2 Countries, 12 States, over 12,000 miles, 60 Days and 18 National Parks! This is the ultimate West Coast/Central Road Trip Itinerary.
Day 1: Houston, Texas – Amarillo, Texas (600 miles)
I started this road trip in Houston as it was where my car was located. Houston does offer a great international airport so you may also wish to start here, otherwise you can cut out the first two days and skip straight to Arizona.
Day 2: Amarillo, Texas – Seligman, Arizona (684 miles)
Seligman is located on historic Route 66, the motels are charming and the cafes serve up great American fare. Use this as a base to visit Havasupai Falls which is located 90 miles away.
Day 3: Havasupai Falls, Arizona
If you are planning on including Havasupai in your itinerary it is important to note that it’s almost impossible to get a reservation for camping. My suggestion is trying to book more than a year in advance, I called over 200 times 7 months before I wanted to travel and it was completely booked. It’s a 32km round trip, I did hike in and out on the same day which took about 10 hours. You will be charged $88 per person as a fine for day hiking, however I wouldn't recommend it.
Day 4: Seligman, Arizona – Page, Arizona via Monument Valley (365 miles)
A trip to Utah wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Monument Valley. You can drive around the entire reservation which has a number of pull outs for photo opportunities.
While you are visiting Page be sure to check out Horse Shoe Bend, it’s stunning at sunrise and sunset, but if you want to avoid the crowds, sunrise is your best bet.
If you are looking for a truly unique experience, you can book a night in a sheep wagon on Air BnB. It is located very close to Horseshoe Bend but be warned there is no electricity or running water.
Day 5: Page, Arizona – Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (151 miles)
A quick 2.5 hour drive will put you at the entrance of the Bryce Canyon National Park. The park is very picturesque and all of the main sites can be seen from the lookouts adjacent to the parking lots.
Day 6-8: Zion National Park, Utah (73 miles)
Located only a 1.5 hour drive from Bryce Canyon Zion National Park is in my top 2 favorite National Parks. Staying inside the park can be quite expensive, however there are a number of towns that surround the park with much more affordable accommodation. If you are planning to do any of the iconic hikes such as Angels Landing and Observation Point (my personal favorite) be sure to be at the visitors center before 7am to ensure you are on the first shuttle to the trail head. Zion limits cars inside the park so you will need to catch the shuttle buses, which run very frequently but be warned the car park fills up quickly in the morning. It is important to note that if you want to hike the “Subway” you will need to apply for a permit in the park lottery. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t win, I have applied multiple times with no success.
Day 9-10: Las Vegas, Nevada (160 miles)
This is an optional stop, however if you are keen to relax by the pool with a cocktail, take in a show, visit the Grand Canyon by helicopter or jump off the Stratosphere I would suggest a quick stop in Vegas is a must.
Day 11-13: Death Valley, Nevada (150 miles)
You may be thinking Death Valley, really? I can assure you that it’s a must see. If you are travelling in the middle of summer (July-August) you might want to skip Death Valley due to the extreme temperatures. That being said there is lots to explore in the park, most of the hikes are quite short and a lot can be seen from the car.
Day 14-16: Sequoia National Park, California (312 miles)
Leaving the heat of Death Valley behind you will start to climb and head into the Californian mountain range. Be prepared for a sudden drop in temperature it can get cold in the mountains even during summer. You are now in Bear Country so be sure to properly store all your food and scented items and be alert when hiking.
Day 17-20: Yosemite National Park, California (138 miles)
Yosemite is tied with Zion as my favorite National Park in the United States. If you can I highly recommend staying in the park as traffic in and out of the park is a nightmare. You can book camp sites ahead of time or if like me you didn’t think of that in time there is Camp 4 which is a first come first serve site. Be prepared to be there by 4am to get a spot, especially on weekends. My favorite hike in the park is called Upper Yosemite Falls / Yosemite Point. With 3,000ft in elevation gain this is not for the faint hearted but the views are well worth it.
Day 21-23: Lake Tahoe, California (123 miles)
The drive from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe is beautiful, be sure to take your time. If you like mountains, beaches, great food and fun bars then South Lake Tahoe is for you. My favorite hike in South Tahoe was Mt. Tallac, its quite steep but the views are worth it.
Day 23-24: Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (356 miles)
Crater Lake is one of the most picturesque places I have ever been. The lake is one of the cleanest and deepest in the world which makes the views unbelievable. See for yourself…
Day 25-26: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State (369 miles)
Mount Rainier is a sight to behold, if you are lucky enough to see it. The mountain is usually shrouded in clouds but it doesn’t make the park any less breath taking.
Day 27-29: Seattle, Washington State (65 miles)
As far as cities go I really enjoyed my time in Seattle, there is lots to see and do and if you need a break from the outdoors it’s a great return to civilization.
Day 30-34: Whistler, Canada via North Cascades National Park, Washington State (310 miles)
Today is going to involve quite a lot of driving but it’s totally worth it. North Cascades National Park is a must see, and only requires a small detour.
If you are looking for an amazing hike in Whistler, look no further than Geoffrey Lakes. The blue water, heavy forest and snow capped peaks make for perfect photos.
Day 35-41: Banff National Park, Canada (492 miles)
Banff was one of my favorite places visited on this road trip. You cannot spend enough time here, there are so many amazing hikes to do, below are some highlights.
Day 42-46: Jasper National Park & Mount Robson, Canada (111 miles)
Jasper is a beautiful National Park with lots of amazing hikes, however if you are looking for something more challenging and you have backcountry equipment I cannot recommend Berg Lake at Mount Robson enough. This challenging 14mile (each way) hike, with 2,000ft elevation gain is worth every step for those views. You will need to stay a minimum of 2 nights at Berg Lake so you can do the 8 mile day hike for these views. Be sure to book a camp site well ahead of time as its usually booked out in the summer months.
Day 47: Glacier National Park, Montana (367 miles)
Glacier National Park is very picturesque, I only drove through the park however I would highly recommend staying here a night and enjoying one of the many hikes on offer. If you’re lucky you will spot a Mountain Goat perched on a ledge.
Day 48-52: Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park Wyoming (375 miles)
t is important that you prepare yourself for Yellowstone, it is one of the most popular and visited National Parks. You will be stuck in non-stop traffic jams, getting anywhere take a long time due to the size of the park and watch out for wildlife. If you can I would suggest escaping the crowds and going on a Backcountry hike, there are lots available within the park.
If you are desperate to see some amazing wildlife remember most traffic jams are created by people slowing down to see something, 9 times out of 10 it will be a bison or elk but on the odd occasion it will be a bear, my advice if you see cars stopped grab your camera and start running.
Day 53-55: Mount Rushmore & The Bad Lands National Park, South Dakota (432 miles)
If you are feeling a little patriotic a stop at Mount Rushmore is a must. The sculptures will wow you and the surrounding forest is nice and offers some good hikes.
A stop at the Bad Lands National Park is a must, the views are breathtaking and if you are willing to hike you can spot ancient fossils in the rocks.
Day 56-60: Estes Park & Mt. Evans, Colorado (374 miles)
The final stop of this whirl wind adventure across 2 countries is Colorado. Soak in the last of the mountain views and brace yourself for a return to reality.
If you liked this post sign up for weekly emails letting you know what’s new on the site!