The more you travel the planet, the more you’re going to fall in love with it. But sometimes planning a trip on a tight budget can be daunting. You don’t have to stress over it though because Western America is one of the most diverse sections of the country – in terms of the people, culture and the landscape. So cruise through our carefully curated Western US road trip destinations sampling now!
Where else on the planet are you going to see the world’s tallest trees, experience some of the hottest deserts, see the most beautiful and famous coastlines, experience world-class skiing adventures, hike rock arches, and see sweeping canyons all in one region?
It will definitely take more than a lifetime to experience all this glamour. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of road trips for each state to give you a taste of all the amazing adventures you can experience.
Pacific Coast Highway, California
This site hosts some of the most famous western US road trip destinations. The Pacific Coast Highway runs down the coast of California with lots of wonderful picturesque spots along the route that is worth a road trip. This trip requires at least one week and covers approximately 800 miles.
● San Diego – This is the southernmost city in California and your road trip starting point. Here you will enjoy the tastiest Mexican cuisines and surf alongside the city’s greatest surfers.
● Los Angeles – Drive about 120 miles northwards to Los Angeles. Here you’ll get to experience beautiful sunsets over the Hollywood sign horizon and skyscrapers. Head to Orange County and explore the beautiful beaches and spectacular Disneyland.
● Santa Barbara – On this 95-mile drive to Santa Barbara, you’ll enjoy the scenic view of the Pacific Ocean, and camp overnight.
● San Luis Obispo – Take another 95-mile drive and make a stop at San Luis Obispo for lunch. You can also head to SLO County and grab lunch at Pismo Beach.
● Big Sur – It’s 110 miles from San Luis Obispo, and it is full of pleasing sceneries including waterfalls, seaside cliffs, and tall redwood where you can hoist a tent to camp.
● Carmel – A 30-mile drive up north from Big Sur will get you to Carmel. Here, you’ll get to cruise the 17-mile drive via Monterey Peninsula headed to San Francisco, which is 125 miles north of the coast.
● San Francisco – Explore the groovy neighborhood of Ashbury, then shop at Fisherman’s Wharf and explore Presidio. Spend a day here exploring several other features.
● Humboldt County – This is the last bit of this trip and is 280 miles long, running to Arcata, often referred to as Lost Coast. Enjoy the quiet of the beach while strolling around. If you’ve got time to spare, take a stop at Fort Bragg.
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Oregon
This is among the most photographed places in the country, and the breathtaking scenery accounts for it. It runs along the coastline of Oregon State following Highway 101. Since the entire coastline is owned by the state, you’ll get to see amazing natural vistas on the 300-mile route with lots of scenic beaches, seaside cliffs, wind-sculpted dunes, and marshes.
Between Port Orford and Brookings on the south end, histrionic sea cliffs are standing in contrast to the pastoral farmlands. The north end has a rugged coastline with beach towns and characteristic, opulent rain forests.
You’ll also get to see the spectacular rock formations that house large colonies of seals and sea lions. Between the period of November and June, keep your eyes over the horizon and you might just be lucky to see the grey whales passing by.
The coastal communities here are welcoming, some are prepared to receive guests and visitors, while others present attractive resorts and galleries. Other communities are indulged in simple lifestyles such as fishing from the sea as a way to earn a livelihood.
There are lots of public lands available, making it easier for those in pursuit of outdoor activities. Whether planning to explore the whole segment or just a section, take it slowly. This route is one of the toughest, and making frequent stops is practically mandatory.
Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
The Million Dollar Highway was built during the late 1880s and is part of San Juan Skyway. If you are acrophobic (fear of heights) you might want to let this one pass, but most navigators on this highway find the fear experienced while cruising through the twists and turns of steep cliffs with no guard rails worthwhile. Swerving off isn’t advisable here! With lots of caution, you’ll get to experience one of the most spectacular views in the US.
The views get even better with every corner you take, with the scraggy San Juan Mountains peaks and lots of momentous mining structures to view. There are lots of viewpoints here, you can pull over to get a closer view as well.
Driving from Durango to Ouray and Silverton, to Ridgeway, Million Dollar Highway keeps dropping beautiful vistas one after another. The highway stretches approximately 25 miles in Western Colorado following the US 550 route between Ouray and Silverton. Be sure not to miss out on the area between Silverton and Durango as it is somewhat spectacular.
The Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs up to three high mountain passes including Molas Pass, Red Mountain Pass, and Coal Bank Pass. The stretch running between Ouray and Silverton is only 25 miles but will take about 42 miles to pass.
This highway features on the best American fall scenic drives list also, it is one of the most popular roadtrip destinations in the entire US
The Loneliest Road, Nevada
There’s a possibility that Nevada might be one of the most underrated regions of Southwest America, simply because most people don’t know much about it other than Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. While these are both amazing places, Nevada has got plenty in store for exploration and the Loneliest Road is one of them.
The Loneliest Road is part of the US Highway 50 and got its name from the fact that it cruises through the most barren, uninhabited and extremely remote places of Nevada. Interestingly, it offers that happy feeling of open road freedom with lots of amazing distractions.
This highway cruises through the route of Pony Express, dodging mining camps and going over mountain ranges covered with pine forest. When you need to freshen up, grab a meal and fuel up, there are plenty of stops along the route.
The most amazing highlight and a must-see in this region is the Great Basin National Park. It is the most remote park in the US with the least visitations, but it comes with great hiking trails, old pine forests, and primeval mountain lakes. You can trek through this park for hours and not come across another soul.
The isolation of this park and the desert air makes it easier to experience the darkest night skies full of meteors, stars, and five planets in a closer view.
Going To The Sun Road and Beartooth Highway in Montana
Going To The Sun Road presents a jaw-dropping, magnificent highway running 50 miles long and divides the east and west sections of the Glacier National Park. It spans across the park’s width and crosses the Continental Divide.
Often named one of the best scenic drives in the country, you get to see not only the cedar forests, waterfalls, and brilliant glacial lakes, but plenty of wildlife as well. If you’ve never seen a mountain goat before, this is your chance. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats usually hang around Logan Pass so stay vigilant, but you might catch a glimpse of one.
While in this region, you might as well add the 67-mile stretch of Highway 212 which navigates through Montana and Wyoming. It is Northern Rockies’ highest elevated highway, and one of the most astounding drives in the United States – it’s bound to get your heart pounding as it requires some nerves of steel to navigate through this section.
There, you’ll get to see the magnificent Beartooth and Absaroka Mountains, high alpine plateaus with massive glacial lakes, waterfalls, forested valleys, and lots of wild animals such as mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, bobcats, and mountain lions.
To plan a complete Montana road trip, check out our comprehensive sampling and find out some great destinations.
The Southwest Cruise from Utah to Arizona
This cruise spans more than 860 miles via 6 national parks found in Southwest. The journey is very long but full of unforgettable memories. The cruise begins at Grand Canyon, skirting the South Rim filled with tourists, heading to North Rim which has plenty of hiking trails and is less crowded.
Utah is full of amazing parks, such as the Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, which are ideal for pitching a tent and enjoying the moonlit hoodoos views at night. You’ll get to explore the brilliantly hued canyons, arches, domes at Capitol Reef National Park. For a spectacular view of landscape features, head to Arches National Park where you’ll get to see astonishing red rock formations that are worth capturing on photographs. Here, you’ll also get to enjoy some of the country’s best mountain biking trails.
Wrapping Up Western US Road Trip Destinations
The American West features some of the most spectacular features and tough experiences that might require a little bit of toughness to explore. Yet still, there’s almost everything for everyone. From the great lively cities, canyon adventures, and awe-inspiring parks to the earth’s hottest places such as Death Valley. You’re definitely going to love the adventure. This Western US road trip will offer a taste of American adventure you’ll never forget!
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