- Joshua Tree National Park
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Monument Valley
- Moab & Arches National Park
- Capitol Reef National park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Las Vegas
- Sequoia National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- San Francisco
This independent itinerary is designed to showcase some of the most incredible destinations in North America. While you can adapt it to meet your own requirements, it includes the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Joshua Tree and Lake Powell.
You’ll experience the majesty of celebrated national parks like Yosemite, Canyonlands, Sequoia, Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion. You’ll visit the iconic cities of Las Vegas, San Francisco and LA. Enjoy extraordinary experiences like driving down the California Highway 1 and visiting Alcatraz.
Throw into the mix a chance to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and along Venice Beach, explore ghost towns and savour sunsets in the Mohave Desert and you have a sensational trip of a lifetime.
Touching down at LA airport, you’ll be whisked to your downtown 4 star hotel for two nights.
You won’t be short of inspiration in LA: visit Santa Monica Pier, the official end of Route 66, with its retro rides and adjacent Muscle Beach. Take a bike and cycle along colourful Venice Beach or an open top bus stopping at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre and Rodeo Drive for a little window shopping. You could even enjoy the rides at 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: 275km (172miles)
Follow the Aquarius and Juniper mountains and an hour from Kingman you’ll trundle into Seligman where the Roadkill Café is a convenient place to break. This is a great Arizona institution where great burgers and taxidermy go hand in hand.
Heading on you’ll come to an undisputed highlight of the trip: The Grand Canyon. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is a natural marvel. Explore the south rim where there are hiking trails for all abilities, or treat yourself to a helicopter ride across to the less visited north rim. Be sure to set the alarm for that extraordinary sunrise over the Canyon and wonder at the sun creeping along the deep ravines, turning darkness into gold.
Distance: 214km (134miles)
Head up to Lake Powell, a vast man-made reservoir that borders Arizona and Utah along the Colorado River. There are many boat trips on offer (Rainbow Bridge is always a popular destination) and you can hire boats too for a personal exploration of these pristine waters and the surrounding red rock scenery. Follow countless hiking trails along the water’s edge, across sand dunes and through gorgeous canyons – don’t miss Antelope Canyon, one of America’s most popular.
Distance: 195km (122miles)
Another iconic day beckons: aim for an early start and head east towards Monument Valley. The long, seemingly endless stretches of black tarmac shimmer in the heat, while monolithic sandstone buttes and formations break up the desert and form mesmerising backdrops. The famous Mittens are breath taking and like no other.
Dawn and dusk are when Monument Valley is most gorgeous so plan ahead and maybe even join a tour with a local Navajo guide to get the most from this incredible day.
Distance: 234km (146miles)
The road north from Monument Valley is classic scenery with lofty peaks, open desert prairie and huge vistas. Moab lies in the centre of Utah’s stunning canyonlands, essentially huge, natural playgrounds where you can enjoy white water rafting on the Colorado River, take an off-road jeep tour into the canyons or simply explore at your leisure on foot. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are incredible, while Dead Horse State Park is less well known but a big draw.
Distance: 250km (156miles)
Stop off at Goblin State Park to admire the bizarre rock formations, often without crowds, before continuing to Capitol Reef National Park. This is the most beautiful section of the vast Waterpocket Fold, a 100 mile section of the Earth’s crust that was formed 50 million years ago.
Distance: 174km (109miles)
A stunning day’s drive awaits you today, along one of North America’s most legendary stretches. Highway 12 National Scenic Byway is dramatic, traversing Boulder Mountain, the highest forested plateau in North America.
Bryce Canyon has been shattered and shaped by the irresistible power of nature and, specifically, frost and rainwater. The limestone rock has been eroded and weathered into striking formations with slot canyons, windows and towers (known as hoodoos). Fairytale and Sunset Point are the best spots.
Distance: 139km (87miles)
From Bryce Canyon the road takes you to Zion National Park, yet another astonishing natural phenomenon. This is nature at its grandest, with massive rock buttresses rising high above the valley floor and with a dramatic palette of brilliant colours that dazzle as the sun passes overhead, creating startling light shows in the canyons.
Distance: 264km (165miles)
Head to Las Vegas for two nights and a chance to experience a city like no other. It’s a fabulous, over-the-top place. 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 breath-taking.
Distance: 357km (223miles)
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 out of the main traffic lanes and visit picturesque Sausalito before hopping on the ferry back to the sensational San Francisco waterfront.
Distance: 176km (110miles)
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 and 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.