The ultimate RV road trip in the American West

A trip by RV is the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience for a memorable Western USA road trip.

So if you're looking for a road trip that will leave you with unforgettable memories, buckle up and get ready for 21 days of total freedom!
 

Road trip map

best road trip in western USA map
Map of the road trip

Road trip summary

Day 1-2 : San Francisco

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Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Your trip to the American West begins with your arrival in the San Francisco, a city known the world over for its tolerance and social and cultural diversity. 

Take advantage of your free day to explore its many small neighborhoods, all of which can be easily visited on foot and by public transit. 

To get to Fisherman's Wharf, be sure to ride the famous historic cable car, which has been transporting San Francisco residents for more than a century. 

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Historic tramway

Finally, don't leave the city without crossing the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, emblem of the city. 

Whether you're walking or pedaling, try to be there in time to watch the sunset!

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Crossing the Golden Gate on a bike

And if you pay close attention, you may even catch a glimpse of a whale. 


Day 3 : Monterey (136 km)

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Lone Cypress Pine Point on the 17-Mile Drive 

In the early afternoon, pick up your RV rental in San Francisco.

It's time for the ultimate RV road trip to begin! Your first destination is Monterey, a typical California coastal town

As you don't have far to drive today, check out 17-Mile Drive, a private scenic route with paid access. 

It passes through one of the richest and most famous residential districts on the west coast, offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. 

 

Day 4 : Pismo Beach (271 km)

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Highway 1

Your road trip continues with Pismo Beach, a stopover town known for its beaches and dunes. 

Aboard your RV, you will have the chance to follow the Pacific coast along one of the most beautiful scenic roads in the world: Highway 1. 

Between dizzying cliffs and picturesque ocean scenery, you will be amazed by the beauty around you, guaranteed!

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Beautiful panorama along Highway 1

This short overnight stop will allow you to fully enjoy this iconic Californian coastal road and its many scenic viewpoints.

Among others, don't miss the stunning and rugged Pfeiffer Beach as well as Bixby Bridge, the most photogenic of all American bridges. 

 

Day 5-6 : Los Angeles (240 km)

best sunset in Los Angeles
Sunset over Los Angeles

You're on your way to the destination that best embodies the famous American dream!

The city is huge and the public transit system is tedious. But don't worry, even when travelling by !!! RV!!!, it is possible to get around in the City of Angels without too much trouble.

When you arrive, park near the famous Hollywood Boulevard and spend a few hours walking along the Walk of Fame, immersing yourself in the crazy atmosphere. 

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Hollywood Boulevard

If you're interested in show business and want to play paparazzi, you'll be happy to know that Hollywood Boulevard is the starting point for several guided tours of the homes of stars. 

Finally, devote part of your second day in the city to soaking up some sun on Venice Beach, a very bohemian seaside neighbourhood.

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Venice Beach Boardwalk

Be prepared to meet all kinds of people: musicians, dancers, fitness buffs, painters, vendors, fortune tellers, and much more. 

 

Day 7 : Kingman (570 km)

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Route 66

Today will be a very special day, as you will take the mythical Route 66 towards its historic heart: Kingman.

Stop off on the way in Calico, a ghost town founded during the Gold Rush era, which was completely restored in the 1950s as a tourist site. 

Ghost town American West
Calico Ghost town

Then, a little further on, you'll find the famous Bagdad Café from the Percy Adlon film. Stop in this iconic spot for a few pictures and a little pick-me-up.

Continue to Oatman, a former mining town filled with history, ghosts, and tourism options.

Today the town is home to less than 130 people, but a large population of wild burros, descendants of the beasts of burden brought to the area by long-ago miners, wander freely through the streets!

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Oatman Ghost Town

Then, hang on to the wheel of your RV and make your way towards the Sitgreaves Pass, a magnificent stretch of old Route 66, which winds through breathtaking desert landscapes. 

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Sitgreaves Pass

At the end of the day, near Kingman, stop at Cool Springs Station, a former camp and service station built in the early 1920s.

Burnt to the ground in the 1960s, it was completely rebuilt in 2001 to the delight of passing tourists. 

 

Day 8-9 : Grand Canyon (274 km)

Helicopter over grand canyon
Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon

This morning, a true natural wonder awaits you!

You will be staying on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, where the most beautiful attractions are to be found. It is also much more accessible than the north rim.

But first, you simply must treat yourself to a helicopter tour. Enjoy a bird's eye view of the canyon, from its more-visited south rim to the wilder and less accessible north rim. It's a unique chance to see the whole canyon, and definitely the experience of a lifetime!

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Mather Point 

The next day, begin your exploration at Mather Point, the most beautiful viewpoint in the park. You will be left speechless by the vastness of the landscape before you.

From here, you can continue your discovery of the park on foot along the South Rim Trail. 

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Desert View Point at sunset

At the end of the day, take your RV along Desert View Drive to Desert View Point, where a beautiful sunset awaits you. 

 

Day 10 : Monument Valley (288 km)

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Monument Valley

Today holds more excitement in store, this time in the heart of the Far West.

First, head to Forrest Gump Point on Highway 163. Made famous by the character played by Tom Hanks, this iconic spot offers a most spectacular view. 

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Forrest Gump Point

After a few photos, head to the heart of the valley, where an entry fee is required. 

As you are traveling by RV, the best way to explore it is to book a tour with a Navajo guide.

Your guide will lead you to the foot of the most beautiful geological formations and take you to places otherwise inaccessible to tourists. 

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Wild horses in the back country of Monument Valley 

This will be a great opportunity to learn all about Native American history and culture, and you may even get to visit a traditional house.

You're sure to take away lasting memories of this day. 

 

Day 11 : Lake Powell (212 km)

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Lake Powell

Today's destination is Lake Powell, an artificial lake of a startling blue!

But first of all, you simply must visit two must-see attractions of the American West. 

In the morning, head to Antelope Canyon, a true masterpiece of nature, created by erosion.

antelope canyon navajo tours
Antelope Canyon visit

The only way to visit this natural wonder is with a guided tour, booked months in advance. Be sure to plan ahead, because magical moments await you! 

Then make another stop at Horseshoe Bend, the famous horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River.

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Horseshoe Bend

A short 20-minute walk leads to an overlook with stunning views: you'll never want to leave!

Head for your campground in Lake Powell at the end of the day.

But before settling in for the night, make sure you don't miss the sunset at Wahweap overlook. 

 

Day 12-13 : Bryce Canyon (234 km)

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Bryce Canyon amphitheater

Your tour continues with another classic of the American West: Bryce Canyon and its famous amphitheater of rocky spires and pillars called hoodoos. 

These pillars, formed by erosion, create a one-of-a-kind landscape. 

The best way to explore the park is a walk along the Rim Trail, an easy trail that follows the edge of the cliff, offering a multitude of viewpoints. 

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Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon NP

And if you want to go down into the amphitheatre for a close look at the hoodoos, the combination of the Navajo Loop Trail and the Queen's Garden Trail is a must! 

 

Day 14 : Zion (134 km)

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Zion National Park

Your next destination is Zion National Park.

To get there, you will need to take the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, one of the most beautiful scenic routes in the U.S.

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Zion-Mount-Carmel Highway

This 16-kilometre stretch of road will take you up and down switchbacks at an altitude of 1,130 to 2,700 metres, through a two-kilometre-long tunnel and delivers spectacular views.

Since you are travelling by RV, you will have to purchase a tunnel permit of $10 in addition to the park entry fee. Rest assured, it is well worth the expense!

Tunnel  Zion Mount Carnel Highway
Tunnel on the Zion Mount Carnel Highway

Just before the tunnel, don't miss the Canyon Overlook Trail, a 30-minute hike that leads to a breathtaking panoramic view!

 

Day 15-16 : Las Vegas (280 km)

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Las Vegas Strip

Next you head for the largest city in the State of Nevada.

Renowned for its numerous casinos, its extravagant hotels, its theaters and for being a mecca of entertainment, for many Las Vegas is a dream come true!

One thing is certain: you won't be bored here! 

Be sure to go to the top of the observation tower at the Strat. 

With a height of 350 meters, it offers the most beautiful view of the famous Strip.   

 

Day 17 : Mammoth Lakes (514 km)

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Crystal Lake in Mammoth Lakes

After two days in the City of Sin, hit the road again for the fresh air of the great outdoors. 

The resort town of Mammoth Lakes is a real paradise for outdoors enthusiasts, in winter and summer alike.

Make sure you take the time to do the short 4-km round-trip Crystal Lake Trail.

 

Day 18-19 : Yosemite (520 km)

Glacier Point hike
Glacier Point in Yosemite

After a short break, get back behind the wheel and head to one of California's most iconic national parks.  

To get there, you will need to take Tioga Road, a scenic high mountain road that runs through the northern section of the park and offers a breathtaking variety of landscapes. 

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Tioga Road going to Yosemite NP

When it comes to nature, Yosemite Valley will not disappoint: dizzying cliffs, powerful waterfalls and giant sequoias await you. 

Must-see attractions include the impressive, winding drive to Glacier Point, which leads to a spectacular viewpoint of the same name, and the famous Tunnel View.

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Glacier Road

Hiking enthusiasts are also sure to enjoy themselves, no matter what level of difficulty they are looking for. 

 

Day 20 : Napa Valley (310 km)

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Napa Valley at sunset

This morning, set a heading for the last leg of your trip: Napa Valley.

Renowned for its numerous vineyards, this region is the perfect place to end a road trip in the American West on a high note!

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Panorama of the wine valley

If you are interested in wine, opt for a guided tour. This alternative will allow you to enjoy the tastings without having to drive. 

Enjoy your last day, and don't take any unnecessary risks!

 

Day 21 : San Francisco (75 km)

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Typical San Francisco street

Head back to San Francisco to return your RV. 

It's time to make your way to the to the airport for your flight home.

Your vacation is over, but you return home with hearts filled with beautiful memories.

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