Day 1 Flight to Los Angeles, collect rental car and to the first hotel, 2 nights
We flew from Düsseldorf with Air Berlin. Düsseldorf has a very pleasant airport with good parking facilities. With Air Berlin we had flew before to our satisfaction, but in view of the bankruptcy it was not such a success now. During our tour we had to find a new return flight, because all Air Berlin flights were canceled. Thus an affordable flight combination became an expensive joke.
Day 2 Exploring Los Angeles and surroundings
When studying travel guides, it quickly becomes apparent that many people think that you should leave Los Angeles as soon as possible, because this city is the least interesting part of a tour. On this day we made a tour along Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Mulholland Drive, Griffith Observatory, The Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater and Walt Disney Concert Hall and ran a bit out of time, but did not experience it as very annoying.
Day 3 To Oceanside, 2 nights
From the hotel we drove as much as possible along the coast to Long Beach with the Queen Mary. From there via Huntington Beach, Dana Point and San Clemente we finally went to the hotel in Oceanside, where we had a nice meal at the harbor during the sunset. We have made many stops and enjoyed everything we encountered.
Day4 San Diego
Early in the morning we drove from our hotel yo San Diego early where we made a big city walk.
Day 5 To Disneyland, 4 nights
Since one of us is a real Disney fan and the other person does not find it a punishment, we booked a hotel that is located at one of the Disney parks, so that we could walk easily to the entrance. Once we had settled ourselves, we walked to one of the parks and spent the afternoon and evening there.
Days 6 to 8 Disney Parks
Visits to Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park.
Day 9 To Aroyo Grande, 1 night
It was a beautiful but long-lasting ride. Not because of the number of miles, but the fact that you drive through Los Angeles and suburbs like Malibu and Santa Barbara. That is fun, but it takes a lot of time. We usually avoid as many motorways as possible, so that we use the car for more than just as a means of transport, but this day did not lend itself to many deviations from the main roads.
Day 10 To Monterey, 2 nights
Since there had been mudslides in the spring of 2017, it was not possible to drive entirely via the famous Highway 1, but the alternative route is certainly one to be enjoy as well. We stopped at Morro Bay and enjoyed the view of the enormous rock formation. Further inland we saw a strange colored sky as a result of forest fires.
Day 11 Monterey and surroundings
A day we spent on Monterey with its rugged coastline and The Cannery, known from John Steinbeck. We walked through the picturesque but touristic Carmel by the Sea.
Day 12 To Pacifica, 2 nights
The route we chose ran along Santa Cruz and through Silicon Valley. Apple, Google, Facebook and Stanford University can be found here. At Apple you can visit the store and Google has, among other things, a nice sculpture garden.
Day 13 San Francisco by car
Via the coast we went at a moderate pace to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Park. Both are of course very worthwhile. Here and there we took a walk. Over Twin Peaks, from where you have a magnificent view over the city, we drove back.
Day 14 To Alameda Island, 2 nights
We explored San Francisco by car. This day we started from the point where we ended yesterday. So at the Golden Gate Bridge, but now up close. We were lucky; it was clear weather, but it can also just turn around. In the afternoon heavy clouds drifted in from the sea and the bridge and the other side temporarily disappeared completely, while we were still in the sun.
We have seen Lombard Street and Alamo Square, with the Painted Lady’s. These colored houses used to be known from the Full House series.
Over one of the big bridges we drove to the hotel on Alameda Island on the other side of the bay.
Day 15 San Francisco by foot
By boat we sailed to the center of San Francisco and made a brisk city walk. From Alameda we took the ferry from where you have a nice view of the San Francisco skyline and can see Alcatraz. At Fisherman’s Wharf we left the ferry and made a walk past the sights in the city center. San Francisco, unlike Los Angeles, has a reasonably accessible city center. It takes a bit more energy than usual, because San Francisco is built on hills, which also makes it special.
Day 16 To Oakhurst, 1 night
A travel day from the coast and the big city to our starting point for the visit to the National Parks. It is convenient to do some shopping on the go for the coming days; do not forget to take a considerable amount of water, especially in the summer. At the end of the afternoon we paid a visit to a lake near the hotel, which we looked onto during our meal.
Day 17 Through Yosemite National Park and via the Tioga Pass to Mammoth Lakes, 1 night
A hefty ride that is easy to do on one day if you do not really want to go hiking, but make short stops everywhere. From the car you can already enjoy much of the natural beauty and there are many viewpoints. Unfortunately it is a very busy park. A traffic jam passes through the park and parking can sometimes be a challenge. The Tioga Pass offers impressive views and had easy traffic when we were there. The Tioga Pass is located high and is closed if there is too much snow.
Day 18 Straight through Death Valley National Park to Amargosa Valley, 1 night
Death Valley was hot; around 36 degrees celsius. We were glad we went there in early October and not in the summer months, because then it can easily reach 50 degrees. The landscape is special and varied, something that we did not expect. Among other things we enjoyed the lowest point in America, Badwater Basin (84 meters below sea level) and the colors of Artist’s Pallette.
Day 19 To Boulder City, 1 night
From the CasinoHotel we drove the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Route and we went through Las Vegas to catch a glimpse of the Strip and everything that draws people around it. Early evening we reached our hotel close to Hoover Dam.
Day 20 To Springdale, 1 night
In the morning we drove to the north along the large reservoir and the Valley of Fire. In early afternoon we arrived at the hotel in Springdale and we could take the free bus to Zion National Park. There we switched to a bus that guided us through the park. The bus made several stops and at the end we took a beautiful walk. Beautiful colored rock walls came into their own with the sun’s rays.
Day 21 To Bryce Canyon National Park, 1 night
It was a beautiful ride to Bryce. We spent the afternoon in the National Park and we would have love it to be a bit longer, because there is so much to be seen. We would have loved to make a walk into the canyon and along the Hoodoo, but we certainly got a good impression of the park. By car we enjoyed the many stops with fantastic viewpoints.
Day 22 To Moab, 2 nights
We drove to Moab via Hwy 12 and Capital Reef National Park. A decent ride that never bored and is quite varied. Hwy 12 is not called a scienic highway for nothing! Moab is the base for anyone who wants to visit the surrounding parks.
Day 23 Arches National Park and Canyonland National Park
Both parks are beautiful and also different. Arches National Park is of course known for its many natural arches, but we thought it was too busy to fully enjoy. Perhaps it is smart to go see the sunrise there in early morning. Canyonland National Park we liked better. It is more unknown and therefore more quiet and it also has magnificent views.
Day 24 To Monument Valley, 1 night
We enjoyed the car ride there. The ride took us through the Valley of God. An unpaved quiet road was the guide along the most fantastic rock formations in a wide desert landscape. Here you could really hear the silence. Kilometers to never forget. When we were back on the main road, Monument Valley loomed on the horizon with impressive rock formations. We did not enter the park itself, but we enjoyed the sunset from our overnight stay with a view of the rocks.
Day 25 To Grand Canyon National Park, 1 night
We used all the viewpoints on the route to the hotel. Very special to behold this phenomenon. Deep, big, overwhelming, fantastic views and depths are the keywords that come to mind first.
Day 27 To Las Vegas Fremont Street, 3 nights
After a last ride via the red rocks and the Hoover Dam we arrived in our hotel at the corner of Fremont Street.
Days 27 and 28 Las Vegas
There’s all manner of things Las Vegas offers. Shows, shopping centers, sports, conferences, mega hotels and a lot of facades. Enough to experience. And yes …. you would almost forget, but you can also allow your dollars to evaporate at the countless slot machines.
Day 29 To a hotel nearby the Las Vegas Strip, 2 nights
Originally, we would drive back to Los Angeles this day, to fly back to Europe the next day. Due to the Air Berlin debacle, we had to arrange another return flight and it went from Las Vegas and also a day later than the original one. So we booked 2 nights near the Strip and did not travel to Los Angeles. At hindsight, this wasn’t a bad idea. We now were also able to experience the Strip in full.
Day 30 Las Vegas
Our last day in Las Vegas started with a lazy morning at the pool. We imagined we deserved it. The past few weeks had been great. They were the experience of a lifetime, but also pretty intens. But we did not mind, because “you can always rest at home”!
Day 31 Return flight and day 32 arrival in Europe
Visit the information centers of the parks. Enthusiastic people from the region and brochure material provide a source of information.
Fuel up in time if you leave the urban area. Distances are often large and gas stations are not always available.
Take extreme amounts of drinking water, especially when you go into the desert. Because of the heat you dry out quickly and if you happen to get car trouble, you have a serious problem without it.
Buy a National Park pass if you want to visit several parks on multiple days. The 80 dollar (2017) per car it will cost is in fact saving money, because a park often costs 30 dollars entrance fee.