Julie United States 25 Comments

One of the best ways to explore the USA is on a good old-fashioned road trip. Cruise along Route 66, road trip through the Florida Keys, explore the American Southwest, or even drive from coast to coast. In this guide, we share 18 of the best USA road trips…18 great ideas for your next big adventure.

About these USA Road Trips

These road trips range from just a several days to two weeks in length. Most them are written as 7 to 10-day itineraries.

This is not a list of scenic drives, which are drives that can be done in a few hours or a full day (for example, Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway, or Beartooth Highway). However, these scenic drives are included in the itineraries below.

For each road trip, we list the approximate distance you will travel and the best time of year for each trip. Most of these can be done all year, but like any travel destination, there are ideal times for each of them.

Most of these road trips include at least one national park. We are on a quest to visit all 63 national parks, and they make perfect road trip destinations.

We have done all but a few of these USA road trips…several are still on our bucket list. And on this list we have a few favorites, what we think are must-have experiences in the USA, and I’ll share those with you at the end of this guide (or you can skip ahead now).

While visiting the national and state parks, national monuments, and public places, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trails, pack out what you bring with you, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

#1 Route 66

Distance: 2,448 miles
Length of Time: 1 to 2 weeks to drive the entire distance, or you can drive a section of Route 66
When to Go: All year

Highlights: Chicago, ghost towns in New Mexico and Texas, quirky roadside shops and restaurants, Petrified Forest National Park, Santa Monica. If you drive the entire length of Route 66, you will drive through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

Route 66 USA Road Trip

Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in the USA. This historic road is also called the Main Street of America and the Mother Road.

This road runs from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, totaling 2,448 miles. In the 1930’s, it was the route used by those migrating west to escape the Dust Bowl. And in the 1950’s, this route was used by vacationers on their way to Los Angeles.

In the 1960’s, as more direct highways were constructed, traffic along Route 66 declined, leading towards its demise. Portions of Route 66 were bypassed and neglected, although in recent years, there has been revitalization along this route.

As far as planning your road trip, you can drive the entire distance, which takes one to two weeks, depending on what you do along the way. Or, just road through a portion of Route 66.

We have driven Route 66 in Arizona. With quirky roadside stands and several great places to visit along the drive (Petrified Forest National Park, the Meteor Crater, and Flagstaff) this is one of the most iconic sections of the drive.

Route 66 Dinosaurs

Holbrook, Arizona | Best USA Road Trips

Plan Your USA Road Trip

The Route 66 Road Trip website has lots of information about what to do and see along the way.

#2 California: The Pacific Coast Highway

Distance: 650 miles
Time: 7 to 10 days
When to Go: spring and summer

Highlights: San Francisco, Monterey, Big Sur, Hearst Castle, Solvang, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles

Pacific Coast Highway Map

Tim and I did this over 20 years ago, and it still remains one of my favorite USA road trips.

The Pacific Coast Highway, also called California State Route 1, runs north to south from Leggett to Dana Point. The classic Pacific Coast Highway road trip runs from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but you can also add on San Diego in the south or continue the drive north into northern California.

This road trip is done point-to-point and can be done in either direction.

The drive between San Francisco to Los Angeles, as the road winds along the rugged coastline in Big Sur, is one of the most beautiful drives in the USA. It takes 8 to 10 hours to drive this stretch of road, but most people break the drive up into several days, spending the night in either Santa Barbara, Solvang, Morro Bay, and/or Monterey.

There are also some great nearby destinations to add on to this road trip. Napa Valley, Pinnacles National Park, and San Diego all make great additions to a Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

Here is a sample 7-day Pacific Coast highway itinerary heading south to north.
Day 1: San Diego
Day 2: Los Angeles
Day 3: Santa Barbara, Solvang, and Morro Bay
Day 4: Big Sur State Park and Monterey
Day 5: San Francisco
Day 6: San Francisco
Day 7: Napa Valley day trip from San Francisco

With more time, you can continue the road trip by heading north to northern California, add on more time in each city, or add on Pinnacles or Yosemite National Parks.

Big Sur USA Road Trips

Bixby Bridge at Big Sur: Phitha Tanpairoj/shutterstock.com

#3 American Southwest

Distance: Varies, 1,000 – 1,500 miles
Time: 7 days to 2 weeks
When to Go: Best during the spring and fall months

Highlights: The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks

American Southwest Map

American Southwest Route | Best USA Road Trips


Admire the breathtaking vistas of the Grand Canyon, hike the thrilling trails in Zion National Park, and photograph the millions of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. The list keeps going, with the sweeping views of Monument Valley, dusty, off-road adventures in Grand Staircase-Escalante, and numerous slot canyons to scramble through. With more time, you can extend the road trip and head farther into Utah, exploring Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks.

American Southwest Road Trip

Monument Valley | Best USA Road Trips


USA Road Trip with Zion

Zion National Park | Best USA Road Trips

 Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon | Best USA Road Trips

If you have the time, I recommend planning a two-week road trip through this region. On just one road trip, you can visit the Grand Canyon, Utah’s Mighty 5, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, and Las Vegas.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas, Drive to the Grand Canyon
Day 2: Grand Canyon National Park
Day 3: Grand Canyon National Park
Day 4: Page, Arizona: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend
Day 5: Monument Valley
Day 6: The Needles, Canyonlands National Park
Day 7: Arches National Park
Day 8: Canyonlands National Park: Island in the Sky
Day 9: Goblin Valley State Park and Little Wild Horse Canyon
Day 10: Capitol Reef National Park
Day 11: Capitol Reef or Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Day 12: Bryce Canyon National Park
Day 13: Zion National Park
Day 14: Drive to Las Vegas and fly home

With less time, we have a great 10-day road trip that includes several highlights and wonderful off-the-beaten-path destinations in the American Southwest, and a 7-day road trip that includes Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. We are frequent visitors to the American Southwest and have a lot of different road trip itineraries on this website.

#4 Grand Teton, Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks

Distance: 900 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: Early July through mid-October, when all of the roads in the national parks are open

Highlights: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks

Grand Teton Yellowstone Road Trip Map

Day 1: Arrive in Jackson, Wyoming
Day 2: Grand Teton
Day 3: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 4: Yellowstone
Day 5: Yellowstone
Day 6: Yellowstone
Day 7: Drive to Glacier
Day 8: Glacier
Day 9: Glacier
Day 10: Fly Home

This is one of the best USA road trips if you want to visit three popular national parks. We like this road trip so much that we have done it twice.

This USA road trip is done point-to-point. It can be done in either direction, but most people start in Grand Teton and then head north to Glacier National Park.

In Grand Teton National Park, visit Jenny Lake, hike to Inspiration Point or head farther into the Teton Range, go wildlife spotting at Oxbow Bend, photograph the mighty Teton Range, and spend some time in Jackson.

Then head to Yellowstone, where the wildlife sightings are some of the best in the national parks and you can visit bubbling mud pots and technicolor hot springs.

Finally, the trip ends with its grand finale in Glacier National Park. Drive the beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road, take your pick between short and long hikes, and marvel at this gorgeous national park.

Grand Teton National Park

Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park

#5 Washington State Road Trip

Distance: 1,225 miles
Time: 7 to 14 days
When to Go: July through September

Highlights: Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks, Leavenworth, Lake Chelan

Washington Road Trip Map

Day 1: Arrive in Washington, drive to Port Angeles
Day 2: Olympic National Park
Day 3: Olympic National Park
Day 4: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 5: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 6: Leavenworth
Day 7: Lake Chelan
Day 8: North Cascades National Park
Day 9: North Cascades National Park or Mount Baker
Day 10: Fly Home

Washington state makes an excellent road trip destination, especially for outdoor lovers, hikers, and families. Three national parks are located in Washington.

Things to Do in Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park | Best USA Road Trips


USA Road Trip Olympic NP

Olympic National Park | Best USA Road Trips


North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse national parks in the United States. In just one national park, you can climb peaks as high as 8,000 feet, walk through old growth temperate rainforests, and stroll along beaches littered with driftwood.

For hikers, Mount Rainier is one of the best US national parks to visit. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails loop around Mount Rainier, a glacier-capped active volcano. For an epic experience, you can also climb to the summit of Mount Rainier on a multi-day hiking trip.

North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States, and we also think that it is one of the most underrated. It’s also another great spot to go hiking.

On a road trip through Washington state, you can also add on the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, go wine tasting at Lake Chelan, visit Mount Baker, go on a day hike in the Enchantments, and visit Seattle.

#6 Las Vegas to San Diego

Distance: 640 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: fall, winter and spring

Highlights: San Diego, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park (the cover photo for this article)

USA Road Trip Joshua Tree

This USA road trip is great in the wintertime. Joshua Tree and Death Valley tend to be some of the hottest spots in the USA, so it’s best to visit this area when the weather is cool.

Since this road trip is done point-to-point, it can be done in either direction. Here is a sample 10-day itinerary, starting in Las Vegas and ending in Las Vegas. For more information, plus an alternative route that includes the Mojave National Preserve, read our Las Vegas to San Diego Itinerary.

Day 1: Las Vegas
Day 2: Valley of Fire day trip from Las Vegas
Day 3: Red Rock Canyon or more time in Las Vegas
Day 4: Death Valley National Park
Day 5: Death Valley National Park
Day 6: Drive to Joshua Tree National Park
Day 7: Joshua Tree National Park
Day 8: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Day 9: San Diego
Day 10: Fly home

For a shorter version of this itinerary, skip Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the day trips from Las Vegas.

Death Valley Sunset

Death Valley National Park | Best USA Road Trips


USA Road Trip with Las Vegas

Las Vegas | Best USA Road Trips

#7 Florida Keys Road Trip

Distance: 200 miles
Time: 7 to 10 days
When to Go: All year but this road trip is best from November through March, when the weather is cooler, rainfall is low, and there is no threat from tropical storms or hurricanes.

Highlights: Miami, Key West, Florida Keys, Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks

Florida Keys Itinerary Map

White sandy beaches, warm sunny skies, palm trees, key lime pie, warm sunny skies…sounds nice, right?

Driving from Miami to Key West is one of the best USA road trips.

The Florida Overseas Highway connects mainland Florida with Key West. As you road trip through the Florida Keys, you can visit state parks, beautiful beaches, animal conservation centers, breweries, and boutique shops. Dine al fresco, on the beach, in the shade of palm trees.

Spend some time in Miami and Key West and you can also add on three national parks: Biscayne, Everglades, and Dry Tortugas.

Overseas Highway

Seven Mile Bridge | Best USA Road Trips

 Key West Road Trip

Key West | Best USA Road Trips


Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Day 1: Arrive in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
Day 2: Everglades National Park
Day 3: Biscayne National Park
Day 4: Florida Keys road trip to Key West
Day 5: Key West
Day 6: Key West
Day 7: Dry Tortugas National Park
Day 8: Key West
Day 9: Florida Keys road trip to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
Day 10: Fly home

If you have less time, this itinerary can easily be shortened to one week. Travel point-to-point through the Florida Keys. In our Florida Keys Itinerary, we give suggestions on how to do this.

#8 Northern California & Oregon

Distance: 650 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: Summer and early fall

Highlights: Redwood State and National Parks, Lassen Volcanic National Park and Crater Lake National Park

California Loop Map

On this loop, visit three national parks: Crater Lake, Redwood, and Lassen Volcanic National Parks. This road trip is still on our to-do list. When we were planning one of our big summer trips, we had to choose between the Washington road trip (listed above) and this one. Washington won but we are hoping to do this one soon.

Since this USA road trip is done as a loop, there are several different spots to start this trip. Medford, Oregon is the most convenient location that I have found, since it has one of the largest airports in the area.

Below is a 10-day road trip itinerary starting and ending in Medford.

Day 1: Arrive in Medford, drive to Crater Lake National Park
Day 2: Crater Lake National Park
Day 3: Crater Lake National Park, drive to Lava Beds National Monument
Day 4: Lava Beds National Monument, drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park
Day 5: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Day 6: Drive to Redwood National Park visiting Whiskeytown on the drive
Day 7: Redwood National & State Parks
Day 8: Redwood National & State Parks
Day 9: Redwood National & State Parks
Day 10: Drive to Medford and fly home

Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park: Nature’s Charm/shutterstock.com

#9 Washington DC to Asheville, North Carolina

Distance: 700 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: May through October

Highlights: Washington DC, Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, New River Gorge National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville, Gatlinburg

USA Road Trip Map Shenandoah

If you are looking for a USA road trip to do in the fall, this is one of the best on this list. In October, all three national parks are ablaze in fall colors, making this one of the most beautiful times to visit this part of the USA.

Spend a day or two in Washington DC, visiting the Smithsonian Museums, national monuments, and iconic landmarks. Then, leave the city behind, as you road trip through Shenandoah National Park, driving the beautiful Skyline Drive.

Next, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to Natural Bridge. Take a detour west, spending a few days in one of the USA’s newest national parks, New River Gorge. After New River Gorge, resume the drive south, visiting Asheville, North Carolina, before ending the trip with a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Shenandoah NP

Shenandoah National Park in October | Best USA Road Trips


West Virginia

New River Gorge National Park | Best USA Road Trips


The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina | Best USA Road Trips


Great Smoky Mountains Cabin

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Day 1: Washington DC
Day 2: Washington DC
Day 3: Shenandoah National Park
Day 4: Blue Ridge Parkway, Natural Bridge, New River Gorge National Park
Day 5: New River Gorge National Park
Day 6: New River Gorge National Park
Day 7: Drive to Asheville, North Carolina
Day 8: Asheville
Day 9: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Day 10: Gatlinburg and fly home

To turn this into a 7-day itinerary, eliminate New River Gorge National Park and do this as a road trip from Washington DC to Asheville, North Carolina.

#10 Arizona Road Trip

Distance: 1,080 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: Fall, winter and spring

Highlights: Grand Canyon, Sedona, Monument Valley, Saguaro National Park, Petrified Forest National Park, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend

Arizona Road Trip Map

On this Arizona road trip itinerary, you will visit three national parks, drive past the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley, walk through magical Antelope Canyon, and hike the desert hills of Sedona. Arizona is home to some of the most iconic landscapes in the United States and this road trip is the perfect way to see them.

Day 1: Arrive in Phoenix, Saguaro National Park
Day 2: Saguaro National Park
Day 3: Petrified Forest National Park
Day 4: Monument Valley
Day 5: Antelope Canyon
Day 6: Grand Canyon
Day 7: Grand Canyon
Day 8: Grand Canyon & Sedona
Day 9: Sedona
Day 10: Fly Home

Arizona is a large state with a lot to do. This road trip focuses on the national parks, Sedona, and Monument Valley, but if you have more time, you can also add on Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and Scottsdale.

Grand Canyon USA Road Trip

Grand Canyon National Park | Best USA Road Trips


Sedona Arizona

Sedona, Arizona | Best USA Road Trips



Saguaro National Park | Best USA Road Trips

#11 Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Distance: 100 to 300 miles
Time: 1 to 7 days
When to Go: All year

Highlights: Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Louisville, Bardstown, Lexington


The Kentucky Bourbon Trail (KBT) is a collection of eighteen bourbon distilleries located in and around Louisville. If you want to tour all eighteen distilleries, you need a minimum of seven days. For those who just want a taste of the KBT, this area also makes a great weekend getaway.

There is a lot more to do in this part of Kentucky than just tour bourbon distilleries. Enjoy the nightlife in Louisville, watch a horse race at Churchill Downs, drive through scenic bluegrass Kentucky, visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, or spend the night in a historic tavern.



Maker’s Mark | Best USA Road Trips


Horse Racing

Horse Racing at Churchill Downs | Best USA Road Trips

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in a Weekend

Friday: Arrive in Louisville, evening distillery tour and dinner
Saturday: Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, Bardstown Bourbon, sleep in Bardstown
Sunday: Lux Row, Maker’s Mark, fly home

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in One Week

Day 1: Louisville distilleries
Day 2: Louisville: museums, distillery tours and Churchill Downs
Day 3: Distilleries near Owensboro
Day 4: Bardstown distilleries
Day 5: Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and the Kentucky Cooperage
Day 6: Wilderness Trail, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve
Day 7: Distilleries between Lexington and Louisville

One week is a long time to spend on the bourbon trail and it will get repetitive. I only recommend doing this if you are a BIG fan of bourbon. It took us several different trips to Kentucky to visit all of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries.

#12 Alaska Road Trip

Distance: 700 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: May through September

Highlights: Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Kenai Fjords and Wrangell – St. Elias National Parks

Alaska Road Trip Map

There are many different ways to put together an Alaskan road trip, and in our Alaska Itinerary post, we share three detailed itineraries.

Our favorite is a 10-day trip that includes Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell – St. Elias. It’s our favorite for two reasons.

For one thing, Wrangell – St. Elias is one of the most underrated US national parks. This place blew us away, with its multiple ranges of mountain peaks, glacier hiking, and flightseeing.

The second reason is that Denali Park Road, in Denali National Park, is closed at about the halfway point, while a bridge is constructed around a landslide. Until this road fully reopens (2023 or later), I think it is best to save Denali and visit the other Alaskan national parks instead.

In our article 10 Day Alaska Itinerary: 3 Road Trip Ideas, we provide three different road trip routes through Alaska, but below is the 10-day itinerary with Wrangell – St. Elias and Kenai Fjords National Parks.

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage
Day 2: Drive to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Day 3: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Day 4: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Day 5: Drive to Valdez
Day 6: Valdez
Day 7: Cruise to the Kenai Peninsula
Day 8: Kenai Fjords National Park
Day 9: Kenai Fjords National Park
Day 10: Fly home

With more time, you can add on Denali or add on a day trip to Lake Clark or Katmai National Parks.

Alaska Road Trip Itinerary Photo

Kenai Fjords National Park | Best USA Road Trips


USA Road Trip in Alaska

Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve | Best USA Road Trips

#13 New England Road Trip: Acadia to Boston

Distance: 700 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: Late spring through fall; October is the best time for fall colors

Highlights: Acadia National Park, Kancamagus Highway, Franconia Notch State Park, Stowe, Lake Champlain, the Berkshires, Boston

New England Road Trip Map

This is a road trip that is very high on our to-do list. We have been to Acadia National Park and Boston, the starting and ending points of this itinerary, and loved both experiences. Our visit to Acadia coincided with peak fall colors and it’s breathtaking.

We live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US so we get to see some beautiful fall colors in our backyard, but there is something extra special about New England in October. Not only do the fall colors seem more vibrant, but the small towns and state parks make this region one of the most beautiful destinations in the USA for a fall road trip.

In the summer of 2023, Kara and a friend took a 12 day road trip through New England, visiting Providence, Cape Cod, Isle au Haut in Acadia National Park, Franconia Notch State Park, and the Kancamagus Highway. You can see the full itinerary in our 12 Day New England Itinerary.

Day 1: Acadia National Park
Day 2: Acadia National Park
Day 3: Portland, Maine
Day 4: Drive to Conway, then drive the scenic Kancamagus Highway, visit Franconia Notch State Park, and sleep in or near Franconia
Day 5: Stowe, Burlington, and Lake Champlain
Day 6: Drive to Lenox, Massachusetts in the Berkshires
Day 7: Drive to Boston
Day 8: Boston
Day 9: Boston
Day 10: Fly home

Acadia National Park October

Acadia National Park in October | Best USA Road Trips



Boston | Best USA Road Trips

Plan Your USA Road Trip

Since we have not done this road trip yet, we have limited information. But here are a few posts which will be helpful:
ACADIA:  The Complete Guide to Acadia National Park
BOSTON:  Best Things to Do in Boston, Massachusetts
BOSTON:  Tips for Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston
KANCAMAGUS HIGHWAY: Top 10 Stops Along the Kancamagus Highway
CAPE COD: 2 Days on Cape Cod: Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown, and Falmouth
PORTLAND, MAINE: Portland, Maine: Things to Do, Day Trip Ideas, Where to Stay and Eat

#14 Utah’s Mighty 5

Distance: 900 miles
Time: 7 to 10 days
When to Go: Spring and fall

Highlights: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks

Mighty 5 Map

If you like rugged, desert landscapes, it is hard to beat the beauty of Utah. If you are a hiker, there are enough trails in these parks to keep you busy for weeks. And if you like a good road trip, Utah is the perfect place to explore from behind the wheel of a car.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best USA road trips. We can’t get enough of this part of the USA…Utah keeps calling us back.

Hike the bucket list worthy trails at Zion, explore the fantasyland of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, photograph the arches and unique rock formations at Arches National Park, explore the waterpocket fold in Capitol Reef, marvel at the landscapes at Canyonlands Island in the Sky, and hike through the unique landscape in The Needles at Canyonlands.

This is just a short list of things to do on a Mighty 5 road trip. You can spend weeks here and never run out of new things to do.

Delicate Arch

Arches National Park | Best USA Road Trips


The Needles Canyonlands

The Needles, Canyonlands National Park | Best USA Road Trips


USA Road Trip Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park | Best USA Road Trips


USA Road Trip with Mighty 5

Capitol Reef National Park | Best USA Road Trips

Below is a 7-day road trip itinerary through Utah’s Mighty 5. In this guide, also have alternate 7-day itinerary, plus a 10-day itinerary that gives you more time in the national parks and gets you off-the-beaten-path to several of Utah’s underrated state parks.

Day 1: Arrive in Salt Lake City, drive to Moab
Day 2: Arches National Park
Day 3: Canyonlands National Park
Day 4: Drive to Capitol Reef, visit Capitol Reef, sleep in Torrey or near Bryce Canyon
Day 5: Bryce Canyon, drive to Zion, sleep in Springdale
Day 6: Zion National Park
Day 7: Drive to Las Vegas, fly home

#15 Colorado Road Trip

Distance: 1,050 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: Summer and early fall

Highlights: Rocky Mountain, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks, Aspen and Snowmass, Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and numerous scenic drives.

USA Road Trip Colorado

With four national parks, numerous national forests and state parks, plus historic towns scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains, Colorado makes an awesome road trip destination.

Our 10-day road trip itinerary includes all four national parks, which are linked together with some of Colorado’s best scenic drives (the San Juan Skyway, the Million Dollar Highway, Top of the Rockies, Mount Evans Scenic Byway, and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park).

Best Hikes in Rocky Mountains

Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park


Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park | Best USA Road Trips

 Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


Colorado Road Trip Photo

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Day 1: Arrive in Colorado, drive to Colorado Springs
Day 2: Garden of the Gods & Pikes Peak
Day 3: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Day 4: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Day 5: Mesa Verde National Park
Day 6: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Day 7: Drive to Rocky Mountain National Park
Day 8: Rocky Mountain National Park
Day 9: Rocky Mountain National Park
Day 10: Fly Home

This itinerary is done as a loop, starting and ending in either Denver or Colorado Springs. It’s a great road trip for families, hikers, and those who love the great outdoors and scenic drives.

#16 Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore

Distance: 1,400 miles
Time: 10 days
When to Go: May through October

Highlights: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks, Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Beartooth Highway, Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, Custer State Park

Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore Map

With 10 days, you can visit Yellowstone, Devils Tower, and Mount Rushmore, but that’s not all. You also have enough time to visit the highlights of Grand Teton, day trip out to Badlands National Park, spend some time at Wind Cave National Park, and cruise the scenic drives and spot wildlife at Custer State Park.

That’s four national parks in one road trip, not to mention two national monuments, one incredible state park, and several very scenic drives.

Day 1: Arrive in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park
Day 2: Grand Teton National Park
Day 3: Yellowstone National Park
Day 4: Yellowstone National Park
Day 5: Yellowstone National Park
Day 6: Bighorn Mountains & Devils Tower
Day 7: Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Lead & Mount Rushmore
Day 8: Custer State Park
Day 9: Badlands National Park
Day 10: Wind Cave National Park & Fly Home

It’s possible to do this in 7-days, although you will have to give up a few destinations. Get the details on how to do this by clicking here.

Best Yellowstone Itinerary

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park


USA Road Trips Beartooth Highway

Beartooth Highway | Best USA Road Trips

#17 California National Parks

Distance: 700 miles
Time: 7 to 10 days
When to Go: May through October; some roads in Yosemite are only open from mid to late-May through mid-October

Highlights: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks

California Road Trip Map

This itinerary starts in San Francisco, travels through three national parks, ending in Los Angeles.

This road trip skips Death Valley National Park. Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are best in the summer and fall, when the roads are open. This happens to be the worst time to visit Death Valley, since it is so hot. You can add on Death Valley, just be prepared for scorching temperatures if you plan to do this from May through October.

We did this road trip in 2017. At that time, there was a road closure on the Pacific Coast Highway, so we drove through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, rather than taking the coastal route. This also makes a very nice USA road trip, particularly for those who are trying to visit all of the US National Parks.

Day 1: San Francisco
Day 2: San Francisco
Day 3: Drive to Yosemite
Day 4: Yosemite National Park
Day 5: Yosemite National Park
Day 6: Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks
Day 7: Drive to LA or San Diego

You can turn this into a longer national park road trip by adding on Channel Islands National Park when you are in LA. And if you can brave the heat, spend a day in Death Valley. That totals five national parks in one road trip.

USA Road Trip with Yosemite

Yosemite National Park | Best USA Road Trips


Sequoia NP

Sequoia National Park | Best USA Road Trips

#18 The All-American Cross Country Road Trip

Distance: 3,000 miles
Time: 10+ days
When to Go: best in the spring, summer, and fall

Highlights: The USA

USA Road Trip Cross Country

Driving cross country is the ultimate USA road trip. Crossing the country by car, visiting small towns, big cities, national parks, and numerous landmarks along the way is definitely a bucket list kind of trip. In fact, it’s still on our travel wish list.

There are many different ways to drive across the US. It takes about 5 days to do this drive, averaging 8 hours a day, without making any stops. Once you start adding on time for sightseeing and detours, the distance and amount of time spent gets much longer.

Ideally, plan on doing this over a minimum of 10 days, although more time is better. Some people set aside a full month, or the entire summer, to road trip across the United States.

Here are a few cross-country road trip ideas:

Connect two big cities, New York and LA, visiting the Las Vegas, Moab, Denver, Nashville, and Washington DC on the drive (3,200 miles).

On a northern route, start in Boston, visit Niagara Falls, drive through Chicago, South Dakota, visit Yellowstone, and end in Seattle. (3,300 miles)

If you are looking to do this in the winter, you can drive across the southern US, starting in San Diego, going through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, visiting New Orleans and the Florida panhandle, ending your trip in Savannah, Orlando, or going all of the way to Miami (2,700 miles).

Which One(s) Should You Do?

If you need help trying to decide which road trip to do, here are a few suggestions.

Our favorites are the American Southwest, Utah’s Mighty 5, and Alaska.

Best Road Trips for Families

  • Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks
  • American Southwest
  • Utah’s Mighty 5
  • Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore

Best Road Trips for Hikers

  • Washington road trip
  • Colorado road trip
  • American Southwest
  • Utah’s Mighty 5
  • Alaska road trip
  • California national park road trip (Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia)
  • Northern California and Oregon loop

Best Road Trips for Non-Hikers

  • Florida Keys road trip
  • New England road trip
  • Utah’s Mighty 5
  • Kentucky Bourbon Trail
  • Pacific Coast Highway in California
  • Route 66

Best Road Trips for Fall Colors

  • New England road trip
  • Washington DC to Asheville

Best Road Trips in the Winter

  • Florida Keys
  • Arizona road trip
  • Las Vegas to San Diego

You can also visit Utah’s Mighty 5 or do an American Southwest road trip, but it can be cold and there is a chance of snow.

There are many more ways to plan a USA road trip than what we list above. In the comment section below, share your favorite road trips…we are always looking for new ideas and our readers would like to see them too. Thanks!

And if you have any questions about these road trip itineraries, you can also let us know in the comment section below.

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Read all of our articles about the United States in our United States Travel Guide.

Best USA Road Trip Itineraries

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Comments 25

  1. Avatar for Susanne Litscher
    Susanne Litscher

    Hi Julie,
    Your trips are awesome and i can only say i am taken away how you log your travel experiences ! We are from Switzerland and are planning a 16 day trip in the Southwest (+2 days flying in and out… and outlet shopping haha)

    Concerning your itinerary for the 2 weeks southwest trip:
    i would love to do some of NM places as well… like Mesa Verde or Taos, Santa Fe, but i am don’t see how to best integrate this into your/ourtrip if we want to start and end in Las Vegas? (for the timing: we will skip Grand Canyon as we have seen it already) however Taos looks somehow too far for me to go there… then just Las Vegas – Albuquerque would also be a pity as either i miss out on Antelope Canyon or Bryce Canyon, so not doing the buckle doesn’t seem to be an option either. Would you be able to give me an advice on the itinerary? Also for the entrance tickets at Antelope Canyon… i am not sure what one should book. Did you book a tour or just the entrance? I can see only veeery expensive guided tours. Well if it is that, so be it, but was just wondering .Glad to learn about your opinion / have your valuable advice.
    Many thanks

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Susanne. If you give up the Grand Canyon, you gain 2 days, but you will have a big driving day to Page. Adding Mesa Verde would be relatively easy, as it is not far from Monument Valley (about a 3 hour drive). Taos is a 6 hour drive and Albuquerque is a 5 hour drive, and you’d have to repeat those drives to get back to Utah. Given your timing, in my opinion, the NM sites aren’t worth it. Antelope Canyon is really neat to see as are the national parks in Utah. To add in Mesa Verde, drive there after Monument Valley. You could spend an additional morning in Monument Valley, to drive Moki Dugway Highway. Then spend a full day in Mesa Verde. And then drive to Moab visiting the Needles on the drive, very similar to day 6 of our 2 week SW itinerary. On a future trip, you could do the NM sites plus White Sands and even part of Texas. For the lower canyon, we purchased entrance tickets and then were led through with a guide and the same thing for the Upper Canyon. In our Lower Canyon and Upper Canyon posts, we have links to the company we used. An upper canyon visit will cost about $70 and a lower canyon visit will cost about $55. Let me know if you have any other questions. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Susanne Litscher
        Susanne Litscher

        Hi Julie
        Thank you so much for your feedback, which confirms my feeling and indeed we should rather consider a separate trip doing NM with Colorado maybe. Keep something for next time 🙂
        With regards to the start of the trip ,i planned to stop in Sedona for 1-2 days as it seems to be so beautiful for hihking (you also posted a lot about this area) and it would come to about the same travel time from Las Vegas as Grand Canyon Village.
        For the Antelope Canyon, thank you for the info.. i will now plan the trip accordingly.
        Cheers & lovely day,

  2. Avatar for Stephanie

    Hi! Your info is so helpful! We are a one-year RV adventure for 6/25-8/26 for myself and my 3 kids (ages 6, 9, and 11 at the time of our trip). I’m trying to piece together our road trip plan. We live in VA so plan to roughly start in 6/25 and head north toward the great lakes area. then head west from their. Do you have any specific articles or specific recommendations related to this?


    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Stephanie. That is very exciting that you are planning a long term RV trip! We don’t have a lot of information about the area around Maryland and PA to the Great Lakes (which is ironic, since we live in Maryland and travel through this region frequently). Right now, the only info we have in the Great Lakes area is on Detroit and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Once you get west of the lakes, we have a lot more information our our site. If you haven’t seen it yet, our United States Travel Guide has links to all of the states where we have content, which can be helpful as you plan your trip. Let me know if you have any other questions. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Sandie

    Hi, my husband and I are planning a road trip in July and are trying to work out a route which will take in everything we would like to see and I wondered if you could help. We are flying into Denver, picking up a car and, after a long flight will probably stay in Denver the first night. The places we would like to visit are Wind Cave National Park, Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, Devils Tower, Storybook Island, Yellowstone National Park and anywhere else of interest and beauty. We are due to fly back to the UK on the 25th July. Perhaps we are being a bit ambitious but would be very grateful if you could help plan a route we could take.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Sandie. Most of the places you list are on our 7 day South Dakota itinerary. If you haven’t been to Badlands NP yet, it’s amazing and worth adding on to your visit. On day 6 of that itinerary, drive to Devils Tower and then stay nearby. To get to Yellowstone, take a look at our post about driving across Wyoming to pick your route to Yellowstone and spend that night in Cody. I don’t know how long your trip is, but you can get ideas on how to plan your time in Yellowstone with our Yellowstone Itinerary. If you have to get back to Denver, it is roughly a 10 hour drive. It might be best to take a short flight from Bozeman or Jackson to get to Denver.
      As far as putting time into Colorado, if you wanted to do this, Rocky Mountain NP is close to Denver so you could do a day or 2 (or more) here. Another idea is to drive up Pikes Peak.
      I hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Juliet Snow
    Juliet Snow

    Could you list all the books/guides that you have published? I am looking for a comprehensive list of guides for US. Road trips and places to visit in the US.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      As far as eBooks that can be purchased, we have eBooks for Utah’s Mighty 5, an Arches Canyonlands Capitol Reef itinerary, a Grand Teton hiking guide, a Grand Teton Yellowstone and Glacier NP itinerary, a 10 Day American Southwest itinerary, and a South Dakota itinerary. You can see all of them in our Etsy store. I also recommend referring to our United States Travel Guide and our US National Parks page. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Anthony Osude
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      That really depends on where in the USA you plan to go and the time of year you plan to do your road trip. A mid-range hotel can range from $100 to $350 per night, depending on the location and time of year. In recent years, we have found that hotels around national parks can be surprisingly expensive, especially at peak season. Cities can be expensive as well. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Nas

    Hi Julie,
    I’m from Australia and planning to do the American Southwest in Sept. this will be my first time visiting the States. Here are my questions
    1) is it safe to drive and hike solo?
    2) do I need a 4wd car especially driving around the Monument Valley?
    3) how good phone reception in these areas?

    I really appreciate your input.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Nas. That’s exciting that you are planning your first trip to the USA. Yes, it is safe to hike and drive solo in the American Southwest. I would not hesitate to take a solo trip here myself. You will need a 4WD if you plan to do Moki Dugway but for everything else that we have done in that area, a 4WD is not necessary. Phone reception won’t be very good outside of the small towns in this area. You’ll have some cellular service along some of the highways as you drive around, but don’t depend on it. We cache our maps just in case we do not have cellular service. But, for the most part, cellular service will be spotty in the national parks and outside of the towns. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Nas

        Thanks Julie! That’s a huge relief. I will be travelling around the USA for 6-8 weeks and honestly no idea what to expect. A silly question, can you tell me how tipping culture works?

        Btw I did a few hikes in Lofoten islands and Trolltunga, Norway last year based on information i gathered from here. I also did reach out to you asking a few questions which were very useful 🙂

        1. Avatar for Julie Post

          Tipping in the US is a lot different from Australia. At restaurants, it’s typical to leave a 15% tip, 20% for outstanding service. Tip taxi drivers and bell hops a few dollars. Getting tipped is expected in the US and some restaurants will already add it to the bill, so check that before leaving a tip. If you have any other questions, please let me know and I’d be happy to help. Cheers, Julie

          1. Avatar for Nas

            I will keep that in mind. Any recommendations for reliable car rental companies at Las Vegas Airport? Also which US SIM card is best?

            I will be reading more of your USA blogs and definitely more questions to follow. Thanks for your kindness Julie!

          2. Avatar for Julie Post

            In the USA (and around the world) we use Avis and Budget the most and for the most part, always have a very good experience. Other companies we use include Hertz and Sixt. We use Verizon in the USA and it has the fastest, most widespread coverage throughout the US. You can also compare prices with Airalo. This is an eSIM company that we use when we travel, and so far have used it in Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Samoa and have had a good experience. It may not be as fast as getting a SIM card from a carrier such as Verizon, but it is convenient in that you don’t have to visit a store and it might be cheaper. We have no experience using Airalo in the USA. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Stacy

    We have been to many of the places in this article for the best US road trips as a couple but would love to roadtrip through Utah and camp with our dogs. Are you able to name some of the best dog friendly campgrounds in Utah near the state and national parks that we could check out? Most national parks aren’t very dog friendly so it’s difficult to find some that are.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Stacy. Thanks for writing in. We haven’t traveled with dogs so aren’t familiar with dog-friendly campgrounds. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to answer your question but hopefully some more searching online will get you the answers you need. Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Lia
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      The best place to stay is inside of the park, in Yosemite Valley. We stayed in Mariposa, so we had a bit of a drive back and forth to the park, but we were able to get cheap lodging. Closer places than Mariposa are El Portal and Yosemite West. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Lia

        Thank you so much! We’re planning for next summer and the prices for hotels inside the park are over $500… such a bummer. We’ll check the cities you suggest.

        1. Avatar for Julie Post
  9. Avatar for Jennifer Henshaw
    Jennifer Henshaw

    We want to get on Route 66 in Oklahoma, is that 40? Are the attractions on that road or do you have to exit off? Our final stop is the Grand Canyon. We want to travel the Route Oklahoma in to Arizona

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Jennifer. I have not driven all of Route 66 yet but included it in this post since it is a classic USA road trip. I do believe that some parts of Route 66 also includes I-40. For the Route 66 itinerary, I provided a link to a guide to Route 66 which should have the answers to your questions. Cheers, Julie

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