Road trip California Nevada Arizona
The United States is often seen as a destination of its own, where a kind of magic happens, where the American dream is fulfilled, where history fascinates, and where cosmopolitan peoples coexist.
If you want to discover the United States uniquely, I advise you to take a Road trip in the country of Uncle Sam. Road trips in the US arouse the curiosity of many travel lovers.
The diversity of landscapes, atmospheres, or cultures makes this country a unique place in the world. In this guide, I present my itinerary and experience during my California Nevada Arizona Road Trip.
Road Trip California Nevada Arizona highlights
Day 1: Drive from Santa Monica to Death Valley
I started the California Nevada Arizona Road Trip in Santa Monica, where I discovered its legendary pontoon that juts out over the Pacific Ocean.
Then I took road 66, nicknamed the Mother Road. No doubt road 66 is part of American history; it symbolizes the evolution of American society.
Stretching for approximately 2,280 miles, road 66 reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, as thousands of vacationing Americans took it to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. All along Route 66, I felt that nothing had changed, a kind of throwback to the past.
Drive to Darwin (U2 Joshua Tree)
My second stop during this road trip in the U.S was the small town of Darwin, located in Inyo County, California. The reason I went there was to see the U2 Tree.
The Tree is iconic for U2 fans since the group made it famous with their album “The Joshua Tree,” which included, among others, “With or without you.” The Tree photo was taken in the Mojave Desert near Darwin.
The model tree has long been a place of pilgrimage for fans of the group, but it fell in 2000. Today, thousands of tourists visit the U2 Tree to leave a souvenir in a suitcase that has U2 on it. If you would like to see the U2 Tree, just type this GPS coordinates on your Sat Nav : N36 19.857 W117 44.715.
Death Valley National Park was one of my favorites on the Road Trip California Nevada Arizona. It is an immense desert of 7800 km². I could stay there a lifetime to explore everything, that’s why I decided to camp there.
The important places to visit in Death Valley National Park are Mesquite Sand Dunes and Zabriskie Point. Honestly, I did not expect to see such a diversity of landscapes in this arid area.
It was a land full of sand dunes, a salt lake, and even pretty vantage points on the colorful hills. Beyond the diversity of landscapes, Death Valley resembles the planet Mars.
Day 2: Drive to Las Vegas
After discovering a part of California, it was time for me to move to Nevada, specifically Las Vegas. The journey time depends on your speed, but generally, the journey takes 2.5 hours, up to 3 hours driving on the NV-160.
Las Vegas still seems to be a favorite destination for a bachelorette party. Additionally, a lot of congresses are held there.
There are also so many luxury hotels, and the weather is almost always lovely. Anyway, I decided to stay in Las Vegas for two days at the Stratosphere Hotel, located in the iconic Strip district.
The Stratosphere hotel
The Stratosphere is famous for many things, including its panoramic view of Las Vegas as it has the tallest observation tower in the United States.
Additionally, you can enjoy a dining experience with a 360 ° view thanks to the Top of the World restaurant. The famous restaurant offers more than a hundred cocktails and dishes. In addition to the restaurant, the tower houses a wedding chapel, thrill rides, and conference rooms.
Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas is a raw and unequivocal city where Man unashamedly displays his vices. It is disturbing and fascinating. I thought I was taking a visual break after exploring the Stratosphere Casino, the most northerly major casino on Las Vegas Strip.
However, outside on Las Vegas Boulevard, that’s another thing. It’s not for nothing that Las Vegas is considered the American Shopping center and the ultimate fashion destination.
There, styles mix and confront each other in a kind of endless fight. Large billboards everywhere light up the streets and display the latest effigy of a trendy brand.
Casino chips fly from one hand to another, and the most renowned restaurants offer you an unforgettable culinary experience.
Further on, the fountains of the Bellagio and water display rival the gondolas in Venice. Additionally, I advise you to walk the main street of Downtown Las Vegas at the end of the day.
Las Vegas Premium Outlets North
If you’re a shopaholic, a visit to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North is a must.
You can get from the Las Vegas Strip to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North in just 15 minutes.
This place brings together the big international brands who sell their collection products at discount prices. Additionally, you will regularly find end of collection items with phenomenal discounts.
Day 5: Drive to Williams
After two unforgettable days in Las Vegas, it was time to hit the road again. This time, the destination was Williams, a lovely little town in Arizona. On my way, I made a stop at the famous Hoover Dam. It is about 40 kilometers from Las Vegas and is located at the border between Nevada and Arizona states.
Built in the 1930s, this hydroelectric dam is very famous in the region. Located on the Colorado River, this enormous architectural achievement measures 221m in height. The mission of the Hoover Dam is to regulate the floods of the Colorado River.
With an architectural style worthy of a science fiction novel with a power station at its feet, the Hoover Dam is a tourist attraction that receives nearly one million visitors a year. You will thus be able to enter the bowels of the dam to understand how it works.
Additionally, you will be able to kayak on the Colorado River downstream from the dam, giving you a perfect vantage point of the Hoover Dam deck.
Quick stop at Kingman for food
After discovering the fabulous Hoover Dam, it was time to regain some energy by stopping for a lunch break in Kingman. The city is the historic heart of Road 66.
The location is also considered a stopover city on a California Nevada Arizona Road Trip. Kingman allows visitors to recharge their batteries after long distances.
The place is home to several great places to eat, including a large brick loft with vintage decoration, a Pizza Pub with a relaxed atmosphere, and restaurants with excellent homemade desserts.
In short, you will not run out of options, and whatever your choice, you will not be disappointed.
Take the Historic Route 66 to Seligman
Route 66 is the legendary road in the US that connected Chicago to Santa Monica near Los Angeles. During my California Nevada Arizona Road Trip, I needed to cross it to relive the legend get to the town of Seligman.
Nicknamed Mother Road, Route 66 has been the dream of many riders and Roadtrippers since 1926. Its history has seen many 180° turns, from its peak in the 1940s to its decommissioning in 1985. Despite its official obliteration, it will never disappear from the road maps.
In 1987, associations were created to protect sections of Historic Route 66. The year 1999 marked the rebirth of Route 66 thanks to the National Route 66 Preservation Bill, a law protecting all attractions linked to the famous route.
A quick stop at Hackberry Arizona (General Store)
The Hackberry General Store is located on the historic Route 66 between Kingman and Peach Springs. This brief stop allows you to immerse yourself in the history of Route 66.
Hackberry Arizona, with its general store, is a must-visit location. There are many relics from the past, such as old oil pumps, Ford Ts, old advertising signs, and so on…it’s a shame that places like this no longer exist. Since the 1930s, the interior design has hardly changed. Everything here makes you want to dream. I highly recommend it.
If it does not have the charm and the Wild West side of the village of Oatman, Seligman must still feature prominently in your program on Road 66 because it may be the place in which we owe to find even today some traces of the famous Mother Road.
It is for this reason that I diverted to this town. Seligman was created in 1896; its name was given to it in memory of the Seligman brothers, New York bankers who helped finance the railroad.
A privileged stop on Route 66, the city saw its economy gradually collapse, first when the interstate bypassed it in 1978, then when the railway line was stopped, seven years later.
An emblematic figure of Seligman, Angel Delgadillo, decided at the end of the 1980s to create with his brother an association for Route 66 rehabilitation. Now over 90 years old, the famous barber is the local hero that all tourists dream of meeting.
Additionally, Seligman is a mix of the Cars cartoon from Pixar and a vast open-air museum. You will see many 1950s-60s vehicles all over town with big cartoon eyes, and you would almost expect to see them talking.
Last stop on historic Road 66 and gateway to the Grand Canyon, Williams Arizona is home to 3,100 residents. Each year, 2 million people come here to take photos of the charming Old West Town and explore the Gateway to the Grand Canyon.
Founded in 1881, Williams was named after trapper Old Bill Williams. In addition to exploring the Grand Canyon, I recommend that you visit this town’s historic downtown area, which has retained its cachet of yesteryear.
Along the main street, you will find several restaurants and shops. The visit is excellent on foot because the exciting section is not very long. Additionally, the visit is completed in less than an hour.
Day 6: a day in Williams AZ, Drive to Valle and stay at the Grand Canyon In
After experiencing time travel in the beautiful city of Seligman, I decided to stay for one day in Williams, AZ, and Drive to Valle afterward to stay at the Grand Canyon In, next to the most famous and visited national park in the USA.
The Grand Canyon was arguably one of the most awaited moments on my California Nevada Arizona Road Trip. It is a must-see destination with breathtaking colors throughout the Canyon.
Additionally, it is on the various rock strata and at the bottom with the famous Colorado River, an orange-brown color.
Day 7: Grand Canyon National Park
It was finally time to head to the Grand Canyon by taking state road 64. Due to its impressive dimensions: 450 km long, up to 30 km wide, and up to 1600 m deep, the Grand Canyon, carved by the Colorado River, which stretches between Lake Mead and Lake Powell, carries its name.
The Grand Canyon is divided into two parts: the South Rim, very popular with its spectacular views, and the North Rim, quieter and arguably more authentic.
What is beautiful about the South Rim is being in the midst of exceptional nature beyond the Canyon itself, with immense forests on one side and desert landscapes on the other.
The South Rim is most often chosen by first-time visitors to Arizona, not only for its magnificent views but also for the abundance of visitor services and family-friendly activities. If you decide to come there, consider the fact that you will be at altitude.
Therefore, it is not uncommon to witness snowfall in the event of a downpour or to be a little cold if you come to admire the sunrise.
Regarding the North Rim, it has nothing to do with the desert and the plateaus of the south face, here it is higher, and the climate is more relaxed. The North Rim is relatively high; it is 2512 meters above sea level, and the trail down to the far end is still 14 miles.
I began the scenic tour with a visit to the astonishing 20-meter-high Desert View observation Tower built in the 1930s. It offers a 360° panoramic view. From there, we can see Colorado crisscrossing the Grand Canyon. Then, I headed for Grandview Point, which offers breathtaking views.
Especially at the start of the day when silence is king and a feeling of peace and calm reigns over the place. Afterward, I admired the Grand Canyon from Mather Point. Although it is very popular with tourists, you will quickly forget your surroundings in front of this breathtaking view.
My last stop was Moran Point, a fabulous spot to watch the Colorado River crash against the canyon’s purple banks.
After this fantastic destination, it was time to head to Page, a very isolated and fascinating town located north of Arizona state. Several points of interest include the famous Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, or Glen Canyon Dam.
Day 8: Lake Powell and Glen Canyon
After exploring the splendid Grand Canyon, it was time for a change of scenery so I headed to Lake Powell. I enjoyed a good swim at THE CHAINS, a point that offers an excellent view of Lake Powell and the surrounding area.
Concerning Lake Powell, it is a vast artificial lake formed by constructing a dam in 1963 on the Colorado River, which inundated the Glen Canyon and 96 other adjacent canyons. The Glen Canyon Dam is in Arizona, but most of Lake Powell is in Utah.
Initially, the production of electricity from the dam and the regulation of floods motivated the investments; 40 years after its impoundment, millions of tourists benefit from an excellent site, the most profitable. Additionally, nearby you will find beaches, sun, canyons to explore by boat, wild coves, and red sandstone cliffs.
Glen Canyon Dam / Glen Canyon Dam Overlook
The second destination of the day was the Glen Canyon Dam, a concrete arch dam located on the Colorado River near the town of Page.
Built between 1956 and 1966 across the bed of the Colorado River, the Glen Canyon Dam was designed to generate electricity and regulate the river’s flooding. With such a mass of water, it took almost 17 years for the reservoir to fill.
The dam’s name derives from the Glen Canyon, a series of gorges now engulfed by the Lake Powell Reservoir, which used to be upstream of the dam. The tour begins at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, from where I was treated to a panoramic view of Lake Powell and the drop of the 216-meter high dam.
The visit is done with a guide to discovering the bowels of this concrete giant available on site. I also explored the Glen Canyon Dam overlook, which offers a nice view of the dam and the Colorado River flowing below.
Page Arizona to Big Water UTAH
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time in Utah, you can be a bit cheeky and tick Utah off your list by driving from Page to Big Water.
It is a small town located in the high desert of scenic Southern Utah. The drive from Page to Big Water only takes 17 miles.
Additionally, Big Water is surrounded by Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam. Just don’t forget to take a pic at the sign on the road.
Before ending one of the busiest days of this California Nevada Arizona Road Trip, I needed to go to Wupatki National Monument. This small park is home to several ruins of houses built by Pueblo Indians, including the Sinagua Indians from the 12th century AD.
The Indians took advantage of the end of the volcanic eruptions of the nearby Sunset Crater to settle on land fertilized by volcanic ash. Here they grew corn and squash and had to set up ingenious systems to harvest and store scarce water.
It is essential to visit the citadel and Nalakihu Pueblo, an essential small ruin at the top of a hill. The journey takes 30 minutes and stretches 0.25 miles.
Day 9: Drive back to Los Angeles from Arizona
During my last day of the California Nevada Arizona Road Trip, I decided to hit the road again and head back to Los Angeles. It was a long drive (around 7 hours) using Highway 40; one of the oldest major roads built in 1926.
However, it was well worth the effort. The journey is filled with splendid landscapes such as the Mojave National preserve, Topock and so many other wonders.
A Road Trip to California Nevada Arizona makes you discover all the hidden wonders in the US. From hidden gems to mesmerizing landscapes, this road trip is undoubtedly an unforgettable one for me. I hope this guide was helpful to you.
Don’t hesitate to let me know what your favorite place from the list is. I look forward to reading your comments!