- Los Angeles and Hollywood
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Kingman and the Route 66 Museum
- Las Vegas
- Calico Ghost Town
- Sequoia National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- San Francisco
- The Pacific Coast Highway
- Monterey Bay and the 17 mile drive
This is a fabulous opportunity to experience some of California’s highlights, along with must-sees in Nevada and Arizona. The bright lights of LA will welcome you before you head east to Joshua Tree National Park and a succession of some of the world’s greatest natural spectacles: national parks of Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite (Grand Canyon is even an option).
A stay in Vegas adds a touch of sparkle, San Francisco a flourish of cosmopolitan colour before there’s a chance to experience the Pacific Coast Highway and one of the world’s greatest drives.
You’ll be met on arrival at the airport and whisked to your city centre 4 star hotel – your base for the next three nights.
LA has so much to offer so you’ll need to plan ahead: Santa Monica Pier at the very end of Route 66 is a must, with its vintage rides and adjacent Muscle Beach and Venice Beach, perfect for a bike ride. The pastel painted lifeguard huts are so iconic!
Take an open top bus tour, stopping at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre and Rodeo Drive or head out to Disneyland and Universal Studios.
Distance: 269km (168miles)
You’ll be transferred to the motorhome depot for a full handover of your vehicle. Then you’re on the road east to Joshua Tree, stopping for a break at exotic Palm Springs in the Sonoran Desert.
Bordering the Colorado Desert and the Mohave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is known for its signature trees and unique geological wonders that rise up from the desert floor. The skies are vast, the scenery is epic, the sunsets incredible (especially from Keys View), so follow one of the many trails and enjoy a taste of unspoilt natural wilderness.
Distance: 309km (193miles)
Heading east you’ll pass Vidal Junction (possibly branching off here and visiting Lake Havasu City where you can see the original London Bridge, famously bought in 1968 and relocated here, stone by stone).
The Havasu National Wildlife Refuge on the lower Colorado River has provided a vast sanctuary for migrating birds since it was founded by Roosevelt in 1941.
Eventually you’ll arrive in Kingman, a key port of call on the iconic Route 66. The town is stuffed with vintage Americana and great diners while the Route 66 Museum brings it all to life.
Distance: 173km (108miles)
From Kingman you’ll drive north to Las Vegas for two nights of colourful, over-the-top, fabulous experiences. See a spectacular show, stroll the ‘Strip’, admire the Bellagio fountains, try your luck in a casino, pop into a few hotels (each one is a destination in its own right) and soak up the eye-popping exuberance of this unique city.
This is a great opportunity to treat yourself to a once in a lifetime helicopter visit to Grand Canyon. Catch a local flight from Las Vegas, before transferring to a helicopter for a trip over the more remote North Rim, passing along the majestic South Rim and Grand Canyon Village before arriving back in Vegas for the evening. Quite a day!
Distance: 237km (148miles)
Skirt along the northern edge of the starkly atmospheric Mohave National Preserve, home to rugged canyons, sweeping sand dunes and expanses of wild flowers. This is a wild place of natural beauty, very different from the city life in Vegas.
Calico is a former mining town, dating from 1881, and prospered from the large quantities of silver found in some 500 mines across the Calico hills.
The bubble burst in the 1890s and Calico is today a ghost town, full of memories of glory days, complete with original buildings slowly weathering away, as well as modern structures that tell the story of this evocative place.
Distance: 442km (276miles)
Leaving Calico, you’ll head west towards California. Music fans will enjoy a stop at Bakersfield to learn how the ‘Bakersfield sound’ was born in the 1950s – a genre of country music influenced by early rock and roll with electric instruments and pronounced backbeat.
North of Bakersfield and butting up to the Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park lies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is named after its towering trees, some of them among the oldest and most immense living organisms on the planet. The General Sherman Tree is 84 metres tall (almost Big Ben’s height) and well over 2,500 years old – the world’s largest tree by volume.
There’s an astounding wealth of gorgeous scenery: visit Tokopah Falls, the beautiful Crescent Meadow and climb Moro Rock for amazing panoramic views across to the Great Western Divide. Tunnel Log is a tree that fell across a road in 1937 and a tunnel was simply cut through to allow traffic to pass.
Distance: 192km (120miles)
Rejoin the road north, heading for Yosemite. Fresno in California’s San Joaquin Valley is home to the Shinzen Japanese Gardens and is a base for visiting Yosemite National Park, one of North America’s greatest natural monuments.
This park is 1,200 square miles of magnificent scenery: waterfalls, deep valleys, serene meadows, giant sequoias and glacial peaks. Highlights include Yosemite Falls (North America’s tallest), the more accessible Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, Wawona Tunnel View (made famous by the iconic Ansel Adams photograph). All utterly breathtaking.
Distance: 352km (220miles)
As the lofty peaks of Yosemite recede in the rear view mirror, the vibrant city of San Francisco looms ahead. With three nights here there’s plenty to see in this exuberant, cosmopolitan, friendly world city.
Alcatraz is a fascinating must-see (well worth pre-booking), the Golden Gate Park with its fabulous museums, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown. Why not hire a bike and cross the Golden Gate Bridge (you’ll be off the main traffic lanes) and visit picturesque Sausalito before hopping on the ferry back to the sensational San Francisco waterfront.
Distance: 182km (114miles)
Leave San Francisco and follow the coast south on the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. Pause at Santa Cruz, stroll along its famous wharf and along Pacific Avenue, lined with vintage clothing boutiques, enticing cafés and galleries.
Moss Landing is one of California’s most important wetland reserves, a sanctuary for countless species. Take a nature cruise or perhaps a kayak and spot sea otters, seals and sea lions.
Distance: 229km (143miles)
Follow the road around the sensational Monterey Bay, exploring historic Monterey with its world famous aquarium and John Steinbeck connections, chic Carmel with its coffee shops and gorgeous beach.
Venture along 17 Mile Drive for spectacular seascapes before heading out on to California Highway 1, surely one of the world’s most exhilarating drives. Cross the iconic Bixby Bridge, cruise through Big Sur where the mountains plunge down into the Pacific surf and stop off at Hearst Castle, the lavish 20th century mansion built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Morro Bay is a coastal city with a distinctive landmark in the form of the huge Morro Rock that overlooks lagoons, cheerful sailing boats and wonderful beaches.
Distance: 362km (226miles)
Pushing on south along the sublime Pacific coast Highway, LA beckons. Santa Barbara is delightful stop with excellent beaches, elegant wineries and the Santa Barbara Mission dating from 1786. There’s an eclectic array of restaurants and a stroll along Stearns Wharf, looking back at the red tile roofs of this charming city with its Spanish heritage, is a must.
Take a last chance to savour the California sun before handing back the keys of the RV and transferring to the airport ahead of an evening flight back home at the end of a truly memorable trip.
Price per person is based on two people sharing, prices for solo travellers are available on request.