7 Great U.S. Road Trip Itineraries to take in 2022
The United States is nearly four million square miles in size. You could spend a lifetime traveling throughout the country and still miss out on some gems. On the other hand, most of us don’t have a lifetime to spend traveling full time, so we need to be a bit more strategic in our travels.
It might be challenging to narrow down where to start if you have a bucket list as long as your campervan. If you’re trying to decide on your next adventure, we’ve compiled a list of seven major cities and some of the best itineraries starting from each one.
Starting your Pacific Coast road trip in the City of Angels is never a bad decision. With some of the most beautiful spots and weather around, going from Los Angeles to Seattle is one of the best summer road trips you can choose.
California has more national parks than any state in the US, but Oregon and Washington hold their own. This itinerary’s main points of interest are Yellowstone National Park, Crater Lake, and, of course, Seattle itself.
If you’re looking for more than that, exploring West LA, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and the Oregon coast are all great options. At just over 1100 miles, a slow and enjoyable drive can take up to 21 days. Pick up the Pacific Coast Highway/US 101 North and enjoy oceanside driving if you want a scenic drive.
If you’re not sure about this one, you may be overlooking the raw natural beauty of the Desert Southwest. Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park is an excellent option for those looking for a shorter trip, as you can get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon in four days, even if you stop to smell the desert flowers.
More than half of the state of Nevada is public land, meaning you can disperse camp on it for free. Luckily, if you’re around any of Nevada’s parks, dispersed campsites will be a bit more robust and built out due to traffic. There is no need to attempt 4×4 trails in your campervan (in fact, you really don’t want to).
Regardless, you can’t beat a starry night where the sky seems endless, and you’ll get plenty of that if you play your cards right. More structured options like Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation area also await you on trip pilgrimage to Grand Canyon National Park.
The nice thing about the Sunshine State is you can take campervan road trips year-round. So if you want to get on the road in winter with freezing, Miami to Key West is a three-day drive filled with beaches and sunsets.
The Keys themselves are the highlight of this trip. Miami to Key West is hard to beat if you just want to be on the road and carefree. You have opportunities to snorkel, fish (or hand-feed fish), and enjoy state parks. Of course, it may be a bit of a tourist cliché, but you’ll want a photo of the southernmost part of the USA.
So embrace your inner tourist and get a picture with the buoy to prove you were as southeast as you can be without being in the ocean. With multiple state parks, beaches, and wildlife refuges, there’s something for everyone on this trip to the Keys.
If it’s fall and you’re looking to get progressively warmer as the trip goes on, Denver to Los Angeles is perfect for you. If it’s summer and you just want a trip with unbroken sunshine, it fits that too!
You’ll quickly notice this isn’t exactly going from Denver to LA as the crow flies. Wyoming and Salt Lake City might seem a bit confusing on a road trip from Colorado to Southern California, but this two-week drive takes you through some of the best public lands in the US.
You’re starting off strong with Rocky Mountain National Park. If you aren’t from the area, you’ll definitely want to take your time before leaving Denver to head to Estes Park and spend some time at Rocky Mountain.
If you’re from the area, maybe take a day to explore some trails you haven’t seen. From there, it’s the national forests and parks of Western Wyoming. If you have the time to drive out to Yellowstone, you absolutely should. If not, the Shoshone and Bridger-Teton National Forests are beautiful and will be less trafficked.
While it takes you out of the way, it then puts you perfectly on a path to check out Salt Lake City and Grand Canyon National Park. From Grand Canyon National Park, you can head to Las Vegas or skip straight to Los Angeles, depending on your time and interests.
This road trip is not for the faint of heart or the short on time. It may seem daunting, but it’s actually only about a day longer than Los Angeles to Seattle but with a much different atmosphere.
You’ll be traveling through the Pacific Northwest into the heart of the Midwest before you get to the East Coast. It’s a lot of driving, but if that’s something you enjoy, Seattle to New York should be on your bucket list.
There are really two ways you can approach this trip: parks or cities. While you can visit both cities and national parks, it will take more time and money. If you want to do both, great. If you’re going to pick one, you can’t go wrong either way.
The Pacific Northwest has some incredible parks to boast about. If you want to backtrack a tiny bit, you can start with Olympic National Park before heading east. If not, you still have the option of taking a slight detour to Glacier National Park.
If you follow the route to the letter, you’ll still see multiple national forests, lots of open lands, and Mount Rushmore National Park.
If you want to experience the city, you have some of the most major ones in the US to pick from. You can spend extra time in Seattle, Chicago, and New York if you put in some long days on the road and make fewer stops. With this trip, there are no wrong answers!
Maybe you’re already on the East Coast, and many of these itineraries aren’t as practical for you. New York to San Francisco may fit what you want if you want a cross-country road trip that starts from the East Coast but doesn’t skip out on parks and places of interest.
You’ll have a good mix of cities and nature here with your first stop in Washington. This road trip may be ideal for fall, so you aren’t sweaty too heavily in The District.
Your next stop switches things up a bit as you head towards the Appalachian Mountains. Entrance into Great Smoky Mountains National Park is always free, so take advantage of it!
Music enthusiasts will love the middle part of this trip. With stops in Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans, you’ll be able to see the best and most historic hotspots for country, blues, jazz, and more quintessential American music.
Fans of nightlife won’t be disappointed either! If that trio of cities tired you out, your next two stops are in the desert, away from the lights and sounds (but not always the crowds).
If you’ve got your energy back, it’s time to head to Las Vegas for the penultimate city stop. If that sounds like a bit much, you can keep on truckin’ to Yosemite. With a recharge in Yosemite National Park, you’ll be ready to drive towards the coast and final stop in San Francisco, California. Head to Ghirardelli Square; you’ve earned it!
Want to hit the road, but your car just doesn’t have enough space, and paying for three weeks’ worth of hotels just doesn’t excite you? Instead, consider renting a fully-loaded campervan. With unlimited miles and a place to sleep every night, these campervans make your road trip more cost-effective and more enjoyable!
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