One thing that is on everyone’s bucket list: a road trip through the West Coast of the USA. There is nothing more wonderful than cruising through breathtaking landscapes, wild nature, and cool cities and all that with the sunshine on your face.
But planning a road trip requires some preparation. Because which places do you really need to see? What’s the best place to start your road trip? What are the highlights you can’t miss? And how long do you need to go? We had the same issue when we started planning and that’s why we decided to write this article. In this article, we share the ultimate road trip itinerary for West USA, including best places to stay, things to do, our route and tips to get around.. This itinerary will take you to the most incredible places like San Francisco, Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles.
The ultimate road trip itinerary for West USA: an overview of our travel route
START San Fransisco | END Los Angeles
DURATION 16-19 days
METHOD OF TRANSPORT Rental car
BEST TIME OF YEAR March-May (Spring) & June-September (Summer)
WHEN DID WE GO September 2015
HIGHLIGHTS San Fransisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Yosemite National Park, Monument Valley, Death Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, Palm Springs
Our road trip itinerary of West USA started in San Francisco. Wow, what a cool city. A city with inspiring cultures, vibrant neighborhoods and so many things to do. You will not be bored for a minute! We recommend you to stay at least 3 nights. Do not miss a visit to Alcatraz and walk as much as possible. You will see so much more than when you would drive through the city. The Hop on Hop off bus is also quite fun, it takes you to all highlights in no time. You choose where you get on and off and how long you want to stay somewhere.
Read also: 5 things to do in San Francisco
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite makes you speechless. One of the most-visited parks for a reason. A place of extremes with beautiful natural scenery, high mountains, waterfalls, sequoia trees, and a paradise for hikers. Spend at least 2 days and stay as close as possible or even in the park! We would have liked to stay here for a few days longer. We stayed in The Monarch in Mariposa, which was about a 45 minutes drive to the park. Good option if you are on a budget, but next time we definitely would stay inside the gates of the park.
Explore Yosemite Valley with this full-day hiking tour
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley with its salt plains, deep canyons, and impressive landscapes you can’t skip. It is one of the hottest and driest places on earth and the lowest point in North America can be found here, about 85 meters below sea level: Badwater Basin.
The Ranch at Death Valley has a superb location in the heart of the park, with a good swimming-pool (highly needed!), a restaurant, and a gift shop for your daily bottles of water.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park can be found in the state of Utah, which means a 1-hour difference compared to Arizona and California. It is surrounded by forests and mountains, the landscapes here are very impressive, you can do great hiking here and the rock formations from a colorful backdrop. 1 day is way too short.. We could only do 2 short trails and were so sad we hadn’t more time. So if you can stay longer, definitely do it here! We stayed at Zion Mountain Ranch and we loved every minute! A beautiful ranch, at the east entrance of Zion National Park with breathtaking buffalo views. And their restaurant Buffalo Grill… Wow! The best steak we had in the US. We can’t wait to visit it again!
Zion Mountain Ranch
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park really is a photogenic park with its famous “hoodoos” and the place-to-be for the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets! You can perfectly visit it on one day and you have several trails that you can combine. The park a little bit looks like an immense amphitheater with beautiful rock formations. According to the others, one of the most beautiful parks in the West. Many people ask us which one we prefer the most but actually, we still can’t choose. They’re all so unique and beautiful in their own way.
Page is the perfect place to visit the many highlights in the area: Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, and Antelope Canyon. We stayed one night, which was just too short to visit everything relaxed. Some tips: visit Horseshoe Bend during sunset, pre-book your tour for Antelope Canyon and have dinner at ‘Big John’s Texas BBQ’! This old gas station converted into a restaurant serves the most delicious pulled pork and a live music band will give you the ultimate country feeling. Yummy!
Monument Valley National Park
Monument Valley is the most iconic landscapes of the American West. Located at the Arizona/Utah border, so keep the 1-hour time difference in mind. (important if you have pre-booked a tour) With its desert landscape, phenomenal beauty, and large red stone formations, it is by far one of the most phenomenal places on earth. You really feel like you’re in the middle of a western movie. Keep your camera ready and admire the real Wild Wild West around you!
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon is one of the most famous and most visited attractions in the US, but may not be missed on your road trip. The Colorado River breaks this gigantic gap in two parts, namely the North Rim and the South Rim. Leave your car at one of the parking areas and jump into one of the free shuttle buses that operate in and around the South Rim. No tickets are required, and the stops are clearly marked by signs. No need to hike a lot, but of course you can hike different trails if you want to. For example, the ‘Bright Angel Trail’ that lets you descend into the Grand Canyon. From the various viewpoints, you can enjoy the most magical sunsets in the evening. Our lodge was located just 1 mile from the South Entrance.
There are tons of reasons to visit Las Vegas. Most people come here for the world-famous casinos, the party atmosphere and even to get married. We took the time to relax at the pool and enjoyed some sight-seeing and shopping. A road trip can be exhausting, yes! In the evening, we strolled along The Strip, with its neon billboards and saw the Bellagio fountains which were fun to see. The Venetian Hotel is also a great place for some good restaurants and entertainment.
Las Vegas has so much to offer. Check all activities and tours here
Palm Springs is the ideal stop just before you reach Los Angeles. In the middle of the desert, this insta-worthy place is home to many stars and legends and has some of the greatest restaurants in the world. Also known for its year-round sunshine (more than 360 days of sunshine per year) and the Coachella Festival, this place is just lovely! Our stay at The Saguaro was the cherry on the cake! Wanna do something active? Joshua Tree National Park or the Aerial Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto are some good choices.
Los Angeles or simply LA offers something for everyone. You have beautiful beaches like Venice Beach, the theme parks Universal Studios or Disney World, the famous Santa Monica Pier where you’ll find the end of Route 66, Hollywood Hills, and the luxury villas of the most famous celebrities in Beverly Hills. You should spend at least 3 days here or possibly even longer if you can.
Rent a bike in Venice Beach and drive down the Venice Beach Boardwalk to Santa Monica Pier. So nice!
Our apartment was located next to the Venice Canals and a 5-minute walk to the beach.
Our road trip through the West Coast was definitely one of the coolest things we did! In one word: EPIC! Such a freedom and so impressed by Mother’s Nature every second.
Wanna see more? Go check out the travel movie we made. Enjoy!
Now you’ve read our West USA: the ultimate road trip itinerary, you might be ready to go. Following websites can help you plan the perfect trip: