Cruising down the highway, with windows down and the music blaring from your speakers, you see out the windshield only open roads and gorgeous scenery. It’s a time for bonding with friends, for seeing sights around the country, and for relaxing as your only obligation is to travel as far as you want. Americans and foreigners alike dream of this type of road trip across the U.S.
My road trip took me through some of the most beautiful parts of the country that I’ve ever seen. All the long hours we logged in the car paid off as we reached incredible sights and cities, having adventures as we explored the highlights of the western U.S. Starting in San Francisco, we had a 171 mile drive in-land to Yosemite National Park. The transition from cityscape and Golden Gate Bridge to mountainous terrain and giant sequoia trees was stunning.
Along the drive we made frequent stops, whether to refuel the car or ourselves or just to stretch and take in our surroundings more slowly. The pace of road-tripping is up to you. You can speed from spot to spot, fitting in as much sightseeing as possible in your scheduled time. Or you can enjoy the drive, taking frequent stops as you see fit. For the foreigners and non-car-owners, there are rental cars, trucks, vans, and RVs available for your road trip. Before you book, think about the pace of your trip, and how many days you want to take for your journey.
Onward from the breathtaking and vast beauty of Yosemite, we drove 283 miles to Death Valley. Luckily, our path took us through the Mojave Desert. The arid desert, spotted with mountains and cacti, is intimidating yet captivating. Death Valley is home to some of the most impressive feats of nature, like the salt flats, sand dunes, Race Track, and the lowest point in North America. Reaching the national parks, like Yosemite and Death Valley does not signal an end to a leg of the road trip, but rather a transition wherein you pay more attention out the windows and stop more frequently. The parks are enormous, and should be seen for a few days each, if possible.
142 miles later, the next stop on my journey was fabulous Las Vegas. I can’t share too much on that front because as you know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. You’ll need to make your own memories there, and trust me, it’s a memorable city. On from Vegas we drove, with much anticipation building over 270 miles, towards the Grand Canyon. This was my absolute favorite stop on the journey, and the canyon kept me staring in amazement for hours. No road trip can be complete without a stop to Grand Canyon!
There are loads of national parks ripe for exploring in the southwestern U.S. Depending on what type of scenery you hope to see and what parks are a must-visit for you, you’ll be able to plan your route around the states. If you plan to make the trek across the classic Route 66 Highway, you’ll start in either Chicago or LA and head towards the other. Parts of the route are no longer open, but if you use your maps for planning and GPS for navigating, you’ll be able to make almost the same trip. Stopping along the old towns that popped up when the highway was laid is quite fun, and if you stop in Seligman, AZ, you must eat at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In!
Instead of trekking the 481 miles from Grand Canyon to LA in one stretch, we stayed over in Laughlin, NV, where we got our gambling on for cheap. It’s a perfect halfway point, splitting the drive into two days, covering 200 miles and then 281. Ghost towns that were former mining towns during the gold and silver rush in California in the late 1800s have been restored and make for a fun pitstop along the journey. Try Calico ghost town in California!
My road trip ended in Los Angeles, the city of angels. There is loads to do in LA, starting with the tourist must-see’s like Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Drive, and then moving on to Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Korea Town, and the Getty Center. In this buzzing and glamorous tinsel town, I got my fill of fame and glamour after a trip mostly centered on the beautiful and magnificent natural attractions.
I had a blast on my road trip, and I will definitely take another road trip so that I can see and explore more of the beautiful American landscape. Have you taken a Great American Road Trip?