Two weeks is perfect to see the best of America’s wild west and its natural wonders, as well as the region’s most popular cities. From Los Angeles travel through the vast deserts of Arizona, stopping to admire the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Lake Powell beside Glen Canyon Dam. You will go on to Bryce Canyon to see its sandstone spires before spending a couple of nights experiencing the best of Las Vegas. Continue your journey to Death Valley, Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park where you can spot black bears and coyotes. San Francisco is your next city stop before exploring the rest of the west coast, including Monterey, Carmel and Pismo Beach, and returning back to Los Angeles.

Key information

Destinations Western USA
Activity Nature & Wildlife, Culture
Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Tour Hollywood's many attractions

Tour Hollywood's many attractions

Day 1 in Los Angeles

Stroll along Hollywood Boulevard, spot your favourite TV and film stars on the Walk of Fame, and you can’t miss the hillside Hollywood sign. Kids can also get up close to their own entertainment stars in Disneyland.

Explore the parks and beaches of San Diego

Explore the parks and beaches of San Diego

Day 2 in San Diego

A two hour drive south from L.A. is San Diego, the second largest city in California, which is renowned for its entertainment parks, including Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, the latter of which boasts some stunning historic buildings and green spaces. Leave some time to relax on some of California’s most beautiful palm-lined beaches.

Don't miss

A spot of shopping in the Seaport Village

A spot of shopping in the Seaport Village

Seaport Village, on the waterfront of downtown San Diego, is a recreation of a historic harbour with meandering walkways that take you to its 70 shops, galleries, and eateries spread across 14 acres.

Unwind in exclusive Palm Springs

Unwind in exclusive Palm Springs

Day 3–4 in Palm Springs

Set in possibly the most biologically diverse ecosystem in the Americas, Palm Springs is not only a winter playground for celebrities, but also a stylish place to relax in hot springs, spas and top-class golf courses at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Explore unique rock formations in Sedona

Explore unique rock formations in Sedona

Day 5 in Sedona

On arrival to the unique geological area of Sedona, you will be welcomed by red-rock monoliths, with names such as Coffee Pot and Cathedral, protruding from the desert landscape. Climbing up the sandstone spires is fascinating, as are the popular hiking trails that weave between them.

Learn about native culture at the Grand Canyon

Learn about native culture at the Grand Canyon

Day 6 in Grand Canyon

Once in Grand Canyon National Park, there’s much more to do than stare into the world-famous chasm.

The Rim Trail offers different views from the top of the canyon on a mostly paved path. Though it’s 13 miles long (21km), hikers can utilize the park’s shuttle bus system in place of doing the whole hike. The Bright Angel Trail (12 miles round-trip, 19km) is one of the US national park system’s best-known trails. It heads to the bottom of the canyon, a marvellous experience for those with plenty of water and stamina. It is recommended that hikers do just a portion of the hike down Bright Angel and back up to the rim as there are many rescues each year for underprepared hikers who overestimate their abilities.

Don't miss

Visit a Navajo Indian reservation

Visit a Navajo Indian reservation

The Navajo is one of the eleven affiliated American Indian tribes that are deeply embedded in the history and culture of the Grand Canyon. Learn about its cultural and spiritual traditions at the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Hike amongst sandstone spires in the Colorado Plateau

Hike amongst sandstone spires in the Colorado Plateau

Day 7 in Monument Valley

Pass through the Painted Desert with its kaleidoscope of colours to reach Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border. Visitors are welcomed by a distinct desert scape of finger-like sandstone monoliths that reach 300m above the valley of sweeping arid wilderness — the epitome of the American West.

Walk across the Glen Canyon Dam

Walk across the Glen Canyon Dam

Day 8 in Lake Powell

The concrete Glen Canyon Dam would dominate the scenery if it was not for the commanding Colorado River and the bright blue waters of Lake Powell that lap against the tall red walls of the canyon. The extraordinary scenery is appreciated best from atop the dam, which is the second highest concrete arch-dam in America.

Experience unique geology in Bryce Canyon

Experience unique geology in Bryce Canyon

Day 9 in Bryce Canyon

Scooped into the side of a high-desert plateau, a deep natural amphitheater holds a small army of sandstone pillars at Utah’s smallest national park.

Known as hoodoos, these eroded formations glow with surreal colours at sunrise and sunset. For the most immersive experience, hike down one of the steep trails that drops from the Scenic Drive along the rim and winds through the formations. Many trails link up inside the amphitheater, making it easy to extend a short hike into a longer adventure.

Walk in the wilderness of Zion National Park

Walk in the wilderness of Zion National Park

Day 10–11 in Zion National Park

Sheer red rock cliffs flank Zion Canyon, a lush wonderland of gentle waterfalls, wild gardens and hidden pools. Carved over millennia by tributaries of the Virgin River, the canyon is the heart of the park.

Numerous trails twist to these riparian sights while others zigzag to sky-high viewpoints. It’s all so idyllic that the park drew more than 4.4 million visitors in 2019, making it the fourth most-visited national park in the US. To relieve congestion, the park service bans cars from the Scenic Drive, which runs the length of the canyon, from mid-February through much of December. To enter the canyon during these months, visitors must walk, bike or reserve a spot on the park shuttle ($1 per person; www.recreation.gov). You can escape the worst of the crowds on strenuous trails, including the thrilling climb to Angels Landing, but you’ll still want to start early to avoid the crush.

Enjoy Las Vegas's legendary nightlife

Enjoy Las Vegas's legendary nightlife

Day 12 in Las Vegas

Spend a day or two discovering the grandeur of Las Vegas and its famously flamboyant attractions. Stroll along the Strip, visit casinos, enjoy a Broadway-type, and relax at one of the popular restaurants and bars with city-scape views, such as Top of the World at The Stratosphere or Skybar at the Waldorf Astoria.

Get active in resort town Mammoth Lakes

Get active in resort town Mammoth Lakes

Day 13–14 in Mammoth Lakes

Journey through Death Valley and ascend the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the alpine resort of Mammoth Lakes, famous for its skiing and hiking trails. It was a successful gold mining town in the 19th century and you can take a tour of the ruins, mining equipment, and mine shafts.

Don't miss

The Sierra Nevada mountains

The Sierra Nevada mountains

Take Route 120 eastbound to the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains where you will visit the Tioga Pass before continuing along the winding mountain roads to enjoy views of the lush valleys. Within the mountain range is the deserted gold rush town of Bodie, which is well preserved and worth a visit.

Admire the wildlife and waterfalls of Yosemite

Admire the wildlife and waterfalls of Yosemite

Day 15–16 in Yosemite National Park

The most popular national park in California, Yosemite includes the world-renowned Yosemite Valley, which is beneath notable granite peaks including Half Dome and El Capitan – famous among rock climbers for their stunning views and difficult climbs.

Head to the 7,214ft Glacier Point for views over Yosemite Valley, or head inside the granite Geology Hut for vistas of Half Dome. Come at sunrise or sunset, when the giant granite peaks turn a rosy pink. There’s more than just towering peaks in Yosemite. Mariposa Grove showcases giant sequoia trees, while Yosemite Falls is North America’s highest waterfall at 2,425 feet (739 metres). It is possible to hike up to the upper fall’s crest, but be aware that the water’s spray can be very cold.

Visit the home of the Golden Gate Bridge

Visit the home of the Golden Gate Bridge

Day 17–18 in San Francisco

Crammed into less than 50 square miles and with a population of less than a million, small San Francisco packs a mighty punch. Its patchwork of different neighbourhoods -- Mission District, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown and many more -- all offer a different side to the city, while the big attractions -- Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf -- are all worth the visit.

This is also a city of culture. There are Michelin-starred restaurants. There are pop-up diners and incredible food trucks. There is a world-class music scene and plenty of outdoor adventures, from whale-watching at Land's End to hiking in Mount Diablo. Just watch out for the earth tremors -- San Francisco's proximity to the San Andreas faultline means it experiences several hundred tremors a year.

Don't miss

Enjoy the coastline of San Fran

Enjoy the coastline of San Fran

Take a stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf, explore the Marina District before experiencing the lively city at night. Stop at the spectacular Golden Gate bridge that connects San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean to enjoy a classic view of the skyline. Perhaps even take a boat to the infamous Alcatraz.

Monterey Peninsula and Carmel

Monterey Peninsula and Carmel

Day 19–20 in Monterey Peninsula

Monterey Peninsula offers a mix of wind-whipped beaches, hidden coves and delicious seafood. The towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea are laid back seaside towns showcasing the region's sea trawling history, replete with cosy restaurants and excellent gastropubs.

This is a perfect stop for those wanting a getaway from San Francisco's bright lights.

Don't miss

Tour California’s scenic central coast

Tour California’s scenic central coast

After exploring Monterey Peninsula, take a drive to the pretty resort of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Continue along Big Sur to San Simeon and Solvang. After a drive of 350 miles, enjoy the bakeries, wineries and boutique shops in this quaint town which was founded by Danish immigrants. You could then continue driving to Malibu and the bright lights of L.A.

Beaches backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains

Beaches backed by the Santa Ynez Mountains

Day 21 in Santa Barbara

Backed by the dramatic Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara, is a hot-spot for white-sand beaches and palm-lined promenades. Look out for A-class celebrities, many of which have extravagant homes here.

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