Go West… The great US of A is famed for its epic road trips and perhaps none are more scenic, nature-filled and hypnotic as driving the West Coast. From Los Angelas, San Francisco and San Diego these are our favorite routes to Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Oregon and Arizona worth getting behind the wheel for. Pencil in your trip during one of Arizona or California’s magnificent super blooms, which tend to put on a show from February to May, settle in for some epic star gazing, or hit one of the region’s incredible national parks, which are gorgeous even in the winter months.
Road Trip: Los Angeles to Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks
Duration: 5 days
This well-traveled road trip kicks off from the bright lights of Los Angeles and takes you on a scenic journey to Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks to explore forests, canyons, sand dunes and even the old west’s ghost towns.
Day 1: Los Angeles to Death Valley
Drive time: 5 hours
From Los Angeles, the drive to Death Valley will take you through must-see sites like Angeles National Forest, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Trona Pinnacles, and Mosaic Canyon before you reach The Oasis at Death Valley. Stay at The Inn at Death Valley, a resort that’s home to natural hot springs. Here you can enjoy a sundowner and Californian sunset as you relax by the spring-fed pool and enjoy strolls through the date palm gardens leading to the springs.
Tribe tip: there aren’t many restaurants along this route so we suggest packing a hearty lunch.
Day 2: Explore Death Valley
In Death Valley, known for its startling desert landmarks, sand dunes, painted canyons, and glorious mountain ranges, visiting the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes is a must. Here, you can see mesquite trees that are able to survive in the harsh conditions of the dunes. The lowest point in North America (282 feet below sea level), Badwater Basin is a spring-fed pool filled with hexagonal honeycomb-shaped salt deposits, so yes you can walk on the salt flats.
Day 3: Death Valley to Joshua Tree National Park
Drive time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
The drive from Death Valley to Joshua Tree will take you past the Dumont Dunes, the Mojave River, and Calico Ghost Town, an old west mining town established in 1881. Around three hours into your drive, make a pit stop at the original “Del Taco,” now known as Tita’s Burger Den for some of the best burgers, milkshakes, and fries this side of Hollywood. As for your digs, we recommend booking one of these gorgeous Airbnbs right outside the park.
Day 4: Explore Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree, where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts meet, has endless hikes ripe for exploration. Perhaps our favorite, best visited at sunrise, is the 0.25 miles long Cholla Cactus Garden, a densely populated, fenced area with naturally growing cholla cacti for a unique desert experience. For panoramic views of the Coachella Valley, head to Keys View, only a 20-minute drive from Park Boulevard.
Day 5: Joshua Tree to Los Angeles
Drive time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Check in to The Line LA, a hip, mid-century modern hotel located in downtown LA with a Michelin-starred garden terrace restaurant that will also give you easy access to vibrant Koreatown.
Road Trip: San Francisco to Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Duration: 3 days
Crater Lake in Southern Oregon gets our vote as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. To explore this natural wonder and see more of California along the way, embark on a two-day road trip to Crater Lake National Park, via Redding, CA.
Day 1: San Francisco to Redding, CA
The journey from San Francisco to Redding, a town known for its mountain surroundings, a river flowing through it and plenty of hiking and biking trails, takes about three hours and 45 minutes. In Redding, be sure to check out Sundial Bridge, which connects the north and south campuses of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, and is quite literally a sundial. Spend the night at Sage Pine Suite Airbnb which has a large, open living room and views of the Mt. Shasta.
Day 2: Redding to Crater Lake National Park
During the drive from Redding to Crater Lake, stop by Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm (1 hr, 45 minutes) for amazing views of the lavender fields growing against the backdrop of Mt. Shasta. After, hit the road for another 1 hour, 15 minutes to Black Bear Diner in Klamath Falls, Oregon for some good ol’ fashioned comfort food. From the diner, head to Crater Lake Lodge (1hr, 30 mins) for the night. The seasonal lodge is located within the national park, overlooks the lake at Rim Village and is truly the most stunning setting.
Day 3: Explore Crater Lake National Park
This beauty is best explored on foot and the 33-mile Rim Drive circles the entire lake offering 30 different outlooks, each designed to highlight a specific view of the lake. For a moderate hike, we recommend Watchman Peak to view Wizard Island in the distance and watch the sun set behind the mountains.
Road Trip: San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona
Duration: 2 Days
The drive from San Diego to Phoenix is around six hours, making it possible to do it in one day, even with some unforgettable desert and wildlife pit stops along the way.
Day 1: San Diego to Phoenix
From San Diego, drive one hour and 20 minutes to stop at the iconic Desert View Tower Jacumba, a rock tower that overlooks the Anza Borrego Desert. Later take a detour (drive time one hour and 40 minutes) to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma (the second-largest wilderness area in Arizona), to come up close and personal with desert animals and reptiles. Once you arrive in Phoenix (about three hours from Yuma), check into Arizona Biltmore, an iconic Frank Lloyd Wright inspired luxury resort where glamour meets the desert. Cool off in a poolside cabana and indulge in modern, elevated Latin cuisine at the onsite restaurant Renata’s Hearth.
Day 2: Explore Phoenix, Arizona
The vibrant desert city of Phoenix, Arizona is a melting pot of live music, art galleries, museums, sports arenas (call all Major League Baseball fans), craft breweries, and endless restaurants. There are so many things to do, it’s hard to narrow down but you must pay a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden to check out 50000 desert plant species. Then get your culture fix in downtown Phoenix, a diverse neighborhood that’s home to Roosevelt Row, the city’s burgeoning art epicenter where you’ll find mid-century storefronts, vintage bungalows, mid-century storefronts, and slick high-rises. Also on the must-see list; the Warehouse District, a tech, art, and entertainment hub lined with industrial buildings, which back in the day were occupied by Arizona’s citrus and cotton farmers, and Cityscape, retail, hotel, and restaurant precinct occupying two city blocks that’s become Phoenix’ new epicenter.