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30 Gorgeous West Coast Road Trip Routes You Gotta See to Believe

Ready for an epic road trip adventure through the American west? From amazing coastal views to stunning national parks, the western part of the USA has some truly unbelievable landscapes. If you’re looking for the best west coast road trip – here’s 30 routes you’ll absolutely love.

west coast road trip USA view of ocean and road with black sand beach and rugged coastline
West coast road trip views😍

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my disclosures.

Whether you’re looking to take a leisurely drive over a long weekend or plan an amazing adventure covering a lot of ground over 2 weeks, this list has a bit of everything.

Visit charming towns along the California and Oregon coast. Go hiking in the national parks out west and catch views of dramatic landscapes. Rugged coasts, dense forests, wide open spaces and outta-this-world desert scenes, you’re about to find your perfect road trip out west in this guide.

Let’s dive in!

large mountain peak and lake with some snow green forest white puffy clouds on road trip out west
Stunning sights at Glacier National Park, Montana (#14 & #30)

Must-see video: west coast road trips

West coast road trip map

This map includes highlights of some of the destinations on the west coast road trip itineraries below. Check out the full guide on each destination below!

Oh and by the way, I haven’t been everywhere (yet), so I’ve called in some help from some fellow travel writers to create these epic itineraries. Enjoy!

Essentials for your Road Trip USA west coast

road trip out west to mt rainier national park hiking trail through meadow of flowers and trees and mountains in distance
Wildflowers blooming in Mt Rainier National Park, Washington (#3 & #30)

Before we dive into the list of awesome road trips, make sure you’re prepared by packing the right gear. Here are some suggestions to make your road trip go smoothly.

hiking trail through rocky terrain
Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas (#17)
  • GoPro. Capture the best photos and videos of the road (while another adult is driving) or take it for underwater adventures and swimming. This GoPro goes with me on every trip!
  • Reusable water bottles. Pack one or two for each person to avoid buying single-use plastic bottles. Refill at restaurants, hotels and clean water stations at national parks.
  • Right hiking gear. If you’re visiting any of the national parks in the west and stepping foot out of your car, you’ll want the right gear to be comfortable. These are my favorite hiking shoes, hiking socks, trekking poles and hiking backpack that accompany me to any hiking destination.

By the way, if you’ll need to rent a car for this adventure, try searching Discover Cars first. It’s free to use, the site searches the major car companies and I typically save 10-30% using Discover Cars.

US west coast road trip

Gahhh! I’m so excited for you! Epic adventures await on a west coast road trip. Starting off with a few of my favorites…

1. Oregon Coast road trip

oregon cliffs and ocean on a road trip usa west coast
Stunning Oregon Coast 😍

Distance: 745 miles
Recommended time: 5-10 days
Best time of year: May through October

The Oregon Coast is perfect for road trips, with 363-miles of stunning coastlines and more than 15 not-to-be missed towns.

It’s perfect for a choose-your-own-adventure kind of trip, to accommodate your interests and the amount of time you have to spare. But if you have some flexibility, you could easily spend a week and a half exploring the coastline.

Start your trip in Portland and make your way to the northern portion of the Oregon coast. Cannon Beach should absolutely be on your bucketlist, home to the iconic sea stack, Haystack Rock. Here, you can explore tidepools, keep a lookout for puffins in the summertime, and have a bonfire right on the sand. 

Making your way south, stop at Pacific City Beach, which offers sweeping sand dunes and epic rock formations at Cape Kiwanda. If you’re brave, this is an excellent spot to take on the chilly Pacific waves at a surf lesson- it’s one of the most popular places along the coast to catch a wave!

Continuing south, the town of Florence has a charming historic downtown, with ice cream parlors and salt-water taffy stores. Florence is also home to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a 40-mile stretch of rolling sand dunes that has earned the town the name “Sandboarding Capital of the World.”

At the southern tip of the Oregon Coast, you’ll find the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor in Brookings. This recreation area has rugged sea stacks, secluded beaches, and some of the most jaw-dropping vistas you’ll find on the West Coast.

Finally, make your way back to Portland, completing the 745-mile loop around the western portion of the state.

Summer is absolutely the best time to head to the Oregon Coast, thanks to the pleasant weather and clear skies. If you want to avoid the crowds, though, early fall (late September and early October) can be a good time to get most of the attractions to yourself and snag some decent deals on accommodations.

The Oregon Coast from Portland is certainly worthy of being on this list: road trip USA west coast!

Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler

2. Pacific Coast Highway road trip: San Francisco to San Diego

Big Sur california view of grey beach teal water scenic road through mountain
Stunning sights of Big Sur on a California Coast road trip😍

Distance: 615+ miles
Recommended time: 3-10 days
Best time of year: November through April

You’ll want to keep this west coast road trip itinerary! The drive from San Francisco to San Diego, California is absolutely stunning.

From the rugged, untouched coast of Big Sur to the sandy beaches of Southern California and charming towns in between, this is a bucket list road trip, for sure!

Fly into San Francisco and rent a car, drive the coast and fly back out of San Diego. You can do this trip in as little as 3 days, but 7-10 days is recommended.

There are over 30 fabulous stops on a San Francisco to San Diego road trip, so you’ll never run out of things to do.

Starting in San Francisco, be sure to visit the Golden Gate Bridge and hike the Land’s End Trail for spectacular views of the bay. Next up is Monterey, where you can shop and dine in the historic Cannery Row, or visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

There are plenty of things to do with kids in Monterey too, making this road trip option one of the best on this list for families.

A must-see along this US west coast road trip is Carmel-by-the-Sea. Charming architecture met with great beaches, this is a fun stop. This is a great spot for an overnight stay, because Big Sur is next and there’s not very many accommodations for a few hundred miles.

Fill up on gas in Carmel-by-the-Sea before hitting the road to Big Sur. This undeveloped stretch of land is where cliffs meet the ocean, where whale watching, sea lions and sea otters are prominent nearly year round.

There are so many things to do in Big Sur that every vacation style will love this region. Be sure to stop by the Bixby Creek Bridge, McWay Falls and Sand Dollar Beach.

As you make your way through Southern California, the charming towns of San Luis Obispo and Solvang make way for Malibu, Huntington Beach, La Jolla and finally to San Diego.

Ideally, you could spend 2 days in San Diego, visiting the highlight including Balboa Park, Old Town San Diego, the Gaslamp District and Coronado Beach.

This fun-filled road trip can be done any time of year. The Big Sur coast sees a lot of marine fog during the summer and early fall months, so winter and spring are the best times for views and the fewer crowds.

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

3. Washington National Parks

mt rainier hike up skyline trail with paved path wildflowers and mountain in distance
Mt Rainier from the Skyline Trail

Distance: 600+ miles
Recommended time: 7 – 14 days
Best time of year: June through September

If you’re looking to see some of the most beautiful views on the western part of the United States, then a Washington state national parks road trip is a must!

On this trip, you’ll see the sites and hear the sounds of Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades National Parks, as well as see the Rainy City, Seattle.

Start the road trip in Mount Rainier, hit Olympic second, and then make your way towards North Cascades for a long, but totally worth it road trip. 

This trip can quickly become over 600 miles, so it’s recommended to have at least a week to complete it, but having 10 to 14 days is more ideal.

Starting in Mount Rainier, it’s a must to visit the Paradise area of the park, and spend some time hiking the trails, such as the Skyline Trail. The Nisqually Vista trail is one of the best beginner trails in the state.

After you’ve spent time enjoying the best things to do in Mt Rainier National Park, head north towards Olympic National Park. Start your visit on the western half, along the Pacific Coast. Visit Ruby and Rialto Beaches before heading to Hurricane Ridge.

From here, drive out of the park and stop in Seattle before the last leg of the trip. Spending just one day in Seattle, you can see the highlights like Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Museum of Pop Culture and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Be sure to take one of the Pike Place Market food tours while you’re in town!

North Cascades is your final destination, where you’ll be greeted with towering peaks. See the fabulous Diablo Lake and Washington Pass Overlook. Embark on the Maple Pass Hike or to Blue Lake.

Because this Washington road trip is through many mountains, it’s best done in the summer, as many roads close in the winter.

If you’re flying in, it’s best to fly into Seattle and then rent a car there. And don’t forget your America the Beautiful parks pass, as you’ll get good use out of it on this trip!

Recommended by Kassidy of The Hiking Helper

4. Anchorage to Seward, Alaska (one of the most scenic on this list of road trip USA west coast)

west coast road trip itinerary view of Alaska wilderness trees green and yellow and lake in fall
Kenai Fjords National Park on a road trip USA west coast

Distance: 125 miles
Recommended time: 2+ days
Best time of year: April through September

The drive from Anchorage to Seward Alaska is arguably among the most beautiful stretches of road in the USA. On a map the distance between these two cities is just 125 miles, but with all the stunning views and beautiful places along the way it takes much longer than 2 hours to drive.

This road trip follows the Old Seward Highway which traces Turnagain Arm, a waterway that forms the northern boundary of the Cook Inlet off of the Gulf of Alaska.

On one side of the road is deep blue water with snow-capped mountains in the distance and on the other side are the stunning forest-covered Chugach Mountains with endless hiking trails to explore. Beluga whales can be spotted along this section from July through August.

Once you reach the town of Portage, the highway crosses onto the Kenai Peninsula, where the small harbor town of Seward is located. Here you will find Kenai Fjord National Park, which is accessible by both land and water. By land, hike up to Exit Glacier or, by water, spend a day on a glacier cruise into the park.

Other great places to stop on this road trip from Anchorage to Seward include the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the Alyeska aerial tram in Girdwood and a boat ride to Portage Glacier in Portage.

This road trip is best in the warmer months, from April through September. Beginning in October, many businesses and tours begin shutting down for the season. Seward is a charming town to stay in with many lodging options ranging from hotels, quaint cabins by the water and bed and breakfasts.

This Alaskan adventure is undoubtedly one of the best west coast road trip itineraries!

Recommended by Susan of This Big Wild World

5. Arizona road trip: Phoenix to Tucson

pink sky at dusk with road below and mountain in disance
Spectacular sunset near Tucson, Arizona

Distance: 110+ miles
Recommended time: 3+ days
Best time of year: spring or fall

This US west coast road trip is based in Arizona, and you’re certainly in for a treat!

While Phoenix may be the official capital of Arizona, Tucson is the outdoor hub of the state. One hundred and twelve miles to the southeast of Phoenix, Tucson’s surrounded by mountains, saguaros and the only National Park protecting the sacred Saguaros – Saguaro National Park. 

The drive on Interstate 10 isn’t much to write home about, but when you begin to close in on the Tucson City limits, the fun begins. You’ll first reach the western half of Saguaro National Park, a pristine landscape covered in cacti.

This part is geared toward photographers and those without the need for handholding. It’s best viewed at sunset when Arizona’s famed skies put on a show.

After sunset, continue into the city for delicious Mexican food and your lodging. The following day you can explore Tucson, drive the 50 minutes up to Mt Lemmon, a 9,000+ foot goliath casting its shadow over Tucson, or head to the eastern end of town for the second half of Saguaro National Park.

If you choose the park, know it’s more developed, mountainous (trails go as high as 8,000+ feet), and has a visitor center. The eastern part is perfect for families and those looking for a moderate day hike. The main area isn’t large but offers a nice loop drive with various trailheads to start your walks.

If you’re visiting in the warmer months and looking to escape the heat, Mt. Lemmon is your best friend. On average, the top of the mountain offers visitors a 22-degree reprieve from the heat below. Here, you’ll find miles and miles of hiking and mountain biking.

After your adventure, stop by the famous Cookie Cabin for delicious pizza and an even more tasty Pizookie. Then, on your way down, stop by Windy Point and take in the sunset. Tucson’s known for putting on the best sky magic in the southwest. 

Lastly, be careful while driving on Mt. Lemmon’s scenic byway. It’s curvy and a favorite of cyclists in the area. 

Recommended by Alec of Explore with Alec

6. San Francisco to Yosemite (iconic west coast road trip route)

San Francisco bridge with cliffs in background white waves and large bridge
San Francisco Bay Bridge

Distance: 212 miles
Recommended time: 2+ days
Best time of year: May through September

Visiting Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular weekend trips from San Francisco, and is a fantastic option for one of the best west coast road trips itineraries!

A scenic road trip from San Francisco to Yosemite is the best way to enjoy the area. The most scenic route to Yosemite from San Francisco takes CA-99 S and CA-140 E and goes through the towns of Merced, Mariposa, and Midpines to the Arch Rock Entrance of Yosemite National Park. 

The distance between San Francisco and Yosemite NP via this scenic route is just over 200 miles, and the average driving time is about 4.5 hours. 

However, making stops in Merced, Mariposa and Midpines on the way to Yosemite is a must-do. Therefore, choose to spend an extended weekend in Yosemite instead of a weekend.

Merced, called the “Gateway to Yosemite’, is about 130 miles away from San Francisco. Make a stop in Merced and do wine tasting at Vista Ranch, see the historic Merced County Courthouse Museum and visit the fabulous Merced Antique Mall. 

After a break in Merced, head to Mariposa, only 37 miles from Merced. The town Mariposa is such a charming Gold Rush town.

You might enjoy staying overnight in Mariposa. Choose a 2-hour zipline adventure at Yosemite Ziplines & Adventure Ranch from the mountain in Polaris Rangers to Downtown Mariposa. Afterward, indulge in delicious bites at Charles Street Dinner House and explore fantastic Mariposa wineries like Casto Oaks Fine Wine and Art and the Butterfly Creek Winery.

Continue to Yosemite after Mariposa, but make a break in Midpines, which is only 12 mi southwest of El Portal in Yosemite. Midpines is a lovely place for picnicking, swimming, rafting and fishing.

After Midpines, head to Yosemite. The stylish Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite is in Buck Meadows and on the way from Midpines to Yosemite Valley. Check-in at your room and start exploring the marvelous Yosemite National Park.

El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point viewpoint, Fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree and Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias await you! 

The best time to visit Yosemite is from May to September. 

Recommended by Milijana of World Travel Connector 

7. Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon

orange curvy sandstone rock in antelope canyon arizona
Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Distance: 726 miles
Recommended time: 3+ days
Best time of year: spring or fall

One of the best road trips in the western USA is Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon. Because Las Vegas airport has so many connections and fairly cheap flights, many people like to fly into Las Vegas and explore from there.

This road trip starts in Vegas and explores some of the amazing destinations northern Arizona and southern Utah has to offer.

You can do this road trip as a loop, or as a there-and-back trip. Starting out at Vegas head west towards Flagstaff and along the way you can stop off and enjoy Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Kingman Arizona.

From Flagstaff head north towards the Grand Canyon, one of the best stops on this road trip. After checking out the Grand Canyon, head north to Page, Arizona, which is a great stop-over city to spend the night.

The next morning head out to explore all the best sights near Page, such as Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. After touring these incredible places, you can start heading towards Zion National Park.

After hiking some incredible trails inside the park, grab a hotel room in Springdale, just outside Zion. The next day head out back towards Las Vegas, while stopping at Valley of Fire State Park on your way back.

Of course you can spend longer at any of these destinations, but if you’re short on time this road trip can be done in 3 days

The best time to do this road trip is in spring or fall. In the summer it can be incredibly hot in this part of the country. Zion in particular is one of the best national parks to visit in May, if you can arrange for it.

The winter is a great option if you really want to avoid the crowds, but some trails and roads could be closed so keep that in mind. Don’t forget to buy your Antelope Canyon tickets in advance, as they sell out really fast.

Recommended by Jessica of Unearth the Voyage

8. Utah national parks road trip

Zion National park view of canyon with massive orange rocky cliffs and road deep in valley
Spectacular views in Zion National Park😍

Distance: 878+ miles
Recommended time: 5 – 14 days
Best time of year: anytime

One of the best American west coast road trip adventures is through the Mighty 5 in Utah. A stunning display of nature and endless views greet you on a Utah national parks road trip.

It’s best to start this road trip by flying into Salt Lake City and departing from Las Vegas. Rent a car, RV or camper van to explore these amazing national parks.

From Salt Lake City, travel about 4 hours to Moab. There, you’ll have access to Arches and Canyonlands National Park. Ideally, you’d have a few days to explore each park. But you can see quite a bit with just one day in Arches National Park.

Hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the world! Visit the Devil’s Playground, where you’ll see multiple arches in a short distance. The last major stop within the park is The Windows, where you see the huge Double Arch.

Canyonlands National Park has expansive views with many overlooks and hiking trails. The Mesa Arch Trail is a short walk to an arch overlooking the canyon, and perfect for a sunrise adventure. Be sure to check out the views at Grand View Point Overlook, Green River Overlook and White Rim Overlook.

The journey to Capital Reef is a fun drive along Utah Scenic Byway 24. Once there, be sure to check out the Fruita Historic District, Hike the Hickman Bridge Trail and take the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive.

For out-of-this-world views, you’ll love Bryce Canyon National Park. Check out the viewpoints at Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. This park has a shuttle system that’s convenient and prevents congestion within the park.

Be sure to take the shuttle to Sunrise Point, where you can start a phenomenal 3.2 mile hike, the Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop. Walk through the funky hoodoos into the base of the amphitheater. So fun!

The last park on this US west coast road trip is Zion. This is one of the most visited national parks in the USA, and for good reason! Massive canyon views surround you throughout the park.

Take the Zion shuttle to hike The Narrows, or apply for a permit to hike Angels Landing. For a low-key trip to Zion with kids, you could hike the Canyon Overlook Trail, Emerald Pools or Pa’rus Trail.

After your visit to the Mighty 5 in Utah, take the 2.5 hour drive to Las Vegas. Fly out directly or spend a day or two exploring Vegas and the area’s many attractions.

Want to see more of Las Vegas? Check out what you must do in Vegas for first timers.

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

9. Salt Lake City to Yellowstone (perfect US west coast road trip)

multicolored prismatic spring with steam coming off it and parking lot in distance
 Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Distance: 321+ miles
Recommended time: 3+ days
Best time of year: May through September

Salt Lake City is a beautiful place to start your road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains, breathtaking views will greet you from the get-go.

The drive from Salt Lake City to the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park is 321 miles and takes 5 hours to drive via I-15N. It’s one of the best west coast road trips USA!

If you’d prefer a more scenic route, consider taking a longer trip to the south entrance of the park through Jackson, Wyoming, via Highway 89. This longer loop (SLC to Yellowstone and back to SLC) includes 12 hours of road time, covering 734 miles.

Whether you have a few days to spare or all week, take this trip at your own pace.

The scenic drive from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone detours through Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. Jackson is a popular ski resort and has a charming wild west feel to the town.

If you’re looking for lodging in Jackson, consider staying at Elk County Inn, Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole or at The Lodge at Jackson Hole.

Grand Teton National Park is just miles away from Jackson. The beautiful park features amazing hiking trails and scenic views, including Inspiration Point Grand Teton. Most known for its beautiful mountains, the Teton Range is famous for its sharp peaks.

Once you’ve made your way to Yellowstone, best places to stay in Yellowstone are limited. Old Faithful Lodge and Cabins, Canyon Lodge and Cabins, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel are great options for lodging. Keep in mind West Yellowstone and Gardiner are also great nearby areas to stay.

Most of the roads and amenities in Yellowstone are closed through May in the Tetons and in the park. May is a great time to visit because it’s less crowded, but most of the park, including the most popular attractions, is open.

Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger 

10. Salem, Mt Hood and Oregon waterfalls loop

mount hood at sunset and lake reflection pink sky
Mt Hood, Oregon at sunset

Distance: 530 miles
Recommended time: 3+ days
Best time of year: June through September

Starting in Salem or Portland, you can easily visit the wide range of Oregon’s diverse terrain in a short time. This Oregon Highlights loop can be completed in less than 11 hours (530 miles) of driving time. 

You’ll want to spend a minimum of 3 days on this road trip, though it’s best enjoyed over a full week, or even longer.

While the trip can be enjoyed all year round, you may sometimes need chains or snow tires to drive through the mountain pass in winter. For the best road tripping weather in Oregon, aim for June through September. 

First, spend as much time as you want in Oregon’s largest cities – Portland or Salem, where you’ll find tasty eateries, urban hikes and cute shopping streets. 

Next, head East on I-84 through the impressive Colombia River Gorge with its many waterfalls, on your way to the trendy windsurfing town of Hood River. 

You can pick up treats from local apple farms as you head South through Mt. Hood National Forest and drive by snow-capped mountain peaks on your way to Central Oregon.

After enjoying your favorite outdoor adventure activities in the high desert, make your way back over the mountain range to Silver Falls State Park. This is where you can see 10 waterfalls on one trail – and even walk behind a few of the falls! 

Continue back into the Willamette Valley. Explore Oregon wine country around McMinnville, Oregon, taking your pick of scenic vineyards for wine tasting.

Then, continue West just 1 hour to reach the rugged Oregon Coast. You can climb the dunes at Pacific City and grab some crispy fish and chips. Make a final stop at the Tillamook Cheese factory on your way back to Salem or Portland.

Recommended by Michelle of Intentional Travelers

US west coast road trip

Can you believe this list?! Not even half done, there’s way more ideas to build your perfect west coast road trip itinerary coming right up!

11. Death Valley to Yosemite (find adventure with this road trip USA west coast route)

view of brown tan rocky terrain at Death Valley national park
Death Valley National Park at sunset

Distance: 319 miles
Recommended time: 2-3 days
Best time of year: September or October

The drive between Death Valley and Yosemite is an epic adventure through some of America’s most iconic national parks, and it’s one of the best west coast road trips!

The 2 parks have their own distinct personalities — Death Valley National Park is a desert expanse with hundreds of mountain ranges and some of the lowest elevation points in North America, and Yosemite National Park is filled with granite cliffs and waterfalls that provide majestic landscapes.

Start your trip at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park. You can stop along Highway 190 as it passes through Furnace Creek, but plan on stopping near Zabriskie Point for sunset views of the surrounding mountains and valley floor.

Then head north towards Mono Lake and stay overnight in Lee Vining or Mammoth Lakes. End your trip in Yosemite Valley after driving through Tioga Road in Yosemite.

The drive from Badwater Basin to Yosemite Valley is 319 miles and takes 6 to 6.5 hours non-stop. You can finish the road trip within a day but it’s recommended to spend at least 2-3 days exploring the parks and in between.

Highlights of this road trip include Lone Pine, Crowley Lake and Mammoth Lakes.

The best places to stay are inside Death Valley National Park and Yosemite National Park so you’ll get more time to explore the park. Since Tioga Road is closed from November through May and Death Valley gets scorching hot during the summer, the best time to do the road trip is in the fall. 

Recommended by Rasika of Bae Area And Beyond

12. Road to Hana, Maui

black sand beach epic maui road trip with green covered cliffs and ocean
Waianapanapa State Park, Maui

Distance: 52 miles
Recommended time: 1- 2 days
Best time of year: anytime

When you think of Hawaii, a road trip may not come to mind but driving the Road to Hana on Maui is one of the best ways to experience this island. The scenic drive takes you from Kahului to the eastern side of the island to the town of Hana. 

While obviously not located in the Continental US, it’s a must-see on this list of best road trip USA west coast!

The Road to Hana is 52 miles of one lane bridges, hairpin turns and curves. This road trip will take up an entire day so make sure you pack lots of snacks and fill up for gas before you embark on this journey.

The winding road takes you past jaw-dropping seascape views, roaring waterfalls, pristine beaches and through lush rainforest. Some highlights of this drive include Twin Falls, the Painted Forest, Honomanu Bay, the awe inspiring Wai’anapanapa State Park, Wailua Falls and Haleakala National Park.

Most people drive the Road to Hana and back in the same day but if time allows, stay the night in Hana town. If you stay at the Hana Maui Resort you’re in for a real treat.

This will give you a full day to experience the Road to Hana and to not feel rushed on the way back. Plus it’s not the most enjoyable drive at night on a narrow, winding cliffside road.

Since we are talking about Hawaii, you can road trip the Road to Hana anytime of the year. Just avoid this journey during heavy rains as flash floods can happen in the blink of an eye and parts of the road can get swept away.

Don’t forget to wear your bathing suit, water shoes and pack a lightweight towel because pulling off the side of the road to swim under a waterfall is the name of the game. Buckle up, enjoy the ride and prepare for a road trip of a lifetime.

Recommended by Jess of I’m Jess Traveling 

13. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe

bright blue lake water and shore road trip usa west coast
Gorgeous Lake Tahoe 😍

Distance: 323
Recommended time: 2+ days
Best time of year: June through October

A road trip from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe is filled with gorgeous vistas and plenty of amazing things to do!

This road trip is 323 miles and can be done in only 2 days, but do yourself a favor and spend a few more to really soak up the beauty of the area! A road trip to Lake Tahoe can be completed in any season of the year, however summer or fall is recommended to avoid possible road closures due to snow.

Departing from San Francisco, travelers should head east on Highway 80 through Donner Pass, Truckee and then Tahoe City on the lake. 

Driving around the full length of Lake Tahoe is 72 miles of pure beauty. In summer, there are many swimming beaches such as Kings Beach, Zephyr and Sugar Pine Point Beach. 

The Tahoe East Shore Bike Trail is a 3 mile long paved path that runs from Incline Village to Sand Harbor either on bike or on foot. Many other hiking trails also provide a break from being in the car, such as Eagle Rock or down to Emerald Bay.

Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge & Spa and Hotel Azure Tahoe are both wonderful choices for lodging due to their lakefront locations, incredible views and lovely rooms.

After circling the lake, visitors are in for a fun day of adventure in Virginia City. This old silver mining town is filled with old saloons selling sarsaparillas, tours of underground mines and old schoolhouses, wooden sidewalks and plenty of cute shops. 

This Lake Tahoe road trip can end by taking an easy flight out of the Reno airport or travelers can head back on the scenic Highway 50 for another route back toward the Bay Area. No matter which route you choose, your San Francisco to Lake Tahoe adventure is sure to be one of the best west coast road trips!

Recommended by Sierra of Island and Alpine

14. Grand Teton to Glacier National Park (amazing sights on this road trip USA west coast)

Yellowstone national park waterfall with snowy mountain cliffs nearby
Yellowstone National Park in winter

Distance: 500+ miles
Recommended time: 10 – 14 days
Best time of year: August or September

The next road trip USA west coast is a must-see! A Wyoming and Montana road trip from Grand Tetons National Park to Yellowstone National Park to Glacier National Park is a great way to take in some of the most scenic and wild places in America.

At Grand Teton National Park, you’ll see the Teton Mountains, considered one of the most beautiful stretches anywhere in the Rockies. Must-see in Grand Teton include Inspiration Point, Jackson Lake Beach and the Hike to Taggart Lake.

These parks are so amazing in late summer and early fall, Grand Teton made the list of one of the best places to visit in August in the US.

In Yellowstone, you’ll see some of the most famous landmarks in the country: Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the Grand Prismatic Spring. The wildlife, wide open spaces and scenic views are simply incredible.

And finally, in Glacier, you’ll see the park’s namesake glaciers, along with big horn sheep and, depending on the season, one of the most famous drives in America: the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Don’t miss the beautiful waterfalls in Glacier National Park, including Virginia Falls, Saint Mary Falls, Baring Falls and more.

You can start by basing yourself in Jackson, Wyoming, then move on to West Yellowstone, Montana, and end your trip in Whitefish, Montana. 

The trip is over 500 miles from start to finish, however, plan on putting many more miles than that on your car as you explore the parks. 

If you rent a car, you can fly into Jackson and fly out of Kalispell. Just make sure you get a car with unlimited miles!

Timing this road trip is the real challenge, as these parks are remarkably different from season to season.  

This trip is perfect for a shoulder season road trip since you’ll find smaller crowds in May and September than in the summer. 

However, watch for seasonal closures, as some of the highlights of the parks (especially Glacier) are only open in the late summer. If you want to be able to experience all of the best sites at each park, plan your trip for August or the first half of September and book early! 

While these parks can technically be visited in winter, highway closures combined with heavily restricted park access make these a winter destination for those with a true sense of adventure (and an ability to be flexible!).

Ten days is enough to get the highlights of each park, but, if you can spring for 2 full weeks, you won’t regret it! If you do end up with more time, you can even see more of the National Park Sites in Montana or Wyoming.

Recommended by Stephanie of History Fangirl

15. Kauai road trip

multicolored canyon with blue sky, green trees and red cliffs
Waimea Canyon, Kauai Hawaii

Distance: 80 miles
Recommended time: 3+ days
Best time of year: anytime

While not in the continental US, this is absolutely one of the best west coast road trips!

Home to the jaw-dropping NaPali Coast, you can’t actually circle the whole island via car, but you can drive most of the perimeter. This road trip takes you around as much of the island as you can drive from north, to south, then west and back north again.

Starting in Princeville, Hawaii on the north shore of Kauai, visit the famous Hanalei Pier, an iconic place in Kauai. Go snorkeling on Anini Beach, one of the best beaches in Kauai. You’ll want to spend at least one day exploring the north shore, or more if you have the time.

Next stop is Kapaa, this eclectic beach town perfect for smoothies and swimming. Be sure to stop at Java Kai, one of the best places to eat in Kauai. Later that day, make your way south to Koloa.

Famous for Poipu Beach, this is typically the sunniest and driest part of the island. Visit Shipwreck Beach and hike the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, where you’ll see the stunning southern coastline.

On your 3rd day touring the island, you’re in for a real treat! Drive about an hour northwest to the Waimea Canyon State Park. Also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyon is a stunning, multicolored canyon and a must-see in Kauai.

There, you can spend some time at the overlooks or hike the Waimea Canyon Trail, which takes you into the canyon to a lush waterfall. So fun!

After seeing the Waimea Canyon, you’ll want to head to Koke’e State Park to witness the stunning NaPali Coast. Visit the Kalalau Lookout or Pu’u O Kila Lookout for amazing views of the rugged coastline. If you’re prepared with hiking boots and trekking poles, hike the Pihea Trail for even more views of the NaPali Coast.

This epic Kauai vacation and road trip around the island can be done anytime of year. You’ll want to spend as many days in Kauai as possible to experience the magic of the island, but at minimum 3 days and 4 nights to complete this road trip.

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels

16. Portland to Seattle, plus Astoria

view of coast and bridge in Oregon with poles sticking out of water
Coast along Astoria, Oregon

Distance: 275 miles
Recommended time: 4+ days
Best time of year: spring and summer

One of the best road trips in the western U.S. hits 3 of the best cities in the Pacific Northwest: Portland, Astoria and Seattle.

The entire route is only 275 miles and about 5 hours if you drive straight through. But you’ll want to spend 2-3 nights in each stop to enjoy each of these wonderful spots and their surroundings. This PNW road trip is the perfect combination of beautiful scenery, history, bucket list attractions and great food.

In Portland, stay at the Hyatt Centric and you’ll be in walking distance to Pioneer Courthouse Square, as well as some great restaurants. The City of Roses is one of the best food cities in America after all.

Make sure to eat some of the famous foods of Portland like a Voodoo Doughnut and local charcuterie from Olympic Provisions. If you have the time, a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge is worth an excursion.

Drive to Astoria via route 26. It’s worth the 5 extra minutes on your 2 hour trip for the scenery. The best part is you’ll see the northern Oregon Coast. Stop at Ecola State Park for stunning views of Cannon Beach.

When you arrive in Astoria on the Columbia River, stay at the Bowline Hotel. Spring for a riverfront room where you’ll have gorgeous views from your balcony. Stroll the Riverwalk, admire the Victorian architecture, and explore the historic gems of the Lewis and Clark expedition. 

When leaving Astoria, go across the Astor-Megler Bridge to follow the 101 to Seattle. This large port city has lots of museums, gardens, and coffee shops.

Although it’s touristy, go to the top of the Space Needle for incredible vistas and explore Pike’s Place Market to see whole fish being tossed back and forth at the fish markets. 

This American west road trip offers classic views of the ocean and the moody coastline. Plus it’s a road trip you won’t soon forget!

Recommended by Denise of Chef Denise

17. Las Vegas, Southern Utah and Arizona (epic adventure: road trip USA west coast)

Grand Canyon National Park red multicolored canyon at sunset on a west coast road trip
Grand Canyon National Park during an epic US west coast road trip

Distance: 850+ miles
Recommended time: 7+ days
Best time of year: March through May

Start and end this epic 7 day southwest road trip loop in Las Vegas. You’ll see 12 amazing natural features, including 4 national parks, and one modern engineering marvel. Not to mention any extra days spent exploring Vegas at the beginning or end of your trip!

Begin with a day trip out to Death Valley National Park. Return to Vegas for the night.

Next, explore the beauty of Red Rock Canyon scenic drive, a national recreation area in the morning and the fiery red swirls of Valley of Fire State Park in the afternoon. Drive to St George, Utah to spend the night.

Enjoy the next 2 days exploring Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Both have stunning hikes and views. Continue on to Page, Arizona.

Spend a day in this area visiting photogenic Horseshoe Bend, touring Antelope Canyon and paddling or hiking around Lake Powell.

Next, explore the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in just a day. Take the scenic drive in from the east entrance and end the day at Mather Point viewpoint for stunning sunset views. Drive to Flagstaff, Arizona to overnight.

A quick morning visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument is worth it to see ancient cliff dwellings up close and personal. Then get on the road and drive to Hoover Dam, gaining an hour as it operates on PST, arriving in time to catch one of the afternoon Dam Tours.

Back in Vegas, use the evening to explore or catch a show!

Spring is the ideal season for this road trip. You’ll avoid the extreme heat of summer but also miss most of the snow and reduced winter hours at the higher elevation parks.

An America the Beautiful National Park Pass will save you hundreds of dollars on this road trip itinerary. It pays for itself several times over in just a week, and it’s valid for a year.

This amazing western USA road trip is busy and covers a lot of ground! If you can expand your time to 2 weeks, you take take a more leisurely pace.

Recommended by Rachel of Means to Explore

18. Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes, California

view of mammoth lakes with forest and mountains
Stunning sights at Mammoth Lakes, California

Distance: 200 miles
Recommended time: 4-5 days
Best time of year: spring or fall

Take an amazing American west coast road trip full of outdoor adventures in the Eastern Sierras from Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes!

The drive north along US-395 is approximately 200 miles and takes about 4 hours straight through, but it’s definitely worth taking at least 4 or 5 days to fully explore all the areas along the way.

Start your road trip in Death Valley National Park, located along the border of Nevada and California. Death Valley is home to the highest recorded air temperature on earth, as well as the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin.

Head from Death Valley to the town of Lone Pine, which is famous for being home to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental US. You’ll need a permit to hike Mt. Whitney, but if you’re lucky enough to snag one, standing on the 14,505 foot summit is a truly incredible feeling. If you just want a view of Mt. Whitney, camp in the Alabama Hills for a truly spectacular sight of the Sierra Nevada.

After you come down from that high, drive north to Bishop and partake in your favorite outdoor pursuit. This mountain town is home to plenty of hiking trails, mountain biking trails and rock climbing crags.

Finally, make your way to Mammoth Lakes where you can continue your outdoor adventures or take a break and soak in some of the many nearby hot springs. Be sure to check out the Crab Cooker if you like it hot! And say cheers to your epic road trip with a local beer at Mammoth Brewery.

Recommended by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

19. Alaska Highway (amazing idea for west coast road trips)

view of buffalo crossing road on Alaska Highway road trip USA west coast
Wild sights along an Alaskan road trip

Distance: up to 1,390 miles
Recommended time: 7+ days
Best time of year: May through September

Are you looking for an epic road trip USA west coast? Look no further than the Alaska Highway! Stretching 1,390 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska, this highway will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Canada and Alaska.

To get to the Alaska Highway (Alcan), you’ll need to take one of two ways to get to Dawson Creek: either up Icefield Parkway (Banff to Jasper National Park), or through British Columbia down the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Perhaps take one there and the other on your way back home!

When planning your road trip on the Alaska Highway, it’s important to consider how much time you want to spend on the road and where you want to stop along the way.

The highway can be completed in as few as 3 days, but that will feel very rushed. Even spending at least a week along the Alcan highway will feel too fast if you’re fully taking advantage of everything this incredible journey has to offer. 

While the Alaska Highway winds through some of the snowiest parts of the world, the road is open and maintained all year long. However, this amazing west coast road trip is best between May to September.

From wildlife viewing opportunities and breathtaking mountains, to roadside attractions like Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, there is something for everyone along the Alcan Highway. 

There are plenty of national parks, provincial parks and free remote camping spots along the way, as well as small hotels and inns in even the smallest of towns. Do keep in mind that peak season along the Alaska Highway is short and things book up fast, so the earlier you make reservations the better!

Recommended by Chris & Sara of Chris and Sara

20. Southern California road trip: Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, San Diego

US west coast road trip view of California pier with carnival rides above ocean
Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier, California

Distance: 408 miles
Recommended time: 4 days
Best time of year: spring or fall

If you’re looking for a Southern California sampler, this 4-day road trip itinerary is for you! On this looped route, you’ll see the best of Southern California including Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park, and San Diego for some city, desert and beach time!

Whether you’re traveling to Southern California as a couple, solo, with young kids or even exploring LA with teens, you’re going to love this road trip!

Because this route is a loop, you can easily start from Los Angeles or San Diego depending on where you can secure the cheapest flights. Spring and fall are the best times to visit all 3 destinations because of great weather and fewer crowds.

In Los Angeles, you’ll want to stay at least 2 full days to get a good taste of the city. 

First, visit the downtown LA area where at Grand Central Market, you can try many local favorites including strawberry donuts from The Donut Man and Mexican sweet and spicy fruit cups at La Frutería.

Also nearby is Angel’s Flight Railway, the Last Bookstore and the iconic Bradbury Building.

On your second day in LA, be sure to visit Griffith Observatory, which has great views of the Hollywood Sign and downtown LA. If you prefer another museum, the Getty is one of the best art museums in the city, or instead opt for a half day at the Santa Monica Pier to ride the ferris wheel at Pacific Park.

In Los Angeles, stay in Burbank for a more quiet location, or Silver Lake to be right next to the action downtown!

Next, take a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park

Check out Barker Dam Nature Trail with authentic petroglyphs, Keys View for a one-of-a-kind view of ecosystems colliding, hike Lost Horse Mine Trail Loop to learn about the Western mining history in the park, and finally visit Cholla Cactus Garden with plants that you can only see here.

Joshua Tree has some phenomenal camping or check out the many unique vacation rentals nearby including those that look like spaceships!

San Diego is the final stop on this loop (or maybe first for you depending where you flew into). 

You can see the highlights of San Diego in one day including Balboa Park where there are over 20 local museums and gardens, the historic Gaslamp Quarter with a vibrant nightlife scene, and Cabrillo National Monument where you can explore the Point Loma Tide Pools and maybe spot some sea lion!

Be sure to check out the best things to do in Old Town San Diego as well, including the birthplace of California.

In San Diego, stay along the marina or near the Gaslamp Quarter for the most central location. The Horton Grand Hotel is a great affordable option with a beautiful courtyard!

Recommended by Alanna of Periodic Adventures

More ideas for a west coast road trip

This final 1/3 of the list we’ll hit more of the west coast states, including Washington, California, Oregon and many more. Let’s keep going!

21. Denver to Moab

large lake with mountains and trees on partly cloudy day

Distance: 348 miles
Recommended time: 5+ days
Best time of year: April through October

This is an American west coast road trip that offers a variety of views from the stunning Rocky Mountains to the desert landscapes in Utah.

Starting in Denver, Colorado, spend a day enjoying the city sights like Union Station, 16th Street Mall and the Denver Art Museum. From there, hit Interstate 70 through the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

So many charming mountain towns greet you along the way. Be sure to stop and see lake Dillon, and Sapphire Point Overlook which is stunning, particularly in the summer sun.

Next stop by Vail for shopping and dining. This 4-season town is great for skiing in the winter, hiking and biking in the spring, summer and fall. Stay overnight at the Lodge at Lionshead to break up the long drive on this Denver to Moab road trip.

The next day, you’ll drive through more of the Rocky Mountains and Glenwood Canyon out to western Colorado. Swim at the world’s largest mineral hot springs in Glenwood Springs or grab lunch in the charming downtown.

On your way out of Colorado be sure to visit the Colorado National Monument, where this scenic drive provides hiking opportunities and the last of the dramatic landscape in Colorado.

Hop off I-70 and take the scenic highway 128 in Utah. Drive through rocky red desert scenes along the Colorado River to Moab.

Once in Moab, take a day or more to hike in Arches National Park and see the sights of Canyonlands National Park. From there, take a long day’s drive back to Denver, or go through the Mighty 5 in Utah and fly out of Las Vegas.

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels

22. San Francisco, CA to Newport, OR (one of the most underrated road trips USA west coast)

coastal waters with rugged cliffs lighthouse and blue ocean
Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon

Distance: 625 miles
Recommended time: 3+ days
Best time of year: May through October

Taking a Pacific Coast road trip is a bucket list experience, and one of the most beautiful stretches is between San Francisco, California and Newport, Oregon.

Start to finish is about 625 miles and will take approximately 14 hours, so allow at least 3 days for this road trip. North of San Francisco, catch CA-1 and stop at Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s a great place to spot gray whales and elephant seals in the spring.

As you continue north, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and rugged cliffs. Once you reach Mendocino, take some time to explore this charming coastal town. Enjoy the best Mendocino restaurants, Glass Beach, botanical garden and so much more.

Pick up Highway 101 when CA-1 ends in Leggett. When it’s time to stop for the night, you can camp at Sue-Meg State Park in Trinidad. It’s a verdant park with easy access to oceanfront trails.

Get an early start the next day, because you’re in redwoods territory. Plan to do some hiking in Redwoods National and State Parks. Since there are multiple parks, stop at the visitor center for maps and advice from rangers.

The next stretch of the coast is stunning! You’ll want to stop at every scenic overlook; there isn’t a bad view along the entire drive. This is especially true once you enter Oregon. 

Brookings is a good place for an overnight at Beachfront Inn. From there, Newport may only be 200 miles away, but it’s definitely going to take some time to get there. A few of the must-see spots include Spruce Island Viewpoint, Meyers Creek Beach Viewpoint, and Heceta Head Lighthouse and Cape Perpetua. 

Once you’re in Newport, head to Mo’s Seafood and Chowder for some crave-worthy clam chowder. While there are now multiple locations, there’s nothing like a cup from the original.

With its incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, historic lighthouses, charming towns, and lush forests, a drive from San Francisco to Newport is one of the best west coast road trips, and an experience you’ll remember forever.

Recommended by Theresa of The Local Tourist

23. Kona to Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii

volcanoes national park red lava at sunset with dark sky
Lava at Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Distance: 200 miles
Recommended time: 5-7 days
Best time of year: anytime

The Big Island of Hawaii is a bucket list destination and a must-see. A road trip to experience all the unique places should definitely be part of your Big Island itinerary

As most visitors land at Kona International Airport, this road trip starts in the beach town of Kona, then continues to the rainforest town of Hilo, followed by a visit to the Volcanoes National Park and then back to Kona.

A total of 5-7 days are recommended for this Big Island road trip to explore all the best sights. 

Plan to spend a few nights in Kona to experience the amazing beaches and snorkeling activities. Kona is the drier side of the Big Island and where all the brand-name resorts are.

The next stop is Hilo, which is around 2 hours drive from Kona. Hilo is where the amazing waterfalls are like Akaka falls and Rainbow Falls. Plan to spend a couple of nights in Hilo. 

Hilo makes for a great base to visit the Volcanoes National Park which is around 45 minute drive from Hilo.

There are amazing hikes here like the Kilauea Iki Crater hike, and you can see the lava glow depending on recent volcanic activity in the park. Visit the nearby black sand beach which is amazing to see. (Oh and if you love unique beaches, be sure to add the Black Sand Beach Vieques in Puerto Rico to your bucket list!)

Finally, make your way back to Kona to complete your road trip. 

In Kona, King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel is a great beachfront hotel at a prime location. In Hilo, the Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel is a great oceanfront property. 

Although not on the continental US, you can definitely say this is one spectacular road trip USA west coast!

Recommended by Anu of Destination Checkoff

24. Boise to Twin Falls (road trip USA west coast – perfect weekend getaway)

gorge in Idaho view of bright blue water at base of canyon
Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho

Distance: 285 miles
Recommended time: 2+ days
Best time of year: May through September

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path road trip in Western USA, give Idaho a try.

From Boise to Twin Falls, you’ll walk on the Oregon trails where emigrants travelled in the early 1800s, discover lava tube caves and paddleboard on a crystal clear turquoise river.

Start in Boise, the capital city of Idaho. Make sure to walk around the city center, visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary and hike the Table Rock trail (a 3.5 miles hike).

Then, drive to Three Island Crossing State Park. It’s 73 miles away from Boise.

Stop at Y Knot Winery for a winery tour and a wine tasting. You can stop at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Site and see the original wagon ruts and Conestoga replicas. Or take a self-guided tour of the park.

The Three Island Crossing State Park has a nice campground if you’re camping.

The next day, drive to Twin Falls and explore the Thousand Springs State Park complex. Make a first stop at the Malad Gorge unit, where you can walk along the rim to the Devil’s Washbowl Overlook.

Next up, drive to the Ritter Island unit, where you can paddleboard around the island and admire Lemon Falls. When you are ready, drive to Box Canyon Springs. You can hike down to enjoy the Snake River.

End your day at the Niagara Springs unit before arriving in Twin Falls for the night.

Don’t miss the Perrine Coulee Falls, the Shoshone Falls and the Perrine Memorial Bridge in Twin Falls. If time allows, drive north to Shoshone and stop at the Mammoth’s Idaho Cave and the Shoshone Ice Cave.

Recommended by Emilie of Love Life Abroad

25. Portland to Yellowstone National Park

waterfall through trees west coast road trips itineraries
Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Distance: 800+ miles
Recommended time: 2+ days
Best time of year: May through August

A great road trip to take in the Western USA is from Portland, Oregon to Yellowstone National Park, and back again.

There are 2 routes that are roughly the same distance, one which follows a southern route and one which follows a northern route. It’s the northern route that passes through some amazing landscapes.

Taking the northern route will cover over 800 miles and can be done in as little as 2 days. However, if you are combining it with a visit to Yellowstone National Park, visit the park first and take a leisurely drive back to Portland over several days, stopping at least once along the route.

From Portland, you take I-84, along the Columbia Gorge Creek. If you have time and are doing this route over a few days, stop at Multnomah Falls, one of the most popular recreational places to visit in the Pacific Northwest.

After Columbia Gorge Creek, you will meet I-90 which travels through spectacular scenery and past Coeur d’Alene which sits on the northern end of Harrison Slough lake. 

From wide open country to mountain passes with slopes of trees on either side and then ranch country of Montana, the ever-changing landscape will leave you awe-inspired. 

Yellowstone National Park is your destination and it won’t disappoint. Don’t miss Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs.

On your return journey, spend a few nights in Missoula and enjoy leisure time in Caras Park, meditate among the statues of the Garden of 1000 Buddhas, or visit the National Bison Range. And then head back toward Portland.

This route is best taken during summer due to possible road closures due to snow/ice conditions during the winter. There are some steep mountain roads to pass which may be hazardous to drive. 

And be aware that later in summer, the landscape may not be completely visible due to forest fires. However, if you manage to avoid them, you will have a pleasurable drive along this US west coast road trip!

Recommended by Cath of Passports and Adventures

26. Anchorage to Fairbanks (gorgeous west coast road trip itinerary)

river in valley in alaska during a vacation to west coast road trip itinerary
Denali National Park, Alaska

Distance: 360 miles
Recommended time: 5 – 7 days
Best time of year: June through September

Alaska offers an ideal road trip to visit its gorgeous national parks!

Starting in Anchorage, head north toward the small town of Trapper Creek for approximately 2 hours. You should stay 1-2 nights in the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. This quaint lodge is in a secluded area and has a few restaurants onsite.

From there, you can drive further north for 2 hours to Denali National Park or take the McKinley Explorer train ride from the nearby town of Talkeetna. This luxurious train offers double decks for upstairs seating under the glass dome windows and downstairs restaurant dining.

The scenic train journey (climbing from 350 to 1600 feet altitude) takes 5 hours and crosses many rivers.

Once in Denali National Park, you can stay at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge for 2 nights. This resort offers a huge main lodge, several restaurants and many gift shops.

You’ll want to spend at least 1 full day touring the nearby Denali National Park where you’ll see jaw-dropping scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot some wildlife such as grizzly bears, ground squirrels, golden eagles, Dall sheep or wolverines!

Onward to Fairbanks for a 2.5-hour drive, you can stay at the comfortable Westmark Fairbanks Hotel which offers expansive views from the rooms.

One fun excursion to do in Fairbanks is the Riverboat Discovery tour which takes you on an eventful cruise on the Chena and Tanana rivers aboard an authentic sternwheeler boat. Observe sled dog training, bush pilot flying and visit a traditional village.

This is one of the best west coast road trip itineraries, and the best time of year to do it is in September to see the amazing Autumn colors!

Recommended by Jan of Jan Adventures

27. Southern California charm: Ventura, Santa Barbara, Solvang

Solvang California windmill with patio and potted plants
Classic Danish architecture in Solvang, California

Distance: 130 miles
Recommended time: 3-4 days
Best time of year: anytime

While this west coast road trip may be low in mileage, it takes you through some of the best spots in California! A route primarily along an ocean-front section of Highway 101, you’ll see Ventura, Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara and Solvang. 

Departing from Los Angeles, drive north roughly 2 hours to your first stop, Ventura. You’ll want to spend at least 2 nights here.

On your first evening, you should visit Ventura’s Main Street. This pedestrian-friendly street is full of theaters, boutiques, breweries, and restaurants. Check out TikiGirl for shopping and Rumfish y Vino for dinner. You could also visit the historic Spanish Mission San Buenaventura or grab drinks at the VenTiki Tiki Lounge.

Using the next full day, visit Channel Islands National Park. Departing from Ventura Harbor, take the official boat taxi, Island Packers, to see one of the least visited national parks in the country. Along the way, dolphin, sea lion, or other marine life sightings are nearly guaranteed. 

On your 3rd day, drive an hour north along the coast for your next stop, Santa Barbara. Two nights are also recommended here. Santa Barbara has a wide variety of activities.

From surfing to kayaking and hiking to wine tasting, there is no shortage of fun things to do. If you’re looking to stay in the heart of the action, try the Hotel Californian. Other recommended spots for food or drinks include Zaytoon, Handlebar Coffee Roasters, Loquita and the Santa Barbara Public Market.

Finally, your last stop takes you inland to California’s Danish town. Solvang is memorable for its windmills sprinkled throughout the walkable town.

A thematic experience, Solvang boasts many bakeries and hosts festivals celebrating its Danish heritage. It’s also within the Santa Ynez Valley, so you can visit many wineries and sample some of California’s best wines. If you like cycling, this area is also quite popular among cyclists and you can even do a wine and cycling tour. So fun!

Recommended by Taylor of Taytrum Travels

28. Portland to Southwest Utah (more amazing sights on this US west coast road trip)

utah rocky cliffs desert scenery
Epic views of Southwestern Utah

Distance: 2,000+ miles
Recommended time: 6+ days
Best time of year: May or June

This is the West USA road trip for pacific northwest dwellers who are emerging from a long winter and craving sunshine!

The best time for this road trip is the last week of May or the first week of June. The parks are open and it’s hot in SW Utah but it is not the high season yet.

At just over 2,000 miles roundtrip, you will cover some ground. Plan on setting aside at least 6 days to complete the loop, and 8+ days if you have the extra time. 

Beginning in Portland, drive east to Boise, Idaho for your first night. Make sure to stop at Shoshone Falls on the way.

From Boise, continue to SW Utah, stopping in Salt Lake for lunch. Spend 3-5 days exploring all that Southwest Utah has to offer and soaking up the desert sun.

Stay at Under Canvas Zion for a luxury glamping experience, and/or at Zion EcoCabins for other worldly views from your A-frame or private hot tub. For details and more places to stay check out where to stay Near Zion National Park

Allocate at least 1 day to explore Zion National Park. Hike Angels Landing for sunrise and Canyon Overlook Trail in the afternoon.

The next day, venture to Red Cliffs National Conservation Area for incredible scenery and hiking, then hop over (5 minutes) to Quail Creek Reservoir to cool off. You can even rent paddle boards and kayaks. 

On your last day, begin your journey home and stop at Bryce Canyon National Park on the way.

Spend a few hours exploring the trails around Sunrise Point to get a feel for the park. The Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop offers spectacular scenery.

Continue on to Park City for your last night. Spend the evening strolling the picturesque streets. Rise early to make your way back to Portland.

Recommended by Jade of Well and Good Travel

29. Las Vegas to Death Valley

Death Valley national park california road trip west coast USA multicolored sand hills at sunset
Death Valley National Park, California

Distance: 298 miles (there and back)
Recommended time: 1 – 3 days
Best time of year: October through April

Unknowingly to most, Las Vegas is actually a perfect starting point for many west coast road trips itineraries. You can oftentimes find affordable flights to the McCarran airport which will start your adventure off on the right foot.

This Las Vegas to Death Valley road trip will take you to other-worldly landscapes, epic hikes and some of the best views. 

The Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley is located just over 2 hours from the airport and this road trip can actually be completed in just one day! Get an early start to your day so you can catch the breathtaking sunrise inside the park. 

After arriving in the park, head to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes to watch the sun rise over the undisturbed and smooth sand dunes. You can choose to hike to the top of a dune or watch closer to the parking lot. Once the sun has risen, head to the Mosaic Canyon Trail for a 3.3-mile hike. 

Other stops on this road trip include lunch at Stovepipe Wells, marveling at the lowest place in North America, Badwater Basin, driving Artist Palette drive, Golden Canyon trail and watching the sunset over Zabriske point. 

It’s HIGHLY discouraged to visit this park in the summer months as the temperature rarely dips below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so this road trip is best done between October and April. If you’re wanting to extend your time in Death Valley, you can grab a room at one of the 4 on-site lodges or a campsite.

If completing this west coast road trip in a day, you will then return back to Las Vegas for a good night’s rest and to prepare for the rest of your Las Vegas adventures. No matter how long you choose to spend on the road trip, it’ll surely be one to remember for years to come.

Recommended by Jordan of The Homebody Tourist

30. Seattle to Glacier National Park (a favorite on this list of American west coast road trips)

waterfall along cliff green water at base on a US west coast road trip
Palouse Falls, Washington

Distance: 805 miles
Recommended time: 5+ days
Best time of year: April through October

This west coast road trip itinerary is one of the most scenic routes in the U.S! It passes through 2 national parks, varied landscapes, gorgeous lakes and quaint cities like Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. 

A perfect itinerary would be spending 1 full day hiking through Mount Rainer, exploring the best of Paradise Mt Rainier, including Myrtle Falls and Reflection Lakes.

The next day can be spent by driving to the Idaho panhandle. If you have the time, be sure to stop in Palouse Falls and Spokane City along the way.

Then spend one day in Coeur d’Alene, and 2 days exploring Glacier. Be sure to check out all the amazing things to do in Glacier National Park like the Going-to-the-Sun Road, the Avalanche Lake Trail, iconic Lake McDonald and going stargazing.

It’s optimal to take this road trip between April – October since the scenic roads at Mount Rainer and Glacier National Park are closed in the winter. 

To make the most of your time, make sure to leave early from Mount Rainer on day 2. There’s a lot of ground to cover between Mount Rainer and Coeur d’Alene, and you will thank yourself for finishing it in a single day.

Waking up in Idaho on day 3 will make the remainder of the trip much more relaxing.

In each National Park, there are lots of campsites available to reserve, but in between Mount Rainer and Glacier, one of the best places to stay is at One Lakeside Hotel, right at the heart of Coeur d’Alene.

Of course, if you have more time, you could add a day for each part of the journey, or spend one day in Seattle, too.

Recommended by Caleb of Pazook Travel Journal

US West coast road trip itineraries

rocky scenery with blue sky orange spires on a road trip out west
Arches National Park Scenic Drive (#8 above)

Whew! What a list!

There are exciting adventures around nearly every curvy road, mountain, desert scene and coastal area in the American west. There’s simply so many breathtaking views along these routes in the west. How do you ever choose?!

Let’s recap that list one more time, in a quicker fashion…

Road trip USA West Coast ideas

  1. Oregon Coast
  2. San Francisco to San Diego
  3. Washington National Parks
  4. Anchorage to Seward
  5. Phoenix to Tucson
  6. San Francisco to Yosemite
  7. Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon
  8. Utah national parks
  9. Salt Lake City to Yellowstone
  10. Salem, Mt Hood and Oregon waterfalls loop
  11. Death Valley to Yosemite
  12. Road to Hana, Maui
  13. San Francisco to Lake Tahoe
  14. Grand Teton to Glacier National Park 
  15. Kauai road trip
  16. Portland to Seattle, plus Astoria
  17. Las Vegas, Southern Utah and Arizona
  18. Death Valley to Mammoth Lakes
  19. Alaska Highway
  20. Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, San Diego
  21. Denver to Moab
  22. San Francisco, CA to Newport, OR 
  23. Kona to Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii
  24. Boise to Twin Falls
  25. Portland to Yellowstone National Park
  26. Anchorage to Fairbanks
  27. Ventura, Santa Barbara, Solvang
  28. Portland to Southwest Utah
  29. Las Vegas to Death Valley
  30. Seattle to Glacier National Park

Related posts to read next:
29 Amazing Road Trips USA: Scenic (& Underrated) Routes You’ll Love
17 Exciting Winter Road Trips USA: Scenic and Unexpected Routes You’ll Love
32 Amazing Stops on a San Francisco to San Diego Road Trip (You’ll Love)

AMAZING Utah National Parks Road Trip (Map, Best Hikes, Scenic Route Between Parks + More)
12 Epic Scenic Drives Colorado (Map + Tips + Photos)

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30 gorgeous west coast road trip routes with road trip images coast wild flowers and mountains


Sunday 19th of February 2023

These all look like beautiful road trips! I think I would combine a few different ones and go for a couple of weeks of exploring!


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Loooove this idea! So many good ones, it would be hard to choose. Wise to combine a few :)


Thursday 16th of February 2023

Marvelous places! I’d so loooove to ride my motorcycles on some of these roads, especially Death Valley!


Friday 17th of February 2023

Oh that would be so much fun Isabella! Sounds like a trip in your future ;)


Wednesday 15th of February 2023

This is an epic road trip guide through the American West Coast. We are planning to take a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco so this will serve as a great resource.


Thursday 2nd of March 2023

Oh that will be an awesome road trip! Love the coastal, moody vibes from Seattle to San Francisco. Have fun!!

Linda (LD Holland)

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

We do love a great road trip and these are some great choices on the west coast. We have talked about investing in a satellite communicator and really should follow up. And now day we will make it up to Alaska for a great summer road trip.


Thursday 16th of February 2023

Linda yes! A satellite communicator is crucial when you're in areas with no cell phone coverage. And gosh, a road trip through Alaska sounds amazing too. Enjoy!


Wednesday 15th of February 2023

These all so incredible, I don't even know how I would choose! The Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon route looks out of this world😍


Thursday 16th of February 2023

Right?! There's so many fabulous places in the western USA, it's really difficult to decide, that's for sure!