The BEST West Coast Road Trip Itinerary (Cheap)
The West Coast Road Trip is one of the most iconic road trips in America.
Western America consist of so many states including California, Utah, Oregon, Wyoming and plenty more. If you are looking to travel way out west to Alaska check out our road trip itinerary!
The West Coast offers so many different national parks, small towns and big cities to explore which make it the ultimate west coast road trip. The west has so much to offer you could make it a year-long journey but for the sake of keeping this blog fun to read, we will highlight some of the best spots to visit out west.
Budget – Depending on where you live, road tripping out West might be the cheapest and best option. It would take away the cost of having the get a plane ticket and a rental car which could be over $1000. Find cheap flights out west with our flight guide!
If you do have to get a rental car we recommend getting whatever car gets the best miles per gallon as there will be a lot of driving. Our Nissan got around 40 mpg on our trip out west which helped us save a lot of money.
Your budget will dictate what type of hotels, hostels or camping you can afford. There is a lot of spots you are allowed to camp for free out west such as the Hatchet Resort in Wyoming just outside of Grand Teton. There was free campsites behind the resort and we ended up being the only ones there that night.
There are plenty of cheap hotels out west and a bunch of run down ones. Be sure to do your research because we stayed at a complete dump in Utah for $75 and couldn’t cancel our stay, not realizing there was a nice hotel right across the street. We were the only people who stayed at this hotel all night and actually passed it because it looked like it was run down. Depending on what national parks you are going to you might be able t just purchase your hotels once you get there instead of buying ahead. This will give you the opportunity to see exactly where you want to stay once you get to your location and can actually pick a nice place.
Cheap Road Trip – The Planning
There are so many different places to see on the Best West Coast Road Trip that it can be daunting at times. We have created a list of the top 3 places to visit in each state that we visited while on our trip out west.
Arizona – Grand Canyon / Antelope Canyon / Havasu Falls
California – Yosemite / Kings Canyon / Joshua Tree
Colorado – Great Sand Dunes / Mesa Verde / Aspen
Montana – Glacier / Logan Pass / Saint Mary Lake
Nevada – Las Vegas / Hoover Dam / Red Rock Canyon
Oregon – Crater Lake / Mount Hood / Multnomah Falls
Utah – Zion / Bryce / Arches National Park
Washington – Olympic / Mount Rainier / North Cascades
Wyoming – Grand Teton / Yellowstone / Jackson Hole
The West Coast is so big and spread out which means there is a lot of driving. Depending on the length of your trip you could easily travel over 5,000 miles in 2 weeks! The Best west coast road trip is what works for you and what peaks your interest. Some people in your group might be avid hikers and outdoorsmen while others want to check out towns cities and towns like Seattle or Portland. Some of the best memories from our cheap west coast road trip was from when we were just relaxing.
Weather and Time of Year in Western America
Best Months: April – September
Depending on where you decide to road trip out West it can be either very cold or very hot even during the summer months. Even if it is hot during the day it can become cold at night if you decide to go in either late fall or early spring. May – September will be the best months to take advantage of the beauty and warm weather.
During our 2 week road trip out west we got very lucky and did not run into any rain. Even though we visited over 6 states and 3,000 miles during that span we never encounter a rainstorm during the month of August.
Depending on the states that you decide to visit the weather can range from the 70s to above 100.
The BEST West Coast Road Trip – MY TOP 5
The Best West Coast Road Trip Itinerary can literally include anything and it will be amazing. The West is so popular with backpackers, van lifers and digital nomads traveling around and seeking out their next adventure. You can set whatever budget you want whether you are staying in nice hotels or simply sleeping in your car it doesn’t matter, you will have an amazing road trip out west.
#5 – Arches National Park
To start off your West Coast road trip the I recommend Arches national park! Moab is one of the coolest places in Utah and I wish I was able to spend more time in the area. It is famous for Jeeps and off-roading events around the area of Moab. When you drive through the town it feels like a modern-day “old west” town. There are countless bars and restaurants and activities for everyone. When you get outside of town that is when you reach Arches, which has a really great drive into the National Park. Arches is very small compare to most national parks but it makes up for it with the beautiful scenery.
#4 – Bryce Canyon
To start this off… YES it is a very touristed national park and it is also very small like Arches. This was the most crowded national park we went to, maybe because it was so small but it was very frustrating trying to get around and see everything. It is absolutely beautiful though and there are a bunch of small hikes to take inside the canyon. I feel like the real experience is when you are down inside of the canyon so make sure you do so! I would make this a must see during your west coast road trip.
#3 – Zion National Park
Angels Landing is the most popular trail in the entire park and for good reason. It is a trail consistent of switchbacks, narrow ledges, and step grades which make it exhilarating. Make sure you get here early because the buses in and out of Zion are almost always full and the trails get crowded quickly. Another amazing trail is the narrows which is jam-packed with kids at the entrance but once you get past the first few turns it becomes a lot more quiet. You could easily spend a couple of days here checking out all of the trails and even go on a long hike through the narrows over a couple of days.
Check out some other amazing places to visit in Utah!
#2 – Havasu Falls (Grand Canyon)
The most epic adventure we had during the trip as it was a 10 mile hike down the Grand Canyon to the small Native American village of Havasupai and a 10 mile hike back the following day. We only got to spend 1 day here on our west coast road trip and would recommend 2-3 days. We didn’t get enough time to check everything out and were completely drained when we had to walk the 10 miles back the following day. Havasu Falls is the huge waterfall in the picture below but there are a couple of waterfalls. This could easily be #1 on the list as there is literally days worth of adventuring. The locals are friendly with visitors, that is how they make all of their money and even sell soda and fry bread.
I might be biased in my decision and that is because Grand Teton was the first national park I ever visited. Maybe that is the reason I think this place is so amazing and put it above the rest, because of the experience and jaw dropping moments it gave me as I got to see my first national park in the USA. Don’t let that fool you though, Grand Teton is the BEST and #1 spot you must add to your West Coast Road Trip Itinerary. There is so much do to such as hiking, boating, skiing, camping, kayaking and more! The town of Jackson Hole is just a few miles away which is an awesome little town that will make anyone feel at home. With our time at Grand Teton we hiked to Jenny lake which was a 16 mile hike there and back which was absolutely gorgeous. It was a secluded lake near the top of the Tetons that felt so peaceful when we got there. After the 8 mile trip to the lake we instantly fell asleep for an hour before heading back down!
The BEST West Coast road trip can encompass so many different things and is up to you to make your own. Making a itinerary will help you realize exactly what you are in store for and how far you are going to have to travel.
Enjoy your road trip out west and comment or share this post if you have any questions!