Many people dreams about going to the West Coast of the USA and take a road trip. After 4 summers in the USA I decided to go to the West Coast as well on the 5th summer, after I finish working in my summer camp. If you want to know how I got to the USA, you can read it here.
This post can be an itinerary for everyone who wish to see some nature.
During our trip we did camping, except for in Los Angeles of course. We bought a cheap tent in the beginning of our trip in a Walmart, and took it back in the end. If you have a good explanation, they will get it back and give refund. I told them the camp was too small, 4 of us didn’t fit into the 4 people tent.
We purchased the annual pass for national parks, it costs $80. (the admission to a park is around $30/car, so the annual pass is worth for it).
One advice: fill your car with fuel before you enter to any national parks. Outside of the parks are cheaper, the fuel is getting more and more expensive the closer you’re to a park.
Starting point: Las Vegas
1. day: Las Vegas – Hoover Dam – (Grand Canyon)
Hoover Dam is on the border of Nevada and Arizona, around 2 hours far from Las Vegas.It was constructed between 1931 and 1936. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named after President Herbert Hoover.
Make sure you bring enough water with you! There are several places where you can refill your bottle, but it was so warm when I was there, that my water became warm, even the refilled one. Use suncream as well.
We spent the night at Mather Campground, in Grand Canyon. You need to book it in advance, price is around $20/night. They have toilet, showers (they charge $4), and they have washing machines as well, so you can wash your clothes, if you want. Make sure to bring some warm clothes, during the night it can be pretty cold.
2. day: Grand Canyon – Horseshoe Bend – (Page)
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the state of Arizona in the United States. It is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and attains a depth of over a mile. For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves.
Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page, Arizona, in the United States, 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is accessible via hiking a 1.5-mile round trip from U.S. Route 89, but an access road also reaches the geological structure, as it is part of a state park. Horseshoe Bend can be viewed from the steep cliff above. The overlook is 4,200 feet above sea level, and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet above sea level, making it a 1,000-foot drop.
We slept in Page, at Lake Powell Campground. We really liked it, they had free and clean shower and toilet, and they also provided WiFi. No prebooking is needed.
3. day: Antelope Canyon – (Zion National Park)
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, located on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona. It includes two separate, scenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as “Upper Antelope Canyon” and “Lower Antelope Canyon”.
You need to go there with a tour, which you can book on site as well. Navajo people ask for entrance as well, so the whole cost of the canyon is around $28. The canyon is very beautiful, especially around 11 AM (the tour costs a little bit more at that time). I was surprised, as the canyon is totally brown, but the tour guide sets all the cameras in order to have an orange picture. Cheating!!! 😀
We spent our night at Leeds RV Park & Motel. We wanted to stay in Zion, but all the campgrounds were full. Make sure to prebook, if you want to stay in the park. The campground was amazing, very nice shower and toilet, WiFi, and a very nice hang out room,where there was TV, board games, books and so on.
4. day: Zion National Park
Zion National Park is located near Springdale, Utah, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft at Horse Ranch Mountain. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.
There are several nice hikes, the most known is the Angels’ Landing, which is a strenuous hike, but gives you the most beautiful view in the park. If you’re afraid of height, maybe it’s not the best choice for you. Unfortunately we had only 1 day in the park (make sure to spend there at least 2 days!!), so I decided to take more hikes instead of one to the Angels’ Landing.
We stayed in the Leeds campground again.
5. day: Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. It is one of the hottest places in the world. Death Valley’s Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet below sea level. Death Valley’s Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature in the world, 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913.
Make sure to bring enough water with you, as the temperature is VERY hot. People advice not to stay there overnight, but we were crazy, and we decided to stay I guess at Panamint Springs. You can find campgrounds for free, but maybe this is the place where you’d rather spend on the accommodation rather than staying in a free site. Firstly we found a free ground, but without shower. (in my opinion at 40 Degrees you really want to have a nice shower at least once!). Our campground was nice, it had shower, toilet, a bad WiFi, and there was a shop and a pub nearby. During the night we fortunately didn’t feel cold, the ground was totally hot, so I can say this was the best night in a tent during our trip.
6. day: Los Angeles
We were 4 of people, who prefers the nature than the city. Therefore we decided not to stay in Los Angeles for a long time.
Firstly we went to the Hollywood sign, where we wanted to take the hike. We walked only 20 minutes, and when we saw we’re still too far from the sign, we decided not to continue. It was a silent decision, though noone told anything about not to go further, we all knew that we don’t want it. After seeing so many beautiful landmarks we thought the Hollywood sign is not a big deal compared to them. So we decided to go back to our car and take a ride to downtown and see the town from the car… as the people out on the streets were pretty weird 😀
In the evening I had a walk at the Hollywood Boulevard, on the Fame of Walk. There were so many people and a lot of gift shops. Well, I couldn’t return from the nature, so it wasn’t an enjoyable walk at all. I was traveling with some people whose financial situation wasn’t so good, so we ate in cheap fast food restaurants everyday. As they weren’t with me on
that night, I decided to go to a nearby Japanese restaurant, to Shin Ramen. It’s a small restaurant, but cheap, and the people there are very friendly. I ate a ramen soup and sushi, drank a big glass of coke, and paid $25 including tip.
During the night I stayed in the Walk of Fame Hostel, which gave comfortable beds and bagel breakfast in the morning.
7. day: Los Angeles
We continued our time in Los Angeles with visiting the Beaches – the Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach, and we took a ride along the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped somewhere nearby Malibu. Afterwards we went back to the town, visited Beverly Hills and went back to Hollywood.
I really planned to visit the Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles, which is California’s largest new used book and record store. (If you like the Chainsmokers, their video “Let You Go” was made in the bookstore as well). Unfortunately the girls weren’t so interested in it, and on Saturday afternoon it wasn’t opened as I heard.
I spent the night in the same hostel.
8. day: Yosemite National Park
The trip was so long from Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park that we didn’t have so much time to see the park. We went up to the Glacier Point to check the view.
At night we stayed at Bridalveil Creek, as we were told there is no vacant place in the Valley (prebooking is not a bad idea…) This was the most horrible night of our trip, it was very cold and none of us had such warm clothes to be able to sleep at -1 Degree. (yes, seriously, in the beginning of September….). I moved to the car from the tent, but that didn’t help either. We packed up pretty early on the next morning. and decided to start the day and move forward.
9. day: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a national park in Northern California. The park covers an area of 747,956 acres. Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness. Yosemite is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada, and the park supports a diversity of plants and animals. The park has an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet and contains five major vegetation zones: chaparral/oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone, and alpine.
Yosemite is an amazing place, but I was very disappointed. I love lakes and waterfalls, but I got to know only in the park that the Mirror Lake and some waterfalls have water after the snow melts. Therefore visiting the park in early spring is a better choice in my opinion, but still the view is very beautiful.
At night we ended up staying in the car at a Walmart car parking. Not the best idea, I know.
End in: San Francisco
Have you ever visited any of the sites? What is your opinion about them?