Life can be tough when you have an overwhelming ambition to see the world but not that many days of vacation. The everlasting question of whether to choose between exploring nature and visiting new cities can cause a lot of disruption in travel planning. Add to this a restricted budget and you have the perfect recipe for absolute confusion. This is why I have prepared the perfect U.S. road trip for you. One round-trip flight, two weeks, seven U.S. national parks and eight cities. Of course, it is up to you whether or not you want to follow this plan by the letter, but it will definitely guide you in the right direction.
You will visit the following cities: Denver, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
You will visit the following national parks: Grand Canyon National Park, Death Valley National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park and Rocky Mountains National Park. Remember, you can buy an annual national parks pass for 80$ and get in every park with this!
Depending on your budget you will be able to find plenty of accommodations in or close to every single destination. My personal recommendations for budget lodging are Motel 6 (available close to each destination), AirBnb and checking prices on Booking.com. Check out my other post for more advice on lodging. For this trip you will need to either rent a car or drive your own. Since sometimes you will be driving for long periods of time, you can also decide to stop halfway between two destinations, lodge there and finish the drive early in the morning.
Check out the following itinerary:
Day 1: Fly to Denver, CO. Pick up your rental car at the airport. Explore the city.
Day 2: Wake up very early and drive to Santa Fe, NM (5-6 hours). Visit Santa Fe and Bandelier National Monument. Drive to Albuquerque, NM at night (1h30). Stay there overnight.
Day 3: Visit Albuquerque, NM. Drive to Flagstaff, AZ (5 hours). Stay there overnight.
Day 4: Drive to the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (1h30). Spend the day at the Grand Canyon. Drive to Phoenix, AZ (3h30). Stay there overnight.
Day 5: Visit Phoenix. Drive to San Diego, CA (5-6 hours). Stay there overnight.
Day 6: Visit San Diego. Drive to Los Angeles, CA at night (3 hours)
Day 7: Visit Los Angeles
Day 8: Wake up very early, drive to Death Valley National Park (4-5 hours). Spend the day at Death Valley. Drive to Las Vegas (2h30). Stay there overnight.
Day 9: Visit Las Vegas. Drive to Zion National Park (3h). Stay there overnight.
Day 10: Visit Zion National Park. Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park (2 hours). Stay there overnight.
Day 11: Visit Bryce Canyon National Park. Drive to Canyonlands National Park (4h30). Stay there overnight.
Day 12: Visit Canyonlands National Park. Drive to Moab (35 minutes). Stay there overnight.
Day 13: Visit Arches National Park. Drive to Rocky Mountains National Park (5-6 hours). Stay there overnight.
Day 14: Visit Rocky Mountains National Park. Drive to Denver (2 hours). Visit Denver.
Day 15: Visit Denver and conclude trip.
Any questions? Feel free to contact me.
Have a great summer filled with wanderlust and adventure!