Western U.S. Road Trip

Having a lengthy measure of vacation time at the same time my husband does is a rare event. When we discovered that we’re both off for several weeks in a row this year, we wasted no time in filling our calendar with a road trip that defines “epic.”

Ever since I started to armchair-travel by way of Pinterest, I’ve filled my wish list with places in the U.S. I’ve only seen photos of: star-gazing among the cinnamon-coloured topography of Zion National Park; the sun-drenched mountain road that was featured in the opening scenes of The Shining; the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park; the crashing waves of Big Sur; and, really, the entire state of California.

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Photos: (T) Jeff Krause on Flickr; (L) Andy Castro on Flickr; (R) Markus Spiering on Flickr

Apart from stopovers at LAX and SFO (and stopovers hardly count), can you believe I’ve never really been to California? It almost goes without saying that a day or two at Disneyland is a must on our itinerary once we finally roll into the Los Angeles area. I’m also really looking forward to exploring the Napa Valley after a stop in San Francisco. Being that the greatest film of all time was filmed in the Bay Area, there’s a lot I want to see there!

Art of the Cocktail

J and I have already spent hours poring over a map of the Western United States while flipping through our shiny new copy of the Lonely Planet guide to the area. Our tentative plan is make our way through southern BC, Calgary, and Lethbridge to visit family before heading south.

We’ll start by entering Montana’s Glacier National Park, snake our way down to Yellowstone National Park (where my parents honeymooned many years ago!) in Wyoming and then head south into Utah to stop at Arches National Park, Zion National Park and Utah’s most scenic gateway to Arizona, the Monument Valley. After stops at the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam, I’m certain I’ll be aching for a hot bath and a stiff cocktail at that oasis in the desert otherwise known as Las Vegas. From there we plan to cross southwest into Joshua Tree National Park before hitting Los Angeles to make some postcard-perfect memories in Southern California. Heading north, we’ll hug the California and Oregon coastlines, surfing at every stop we can before making our way “home” to my beloved Clatsop County in northern Oregon.

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Photo: Andy – Major Clanger on Flickr

J has been to a few of these places before – at least in California – but any advice, suggestions of diners to eat at or campgrounds to stay at, along with any other tips, would be hugely welcome! If you’ve been to any of the places we plan on visiting, or all of them, let me know your favourites and must-sees!

6 Comments on “Western U.S. Road Trip

  1. When visiting glacier: stay at the many glacier hotel. Spectacular scenery, the rooms are really basic, but they encourage you to hang out in the cozy lobby.

    Try to stay in the park when it comes to Yellowstone. It will save you lots of travel time and give you the opportunity for sunrise and sunset trips without too much driving around.
    Lamar and Hayden valley are excellent for wildlife spotting.

    As for, arches: sunset hike to delicate arch, it’s amazing!!

    I can probably go on for a while as the trip you’re planning is definitely my favorite of all times, but those are the things that come to mind.

    Have fun!!

  2. spend either a day or two after the Grand Canyon in nearby Sedona

    prettiest place ive ever been in my life

  3. My husband and I did a road trip to Utah, New Mexico and Arizona two years ago. We live in the prairies, so started out going through Montana and Wyoming as well, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to get out Glacier Park due to time constraints. Friends have been and say its gorgeous.

    We absolutely loved Zion – we did a few hikes, but the most amazing experience and slightly terrifying was Angel’s Landing. I am scared of heights, but the last mile up the trial is totally worth it – the view is amazing! Just wear good hiking shoes. We spend the night in Kanab at a really sweet inn, called the Victorian Inn, and had a delicious meal at the Rocking V Cafe after a long day of hiking.

    Arches has some fantastic hikes as well. We didn’t have time to hike out to the delicate arch, as we did the “Devil’s Garden” trail instead. You get to see several arches on this hike as well as the dark angle.
    We stayed right in Moab – really cool city.

    We only had an afternoon at the Grand Canyon, so didn’t have time to hike down into it… We did we are planning on heading back someday to camp out for one night. They have some pretty spectacular hiking trials. We ended up having out in Flagstaff, Arizona that evening. Not sure what way you plan on heading to Vegas, but if you head down that way, it is a gorgeous ski resort type city. Fun restaurants, cool shops and really nice people.

    Enjoy the planning the rest of your trip and hopefully you will find some of my info helpful!

    Have so much fun!!

  4. Hey look whose back! I just camera check in and was delighted to read your posts. Your trip sounds so incredible!!! My favourite vineyard to visit was the Ceago Vinegarden in Clear Lake, California. Jim Fetzer is the owner. I’m sure you remember my epic story about that visit 😉 I also enjoyed visiting Sokol Blosser vineyard in Dundee Hills, Oregon which was only a 5 minute detour from the route we had chosen to California.

    I have some excitement that I am also trying to contain about the Calgary part!!!! Hehe.

    xoxo

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