USA – The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places – Chris Travel Blog Luxury Travel

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; Places have to see for 14 days

The United States is on my itinerary once a year. As with most long-distance trips, I add a week of free time to a business trip. This “bleisure” trip is my way of life. My trip this year was no different and my daughter accompanied me on a 14-day road trip on the west coast that started in Los Angeles. In this article I will show you my travel route on the west coast. I visited Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Las Vegas. I also stayed in Los Angeles for a few days, but that was mainly for the business part of the trip. Enjoy this road trip with me.

Preparation for a road trip on the west coast

Let’s start with a few practical tips for a road trip on the west coast in the USA. Everything about luggage replacement, all-inclusive cars and itineraries in the United States.


If you do not have a US passport, you will likely need a visa or apply for an ESTA through the Visa Waiver program. Today, 38 countries are participating, including the Netherlands, where I am based. Obtaining an ESTA can therefore be done easily online Apply for your ESTA now directly online. E-Visa processes every application very quickly and controls the data. They are fast, easy to use and reliable and I use them often E-visas to apply for an e-visa worldwide. If you are not part of the 38 countries under the Visa Waiver program, please contact your local US embassy to obtain a regular visa.

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

Car rental in the United States

I am very demanding when it comes to cars. A road trip on the west coast in the USA would not be a road trip without a huge SUV. I prefer to book an all-inclusive car, which means I will surely have no surprise costs. Sunny cars offers this. You take on all additional insurance, your own risks, tire and glass damage and your help desk is there for you around the clock. All inclusive is one thing, but I also want a best price. When comparing prices, keep in mind that prices are all inclusive. So no additional fee of $ 10 to $ 20 a day for possible additional insurance. Your service is the best and I have to share this with you.

During the trip I had 2 (!!) flat tires, one of which was in Death Valley. I didn’t use the breakdown service because I can replace the flat tire in just 20 minutes. Saves This saves time. No replacement SUV was available nearby, so the first time a replacement vehicle was driven to my hotel overnight, I was able to continue with the new car the next day. Two days later it was the same problem: no SUV available to make a quick change at short notice. I was offered a nice muscle car, which was actually a higher category. I accepted this car as it would be nice for my visit to Las Vegas and the fact that my daughter likes the car too, as you can see in the picture below. Overall, I am very positive with the service from Sunny cars and look forward to using it again.

Remember this when planning!

One thing I know from experience is that distances are long in the United States. If the navigator shows 5 hours, it will be five hours or even more if you make a few stops. I always take enough drinks, a light lunch and snacks so that I don’t waste time during the trip. I always buy it at the beginning of a road trip and just leave it in the car. During the busy summer months, the parks I visit can get crowded and some may prohibit cars, so you will have to park and take shuttles. Plan a little more time. If you visit several national parks, be sure to buy the national park pass to save money. It applies to all parks for one year and saves money. Now let’s start with a daily itinerary.

West Coast Day 1 & 2 – Arrive in Los Angeles; to Merced

Actually, the first day was not the first day for me. I’ve been in Los Angeles on business for three days. This time I didn’t visit Los Angeles myself because I’ve been there before. If you’re planning a few days in Los Angeles before this 14-day road trip on the west coast, check out my tips on things to do in Los Angeles first. I went to Merced the first day after my business. The Holiday Inn Express Merced was my home for three nights and my gateway to Yosemite National Park.

In case you are staying longer in Los Angeles, check out a (very short) story I wrote 7 years ago with some options on what to do:
USA – Los Angeles and the rich and famous

Hollywood Boulevard

West Coast Day 3 & 4 – Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a unique landscape. Its landscape was shaped by glaciers many millions of years ago. You can see granite peaks, rock formations, waterfalls, pine forests and wildlife. If you do not want to take full-day hikes, I recommend a visit for two days. On the first day we go to Glacier Point and the various locations in the Yosemite Valley. On the second day, I recommend driving Tioga Road towards Mono Lake (not part of Yosemite National Park), which has some unique crystal formations. I drove from the Holiday Inn Express Merced to Yosemite National Park both days. The area has a really unique nature and a great place with a breathtaking view.

Read everything about this Dasy in the detailed daily articles:
USA – Yosemite to Mono Lake: The best stops on Tioga Pass Road
USA – The best Yosemite route for first-time visitors (1 or 2 days)

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 5 – After Pahrump and a little Death Valley

Today’s first part of the trip was a long drive from Merced to the entrance to Death Valley in Panamint Springs. This part of the west coast road trip is very pleasant and offers nice views when you take the road from Bakersfield to Lake Isabella. I passed the Sequoia National Park, which I want to visit another time. If you have an extra day, this is a great place to add an extra stop. The idea was to visit a few places in Death Valley, but in the end I only saw two.

A flat tire slowly let me drive the spare wheel to Pahrump. I managed to drive a few miles on Saline Valley Alt Road. You can see many Joshua Trees there. Drive until the road divides and take the smaller road a few hundred meters to the left for the best views. You need a 4 × 4 SUV below. Below on Highway 190, which runs through Death Valley, you’ll see a parking lot for some great views. Here I had the flat tire and then drove straight to Pahrump. The idea was to drive along Old Toll Road that day, visit the Charcoal Kills, see the Mosaic Canyon and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. With the exception of the old toll road, I was able to visit it on the seventh day instead. However, they were traveling that day, which would have been much more efficient. I arrived at the Holiday Inn Express Pahrump late in the evening, a great gateway to Death Valley.

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 6 – Death Valley off-road

All locations in this route on the west coast of the United States can be visited by a regular SUV or even a normal limousine, except for the two locations that day that I recommend a 4 × 4. I first drove to the ghost town of Rhyolite. It is an old mining town. From there I drove through the Titus Canyon, which offers a wonderful view. The road goes up and down steeply and I didn’t see anyone there (a 4 × 4 is a must in this gorge).

I continued north towards Race Track Playa with a small stop at an extinct volcano on the way. The Playa racetrack is the bottom of an old lake with moving stones. Stones move across the sand when it is wet and leaves a trace, hence the name. You could drive to the Playa racetrack with an SUV and good tires, but most rental companies only have normal tires and they quickly flatten out. I drove a 4×4 with high performance tires that day, which made the ride much more enjoyable and fun.

Read all about this day in the detailed daily article:
USA – Off-road driving in Death Valley: Titus Canyon & Racetrack Playa

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 7 – Death Valley Again; to Springdale

The idea was to just make a small circle through Death Valley and arrive in Springdale, Zion National Park for dinner. However, I first had to visit the places I missed on the fifth day (see above), and a second flat tire plus an hour difference made me arrive at 1am. In the early morning I left the Holiday Inn Express Pahrump towards Furnace Creek to drive the short but beautiful 20 Mule Team Road and to stop at Zabriskie Point. I continued with the missing items from the previous day. This was a three hour detour; I made speed.

Back in Furnace Creek I stopped at the Borax Works and drove the small Mustard Canyon Drive before finally starting on Badwater Road. Here I drove the Artist Drive Loop, which is worth a visit, and stopped at the Devils Golf Course. An amazing surrealistic view. I continued on Badwater Road and left Death Valley on this road back to Pahrump. It was already 6pm and I still had to go to Springdale. Only 10 kilometers before my hotel in Springdale I got the second flat tire. The good thing was that I didn’t need the car the next day so it could be replaced during the day.

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 8 – Full day Zion National Park

During this trip, I only visited Zion Canyon, the most famous part of Zion National Park. The actual Zion National Park is bigger, but this is the most beautiful place. It is possible to see most things in one day, but the few day hikes that you obviously cannot do. I went to the Emerald Pools, including the top one. When you return, make sure you turn left at some point to go back down. The prospects are incredible. From there, go to the narrows at the end of the street at the Temple of Sinawava. Here the canyon gets smaller and smaller until there is only one river left and you have to walk through the river. Make sure you do this at the end of the day as you don’t want to walk on wet shoes all day.

Read all about this day in the detailed daily article:
USA – Zion National Park day trip: you have to see it and have to hike

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 9 – Springdale to the Grand Canyon

The trip from Springdale to the south rim of the Grand Canyon was one of the longer ones on this itinerary on the west coast of the United States. I first went on a short hike in Zion National Park. This hike called Canyon Overlook Hike is right behind the tunnels you will be driving through. There is a nice view of the entrance to Zion Canyon. A few kilometers further you will find the Mesa Checkboard (2 photos above). It is a large hill with lines and carvings that make it look like a chess board.

From this point on, it’s a long drive through a beautiful, changing landscape. I suggest driving through Jacob Lake and crossing the twin bridges, but just before you head to the Lees Ferry landing to see the Colorado River up close. I could have headed straight for the Grand Canyon now, but decided to make a 20 kilometer detour to see the Horseshoe Bend. It’s a great view as you can see in the picture below. This detour took me to my hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon, late at night. However, it was worth it.

Read all about this day in the detailed daily article:
USA – The best route from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon South Rim

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 10 – Grand Canyon Hike

A visit to the Grand Canyon should include a day hike in the canyon. It’s not recommended to hike all the way up and down in one day, but it is possible to hike halfway and back. The best way to hike is on the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. This trail offers a variety of views and at Skeleton Point you can get a first glimpse of the Colorado River. The hike takes between 4 and 6 hours depending on how fast you go. When my eleven-year-old daughter accompanied me on the hike, I didn’t hurry. It was an unforgettable hike that included a lot of time with my daughter. I did a similar hike with my son in the Tiger Leaping Gorge in China two years ago.

Read all about this day in the detailed daily article:
USA – Grand Canyon Day Hike: South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 11 – Best views of the south rim of the Grand Canyon; to Las Vegas

To get a good impression of the Grand Canyon, you have to visit several viewpoints. There are several towards Hermits Point and Desert View Point. In the direction of Hermits Point, I went the first 5 or 6 viewpoints along the edge path. From there I took the shuttle bus to the end of each of the next points because the distance between the points was quite large and I didn’t have time to walk all the way. After lunch, I stopped at a few points towards Desert View Point and the watchtower. The watchtower is definitely worth a visit. It was late afternoon when I started my trip to Las Vegas, where I arrived late in the evening. The last stop on this road trip on the west coast.

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 12 – Full Day Las Vegas

Las Vegas: You like it or you hate it. I liked it for a day, but was also happy to go. When I was traveling with my daughter, I couldn’t go anywhere or sit on the terrace of a microbrewery. I visited Fairmont Street to do the zip line. Walked the strip to see the fountains and incredible architecture. I ended the day on the roof of a parking lot, not a hangover, but to watch the sunset. It was worth it, as you can see in the following photo.

read all about it Las Vegas day in the detailed day trip report:
USA – Top 5 Things to Do in Las Vegas When You Have a Day

USA - The Ultimate West Coast Road Trip Route; 14 days to see places

West Coast Day 13 & 14 – A little more Las Vegas and back to Los Angeles

In the early morning I had a delicious breakfast with my daughter in the room at the Intercontinental Venetian Las Vegas. I then took her to the M&M store, which she thought was heaven. After choosing all the colors she wanted, I paid for the Kilo M & Ms. Today I drove back to Los Angeles, from where the return flight to Amsterdam started early the next morning.

The two-week road trip on the west coast came to an end. I hope this itinerary will help you plan your west coast road trip in the United States. If you are more interested in city breaks, check out my 2 week United States itinerary. It was a wonderful trip with my daughter. I hope to do another one with her soon. Where? I don’t know yet, but the future will tell.

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Corona Virus COVID 19 Update for the US West Coast: Make sure you check this IATA list the affected entry and transit restrictions for that country. Also check with your airline for options to rebook or redirect. The corona virus will surely disappear at some point. Before you travel, make sure that the U.S. West Coast is a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) area and that there are restrictions before you travel.

Have you also visited the west coast of the USA or do you have any questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!

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