How to make the most of your stay in the USA? Find the best USA itinerary for 2 weeks American Southwest road trip across the USA and have an amazing time in America!
The United States of America is a massive country. There is so much to see, that it quickly becomes overwhelming. Where to go, what to visit, how to make the most of your short USA itinerary?
My friend is currently planning her trip to the USA, so I decided to write this post in order to help her (and others) with their USA plans. Most people have 2 or 3 weeks of holidays, which might be challenging to fit in many places worth to visit in the States. So, I hope that thanks to the American Southwest road trip itinerary below, you will manage to see a lot during your 2 weeks in the USA. I did! 😉
Remember before your 2 weeks road trip across the USA:
#Get your visa sorted
That’s the most important part of any trip to America. You need to get your US visa in preparation for your trip and make sure it’s valid for the time you want to stay in the US.
Healthcare in the USA is very expensive, so you don’t want to travel without it!
#Look for cheap flights
Nowadays, it’s not so expensive anymore to travel from Europe to the USA. You can find the best tools to book cheap flights and accommodation on my travel resources page.
#Decide on the transport option
A good option is renting a car, but in the USA you can also find cheap long-distance buses like Megabus or Greyhound.
#Plan your route – below!
USA itinerary for 2 weeks American Southwest road trip
To be exact, I spent 12 days on the USA Southwest road trip, as that’s how my flights panned out. If you have 2 days more, you can squeeze in a few more things (suggestions at the bottom).
Day 1 – from New Mexico to Arizona
Albuquerque, New Mexico + Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
My flight from Europe was to Houston and then to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is where I started my 2 weeks road trip across the USA. The first part of my trip, I travelled with a friend. We rented the car, did some shopping and set off to the US roads. Albuquerque is also worth a visit if you have some more time.
In the evening we arrived in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. You can camp in the backcountry in the desert under the stars and with the sounds of coyotes. You know, I love camping, especially wild camping, so that was a perfect start of a trip! But, before doing the same, make sure to obtain the correct permit from the Park Office. The Park is great for hiking and walking. You can see there the massive fossils of the fallen trees that lived on the Earth 225 million years ago.
Day 2 – from Painted Desert to the Grand Canyon
Painted Desert, Arizona + Route 66 and Flagstaff, Arizona + Grand Canyon NP, Arizona + Lake Powell, Utah + Page, Arizona
Painted Desert is famous for its wonderful colours, where the hills and the soil look like painted orange, red or even purple. From the Painted Desert, you can drive along the famous Route 66 in Arizona in the direction to the Grand Canyon. The views on the way are just spectacular. Watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon and millions of years of Earth history written there is something out of this world. You can spend the night there or drive further towards Lake Powell and Page.
Day 3 – from Monument Valley to Arches NP
Waterhole Canyon, Arizona + Monument Valley, Utah + Goosenecks State Park on the San Jose River, Utah + Arches National Park, Utah+ Moab, Utah
This area in Arizona is famous from the Antelope Canyon. It’s a very touristy site visited by many people every day. The place can be seen only with the guide, in previously organised groups and at a specified time. The area belongs to Indian tribe Navajo. You need to book a trip in advance which costs around $35. Alternatively, you can visit a nearby Waterhole Canyon. The entry there is not limited (you just need a general hiking permit) and you can stay in the Canyon as long as you want. The place is beautiful and it was entirely empty when we went in the morning.
From the Canyons, you can drive to the Monument Valley in Utah. Huge rocks towering over the deserted landscape, that really look like monuments.
Another must-see place on the way is the Horseshoe Bend on Colorado River. The similar, but the less known place is Goosenecks State Park on the San Jose River in Utah, where you can admire the strength of the water erosion from the massive cliffs overlooking the river below.
The road will take you to city Moab and located nearby the Arches National Park. The Park is worth visiting and walking around. There are several routes for hikes, that pass through different natural rock arches. Some of them are really spectacular! You can either camp in the park if you have a permit or stay in Moab.
Day 4 – from Canyonlands to Bryce Canyon
Canyonlands National Park, Utah + Capitol Reef NP, Utah + Bryce Canyon NP, Utah
Start a day with a sunrise in Canyonlands National Park in Utah, which is located not too far from Moab. The sunrise in Mesa Arch is one of the best sunrise spectacles I’ve ever seen. After the peaceful morning in the Park, drive to the Capitol Reef National Park. You can walk between the narrow canyons or try to climb the vertical walls.
Next, make your way to the Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. There’s no place like Bryce Canyon. It’s famous for the biggest in the world collection of hoodoos – the spire-shaped rock formations that were left standing from the erosion. It’s a must-see!
Day 5 – from Zion to Las Vegas
Zion NP, Utah + Las Vegas, Nevada
You can welcome the next morning in Zion National Park. Explore the Zion’s most popular hike “The Narrows” or hit the trail in other breathtaking walks. You can stay in Zion for at least one night or make your way to Las Vegas.
Day 6 – Las Vegas
I’m not the huge fan of the cities, but going to Las Vegas is an experience of its own. Stay at least one night and experience the colourful city life, that you know from the movies. For amazing views head to the Stratosphere Airbar and indulge in one of their delicious cocktails.
Day 7 + Day 8 – Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California, + Santa Monica, California
From Las Vegas make your way to California and visit Los Angeles with nearby Santa Monica beach and Venice. Feel like a movie star, hike to the Hollywood sign or tour the famous neighbourhoods and Hollywood Walk of Fame. I really liked the view of the city from the Hollywood sign and spending time in Santa Monica.
Day 9 – Day 12 – California
California coast route and San Francisco
From Los Angeles, you can either go down to San Diego or tour California coast and head to San Francisco. There is so much to do in San Francisco itself, but the road is also full of amazing views, which will keep you busy for days.
Note: I didn’t actually make it to San Francisco, but my plan initially included it. Due to some complications, I needed to stay longer in LA and then made my way back to Las Vegas for the flight. The better option would be to go to San Francisco and take a flight from there.
Suggestions for additional days:
- San Diego
- Death Valley
The best USA road trip
The Southwest road trip in the USA was definitely amazing. The National Parks, together with other natural wonders, that we saw during the way – took my breath away!
“USA has too many nice places! It’s not fair!” I was saying to my American friends met on the way, and they were laughing at me 😉
Would you like to do the Southwest road trip in the USA? How would you plan your USA itinerary for 2 weeks or more? Let me know your favourite places in the comments!
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