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Traveling along the West Coast of the United States had been in my head since the day I found out I’d be moving there for work. Who hasn’t dreamed about a road trip across the Western US? For me, the landscapes that automatically come to mind are the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Death Valley among others, as we have seen again and again in a bunch of movies.
In addition to nature, the American West Coast also offers you visits to symbolic cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
My favorite part of this trip was definitely the National Parks where natural wonders of this incredible country are concentrated within. I had been taking note of them on a Western US map for a long time so that I could visit them as soon as I had the chance.
That’s how I started planning the 10-day West Coast USA road trip that we took in August.
THIS WAS OUR 10-DAY WEST COAST USA ITINERARY:
- Day 1: Arrival in Las Vegas. Beginning of our 10-day West Coast USA Road Trip.
- Day 2: Monument Valley + Antelope Canyon + Horseshoe Bend. The most popular places in the Western USA.
- Day 3: Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the less touristic national park in the West Coast USA.
- Day 4: Zion Canyon National Park. One of the places we like the most during our 10-day West Coast USA trip.
- Day 5: Grand Canyon, a must-visit place on the West Coast.
- Day 6: Mojave National Preserve + Death Valley, the best of our 10-day West Coast Itinerary.
- Day 7: Yosemite Valley, the best attraction in the Western USA.
- Day 8: Upper Yosemite Falls, the best hike of our West Coast America road trip.
- Day 9: Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. You cannot skip this highlight of West Coast USA:
- Day 10: Return flight from San Francisco. En of our 10-day Western US trip.
If a Western US road trip is also one of your dreams, you will find everything you need to prepare your trip here:
- 10-day West Coast USA Road Trip
- Best places to visit in West Coast America
- Our West Coast USA 10-day itinerary
- How to plan a self-drive trip to the Western US
- How much does it cost a West Coast USA trip?
- Map of Western US
10-day west coast USA road trip
One of the first things I am sure you will be wondering about is how long a West Coast trip could take. My opinion is that you could be discovering the American West Coast for months and would still have things to do.
When looking at a West Coast USA map, it may initially seem that the best tourist destinations are close to each other. However, distances in this country are huge, and you will spend a lot of time on the road during your trip.
Keep in mind that the US public transportation system is very scarce outside of the big cities, so the only practical option is to rent a car and prepare for a West Coast USA driving holiday.
On our West Coast USA road trip, more than ¼ of the trip was spent driving and still, along with the Canadian Rockies trip, it was one of the best trips of our life.
Another highly recommended option is to take a West Coast RV trip, as this country offers all kind of facilities for those who like to travel with their motorhome. You can check the best RV rental companies in the USA here.
Although it takes a long time to travel across the West Coast in depth, if you don’t have too many days or prefer to combine them, I encourage you to spend in West Coast America at least 10 days.
Best places to visit in West Coast America
There are thousands of West Coast USA tours you can take, so the first thing you have to choose is a few must-see places. It may seem complicated to plan this trip at first, especially when you do not have much time.
To help you choose your perfect West Coast America itinerary, you will discover the main tourist attractions in this section. Then, you can design the West Coast USA holiday itinerary that best suits your needs.
I suggest that as you read through this article, write down the things to do in West Coast America that interest you most on a map to help determine the best itinerary.
If you like to visit cities, one of the places you cannot miss on the West Coast America is San Francisco. This popular city of California, is characterized by the steep slopes and the well-known Lombard street.
The most popular thing to do in San Francisco is visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in the US and a classic in many American films, as seen in Godzilla and Superman.
In addition, another interesting activity to do is visiting the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary whose best-known prisoner was Al Capone. It was said that nobody could escape from this maximum-security prison island since the only way was by swimming almost two kilometers in cold and treacherous waters.
If you are visiting this city, stay in one of the best hotels in San Francisco.
Las Vegas, also known as “Sin City”, is one of the American classics famous for its countless casinos, open container laws (aka public drinking), and legalized prostitution in nearby counties.
The largest city in the state of Nevada welcomes both domestic and global tourism, where vice is a right. It is not surprising to hear the old saying: What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.
Whether you like gambling or not, it is a must-see Western American city. It is also a good place to celebrate your (fake) wedding if being married by Elvis is also one of your dreams. Here you can find the ultimate list of things to do in Las Vegas.
If you are visiting this city make sure you know where to stay in Las Vegas, since its hotels are some of the most amazing in the World.
Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS to do in las vegas
Los Angeles, also known as LA, is the most populous city on the West Coast of USA. The City of Broken Dreams and Hollywood stars is located in California.
The Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign are probably the main tourist attractions in Los Angeles, although a visit to Santa Monica, the beach where Baywatch was filmed, is also recommended.
Another place of interest is the Warner Bros. studios, where you can visit the film sets of a lot of movies, as well as Venice, where the canals remind you of those from the Italian city with the same name.
LA is a stop that you cannot miss on your 10-day West Coast US trip if you happen to enjoy both cities and film. You can find where to stay in Los Angeles here.
Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELES
If we had to choose just a single place to start, visiting the Grand Canyon would probably be the first that we recommend to do in West Coast USA.
The Grand Canyon is in Arizona and was shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years. In some points, the Canyon reaches a depth of more than 5250 feet.
If you don’t have much time, taking a Grand Canyon helicopter tour is a good option, as we told you in that article about our experience. However, if you have several days, I advise going down the canyon through one of the many different hikes to discover the Colorado River.
Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS TO DO IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK and best places to stay in Grand canyon
If you like adventure, visiting the Havasu Falls is an essential of West Coast USA.
The Havasu Falls, along with others in the area, belong to the Havasupai Indian Reservation and are guarded by a tribe of Native Americans. They are inaccessible by car, so you must be in excellent physical condition to visit as you will be hiking in and out.
Plan well in advance for your visit, since you will need a permit that usually runs out shortly after the beginning of the reservation period which starts in February of each year. In addition to the permit, you will have to book a camping spot, as it is mandatory to stay there when visiting the falls.
Back at the coastal area, Santa Bárbara, located 150 kilometers north of Los Angeles, can be another interesting stop.
The main beach largely resembles Santa Mónica, except Santa Bárbara is not as popular.
However, Santa Bárbara is not just a beach: its architecture with Hispanic colonial roots is an important tourist attraction.
Between Utah and Arizona, Monument Valley is another one of the supernatural landscapes in the American West. It is a huge valley where very interesting geological formations rose with reddish colors. This was also a scene featured in many classic western films.
This desert valley is located within the Navajo Nation, a territory that belongs to the Navajo natives who are responsible for both maintenance of the reserve and collection of entrance fees, which is not included in the US National Parks pass.
The best time to photograph the valley is during sunrise when the sun is behind the monuments, or during sunset when the monuments are illuminated by the last rays of the sun. In addition, there are different hiking trails that bring you closer to the main monuments of the valley, or you can even take a Jeep tour with one of the Navajo guides.
Do not miss our Guide TO THINGS TO Do IN Monument Valley and WHERE TO STAY IN MONUMENT VALLEY
PAGE: ANTELOPE CANYON AND HORSESHOE BEND
Page is a town inside the Navajo Indian Reservation, located in Arizona.
The most interesting attraction here is the Antelope Canyon, a geological feature formed by consecutive floods throughout history, which eroded narrow labyrinths of sandy rock into its terrain.
Do not miss our Guide to antelope canyon TOURS
In addition, if you visit Page, you cannot miss a sunset in Horseshoe Bend, which is named after its shape. It is probably the most famous bend of the Colorado River.
Do not miss our Guide to VISIT horseshoe bend
Here we leave you the best guide to know where to stay in Page.
The Wave in Arizona is another attraction to see in Western America.
To see this solidified wave-shaped dune, you must have a permit issued four months in advance and by lottery (only 20 visitors per day are allowed).
It is one of the few virgin wonders that remain in the United States, so if you missed the date of the draw, it is always a good idea to check if someone has canceled his or her tour on the calendar. Visit this booking website both to participate in the lottery and to check the calendar.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Bryce Canyon National Park is a reserve located in Utah and is popular for the peculiar rock formations also known as “Hoodoos”. This park should be included in any Western US National Parks itinerary.
Due to the reddish color of the terrain, the best time to contemplate the main amphitheater viewpoint is at sunrise and sunset.
There are also several hiking trails that will take you through the formations, where you can discover some with very interesting forms and names like Thor’s Hammer or Queen Victoria.
Do not miss THE BEST HIKES IN bryce canyon and the BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BRYCE
Close to the Mexican border, we will find San Diego, the second largest city in the state south of Los Angeles
This city is a good stop on your 10-day West Coast US road trip if you are more interested in beach areas. La Jolla Cove is the most popular beach and you can find all kinds of wildlife including sea lions there.
In addition to the beach, there are other places of interest, such as Old Town San Diego, where you can find original buildings of the first Spaniards that arrived here, and Balboa Park, where many museums are concentrated, or the Coronado Island, where you can find the best views of the city.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
In Utah, one of the most important landmarks of the state is Zion National Park, where the main interest here is an 800-meter-deep canyon carved into the reddish terrain for 24 kilometers by the Virgin River.
There are different hikes that you can take in this park. One of the most popular is Angels Landing, where you can get a full view of the canyon after three hours of hiking and up the Via Ferrata section.
Another longer route is The Narrows, which can be completed in 8 hours or done over several days. The route goes through the narrow gorges carved in by the virgin river, so you always need to check river flow the day before at the visitor’s center, and also to get water shoes.
Do not miss THE THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO IN zion national park and WHERE TO STAY IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Located in a desert area in southern California, Joshua Tree National Park stands out for its unique rocks and mountain shapes.
Although its name comes from the unique Joshua Tree, what makes this park really interesting are the infinite rock-climbing possibilities.
Whether or not you are a climber, if you decide to visit Joshua Tree National Park on your West Coast USA trip over 10 days, you will experience the feeling of finding yourself on another planet.
On your 10-day West Coast America self-driving tour, you cannot miss the Death Valley that is located in California.
This immense desert is famous for Badwater, a dry area with the highest negative elevation within North America, situated at 262 feet below sea level. In addition, it is one of the hottest places on earth during summer, with a maximum recorded temperature of 58ºC.
If you are going to cross it, be sure to fill the fuel tank and bring plenty of water to survive the extreme desert temperatures during the day.
Do not miss tHE bEST tHINGS TO DO IN Death Valley and where to stay in Death Valley
MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE
The Mojave Desert spreads across Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley, Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NRA) and the Mojave National Preserve.
While you will find Joshua trees all over in this vast extension of land, the world’s highest concentration is located within the Mojave National Preserve.
In addition to the flora, the fauna is abundant and diverse, from reptiles like snakes, lizards, and turtles to mammals like bobcats or hares.
Do not miss WHAT TO DO IN mojave desert
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
Arches National Park, located in Utah, has the highest concentration of stone arches in the world, however, there is no record of how many arches there are in this extension. This is the reason why it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Utah.
In addition, we can find another type of geological formations that defy gravity here, such as the Balanced Rock, a rock that seems to be falling at any time, yet has been standing for thousands of years in the same position.
The best way to go across Arches National Park is through a park ranger-guided tour that takes you to the purest and most virgin area of the park, where you cannot access on your own. You can book it here.
This park is one of the most acclaimed by photographers since the impossible shapes of the arches are very easy to use in any composition.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
An essential stop in West Coast USA is Yosemite National Park, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
This park is remarkable for two of the most important climbing sites in the United States and the world: the big granite walls of El Capitan and the Half Dome. In addition, we can find the American Giant Sequoia, one of the largest trees in the world, as well as extensive fauna that includes raccoons and black bears in this park.
If you are a lover of nature, outdoor activities, and camping, this is surely going to be one of your favorite places near West Coast of the United States.
Do not miss all you have to do in Yosemite and WHERE TO STAY IN YOSEMITE
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
In Sequoia National Park, you can find the largest concentration of giant sequoias in the world. These are grouped within what is known as the Giant Forest.
The park is located about 10000 feet above sea level, a critical altitude for this type of trees to grow. However, it may be closed during the winter because of the snow.
In addition, here we can find the giant sequoia known as General Sherman standing at 275 feet. While it is the largest single-stem tree, the Hyperion, located in Redwood National Park, California, stands taller at 379 feet as the tallest living tree known in the world.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the oldest national park in the United States. It stands out for the incredible volcanic activity in the area and for the abundant fauna that inhabits the park: buffalo, grizzly bears, black bears, moose… If you want to enjoy the authentic American wildlife and landscapes with a smell of sulfur taken from another world, Yellowstone is an essential place to visit on the American West Coast.
I didn’t visit it during my first trip to the West Coast in the United States in 10 days, but during my next trip in which I toured Yellowstone and Grand Teton for 10 days, a great plan if you are looking for an alternative itinerary.
Check WHAT TO DO IN YELLOWSTONE and WHERE TO STAY IN YELLOWSTONE
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
The mountains of Grand Teton National Park are one of the most haunted landscapes by photographers on the West Coast. If you like wildlife, hiking, and want to flee the typical 10-day US West Coast itineraries, I recommend visiting this national park that promises a quiet vacation away from the masses even in peak tourist season.
Grand Teton adjoins Yellowstone National Park, so taking a 10-day tour of the US West Coast combining these two parks is quite popular.
Check what to do in grand teton and WHERE TO STAY IN GRAND TETON
Our 10-day West Coast USA itinerary
As we stated above, our West Coast USA trip was focused on national parks and all the natural wonders of this area in North America.
Cities in the west coast are for sure some interesting destinations, but, without a doubt, if we had had more than 10 days to travel the American West Coast, we would have kept exploring the natural places that this country offers, each one so different and full of contrasts.
DAY 1 – West Coast America Trip: FLIGHT TO LAS VEGAS
We arrived in Las Vegas at noon, picked up the rental car and made a quick route to see the highlights of the city.
After a mandatory stop to make the classic photo with the Welcome Las Vegas sign, we headed to Monument Valley (6 hours driving) where we spent our first night.
DAY 2 – West Coast America Trip: DAWN IN MONUMENT VALLEY + ANTELOPE CANYON + HORSESHOE BEND
We photographed the sunrise in Monument Valley to see the incredible geological formations of the Navajo Reservation tinted in beautiful reddish colors.
In the morning we went to Antelope Canyon, in Page (2 hours driving) to take both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours.
In the afternoon we had a rest at Lake Powell. Then we went to Horseshoe Bend from where we watched and photographed an unforgettable sunset.
We drove 2.5 hours until our next stop on our 10-day route along the West Coast.
DAY 3 – West Coast America Trip: BRYCE canyon NATIONAL PARK
We woke up in Bryce Canyon National Park, where we took pictures of the twilight from Sunrise Point overlooking the amphitheater.
We hiked the Rim Trail, seeing different Hoodoos as Thor’s Hammer.
At night, we returned to photograph the amphitheater under the Perseid Meteor Shower, and camped inside the park.
DAY 4 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: ZION NATIONAL PARK
We arrived in Springdale (2 hours driving), parked our car and took the shuttle to Zion National Park.
We did the Angels Landing trail to get the best views of the valley.
In the afternoon, we drove 4 hours to the next stop on our 10-day Western US trip.
DAY 5 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: GRAND CANYON
We watched the sunrise at the Grand Canyon from Mather Point in probably the most epic light display we have ever seen during a sunrise.
In the morning we take this tour, as we tell you in this article about Grand Canyon helicopter rides. Without a doubt, I enjoyed my visit the most.
In the afternoon, we descended the first section of the Bright Angel Trailhead trail.
In the evening we drove to the next stop of our 10-day Western US trip, Mojave National Preserve (4 hours driving), where we spent one of the best nights of our life camping in the wild desert.
DAY 6 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: MOJAVE DESERT + DEATH VALLEY
We photographed the first sun rays of the day through the branches of the Joshua trees in the Mojave National Preserve.
We filled the tank to cross the Death Valley and made stops at the main viewpoints.
We arrived at Yosemite National Park where we set up a bivouac to spend the night in order to get accommodation the next morning at the historic Camp 4.
This day we drove a total of 10 hours, more driving hours than any other day of the entire trip.
DAY 7 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Once settled in Yosemite National Park valley we went to discover the main viewpoints of the valley, from which we would photograph the last sunrises and sunsets of our 10-day trip to the West Coast USA.
We took the opportunity to enjoy the real camp life, cooked on the bonfire at night and raccoon watched with our campmates so they didn’t eat our food.
DAY 8 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
On the eighth day, we did the most strenuous hike of our 10-day West Coast USA trip. We climbed to the Upper Yosemite Falls, where we had a bath in one of its natural pools.
In the afternoon we took refuge in the tent as a hail storm fell – remember that weather in Yosemite, like any high mountains, is quite unpredictable even during summer season.
DAY 9 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
On our 9th day, we decided to try one of the small hiking trails in Yosemite National Park, such as the hike that takes you to Bridal Veil Falls or the Taft Point viewpoint.
In the afternoon we visited Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, where we could see these giant trees.
DAY 10 – WEST COAST AMERICA TRIP: FLIGHT BACK FROM SAN FRANCISCO
We left Yosemite National Park to head to San Francisco, where we took our return flight home.
Our initial idea was to have the last day to discover the city. However, we liked Yosemite so much that we ended up leaving just enough time to catch the flight back. It took us 4 hours to get to the airport.
How to plan an self-drive trip to the Western US
Although many travel agencies offer West Coast USA holiday packages, this destination seems more appropriate to be planned on your own (unless you are interested in photography and decide to take a photo tour to the West Coast America).
In any case, we will explain step by step how you can plan a trip to the West Coast USA on your own in this section:
- Choose your best West Coast USA itinerary
- Plan how to get to West Coast USA
- Get your US tourist visa
- Hire the best travel insurance for traveling to the United States
- Book a rental car
- Buy America the Beautiful Pass to enter the US National Parks for free
- Book the best accommodation on the West Coast
HOW TO CHOOSE THE best West Coast USA itinerary
From the previous section where we highlighted the best places to visit in Western US, choose 8 (if taking a 10-day West Coast road trip) or 15 places (if taking a 20-day trip) that interest you most.
Jot them down on a map of West Coast USA (I suggest using Google MyMaps).
Connect the different points and check on our map below to see if there is any tourist attraction that is on your way or that you can easily reach.
Finally, check that the driving hours are compatible with the itinerary or else leave them out of your list.
Do not be frustrated, no matter how long you stay on the West Coast, you will always leave something to explore for the next trip 😉
how to get to the West Coast of USA
In order to define our itinerary, we must know how to get to the Western US.
The best way is by flying to one of the following three airports:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Las Vegas
If you want to find cheap flights to the West Coast, the best time to book them is 3 months in advance. You can find here the best cheap flights hacks. My favorite search engine is Kiwi.com.
Also, if you want to visit too many places in the West and do not have much time, I suggest that you do a one-way trip, starting at a different airport from where you will return home through. This will increase the travel budget a bit, but you don’t get to travel to the Western US every day, do you?
VISA FOR THE UNITED STATES
There are two ways to travel as a tourist to the United States. If you belong to one of these countries you can travel to the US without a visa, but must obtain a travel authorization called “ESTA”.
HOW TO PROCESS THE ESTA
The ESTA is very easy to obtain. Simply fill out the application form on iVisa and you will receive the approval in about 6 hours by email.
We have a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the ESTA to the USA.
HOW TO PROCESS TOURIST VISA B2
If you do not have a passport from one of the countries mentioned above, you need a B2 visa to travel as a tourist to the United States.
This type of visa is more difficult to obtain. In addition to preparing the required documentation which proves that you are not going to travel to the United States with the intention of living or working, you will have to go through an interview at the embassy.
A more extensive explanation of how to process this visa can be found on the US Department of State website.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR THE UNITED STATES
Living in the USA, I know how important is to have good travel insurance for the USA. Since health care cost in this country is very high, hospitalization without insurance can easily make your bill rise above $100,000.
So when we moved here, we bought long-stay travel insurance, although we are currently using annual multi-trip insurance.
Although I always recommend buying the best travel insurance wherever you go, you must have extraordinary coverage for the US (never consider hiring anything that covers below $30,000 if you travel to the United States).
You can get the best quality-price insurance with Heymondo.
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western USA car rental
As we have said, the only practical way to travel the Western United States is by renting a car.
If you do not have too much time, consider taking a one-way instead of a round-trip along the West. We picked up the car in Vegas and left it in San Francisco. Although this meant an increase in the budget because of the drop off-fee, we were able to visit more places during our 10-day West Coast trip.
The cheapest way to rent a car is using Rentalcars. However, do not hire the insurance when making your online booking: wait to pick up the car at the counter to hire the insurance.
We hired the rental car in Las Vegas.
ANNUAL NATIONAL PARKS PASS – AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
If you are planning a Western US National Parks itinerary, I recommend that you buy an annual America the Beautiful pass.
This pass allows access to all US National Parks, as well as other state parks.
The pass is valid for one year from when it is purchased and covers entry for one vehicle with up to 5 passengers. Display pass by hanging it over the rear-view mirror).
In addition, the pass is issued for two owners who must sign behind the card to use. A very good option is to buy the annual pass, leave one signature blank, and resell it to a second owner at the end of your Western USA tour.
Even if you don’t resell the pass, you will get your money’s worth just by visiting 3 or 4 National Parks (Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Yosemite …).
The pass can be purchased online from here or directly at the ticket office of the first national park you visit.
ACCOMMODATION ON THE WEST COAST US
It is difficult to find cheap and very good quality hotels at the same time on West Coast America. Therefore we will try to help you by listing the best places to stay, considering different budgets, tastes, and needs.
Keep in mind that accommodation will be one of the major expenses of your trip to West Coast America. On the other hand, sometimes a good hotel can even be one of the best attractions you can enjoy during your trip.
WHERE TO STAY IN SAN FRANCISCO
- HI San Francisco Downtown Hostel: Hostel in the heart of San Francisco that has both shared and private rooms at a very low price. Free WIFI. Includes breakfast and a kitchen for those who want to cook.
- Buena Vista Motor Inn: Hotel with complimentary parking in the middle of Lombard street. Wi-Fi and breakfast included. Totally safe area to walk at night. Just a short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAS VEGAS
- Venetian: Venice-themed casino resort with gondoliers included.
- Circus Circus: Casino hotel with circus theme, with its own indoor amusement park that runs throughout the year.
- Stratosphere: Casino hotel that includes vertigo attractions at 350 meters high.
- Bellagio: Inspired by Italy, it is one of the most luxurious resort and casinos in Las Vegas.
- New York – New York: Resort casino inspired by the big city where we can find a miniature statue of liberty.
- Paris Las Vegas: Perfect casino hotel for honeymoon or couple trips with miniature Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.
- Excalibur: You will find yourself in the Middle Ages in this casino resort within its castles.
- Planet Hollywood: Modern hotel and casino where you will feel the essence of the West Coast.
WHERE TO STAY IN LOS ANGELES
- Hollywood Travelodge: Located very close to the walk of fame. Includes breakfast, Wi-Fi and free parking.
- Samesun Venice Beach: The best option if you want to enjoy the Venice boardwalk and its beach. They have bicycle rental service.
- Cal Mar Hotel Suites: If you prefer to be close to Santa Monica beach this option is very well priced.
WHERE TO STAY IN GRAND CANYON
If we visit the South Rim, the most touristic edge of the Grand Canyon, it is quite important to stay in the Grand Canyon Village, since two of the main attractions of this jewel of Western US is their sunrise and sunset. So, the closer we are to the edge, the easier it will be for us.
We camped in the Grand Canyon, at the Mather Campground on the South Rim.
If you prefer to stay at a hotel, all accommodations at Grand Canyon Village are run by the company Xanterra, and you can make reservations on whose website.
WHERE TO STAY IN PAGE
- Hyatt Place Page Lake Powell: This hotel is located in the center of Page. As it is highly valued, you will have to book it well in advance, since rooms tend to run out being such a small and tourist place at the same time.
- Country Inn & Suites by Radisson: Without a doubt the best hotel in Page, both the price and the charm of its rooms. It is not in the center but is closer to Horseshoe Bend.
WHERE TO STAY IN BRYCE
Bryce is one of the best places to camp in the Western US. In addition to two conventional campsites (North Campground and Sunset Campground), there are 12 backcountry campsites.
If camping is not your thing and you prefer to stay in one of the best hotels in the West, then I recommend the Best Western Ruby’s Inn, a historic hotel at the gates of the national park that also has a camping area.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZION
- Bumbleberry Inn: One of the few hotels near Zion whose price is below $200 a night and with a great value.
- La Quinta Inn and Suites: Another hotel that also has good prices and is highly rated near Zion, known for its buffet breakfast that includes delicious homemade waffles.
WHERE TO STAY IN MONUMENT VALLEY
If you want to enjoy dawn with the best views of the valley, I recommend that you camp in the Monument Valley. The campground is called The View Campground and the only way to reserve it is by calling +1 435-727-5802.
This campsite belongs to The View Hotel, a hotel run by the Navajo Indians with equally amazing views.
WHERE TO STAY IN SANTA BARBARA
- Hotel Santa Barbara: One of the best hotels in Santa Barbara with a great location in the city center and very close to the beach. Includes Wi-Fi, breakfast and free parking.
- The Eagle Inn: On the beach of Santa Barbara and in a beautiful historic building. The price is a bit higher but it includes a jacuzzi in the room.
WHERE TO STAY IN YOSEMITE
We decided to camp at Camp 4 during our visit to Yosemite. Here, the hippy movement was born in the 60s and spread throughout the United States.
However, if you don’t want to camp, don’t worry. There are very good hotels in Yosemite. Some of the best are:
WHERE TO STAY IN SAN DIEGO
- Staypineapple at Hotel Z: One of the best hotels in downtown San Diego. Modern design and quite affordable. It offers free bicycles to its customers.
- HI-San Diego Point Loma Hostel: Hostel with shared rooms, very good price and located next to the beach. Ideal if you visit San Diego with the intention of meeting other travelers.
WHERE TO STAY IN JOSHUA TREE
The best place to stay in Joshua Tree is in one of its campsites. There are 4 campsites throughout the national park that can be reserved, and another 4 first-come, first-served campground. All the information regarding the Joshua Tree campgrounds can be found on the National Parks Service website.
WHERE TO STAY IN DEATH VALLEY
- The Inn at Death Valley:This Oasis in the middle of the desert is the most luxurious resort you’ll find here. Refresh between your palm garden and its spring water pool and relax in your spa area.
- The Ranch at Death Valley:Run by the same company as The Inn at Death Valley, it is the familiar and informal complement of the previous one. If you want to relax in a unique environment but without too many pretensions, this accommodation is for you.
- Panamint Springs Resort: This resort offers both tourist resorts and lodging in tents. It’s close to the west entrance of the national park, from where you’ll have stunning views of the sand dunes.
WHERE TO STAY IN MOJAVE DESERT
There are no motels inside Mojave National Preserve. The only way to stay is camping. There are two family campsites, Hole-in-the-Wall Campground and Mid Hills Campground. Both are first-come, first-served campgrounds.
There is also the possibility of doing backcountry camping. If you want more information, check the US National Parks Service website.
WHERE TO STAY IN ARCHES
There are no campsites or hotels within Arches National Park. The best thing to do is to stay somewhere close to the entrance:
- Red Cliffs Lodge: All rooms have views of the Colorado River. In addition, you have access to a private living room with a fridge and microwave. This accommodation is the best you’ll find if you visit Arches National Park from the west. Do not miss its western cinema museum.
- Under Canvas Moab: This accommodation is located east of Arches National Park and offers already pitched tents, some with private bathrooms. If you are not a fan of the camps, but you would like to try, this is your place. In addition to the bed linen, the hotel will lend you towels and a flashlight. A very comfortable way to learn a little about the American camper culture.
WHERE TO STAY IN SEQUOIA
- Montecito Sequoia Lodge: This rustic mountain accommodation offers a place to relax, surrounded by lakes, forests and rugged peaks. It has a restaurant that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet.
- Bearpaw High Sierra Camp: This established camp has 6 canvas tents with wooden floors. The views of the surroundings are amazing. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the accommodation.
- Wuksachi Lodge: It is the emblematic hotel of Sequoia, an amazing mountain hut made of stone and cedar located in the heart of the park, surrounded by a powerful sequoia forest and towering peaks of the sierra.
WHERE TO STAY IN HAVASU FALLS
As we commented, if you visit Havasu Falls, it is compulsory to spend at least one night in one of its campsites, since you cannot make excursions exclusively for one day. Book both the tour and the camping permit from the official website of the Havasupai Indian Reservation.
WHERE TO STAY IN YELLOWSTONE
There are only 9 hotels within Yellowstone National Park, so in peak tourist season, most travelers only find accommodation outside the park.
You can find the best options on our guide on where to stay in Yellowstone National Park, but my favorite hotels are:
WHERE TO STAY IN GRAND TETON
There are many places to stay in Grand Teton National Park but my favorite ones are:
How much does it cost a West Coast USA trip?
To calculate how much a road trip along the West Coast cost, keep in mind that gasoline in the United States is quite cheap compared most European countries, so even though you will drive many kilometers, this is not something you have to worry too much about when planning your itinerary.
Regarding the food, going to restaurants or going out to have a drink is very expensive; especially when you are looking for somewhere that serve healthy and quality food. If you’re willing to eat fast food, your West Cost travel budget will decrease since the United States is the paradise for junk food.
Regarding accommodation, while it is more expensive in the US than other countries, there are ways to make it cheaper.
Consider camping during your West Coast America tour. In addition to being cheaper, it is very fun and do not forget that there is no country in the world with such an active camping culture as in the United States. You will enjoy watching all the American accessories that make camping more comfortable, and the amazing motorhomes that are better than many houses. You can check some tips for traveling by rv in the USA here.
If you want to know how much we spent during out trip, you can check our West Coast travel budget for 10 days.
West Coast USA combinations ideas
In case you have more time, you can combine the West Coast of the USA with other destinations. Some of the most popular combinations are the following.
West Coast America and Hawaii holidays
If you love nature, combine West Coast USA and Hawaii to enjoy the most active volcanoes in the United States. These wild islands in the middle of the Pacific, offer a native culture totally different from any other place in the world, in addition to beautiful beaches. The Western US and Hawaii landscapes are an excellent combination for the more adventurous.
RIVIERA MAYA and WEST COAST USA honeymoon
Riviera Maya and West Coast America honeymoon trips are very popular. With this travel itinerary, we can enjoy a mix of the natural American West Coast landscapes with turquoise water beaches and the history of ancient civilizations. This is the best combination for honeymoons or for travelers interested in a mix of all-inclusive vacation packages.
WEST COAST AND ROUTE 66 road trip
If you want to travel the most famous road in the United States, plan a Route 66 – Western US road trip. With this tour, you will have a chance to visit my favorite city in the US: Chicago. I don’t recommend this combination if you do not like driving since much time of this trip will be spent inside the car.
West Coast USA tours from New york
Another very popular combination, especially if you are traveling from Europe. A New York & West Coast America fly-drive itinerary mixes the Western US National Parks with the busiest city of the East Coast. This option is perfect for those who also enjoy visiting big cities, since there are plenty of things to do in New York City.
With any of these combinations, I recommend spending at least 10 days in West Coast America.
However, if you only plan to travel to the West Coast and can afford it, I would recommend spending 2 or even 3 weeks.
map of West Coast USA
Finally, it is very useful to plan your trip using a map of Western US, marked with your places of interest. Then check the following map to see if there is any other attraction on the way.
Hi! Wow, relieved i came accross this blog. Thank you for sharing this.
I made an almost similar itinerary and posted it in trip advisor.
we are arriving early morning in Vegas on March 10 and flying out late night from San Francisco March 20. For the 10 day trip, we’d like to see Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Most of the comments says most of the time will be spent driving hence the trip might not be an enjoyable one. Some even suggested dropping Yosemite as this is too far from the rest of the places we’re hoping to see.
With all the driving you did on this trip, do you think you still spent a good time exploring the parks?
Yes, it was a lot of hours driving but it was a trip of a lifetime. I won’t change any of the stops I did so I highly recommend it specially if you don’t mind driving at night and you don’t have more time to spend on the West Coast USA.
Hi, very informative post there ! May I know what route did u take to travel to yosemite from death valley ? I supposed you travelled when the tiogo road was closed ?
We traveled in August when the Tioga Road was open. So we just drove Nort through the Eastern Sierra and enter from the Northeastern part of the park 😉
i am planning to go to a trip with my friends but iam confused where should i go.
It’s difficult to choose when there are so many great options! My recommendation is to check the places and pictures and just pick the 4/5 places that you find more interesting 😉
Hi Martin from Australia here. I am busy planning an 8 day self drive tour in April starting in, and returning to Las Vegas. I stumbled on your website and found it to be a fantastic resource, full of very helpful information. One thing that is puzzling me with your route. Why did you go to Monument Valley first and then criss-cross south to Antelope Canyon, north to Bryce Canyon and then south again to the Grand Canyon. This appears to add an additional 400 miles (appx). I had originally been planning a circuit through Bryce Canyon, Monument Park, Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. Then Back to Las Vegas via Mojave Desert and Death Valley.
We did that itinerary because we were traveling in August (high season) and wanted to camp in Monument Valley and Grand Canyon, so we book the only days available hehehe
Your itinerary sounds great. Let me know how you do it finally.
Hi! I would love your help in planning my itinerary for my West Coast Roadtrip Honeymoon. We would love to check as many of the same locations off our list as you have in this post. Would love to get your thoughts on cost efficiency, glamping/camping vs. RV rentals and what we HAVE to see, and what we could skip. We definitely don’t want to spend the majority of our trip in the car. Thinking of flying into Vegas and then going from there. We would be going from June 12-20th. This is by far the most helpful article I have found online so far! Thanks for writing!
We will be happy to help. Let me know any questions you may have and we will help.
we are a couple, 60 years+ but able to drive and planning a trip next Sep. 2020. However we note that at some places you had to camp. I don’t think we are up to camping and wonder how to achieve the trip you made without camping.
You don’t need to camp if you don’t want to. There are many hotels where you can stay 🙂 Let me know your itinerary and I will give you some hotel ideas.
I wish more people would post valuable content like this. This is the first time I’ve been on your website, but after this, I doubt it will be the last time.
Thanks Robert!! You are always welcome 😉
Planning a trip in mid December. Is your 10 day trip feasible at this time of year ?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine. Just bear in mind that you might find snow in some places like Bryce and Yosemite and the main roads to Yosemite from the east (Tioga road) is gonna be closed.
Hope you have a beautiful trip!
Have you ever thought of planning a trip of the Four Corners States of the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado & Utah). There are so many sites that would be a tough decision. New Mexico has the Gila National Forest, City of Rocks in the southwest, Carlsbad Caverns to name just a few, Colorado, Arizona, Utah you could go on and on. This would also the sunrises and sunsets, rivers canyons. It is so vast that each state could provide what every photographer would want to see and shoot. Just think about it. if you more information, please contact me.
Sure! We still have a bunch of places we want to visit!
It was very useful
Great post, thanks for the info
I’m considering doing this trip with my dad, how fit do you have to be to do this trip?
He can’t really walk a whole lot at a time.
You don’t need to walk if you don’t want to. Just visit the main lookouts accessible by car.
Let me know if you have any other question.
Well, that was a pretty fascinating read, not going to lie. I really hope you continue to write. Probably one of the more informative pieces I’ve read on this subject. Thanks!
Thanks Justin! Glad to see our USA West Coast article was useful and you enjoyed it reading!
You know if you are not on Instagram, you should be. I know you can’t put text up, but just throw in a few pics and build an audience there. I think you’d find a ton of people who would be super interested in your blog here.
Thanks for the advice. We already use Instagram, our account is: @Capturetheatlas
Well… consider yourself added to my blogroll. I have like six other blogs I read on a weekly basis, guess that number just increased to seven! Keep writing!
Thanks Chris! and Welcome to Capture the Atlas! 😉
Way to go on this post man. Really killer stuff. I’ll be back to read your other posts.
Thanks Travis! Glad you found the information helpful!
Wow! What a scenery. I hope I can visit those place in the future too! People on your newsletter must love you. This content is pure 100% gold
Thanks Matthew for your kind words! I am sure you will be fascinated by the West Coast USA landscapes when you visit them.
Feel free to join our community and receive our newsletter 😉
My family of 3 will be travelling to West of USA for about 12 to 14 days this coming September month 2019. Can you help us to plan the trip visiting all the interesting places and also advise us the cost.
We give a lot of piece of advice on our blog. Please read it and let us know if you have any question.
I am flying from Toronto, Canada and am unsure which airport to arrive and leave in. I am planning on visiting Zion, Bryce Canyon, Cathedral Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Grand Canyon (South Rim). I am unsure whether to fly to Las Vegas and leave from Arizona, or vice versa, or do a loop. Any suggestions?
Amazing blog by the way!
Which airport in Arizona are you considering? Las Vegas in quite close to those places you want to visit and usually there is cheap flights to go there.
Let me know if you have any question
Thank you for your reply! I was thinking Phoenix airport. Just not sure the best route and will be renting a car!
Also, do you know if its possible to rent a car at one airport and return it to another?
Hi, i am traveling with 6 adults. Planning to arrive in New York, then fly to LA and hoping to have a glimpse of the city and its surrounding and fly to vancouver . We will fly back home from Vancouver.
How many days do you think is good for us? I am travelling with my parents aged 60yo.
Can you give me any recommendations
I would say to book at least 10 – 15 days. As recommendations I would suggest hiring good travel insurance for the USA and check the different articles we have at the blog.
Let me know if you need something else,
We have about 8-9 days along the West Coast after a conference in Vegas. Looking at the following itinerary/places we want to visit. Do you think this is something workable/have any comments? Thanks so much!
Day 1: (From Vegas) Antelope Valley/Horseshoe Bend (Find somewhere to stay for the night – is there a recommendation where we can stay in that area?)
Day 2: Grand Canyon
Day 3: Travel back to Vegas, fly to San Francisco.
Day 4: San Francisco
Day 5: San Francisco -> Monterey, Big Sur (Find somewhere to stay?)
Day 6: Travel to LA
Day 7: LA
Day 8: LA
Thanks very much for your message and for reading us!
Until day 4 your itinerary is gonna be very intense but definitely doable, as we made a very similar itinerary at the beginning of our trip. You can find recommendations for the night near horseshoe bend/Antelope Canyon in this section of our article.
As for the second part of your trip, We didn’t travel from SF towards the south so don’t know if that would be something possible.
Please let me know if we can help with any other questions.
Hi I am trying to plan a trip with my son for September 2019 have i left enough time to do this? And could you help us with an itinerary
Also if we choose to camp do we purchase this in the USA as we are travelling from the UK
Thank you very much for your message.
You are still in time for planning the trip, so I ‘d definitely try to do it!
You can see different itineraries in our US articles depending on your days and preferences. Hope that helps.
As for the campings it depends on the campsite, some accept online reservations like the one in Monument Valley while others are filled in a first-come first-served basis like Camp 4 in Yosemite.
Please let us know if we can help with any other questions.
Hi everyone! Could you help me to make a itinerary with the time and 10 destinations?
We will need some more information to help you. When and where are you starting your trip, days, preferences and so on.
Love your work. I’m a photographer and looking to do a road trip through the west cost of the USA, covering as much of the national parks as possible (Yellowstone a must). We only have a 2 week gap during July to do this. Do you have any tours available for July 2019 for 2 super fun people?
Me, along with spouse and 13 year old son, are planning for a 10 day trip to LA, LV & SFO from India during June last week.
Request if you could help build us an itinerary for First Timers to US. It would be with a driver if we have to hire a car.
Do you deal in hotel accommodations too – 4 star?
Could you please let me know a rough expenditure on all this.
Kindly do mention your charges too for helping us out with a good itinerary and any help on ground that you could provide during our stay.
I have sent you an email with our service rates.
Have a nice day!
I am planing with my boyfriend our trip in June to California for 10 days. We are landing in LA and we would like to visit Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and San Diego. Could you please give us some tips? We are afraid that Tioga Pass might not be opened at the beginning of June..
Thanks a lot!
I think you have enough time in 10 days to visit the cities and NP you mentioned. You can do 2 days for LA, 3 days for Yosemite, 1 day for Death Valley, 1 day for Las Vegas, 2 days for Grand Canyon and 1 day for San Diego.
As you said, Tioga Pass maybe is still close in June, so I recommend you booking a hotel around Fresno (in case Tigoa Road is close) and other around Mammonth Lakes (in case it is open). And cancel the one you are not going to use once you know the Tioga Road status?
Let me know if you need anything else.
Hello, Thanks for the detailed analysis of west coast. We are planning to visit west coast from Philadelphia and would like to cover California/LA/SFO/Las Vegas. We would however fly to Seattle from PHL and take our trip to west coast from Seattle.
Please provide us with an itinerary.
We are planning 10 days for this trip and would like to over not just national parks but also Golden gate bridge/Hollywood/Alcatraz etc. We don’t want to do the theme parks.
I have sent you an email with our planner services rates.
Thanks for itinerary! We are going on a trip from LA in September for 16 days, and this helped a lot! If you could give some tips on showering…it’s not available in a lot of camp sites. Also, if you have some experience with laundry service, I would appreciate some info. Thanks!
Hi Soma! Thanks for your message and words!
You can check beforehand which campsites offer shower utilities and plan according to your needs. We booked camping with showers in Grand Canyon and Yosemite, taking a shower at least every 2 days.
As for laundry service, I would suggest doing the same. We went just for a week and didn’t really need to do any washing but if you are staying 16 days some campings have some sort of place for washing. As an example again, you can find those utilities in Grand Canyon and Yosemite, and I am sure there will be more in other important campgrounds.
Hope that helps and have a wonderful US West Coast trip!
Hi we are planning a 15 day stay flying into LA hiring a car can you recommened a route then we fly back out from LA.Thanks
The US West Coast is huge and there are endless possibilities doing a round trip from L.A.
Depending on your personal taste and the number of miles that you are willing to drive, there are many itineraries.
I recommend that you check all the main attractions explained throughout the article and once you know your preferences, you can design your own route.
Hope it helps and you make the most of your trip!
Planning on driving to monument valley and staying at View hotel I need driving directions from Salt Lake City
Take I-15 S, US-6 E, US-191 S and US-163 S to Main Monument Valley Rd/Monument Valley Rd in Oljato-Monument Valley
Hi my husband and I are planning a trip to tour the west coast next June/July next year for 4 weeks starting in San Francisco driving down the coast then across to Vegas by car then possibly hiring a camper van to visit the national parks, would you be able to advise us of some places to stop and stay and give some advice as to how long we should stay at certain places, we would also like to spend a week in Washington and New York at the end of our stay but we will fly to the east coast, thanks Tracey
I have sent you an email more information about our trip planner services. I can also help you to plan your visits to NYC and Washington. I live in Philadelphia, that is 2hours from NYC and two hours from Washington, so I know these cities very well and I can help you too.
Hello Jaz, thank you for the useful information. I am planning for the west coast trip but could you confirm will it be too much to digest if I cover all/most of the destinations mentioned in your article above in just one trip?
Or shall I split the trip in multiple trips to enjoy and assimilate the delightful view which each destination has to offer?
That is up to you. How much time do you have? Where are you coming from? If I could, I would do it in one trip (3-4 months).
Let me know if you need something else,
We are planning a tour of West Coast starting and ending at LA. Can you suggest a good travel itinerary for family of 3 or 6 pxs. for 8-12 days sometime in June or July 2019.
I have sent you an email with our rates.
Planning to gravel to west coast of USA
Visiting friends & also travelling (self drive) .
I have 14 days from Sep15 to Sep30
Would like to visit Yosomite, Death Valley Coastal Drive & Las Vegas and Grand canyon.
Thanks for your help with an itinerary.
Sure! I will help you to plan your West America trip. I have sent you an email.
I am planning for west coast tour for 10 days in July. I would like to start from San Francisco .
Could you please suggest road trip plan
I will be happy for helping you to plan your west coast USA itinerary.
I have sent you an email regarding our travel planner services.
Hi, I am planning a 15 days trip to USA with my family of 5 (2 sons aged 24, 25, Daughter 18). What route would you recommend us to take? We are looking to rent a car and drive around ourselves. Thank you.
Hi Sharon, I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.
Hi.. myself and 2 friends are planning a trip up the west coast from San Francisco in April.. We are renting an RV ..we would like to try and go as north to Portland maybe Seattle.. could you advise of the best route and places we should try to see.
Hi Sharon, I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.
Hi we are planning to Visit West coast in the month of June 19 . Not sure about self drive option but could u please suggest some best places to explore in 10 days . We are landing at San Francisco & leaving to New York from LA .
Would appreciate if u could help us to arrange our trip .
I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.
Hi Loved reading your information on USA! My husband and I want to travel the west coast in September this year. We have booked so far return flights from Sydney to San Francisco. We would like to see Yosemite Bryce Zion Death Valley Redlands Lake Tahoe Sequoia and Grand Canyon. Not interested in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. We thought we would return via The big Sur to San Francisco. Do you think we can do this in a month? What would be the best driving route to do all this. Can we also purchase driving maps? Any help you could give I would be most grateful! Thanking you
Hi Cath, I have sent you an email regarding our travel planning services.
Hi, thanks a lot for your details itinerary which is very much appreciated.
I’m planning my self-drive trip to west coast USA for about 12 days, in May 2019.
Just wondering any tips on what to wear? Will it be cold in the Yosemite national park?
I’m planning for Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon + Horseshoes band, Yosemite, is it still worth to get the annnual pass? There are total 6 of us.
Hi Joey, If you are only visiting two national parks (Yosemite and Grand Canyon) it is not worth getting the annual pass. Pay just for the standard fee in each of them. Horseshoe Bend is free and Antelope Canyon is private, so you will have to pay the Navajo fee.
In 12 days you have enough time to visit Death Valley, Bryce and Zion too.
Regarding what to carry in the backpack, please check the camping and cold weather section of this post.
P.S: Next sunday we will be posting our Guide to Yosemite and I am sure you are going to find it interested!!