A travel itinerary West USA and Parks.
An incredible and surprising on the road experience in the magic and fascinating Southwest USA.
Landscapes and natural paths as a whole among the most wonderful ones in the world –halfway between the Pacific Ocean and the Natives Americans Redland – and the discovery of great cities, small rural towns, deserts, Ghost Towns, Scenic ByWays, legendary locations and so much more.
Find down here my complete travel itinerary West USA and Parks, with stages, distance in kilometers, travel times and locations to see with deepener links.
Besides a series of considerations and useful tips, with an eye to the budget, the days in one’s hands and single and eventual needs and expectations.
Planning a travel itinerary West USA and Parks – above all for who is enjoying the first experience in the States – is not so easy.
First of all, you have to reckon the days in your hands – which seem to be never enough for the United States – select the Parks and the locations you want to visit first (you will be never able to see everything in one just time), reckon the pros and cons of the period you are going to travel in and, of course, the budget affordable.
Find down here a 19 days’ itinerary, studied to see a good part of the most iconic locations in the Southwest USA, besides some stages and destinations less famous, but suggestive as well.
You can cut or add days according to your own needs, the period of the year you are going to travel in (between December and March some parks and/or roads could be closed due to snow, for example) and according to the extra information given by the deepener links down here.
In case you haven’t got 19/20 days in your hands, my tip is to read the whole itinerary and start to select stages and tours, recalculate the distance in kilometers according to the days in your hands – make sure they are never over 550km in one day – and check that there are no interruption of parks and/or roads.
If you are going to travel between July and August – very high season periods – move in advance booking flights, cars and accommodations. If you travel in other periods of the year – except for the facilities near the Monument Valley, Page or Las Vegas, always really very popular – you can easily choose your accommodations upon date or day by day.
Arrival with an intercontinental flight early in the afternoon, going through over the customs formalities, collect the rental car – with a 20% off – at Alamo Rent a Car and go to the hotel.
According to the arrival time, the area where your accommodations are and to the Jetlag, you can reckon to spend your first night in Los Angeles, enjoying the sunset from the Griffith Observatory, from the Santa Monica Pier or relaxing at one of the many venues/ restaurants in West Hollywood, one of the most loved and crowded area by locals.
The whole day is dedicated to the tour of the city. Find down here some posts about detailed itineraries to get organized at the best.
Overnight stay in Los Angeles.
Leaving early in the morning along Coast Hwy 101 South towards San Diego.
Photographic stages: Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.
Oceanside worth it a separate stop and quote. It is a wonderful small town on the coast, very local and still less tourist compared to the stages quoted above.
The ideal it would be to have a couple of nights in one’s own hands to spend here among ocean, beach and attractions. Find here a detailed report about what to see and what to do in Oceanside and its neighborhoods.
Arrival and overnight stay in San Diego.
The whole day is dedicated to the tour of the town and its neighborhoods.
Here you can find my detailed guidebook about what to see in San Diego in one and/or more days.
Leaving early in the morning towards Joshua Tree National Park.
Stages along the route: Temecula – its Old Town is an authentic Spanish origins settlement – Scenic State Route 74 between San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains, Palm Desert, Indio and Coachella.
If you have one more day in your hands, you can reckon also an overnight stay in Palm Springs.
Admittance to the Joshua Tree National Park from the Cottonwood Visitor Center, tour of the park and exit to the north.
A short tour of Pioneertown – typical western town – and overnight stay in Yucca Valley.
Complete day on the road.
From Yucca Valley throught the Cleghorne Lakes Wilderness Area as far as taking Route 66 in Amboy.
Going through some famous stages of the Mother Road, like Needles – it marks the crossing border with Arizona – and Oatman as far as reaching the final destination of this day, Kingman.
A day mainly dedicated to the tour of the Grand Canyon National Park, leaving from Kingman as far as reaching Williams, crossing at the end another suggestive trait of Route 66.
Find down here the stages: Kingman, Grand Canyon NP, return via Kingman on Hackberry, Seligman, Williams.
Overnight stay in Williams.
Towards Sedona, very beautiful and magic town of the Arizona red rock.
It can be reached through the Scenic Route 89A, amazing 25km scenic road arriving as far as the entrance of the town.
Time for explorations, trekking and tours. Here you can find the itinerary and useful info.
Leaving from Sedona directly towards the Monument Valley and arriving there early in the afternoon to plan the excursion of the valley – do it yourself or a guided tour. Find down here two detailed reports about what to see and what to do in the Monument Valley and where to eat and where to sleep in the Monument Valley or nearby.
Overnight stay in the area.
Leaving through Hwy 163 North and Hwy 191 to reach Moab.
Stages along the route:
Arrival in Moab just in time to reach the Dead Horse Point State Park at sunset.
Entire day dedicated discovering Moab and Arches National Park (detailed report) or a part of Canyonlands National Park. Only to visit the latter it would be necessary more days, so it’s better to select a short itinerary – as suggested in the post above – to discover a small part of it.
Find here the complete itinerary about what to see and what to do between Moab and its neighborhoods.
Overnight stay in Moab.
Leaving early in the morning from Moab to go along the Scenic Hwy 24 and visit the Goblin Valley State Park (detailed post).
Then keep going through Hanksville towards Capitol Reef National Park. Not to miss the Hickman Bridge Trail, the tour of Fruita and the Scenic Drive that right from Fruita takes to the Golden Throne and to the Pioneer Register.
Overnight stay in the near Torrey.
Day entirely dedicated going along one of the most beautiful Scenic Hwy in the country, Utah 12.
Many stops along the route and the chance to explore at least in a small part the boundless Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Actually, the ideal would be to stop between Boulder and Escalante at least two nights in order to be able to reach peacefully the Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area or the Devil’s Garden or going through the Zebra Slot Canyon.
Recommended tour by day of the Kodachrome Basin State Park – simple excursions and short trails – near Escalante.
Arrival and overnight stay in Tropic, near the Bryce Canyon NP.
Early in the morning tour of the Bryce Canyon NP and then go towards Page via Kanab.
Arrival in Page and accommodations in hotel.
The rest of the day (and of the following morning) is dedicated to the tours. Find down here two detailed reports about what to do in Page and how to visit the Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon.
Sunset over the Horseshoe Bend and overnight stay in Page.
Leaving late in the morning towards Las Vegas, with a stop along the route at the Valley of Fire State Park.
If you have a short time in your hands, my tip is to choose going along the Fire Wave Trail at least and enjoy the drive along the park.
Arrive and overnight stay in Las Vegas.
Find down here two detailed posts about what to do in Las Vegas and about where to sleep in Las Vegas.
From Las Vegas as far as Yosemite NP, Big Pine.
Stages: Death Valley NP, Lone Pine, Big Pine Lakes.
Arrival and stay overnight in Big Pine.
Leaving early in the morning towards Yosemite National Park, tour and exploration of the park.
Coming back in the evening and overnight stay in San Francisco.
Entire day dedicated to the tour of San Francisco. Find here a useful guidebook if you have in your hands at least one more day to dedicate to its wonderful neighborhoods.
Stay overnight in San Francisco.
Last hours to dedicate to San Francisco and its neighborhoods.
Return the rental car and arrival at the airport in time for the return flight.
If you want to end your journey in Los Angeles, once left San Francisco in one travel day – about 500km – you can easily drive the Hwy 101, the suggestive trait of Big Sur included, as far as Los Angeles.