An All-American Road Trip calls for some All-American stops. Although I encourage exploring other countries and cultures as often as I can, sometimes it’s true that there’s no place like home. The gorgeous scenery and vast untamed stretches of land make a West Coast road trip an adventure unlike any other. The hardest part is knowing where to start.
The list of things to see can be overwhelming but your first goal should be to hang back and enjoy yourself. Do the things you want to do. Don’t force yourself to do random things just because the Internet tells you to. A bit hypocritical since I’m some random person on the Internet but what can ya do?
I won’t bulk up the word count with unnecessary adjectives to make every place sound like the best place on Earth. That’s probably the most annoying part of planning. Every blogger and reviewer feels like they need to make each and every place seem magical. Pictures will probably be misleading, over-edited, oversaturated monstrosities taken at just the right angle. You know, the angle that makes the attraction ten times bigger and miraculously blocks out all of the other tourists.
Sorry for the unplanned passive-aggressiveness. Here are 25 spots that I wholeheartedly believe are worth going to on a West Coast Road Trip. This is far from an all-inclusive list, obviously, but that’s the point. I don’t want to overwhelm you with bloated reviews of a hundred different places, partially because I hate reading through those myself but also partially because I am lazy.
Oh, and if you’ll happen to RVing or camper van-ing it through any of these places, make sure to check out this list of campgrounds and RV parks near you.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone is weird, man. Almost like a completely different planet. No road trip is complete without hitting up Yellowstone National Park. It is easily in my top three favorite national parks in the United States. Considering just how many amazing parks there are, that is high praise. Despite there being so many beautiful places in Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic Spring had to have been my favorite part. Yeah, there were a lot of tourists, but in a park that made me say “wtf” out loud, the Grand Prismatic Spring “wtf” was the loudest.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
This is mostly on the list because I’m scared it’ll fall apart soon. Arches National Park is such a cool place and the entire park is jaw-dropping. I immediately typed up an “all-too-soon” post proclaiming Arches as the best national park in the U.S., only to go to Zion a few days later and Yosemite a week after that. Oh well, still in my top five.
Huron Peak, Colorado
This one is pretty far off the tourist trail but it is also pretty difficult. If you’re into hiking, Huron Peak is a Colorado 14’er packed with stunning views and difficulty breathing. Read more about it in my guide to hiking Huron Peak.
Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
This is one of the best places in America to hang up a hammock and take it all in. With crystal clear blue waters lapping on the rocks beneath you, it is easy to feel at peace. Meanwhile, the majestic Tetons tower over you in the background, making this a necessary stop on any Western United States road trip.
Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
A picture’s worth a thousand words. This one’s a very doable hike out in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Because I’m ~ the partying traveler ~ and such.
Big Sur, California
Would ya just look at that?
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
I mean, it’s the U.S.’s deepest lake. What more could you ask for? Oh yeah, IT’S INSIDE A FREAKIN’ VOLCANO.
The Wave, Arizona
I get tripped out just looking at this. If you’re lucky enough to be one of the select few people a year to be allowed to visit this place, I truly envy you. The Wave is an entrancing bucket list destination.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
It’s on the way from Arches to Zion, so if you’re on a road trip, there’s no reason not to go. Bryce Canyon is one of the most stunning places in the United States. These unique landscapes and geological formations can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
This has gotta be one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. It’s only gotten exponentially more popular since I last went, so good luck. Go as early as you can, but be warned, it’s not for the faint of heart. Here’s what you need ot know before you take on Angel’s Landing.
The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
If you’re in a slot canyon, are you inside or outside? The Narrows is unreal. Legitimately one of the most mind-blowing hikes I’ve ever done. Between The Narrows and Angel’s Landing, you are crazy not to hit Zion.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s a beautiful view. Getting to this iconic view is just a short hike but in the summer heat, it can be tough.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Just crazy, yo. This is another one of those destinations that you’ll need to be on the waiting list for, but anyone can tell you that it is worth the wait.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
There are few things as symbolic to America as the Grand Canyon. It has inspired awe in travelers for centuries and centuries, and can’t be missed no matter what.
Mesa Verde, Colorado
Whenever you think this is our country, just remember there were people living here tens of thousands of years ago. And you can see remnants of their civilizations here.
Mount Rainier, Washington
Yosemite National Park, California
The epitome of America the beautiful (and touristy).
Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California
You’ll need a nice, relaxing lake day (or ten) in between all of that hiking.
Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
I haven’t been here myself but I’ve heard it’s incredible. I went all the way to Bolivia to see the Uyuni Salt Flats and never knew we had one of those over stateside.
Sequoia National Park
Really. Big. Trees.
Seven Magic Mountains
The stuff Instagram girls dream of.
Spooky Gulch and Peekaboo Gulch
Multnomah Falls, Oregon