You can't decide whether you'd rather spend your vacation on miles of beaches, in exciting metropolises or in spectacular national parks? Then we can warmly recommend a round trip through the southwest of the USA. In 3 weeks you will travel by motorhome through 4 different states, each of which has countless highlights to offer. The route starts in the probably most relaxed city on the west coast of the USA: San Francisco.
- Duration: 3 weeks (alternatively 4 weeks)
- Distance: approx. 3,900 km (2,400 miles)
- Travel time: approx. 45 hours
- Route:San Francisco - Santa Maria - Los Angeles - Laughlin - Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - Page - Bryce Canyon - Zion National Park - Las Vegas - Death Valley - Visalia / Sequoia National Park - Yosemite National Park - San Francisco
Day 1 and 2: San FranciscoWhen you arrive in San Francisco, you don't go directly to the camper station yet. In North America, you are not allowed to pick up your camper directly on the day of arrival. This is for safety reasons: After the long flight and the time difference, your driving ability is not guaranteed. However, the city is much too beautiful to be left behind. You should plan one or two days here. See the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for yourself, stroll through the former hippie neighborhood of Haight Ashbury, and watch the cute seals sunbathe on the pier. Also an absolute must if you are already here: A ride with the pretty cable cars through the partly up to 90 degrees steep streets. You should definitely make a stop at the world-famous Lombard Street, whose single-lane serpentines make their way through hydrangea beds. If you'd like to visit Acatraz Prison Island, make sure to reserve tickets while you're still at home.
Day 3: San Francisco - Santa Maria (approx. 459 km, 6 h)
Finally the time has come: Collect your motorhome for the USA round trip on the West Coast and get ready for 3 unforgettable weeks! With the Pacific Coast Highway (also California State Route 1) you will drive on a panoramic road that offers a breathtaking view of the ocean for hours. Again and again we pull over to enjoy the view of the ocean. We hold our breath as we drive over the Bixby Creek Bridge, which we've seen several times on postcards. The view from here: Fantastic! Halfway across, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a welcome destination to stretch your legs. If you take the short McWay Waterfall Trail, after a five-minute walk you'll look down on a small cove into which a narrow waterfall flows almost meditatively.
Santa Maria campground: Santa Maria Fairpark (RV Parking), approx. 41 €/night
Day 4: Santa MariaAfter the long drive along the west coast, you deserve a day out of the RV. Besides, it would be a pity not to taste the excellent wine of the region. A clear recommendation: Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Good that we have parked the motorhome in the best city location in the Santa Maria Fairpark. Santa Maria, by the way, calls itself - quite modestly - the best BBQ town in the west of the USA. If you want to find out whether this title is justified, you should treat yourself to a so-called mayor's piece - a type of steak grilled over oak wood and aromatically seasoned - to round off the day. Yummy!
Day 5: Santa Maria - Los Angeles (approx. 300 km, 3:30 h)
The road trip along the west coast of the USA on the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway continues. It is about three and a half hours to Los Angeles, the city of stars and starlets. There are several RV parks on the outskirts of the city, but the best place to camp is Dockweiler RV Park. Here you stand directly behind beach dunes and can end the day - as it should be in L.A. - between palm trees. Thanks to the proximity to the airport, you can reach the city center within an hour by shuttle.
Campground Los Angeles: Dockweiler RV Park, approx. 58 to 67 €/night
Day 6: Los Angeles
You'll want to take at least one full day to see the largest city on the West Coast. The possibilities are almost endless: Movie buffs can visit the sets of classics like Psycho or Jaws at Universal Studios while sun worshippers will get their money's worth at mile-long Venice Beach. By the way, the legendary Route 66 begins at the neighboring Santa Monica Beach and the pier of the same name! Enough lazing around! Jump into the hustle and bustle on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and look for your favorite celebrity who has immortalized himself there. Or marvel at all the carts and luxury mansions in Beverly Hills. By the way, the most beautiful view of the city (including the Hollywood Sign) is from the Griffith Observatory - especially in the evening hours, when the sun turns the city into a bright red.
Day 7: Los Angeles - Laughlin (approx. 478 km, 5 h)
After an RV break, we finally hit the road again today! We wave goodbye to the West Coast and its dream beaches with a teary eye, but at the same time look forward to what lies ahead: The endless expanses of the American Southwest. Our way inland leads us past California's Mojave Desert with its Joshua Trees until we finally reach the state of Nevada. The desert town of Laughlin is located directly on the Colorado River and looks like a mini version of Las Vegas with its casinos. Stay at the campground in front of the gigantic Riverside Hotel and try your luck at the slot machines. No risk, no fun!
Laughlin campground: RV Park at the Riverside Hotel, approx. 22 €/night
Day 8: Laughlin - Grand Canyon (approx. 322 km, 3:15 h)
Today an absolute highlight of the three-week RV West Coast round trip through the USA is on the agenda. When you stand in front of the impressive canyons of the Grand Canyon, which were created by earth shifts over thousands of years, you will feel as if you are looking at a painting. Especially impressive is the hike down the Bright Angel Trail, which leads down into the depths of the mountains. Good to know: In addition to proper hiking boots, you should definitely have enough water in your backpack. With the Mather Campground and the Trailer Village RV Campground you will find two campgrounds in the national park that are open all year round. Especially in the high season it is worth to make a reservation! Otherwise you can try your luck at the Desert View Campground, which is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Campground Grand Canyon: Mather Campground South Rim, approx. 16 €/night
Day 9: Grand Canyon - Monument Valley (approx. 254 km, 2:45 h)
When it comes to route suggestions for an RV tour along the USA West Coast, one sight must not be missing under any circumstances: Monument Valley was the secret star in pretty much every US western movie. And quite rightly so! If you drive your camper towards the orange-glowing rock plateau that adorns so many travel guides, you will immediately fall under an indescribable spell. You can even camp in the middle of this mystical desert landscape and feel like a lonely cowboy in the evening as the sun sets.
Campground Monument Valley: Gouldings Campground, approx. 34 to 58 €/night (depending on RV size and equipment)
Day 10: Monument Valley - Page (approx. 204 km, 2:15 h)
Our route through the West takes us further and further through the state of Arizona. Although the bright red rocks and vast desert landscapes have been with us for quite a while, we just can't get enough of them. Although the small town of Page, which is the next stop on our route, has just 7,000 inhabitants, it is full of visitors. No wonder: There are so many natural wonders to see in the area around the desert town that half a day is not enough to see everything in peace. That's why we head for the parking lot at the unreal beautiful Horseshoe Bend. The contrast between the bright blue water and the orange-red rocks is simply breathtaking.
Campground Page: Lake Powell Campground, approx. 36 to 43 €/night (depending on facilities).
Day 11: Page and surroundings
Make sure your photo camera is charged up for today! It goes down between the probably most photogenic walls of the world. You've probably seen the fascinating play of colors in Antelope Canyon on photos before. When you stand in the middle of the crevice and the light conjures up bright colors on the walls, you feel like you're in a colorful painting. The only drawback is that you won't be the only visitors who want to see this natural spectacle. By contrast, it's much quieter on the hiking trails of Grand Starcase-Escalante National Monument. This 7,000-square-kilometer nature reserve in Utah offers desert-like landscapes, rushing waterfalls and some of the most colorful canyons in the world.
Day 12: Page - Bryce Canyon (approx. 241 km, 2:30 h)
You get a pretty good impression of the gigantic size of the Grand Starcase-Escalante National Monument when you are still in the gigantic nature reserve after two and a half hours of driving. In the northwestern tip of the area is Bryce Canyon, a very special place. Wind, ice and water have created a beautiful labyrinth of high rock needles. Depending on the incidence of light, the tower-like sandstone and basalt columns glow in all imaginable shades of red and orange. The view of the amphitheater from Bryce Point is particularly impressive.
Campground Bryce Canyon: North Campground, approx. 27 €/night
Day 13: Bryce Canyon - Zion National Park (approx. 116 km, 1:20 h)
Red sandstone cliffs, deep canyons lined with trees and emerald green pools make Zion National Park a dream destination in southwestern Utah. Already the approach via the Zyon Canyon Scenic Drive gives you a view of the dreamlike landscape again and again. Once there, you have several hiking trails at your disposal. If you choose the Angel's Landing Trail, you will hike to unimagined heights with fantastic views. You will stay on the (wet) ground of facts if you choose the trail through the narrow, centuries-old canyons (Zion Narrows).
Campground Zion National Park: South Campground, approx. 18 €/night
Day 14: Zion National Park - Las Vegas (approx. 260 km, 2:40 h)
It's hard to believe that 2 weeks of our three-week round trip through the West are already over. Time really flies in the midst of this fascinating landscape. It feels almost a bit strange to drive into the probably most artificial city of the world after the wild landscapes and natural campgrounds with the motorhome. Las Vegas greets us with flashing signs and curious hotels. What a contrast! We don't stay in one of the hotels, but in the RV Park in front of the Circus, Circus. It's closer to the Las Vegas Strip than any other campground - swimming pool and hot tub included!
Campground Las Vegas: RV Park at Circus, Circus, about €33/night.
Day 15: Las Vegas
After 2 weeks a day out of the RV is really good. Without a fixed plan, it's best to just let yourself drift in the glittering desert metropolis. There is probably no other city in the world that combines so many bizarre themed hotels in one place - from the Cinderella castle to the gigantic pyramid. Even absolute gambling opponents find it hard to keep their feet still in view of the many slot machines and blackjack tables. Those who are not at all enthusiastic about it can visit one of the many garish, but very entertaining Las Vegas shows.
Day 16: Las Vegas - Death Valley (approx. 238 km, 2:30 h)
Enough playing! Still a bit shaky on our feet, today we head for the probably most extreme and merciless place in the west of the USA. Our round trip takes us from Nevada back to the Golden State California - and to the hottest inhabited place in the world! Up to 56 degrees have already been measured in the dust-dry desert. The glowing sand dunes and salt lakes are immensely fascinating. Outside the high season, when it cools down at night, you can experience unbelievably starry nights at the campgrounds, some of which are even free.
Death Valley Campground: Furnace Creek, 14 to 23 €/night (depending on facilities)
Day 17: Death Valley - Visalia (approx. 467 km, 5:30 h)
Today, you're in for a tough five-and-a-half hours of driving. But don't worry: In view of the landscape, which changes constantly in a fascinating way, the time goes by surprisingly fast. While in the morning hours you still woke up in the dust-dry desert, the city of Visalia welcomes us with green parks and lots of palm trees. After the long drive we return to the KOA campground at Avenue 308 in the evening and let the day end at the bar, in the pool or comfortably at the campfire before heading to Sequoia National Park tomorrow.
Visalia campground: Visalia/Sequoia National Park KOA Journey, approx. 40 €/night
Day 18: Sequoia National Park
In Sequoia National Park pretty much every visitor looks in astonishment at the bright blue sky of the Sierra Nevada. The reason for this is the mighty General Sherman Tree, which at 84 meters high and 31 meters in circumference is considered the most voluminous living tree on earth. The natural paradise also impresses with deep canyons and its original American wilderness. Between the up to 3,200 year old coastal redwoods it is particularly peaceful to sleep this night.
Sequoia National Park Campground: Ledgepole Campground Upper Loop, approx. 19 €/night, open from March to September
Day 19: Sequoia National Park - Yosemite National Park (approx. 274 km, 3:30 h)
Before we head back to San Francisco, we end our round trip through the western USA with a real national park highlight. Thundering waterfalls and steep granite cliffs frame the Yosemite Valley and create a real picture book landscape. The national park is not only a must for photo and nature fans, but also a mecca for mountain climbers. Those who conquer the thousand meter high El Capitan can pat themselves on the back.
Yosemite National Park campground: Upper Pines, approx. 23 €/night
Day 20: Yosemite National Park - San Francisco Bay (approx. 309 km, 5 h)
We will spend the morning in the beautiful Yosemite Valley and after 3 weeks of driving through breathtaking landscapes we will head back to San Francisco. It is another five hours to San Francisco Bay. The Coyote Point Recreation Area is a great place to spend the last night before heading to the airport the next day. On the campgrounds right on the water you can watch the windsurfers on the beach - or the planes in the distance approaching. Don't worry: It's still quiet here.
San Francisco campground: Coyote Point Recreation Area, approx. 40 €/night
Day 21: San Francisco
We spent 3 weeks with our motorhome on the west coast of the USA. On our round trip we saw spectacular national parks, visited some of the most famous metropolises in the world and drove on fantastic panoramic roads. But every trip comes to an end. We return our camper with a heavy heart and are sure: We will be back!
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