long photographing prairie dogs!