Uncover the proper two-week/14-day southwest USA street journey itinerary – that includes Nationwide Parks, scenic drives, gorgeous views, well-known movie places and quirky roadside points of interest.
* This website comprises affiliate hyperlinks, the place I get a small fee from purchases at no additional value to you.
The USA is the non secular dwelling of the street journey. Assume lengthy straight roads disappearing over the horizon, roadside diners and quirky motels. And possibly probably the most iconic US street journey vacation spot is the southwest USA. Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Arches Nationwide Park, Route 66 – even should you’ve by no means visited the southwest earlier than you’ll nonetheless really feel such as you already realize it from movies and TV reveals, from Thelma and Louise to Tombstone.
So if you wish to hit the street, right here’s my excellent itinerary for a two-week southwest USA street journey, taking within the highlights throughout 5 states, six nationwide parks and one thing like 2000 miles – with particulars of what to see and the place to remain alongside the way in which.
Southwest USA street journey map
A observe on driving instances and distances
Driving instances listed are based mostly on Google Maps estimates and don’t embrace stops alongside the way in which. The street situations within the southwest fluctuate massively so the identical mileage can take completely completely different quantities of time. Every day driving distance/time figures cowl getting from place to position and don’t embrace the drives inside Nationwide Parks en route.
Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas
Arrive into McCarran Worldwide Airport, which is just 15 minutes’ drive north of the town, and take a taxi or shuttle to your resort. There are an enormous quantity of issues to see in Las Vegas and also you solely have a short cease right here, so select a number of of the highlights.
Don’t miss the Bellagio fountains that are illuminated at night time, and catch a present on the Strip – there are normally a number of completely different Cirque du Soleil reveals in addition to a mixture of magic acts, music tributes and big-name artists. You'll need to ebook forward for actually in style reveals however you may bag different last-minute tickets from Tix4Tonight retailers.
The place to remain in Las Vegas: There are such a lot of resort choices in Vegas, however as you solely have one night time, I’d advocate staying within the central Strip. That means you’re proper on the coronary heart of the motion and don’t should waste time within the metropolis’s loopy site visitors. Paris Las Vegas, Vdara, Caesar’s Palace, the Venetian and Flamingo are all actually central – costs fluctuate massively although so it’s value purchasing round and being versatile about the place you keep.
Day 2: Las Vegas to Zion
Spend the morning exploring Las Vegas. You possibly can journey the world alongside the Strip – watch gondoliers on the Venetian, climb the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, stroll throughout the Brooklyn Bridge at New York New York, see the pyramids on the Luxor, go to the Bellagio’s botanical gardens and scream your head off on the rides on high of the Stratosphere.
Or you may head as much as Fremont Road for a style of Outdated Vegas. This historic district has retro casinos and a zipline operating proper down the road. You can too see classic indicators on the Neon Museum and discover out in regards to the metropolis’s Mafia story on the Mob Museum.
After lunch, choose up a rent automotive (it’s value evaluating costs between selecting up a automotive on the Strip or on the airport to seek out the most cost effective deal) and begin your southwest USA street journey. It’s a good suggestion to replenish on a number of provides earlier than you permit – like water, drinks and snacks. There’s each a Walmart and a Complete Meals actually near the airport.
Then depart the town behind and take Freeway 15 north for 153 miles/2.5 hours in the direction of Zion Nationwide Park. Don’t neglect if you’re planning your timings that Utah is in a special time zone to Nevada, so you'll acquire an hour alongside the way in which.
Complete driving: 153 miles/246 kilometres – approx 2.5 hours
The place to remain in Zion: The closest lodges to Zion are in Springdale, however for one thing a bit completely different you may camp out in fashion on the sting of the Nationwide Park at Underneath Canvas Zion*. These luxurious glamping tents include correct beds, a mixture of personal and shared bogs, and a few have wood-burning stoves. The view of Zion’s purple rocks are the principle attraction, however there’s additionally a restaurant with a hearth pit to toast marshmallows on.
Day 3: Zion Nationwide Park
From the camp it’s 20 miles/35 minutes to the doorway of Zion Nationwide Park. Personal autos aren’t allowed within the park from March to October, so that you’ll want to depart your automotive on the customer’s centre and catch the shuttle bus. If you happen to’re fairly match and the climate is sweet, you may sort out one among Zion’s massive hikes – Angels’ Touchdown or The Narrows.
The adventurous Angels’ Touchdown hike (5.Four miles/Four hours) takes you up vertigo-inducing chained paths bolted into the cliffs for spectacular views from the highest. Or the Backside Up part of the Narrows (4–10 miles) takes you alongside a slim river slot canyon – you might want to wade alongside the river mattress although so it’s greatest completed on a heat day.
For one thing gentler, catch the shuttle to the Emerald Swimming pools Path for an hour-long stroll to the decrease pool and one other hour to the higher pool. Head again to Zion Lodge, the place there’s a café and picnic space if you wish to cease for lunch earlier than catching the following shuttle.
Cease off at Weeping Rock for a brief stroll to the cascades, then get the shuttle to the top of the street for the two-mile-long Riverside Stroll. Go away the park and make the 77-mile/1.5 hour drive to Tropic by way of Route 9 – the Zion–Mount Carmel scenic drive. It runs by means of the unique 1920s tunnel and previous the unusual rock formations at Checkerboard Mesa.
Complete driving: 97 miles/156 kilometres – approx 2 hours 5 minutes
The place to remain in Tropic: Simply off Scenic Byway 12, Bryce Nation Cabins* in Tropic are one of many closest locations to remain for Bryce Canyon. Ours was small however excellent fashioned, with two queen-sized beds, an en-suite toilet and small kitchenette. With all that pine they give the impression of being a bit Alpine, with heaters and blankets to maintain you heat on a chilly night time.
If it’s sunny there are tables and chairs out the again and barbecues you may borrow if you wish to prepare dinner for your self – or The Pizza Place a couple of minutes away does takeaway pizzas.
Day 4: Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park
Tropic is just 10 miles from the doorway to Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park, so you will get there early and spend a full day exploring . Observe the 18-mile-long scenic drive across the park, beginning within the Bryce Amphitheater space. Park up at Sundown Level and comply with the Rim Path for a mile alongside to Dawn Level, a great place to get down into the canyon.
Rise up near the hoodoos on one of many climbing trails. The Queen’s Backyard Path from Dawn Level is the simplest at slightly below two miles, or there’s the steeper 1.5-mile Navajo Loop Path from Sundown Level. You can too mix the 2 into an extended route.
After your hike, drive on across the fringe of the amphitheatre to the viewpoints at Inspiration Level, Bryce Level and Paria View. Then depart the Bryce Amphitheater space and head out alongside the street to the furthest level on the Rainbow Level viewpoint.
There are many locations to cease for a picnic with an excellent view alongside the way in which – my favourites have been the arch at Pure Bridge, the 2 towering hoodoos at Agua Canyon and the vast views from Rainbow Level. Then depart Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park and head south down Freeway 89 in the direction of the city of Kanab (77 miles/1.5 hours).
Complete driving: 87 miles/140 kilometres – approx 1 hour 40 minutes
The place to remain in Kanab: You possibly can’t actually do a US street journey with out spending at the very least one night time in a correct motel. Quail Park Lodge* in Kanab seems to be straight out of the 1950s from outdoors, however inside its 13 rooms have been refurbished and up to date.
The motel comes with a number of good extras – like classic bikes you may borrow, a pool in summer time, a glass of wine on arrival, morning pastries and fruit, and free worldwide telephone calls. It’s a simple stroll into city for dinner – we favored Rocking V Cafe, an art-filled house that specialises in sluggish meals with a great vary of vegan and gluten-free choices.
Day 5: Greatest Associates Animal Society
The southwest USA is all in regards to the pure magnificence, however for one thing a bit completely different, you may spend the morning volunteering with animals at Greatest Associates Animal Society. Their base at Angel Canyon is simply 10 minutes outdoors of Kanab, and is the most important no-kill animal sanctuary within the US with over 1600 cats, canine, pigs, rabbits, horses and parrots on website.
You possibly can select which animals to spend time with. We spent our morning feeding and stroking cats however you may also socialise canine, groom horses and even stroll a potbellied pig.
After lunch on the centre, comply with Freeway 89 to the east on the 80 mile/1 hour 20 min drive to Web page, throughout the border in Arizona. Simply earlier than you get there you’ll attain Lake Powell and the spectacular Glen Canyon Dam, the place there’s a guests centre and viewpoint.
You possibly can then both take a sundown cruise round Lake Powell or head to Horseshoe Bend – an ideal meandering arc of the Colorado River that lower its means down by means of the sandstone over million of years. It’s 5 miles south of Web page on Freeway 89, between mileposts 544 and 545, with a brief sandy stroll to the canyon rim and a dramatic 1000-foot drop to the river.
Complete driving: 97 miles/156 kilometres – approx 1 hour 50 minutes
The place to remain in Web page: The Greatest Western View of Lake Powell Resort* unsurprisingly has an excellent view of Lake Powell, and a pool and sizzling tub to calm down in in summer time. It’s pretty commonplace chain resort in fashion however has a great location with spacious rooms and breakfast is included. Web page will get busy so it’s a good suggestion to ebook nicely upfront. There are a number of locations to eat close by – El Tapatio is really useful for its big parts of Mexican meals.
Day 6: Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley
Head Eight miles/15 minutes out of Web page to one of many southwest’s most recognisable spots – Antelope Canyon. This slot canyon is known for its curving purple rock partitions with these super-photogenic beams of sunshine filtering by means of. The one means you may go to the canyon is on a tour*, and so they’re massively in style so ebook as quickly as you may.
There are two sections – the Higher and Decrease Canyon. The Higher Canyon is the place you’ll see the sunshine beams, that are greatest within the mornings. However beware the canyon can get crowded, and the flood threat implies that excursions are sometimes cancelled if it rains.
Stick with it alongside Freeway 98 then take the 160 north-east on the 116 mile/2 hour drive to a different southwest icon – Monument Valley. North of Kayenta, enormous rock buttes emerge out of miles of empty desert scrubland, colored in vivid shades of gold, orange and pink.
They’re named after their shapes, so you may try to spot the Mittens, the Thumb and the Totem Pole. Contained in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park there’s a guests centre and a 17-mile scenic drive which takes you thru the rock formations. It’s unpaved and fairly tough, so it’s greatest completed in a 4×Four and takes at the very least two hours with picture stops.
Complete driving: 124 miles/200 kilometres – approx 2 hours 15 minutes
The place to remain in Monument Valley: There’s not a lot round Monument Valley, however each The View and Goulding’s Lodge* have improbable views of the rocks, and it’s nicely value staying the night time simply to observe the superb sunrises and sunsets. Each have a mixture of resort rooms and cabins, with balconies searching over the valley, in addition to tenting spots and Navajo eating places (however observe that alcohol is prohibited on Navajo land).
Day 7: Arches Nationwide Park
Go away Monument Valley behind within the morning and head again into Utah, following Freeway 191 to Arches Nationwide Park (151 miles/2 hours 40 minutes). The park has the world’s largest focus of rock arches, with over 2000 of all sizes and styles.
Begin your Arches exploration at Park Avenue Viewpoint, then drive to Balanced Rock, the place a brief round path runs round a precariously perched rock. Then flip off in the direction of the Home windows Part of the park for the quick walks to Double Arch (half a mile) and across the loop passing the North and South Home windows and Turret Arch (one mile).
Drive again to the principle street then take the flip off to the suitable in the direction of Delicate Arch – which is famously pictured on Utah’s license plates. The hike out to the arch is three miles, with some steep sections alongside the way in which. It’s greatest completed in late afternoon throughout the summer time months as there’s not a whole lot of shade alongside the way in which.
Or should you’re quick on time you may comply with the decrease one-mile path to Delicate Arch Viewpoint as an alternative, the place you get an excellent view of the arch throughout the canyon. Then drive 5 miles/20 minutes to the city of Moab, the place you’ll be spending the following two nights.
Complete driving: 156 miles/251 kilometres – approx Three hours
The place to remain in Moab: Moab’s a well-liked spot so ebook lodging nicely upfront at weekends. The eco-friendly Moab Springs Ranch* is surrounded by bushes and streams. They've two forms of lodging – studio bungalows and two/three-bedroom townhouses. And there’s a pool, sizzling tub and campfire. Moab’s fairly sprawling although so you'll have to drive to get to locations to eat – the Moab Brewery is value a go to.
Day 8: Canyonlands Nationwide Park
Take the 30 mile/35 minute drive to Moab’s different native (and fewer well-known) Nationwide Park – Canyonlands. The park is is split into three sections, however if you would like good views then focus on the Islands within the Sky district, which is probably the most accessible space. Cease off on the guests centre first the place there’s a brief stroll out to the Shafer Canyon Overlook.
Then drive on to Mesa Arch the place there’s a half-mile stroll out to an arch on the sting of a cliff. The street then splits – take the suitable fork to Upheaval Dome, the place there’s one viewpoint after a mile’s stroll out onto the dome and a second viewpoint a mile additional on.
Then backtrack to the junction and take the left fork and comply with the street out to the top at Grand View Level, stopping off on the Inexperienced River and Buck Canyon overlooks in your means for among the park’s most spectacular views. In your means again to Moab, cease off at Lifeless Horse State Park, the place one of many basic US street journey motion pictures was filmed.
When Thelma and Louise drive off the sting of the Grand Canyon on the finish of the movie, it’s actually Lifeless Horse Level State Park (supposedly named for a gory story of horses being left to die of thirst on a corral above the river). Then head again to Moab for a second night time.
Complete driving: 70 miles/113 kilometres – approx 1.5 hours
Day 9: Mesa Verde Nationwide Park
Go away Moab behind and head south on Freeway 191 – although it’s value making a fast cease on the quirky Gap n’ the Rock alongside the way in which. About 20 minutes out of city, this weird home has been carved out of a offered rock face. Then cross over into Colorado on the 491 and comply with the street in the direction of Mesa Verde Nationwide Park (145 miles/2 hours 50 minutes).
This space was dwelling to the Ancestral Puebloans 1000 years in the past who constructed homes within the aspect of the cliffs. You possibly can solely go to a lot of the cliff homes on ranger-led excursions. So cease off on the guests’ centre to ebook an hour-long tour of both Cliff Palace, the most important cliff home, or Balcony Home the place you climb by means of tunnels and up ladders.
Then drive the winding street as much as Mesa Verde’s plateau, stopping off on the overlooks on the way in which to soak up the views. The park’s largest focus of sights is within the Chaplin Mesa space. Name in to the Chaplin Mesa Museum to be taught in regards to the Puebloans.
There’s additionally a lookout over Spruce Tree Home, the best-preserved cliff home (closed to guests after a rockfall). Then drive the six-mile Mesa Prime Loop the place there are stops at quick walkways to pit homes, the Solar temple and nice views of the cliff homes throughout the valley. Lastly drive again to Freeway 60 and 56 miles/1 hour 15 minutes to Durango.
Complete driving: 200 miles/322 kilometres – approx Four hours
The place to remain in Durango: O-Bar-O Cabins was my favorite keep on this southwest USA street journey. These log cabins are 20 minutes outdoors of Durango in a stunning peaceable pine forest. There are 9 completely different cabins, our Birdnest was the smallest however was superbly designed, with a full kitchen, terrace and grill – plus a shared riverside sizzling tub. It’s a means from wherever so replenish on meals for the night time, or head into Durango.
Day 10: Santa Fe
Head east out of Durango to Freeway 160 after which journey south on the 84 alongside the sting of the Carson Nationwide Forest in your technique to Santa Fe (212 miles/Three hours 45 minutes). Then spend the afternoon exploring Santa Fe – it’s one of many oldest cities within the US which has a singular mixture of Native American and Hispanic cultures.
Take a historical past and meals strolling tour* across the previous city’s attribute adobe buildings. Take in the sunshine within the Plaza, store for silver and turquoise Native American jewelry outdoors the Palace of the Governors, try the miraculous staircase within the Gothic-style Loretto Chapel and name in on the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis.
Santa Fe is an actual hub for artists, and there are tons of of studios and galleries operating alongside the half-mile-long Canyon Highway, in addition to museums devoted to folks artwork, Indian artwork and the painter Georgia O’Keefe. There’s additionally the trippy Meow Wolf, a immersive artwork expertise that’s a bit like strolling right into a online game.
Take a stroll to the town’s regenerated railroad district, the place previous warehouses have been transformed into galleries and eating places. And don’t miss the town’s Mexican meals and margaritas – Santa Fe is justifiably well-known for each.
Complete driving: 212 miles/341 kilometres – approx Three hours 45 minutes
The place to remain in Santa Fe: The Outdated Santa Fe Inn* is basic New Mexico fashion with a number of darkish wooden, native artwork and massive bunches of dried chilies hanging outdoors. We stayed in a standard kiva room with a king-sized mattress, sitting space, hearth and jacuzzi tub.
There’s a free breakfast buffet each morning, Starbucks tea and occasional within the foyer all day, and free cookies or chips every afternoon. The resort is a brief stroll from the plaza, the place we headed up onto the terrace on the Rooftop Pizzeria for blue corn pizzas and native beers.
Day 11: Route 66
You possibly can’t actually have a US street journey with out driving a stretch of The Mom Highway – Route 66. The route’s longest driving day covers 412 miles in your technique to Sedona in Arizona, the place you spend the following two nights. First depart Santa Fe and head to Albuquerque the place you be a part of the I-40, the interstate which follows a few of previous Route 66.
There are a number of good locations to cease off alongside the way in which. Petrified Forest Nationwide Park is made up of fossilised bushes relationship again to the time of the dinosaurs. Or the Meteor Crater is the world’s greatest preserved meteor influence website, stretching almost a mile throughout.
You possibly can nonetheless see among the vintage-style diners, motels and petrol stations which lined the previous Route 66, like in Winslow Arizona (one for the Eagles followers). At Flagstaff, depart Route 66 and head south to Sedona on Freeway 89A – the Purple Rock Scenic Byway. It runs by means of Coconino Nationwide Forest then zig-zags down into Oak Creek Canyon with stunning views.
Complete driving: 412 miles/663 kilometres – approx 6 hours 15 minutes
The place to remain in Sedona: The Sky Ranch Lodge* is a bit out of city on Airport Mesa however has spectacular panoramic views – it’s value staying there only for the sunsets. Rooms are motel fashion with most having balconies and there’s a pool and jacuzzi within the gardens. There’s no restaurant on the resort however the Mesa Grill is just a few minutes’ stroll away (positioned inside Sedona tiny airport) and does tasty southwest dishes.
Day 12: Sedona
Spend the day exploring Sedona, a southwest city with a non secular aspect. It’s stated there are vortexes within the purple rocks round city – sacred spots the place power flows radiate the Earth’s energy. Whether or not you consider it or not, the rocks are spectacular to take a look at.
Take the seven-mile Purple Rock Loop scenic drive to see probably the most well-known vortexes: Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. Don’t miss the distinctive Chapel of the Holy Cross too – a 1950s Catholic chapel that appears like a Bond villain’s lair. Or head out on a Sedona hike and go to Slide Rock State Park for swimming and sliding down an 80-metre rock chute.
There are additionally a number of good half-day journeys from Sedona, relying on what you’re focused on. There’s the ghost city of Jerome which is 28 miles away. This previous copper and gold mining city was often called the ‘Wickedest City within the West’ within the 1890s. The saloons and brothels have closed however you may nonetheless see a whole lot of the historic buildings.
Or the Verde Valley Wine Path has 9 completely different vineyards to go to. And should you don’t have time to get out to the wineries, you may also attempt native wines at Sedona’s Artwork of Wine.
Day 13: Grand Canyon
Go away Sedona and head again to Flagstaff after which journey north to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim (114 miles/2 hours 15 minutes). Drive out to Desert View for that first breathtaking look down into the canyon and the watchtower statement deck. Then head on to the customer centre the place you may depart your automotive behind and catch the free shuttle.
There are a number of completely different shuttle routes – the blue route takes you from the customer centre to the village, and from there you may catch the purple route, which is a loop stopping off at among the most scenic lookout factors alongside Hermit’s Relaxation Highway.
There are strolling trails alongside the rim, however it’s additionally value heading down into the canyon to get a better view of it from a special angle. There’s not sufficient time to make all of it the way in which to the underside in half a day, however you are able to do a shorter stroll just like the three-mile hike alongside the South Kaibab Path to Cedar Level or the hike alongside the Shiny Angel Path so far as 1.5 Mile Resthouse. Then head to one of many viewpoints for that excellent Grand Canyon sundown.
Complete driving: 114 miles/183 kilometres – approx 2 hours 15 minutes
The place to remain on the Grand Canyon: Flagstaff is the closest place to the Grand Canyon which has an honest number of lodges, however it’s nonetheless 90 minutes away. So we spent the night time on the Shiny Angel Lodge, which is correct contained in the park. It’s a 1930s timber lodge with a mixture of resort rooms and cabins – the most cost effective choices have a shared toilet. There’s a café and a steakhouse-style restaurant on website and people superb views simply outdoors.
Day 14: Depart Las Vegas
Catch dawn over the Grand Canyon earlier than making your means again to Las Vegas. It’s a 275-mile/4.5-hour drive, so if in case you have a night flight it's best to have time to cease off at Lake Mead alongside the way in which to see the Hoover Dam.
The dam is a critically spectacular piece of engineering at 220 metres tall and as much as 200 metres thick. There’s a customer centre the place you will discover out the way it was constructed in addition to looking on the turbines. Then from the dam it’s solely 30 miles/40 minutes again to the airport in Las Vegas and the top of your southwest USA street journey.
Complete driving: 275 miles/426 kilometres – approx 4.5 hours