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  • Writer's pictureJordan Hinsch

5 Incredible US Road Trips from Major Cities

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

When most people think of a US road trip, they think of a cross country trip which will take a full month to complete. Here are 5 US road trips from major cities around the country (all of which are out west). Each city features a major airport and is relatively accessible by airplane, where you can rent a car and embark on your journey.


Some notes and tips before you begin reading:


  • To maximize your dollar, ensure you buy the America the Beautiful Annual Pass. At $80, it will pay for itself in only a few park visits.

  • Cost estimates below are not inclusive of airfare and rental car costs.

  • Recommendations are based on my preferences. I'm a very quick mover and I'll find a way to visit multiple national parks in one day. Most people will want to stay in each park much longer than the suggested times I've noted.

  • Read 60 Essential Road Trip Packing List Items to prepare yourself for the trip of a lifetime.




Los Angeles, California


  • Days: 11

  • Stops: 8+

  • Drive Time: 35 hours

  • Distance: 1,631 miles

  • Time of Year: Spring-Fall

  • Budget: $1,500+ for Glamping/Hotel or $600+ for Camping




Suggested Itinerary from Los Angeles, California



Day 1

Joshua Tree National Park

Drive Time: < 3 hours from Los Angeles, California

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Must-see Attractions: Skull Rock, Jumbo Rocks, Cholla Cactus Garden, Keys View (must see during sunset)


Day 2

Death Valley National Park

Drive Time: 5.5 hours from Palm Springs, California

Time at Stop: 12 hours+

Trails to Hike: Each stopping point and overlook has it's own trail, so I'd recommend following each of those

Must-see Attractions: Badwater Basin, Artist's Palette, Zabriskie Point, Dante's View


Day 3

Yosemite National Park

Drive Time: 6.5 hours from Furnace Creek, California

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Must-see Attractions: Glacier Point, Half Dome, El Capitan, Tuolumne Meadows, Vernal Fall & Nevada Fall


Day 4

Yosemite National Park

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Must-see Attractions: Glacier Point, Half Dome, El Capitan, Tuolumne Meadows, Vernal Fall & Nevada Fall


Day 5

Yosemite National Park

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Must-see Attractions: Glacier Point, Half Dome, El Capitan, Tuolumne Meadows, Vernal Fall & Nevada Fall


Day 6

Sequoia National Park

Drive Time: 3.5 hours from Yosemite Valley, California

Time at Stop: 16 hours+

Trails to Hike: See Trails

Must-see Attractions: General Sherman Tree, Tokopah Falls, Big Trees Loop, Moro Rock, President Trail, Tunnel Log,


Day 7

Kings Canyon National Park

Drive Time: 1.5 hours from Three Rivers, California

Time at Stop: 12 hours+

Trails to Hike: See Trails

Must-see Attractions: General Grant Grove, Kings Canyon Panoramic Point, Kings River Canyon, Grizzly Falls


Day 8

Pinnacles National Park

Drive Time: 5 hours from Grant Grove, California

Time at Stop: 12 hours+

Trails to Hike: See Trails

Must-see Attractions: Bear Gulch Cave, East District, West District


Day 9

Big Sur, California

Drive Time: 2.5 hours from Paicines, California

Time at Stop: 24 hours+

Trails to Hike: See Trails

Must-see Attractions: McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, Bixby Creek Bridge, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve


Day 10

Channel Islands National Park

Drive Time: 4.5 hours from Big Sur, California

Time at Stop: 24 hours+

Trails to Hike: See Trails

Must-see Attractions: Santa Cruz Island, Anacapa Island, Santa Rosa Island


Day 11

Los Angeles, California




Denver, Colorado


  • Days: 7

  • Stops: 7+

  • Drive Time: 23 hours

  • Distance: 1,080 miles

  • Time of Year: Summer

  • Budget: $1,200+ for Glamping/Hotel or $800+ for Camping




Suggested Itinerary from Denver, Colorado



Day 1

Rocky Mountain National Park

Drive Time: < 2 hours from Denver, Colorado (3 hours+ on holiday weekends)

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Trails to Hike: Bear Lake, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake


Day 2

Aspen, Colorado

Drive Time: 4 hours from Denver, Colorado

Time at Stop: 24 hours


Day 3

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park & Telluride, Colorado

Drive Time: 3 hours from Aspen, Colorado

Time at Black Canyon: 5 hours+

Trails to Hike: Be sure to take the little hikes at every stop. Due to the dramatic features of the park, long hikes down into the canyon are not possible.

Must-see Attractions: Painted Wall, Pulpit Rock, Warner Point


Day 4

Mesa Verde National Park

Drive Time: < 2 hours from Telluride, Colorado

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Trails to Hike: See trails

Must-see Attractions: Cliff Palace, Balcony House, Long House, Petroglyph Point


Day 5

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Drive Time: > 3 hours from Durango, Colorado

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Trails to Hike: See trails

Activities: Go sledding, Hike the dunes


Day 6

Pikes Peak & Colorado Springs, Colorado

Drive Time: < 1 hour from Telluride, Colorado

Time at Pikes Peak: 3 hours+

Must-see Attractions: Pikes Peak Summit Complex


Day 7

Denver, Colorado




Las Vegas, Nevada


  • Days: 9

  • Stops: 8+

  • Drive Time: 20 hours

  • Distance: 893 miles

  • Time of Year: Spring-Fall

  • Budget: $1,500+ for Glamping/Hotel or $600+ for Camping




Suggested Itinerary from Las Vegas, Nevada



Day 1

Valley of Fire State Park

Drive Time: 1 hour from Las Vegas, Nevada

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Trails to Hike: Fire Wave Trail, White Domes Trail, Rainbow Vista Trail, Elephant Rock Trail, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: Elephant Rock, White Domes, Fire Wave


Day 2

Zion National Park

Drive Time: 1 hour from St. George, Utah

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Trails to Hike: Angels Landing Trail, Riverside Walk, Emerald Pools Trail, The Subway Trail

Must-see Attractions: Angels Landing, Zion Narrows


Day 3

Bryce Canyon National Park & Red Canyon

Drive Time: 1 hour from Glendale, Utah

Time at Bryce Canyon: 7 hours+

Trails to Hike: Navajo Loop, Wall Street, Peekaboo Loop, Inspiration, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point


Day 4

Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend

Drive Time: 15 minutes from Page, Arizona

Time at Antelope Canyon: 3 hours+

Trails to Hike: Only one trail at Antelope, guided!

Must-see Attractions: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend


Day 5

Grand Canyon National Park

Drive Time: 15 minutes from Grand Canyon Village, Arizona

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Trails to Hike: Rim to Rim, North Kabab, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: North Rim, Helicopter Tour,


Day 6

Grand Canyon National Park

Drive Time: 15 minutes from Grand Canyon Village, Arizona

Time at Stop: 48 hours+


Day 7-8

Havasu Falls

Drive Time: 1.5 hours from Peach Springs, Arizona

Time at Stop: 36 hours+

Trails to Hike: Havasu Falls Trail

Must-see Attractions: Supai, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Colorado River

Hotels: One hotel, I recommend you set up camp! Here is the only lodging in the area.


Havasu Falls Trail

Day 9

Hoover Dam & Las Vegas, Nevada

Drive Time: > 3 hours from Havasupai Trailhead

Time at Hoover Dam: 1 hour+

Must-see Attractions: Hoover Dam




Salt Lake City, Utah


  • Days: 5

  • Stops: 6+

  • Drive Time: 20 hours

  • Distance: 967 miles

  • Time of Year: Spring-Fall

  • Budget: $1,000+ for Glamping/Hotel or $600+ for Camping




Suggested Itinerary from Salt Lake City, Utah



Day 1

Zion National Park

Drive Time: 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah *leave early AM*

Time at Stop: 10 hours+

Trails to Hike: Angels Landing Trail, Riverside Walk, Emerald Pools Trail, The Subway Trail

Must-see Attractions: Angels Landing, Zion Narrows


Day 2

Bryce Canyon National Park & Red Canyon

Drive Time: 1 hour from Glendale, Utah

Time at Bryce Canyon: 7 hours+

Trails to Hike: Navajo Loop, Wall Street, Peekaboo Loop, Inspiration, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point


Day 3

Capitol Reef National Park

Drive Time: 4 hours from Bryce Canyon, Utah *leave early AM*

Time at Stop: 9 hours+

Trails to Hike: Hickman Bridge Trail, Cassidy Arch Trail, Grand Wash Trail, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash Baths, Capitol Reef Scenic Drive


Day 4

Canyonlands National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park

Drive Time: 45 minutes from Moab, Utah

Time at Canyonlands: 9 hours+

Trails to Hike: Mesa Arch Trail, Grand View Point Trail, Upheaval Dome Trail, White Rim Overlook Trail, See more trails at Canyonlands, See trails at Dead Horse

Must-see Attractions: Mesa Arch, White Rim Overlook, Upheaval Dome


Day 5

Arches National Park & Salt Lake, Utah

Drive Time: 15 minutes from Moab, Utah

Time at Arches: 8 hours+

Trails to Hike: Delicate Arch Trail, Double Arch Trail, Devils Garden Loop Trail, Landscape Arch Trail, Sand Dune Arch Trail, Windows Loop, See more trails

Must-see Attractions: Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch




Seattle, Washington


  • Days: 4

  • Stops: 4+

  • Drive Time: 14 hours

  • Distance: 577 miles

  • Time of Year: Spring-Fall

  • Budget: $700+ for Glamping/Hotel or $300+ for Camping




Suggested Itinerary from Seattle, Washington



Day 1

North Cascades National Park

Drive Time: < 2 hours from Seattle, Washington

Time at Stop: 6 hours+

Trails to Hike: See trails

Must-see Attractions: Diablo Lake


Day 2

Olympic National Park

Drive Time: 2.5 hours from Seattle, Washington (ferry optional)

Time at Stop: 8 hours+

Trails to Hike: See trails

Must-see Attractions: Hoh Rain Forest, Sol Duc Falls


Day 3

Whale Watching

Drive Time: 15 minutes from San Juan Island, Washington

Time at Stop: 6 hours+

Must-see Attractions: Whale Watching, San Juan Island National Historical Park


Day 4

Mount Rainier National Park

Drive Time: 4.5 hours from Seattle, Washington (ferry mandatory)

Time at Stop: 8 hours+

Trails to Hike: See trails

Must-see Attractions: Mount Rainier


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Hey! I'm Jordan, a native New Yorker who is addicted to adventure travel, photography, content creation, investing, and fitness. Read on, enjoy, and Never Run Out of First Times!

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