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  • Jordan 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+

Trails to Hike: Cholla Cactus Garden, Split Rock Loop Trail, Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail, Barker Dam Nature Trail, Skull Rock Nature Trail

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

Hotels: See hotels in Palm Springs, California


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

Hotels: See hotels in Furnace Creek, California


Day 3

Yosemite National Park

Drive Time: 6.5 hours from Furnace Creek, California

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Trails to Hike: John Muir's Mist Trail, Yosemite Grand Tour, Diving Board

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

Hotels: See hotels in Yosemite Valley, California


Day 4

Yosemite National Park

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Trails to Hike: John Muir's Mist Trail, Yosemite Grand Tour, Diving Board

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

Hotels: See hotels in Yosemite Valley, California


Day 5

Yosemite National Park

Time at Stop: 48 hours+

Trails to Hike: John Muir's Mist Trail, Yosemite Grand Tour, Diving Board

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

Hotels: See hotels in Yosemite Valley, California


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,

Hotels: See hotels in Three Rivers California


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

Hotels: See hotels in Grant Grove, California


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

Hotels: See hotels in Paicines, California


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

Hotels: See hotels in Big Sur, California


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

Hotels: See hotels in Los Angeles, California


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