Rachel + Dana of Traveling Found Love are right here immediately sharing this epic California nationwide park highway journey itinerary!
One factor is for positive, California’s vibrant cities and the beautiful Pacific Coast Freeway attracts thousands and thousands of tourists yearly. We beloved strolling on the Santa Monica Pier and admiring the superb views on Freeway 1 however what actually left us speechless was the inside a part of California.
As outside lovers, we’re all the time up for an journey in a nationwide park. On this route, you’ll cross via 5 distinctive parks with undeniably beautiful landscapes and a few of North America’s biggest pure wonders.
From the bottom level in Demise Valley Nationwide Park to the very best waterfall in Yosemite Nationwide Park and to not neglect the biggest tree on the earth in Sequoia Nationwide Park.
Able to get off the overwhelmed path for an unforgettable 2-week California nationwide park highway journey from San Diego to South Lake Tahoe?
We’d advocate doing this highway journey from spring to fall since there may be highway and path closures in some parks on account of snow within the winter months.
When Ought to You Take This Route?
The Nationwide Parks and Lake Tahoe are stunning all 12 months spherical and every season will give you completely different and distinctive experiences within the parks. From stunning wildflowers within the spring in Demise Valley to the unbelievable fall foliage round Lake Tahoe.
Nonetheless, we’d advocate doing this highway journey from spring to fall since there may be highway and path closures in some parks on account of snow within the winter months. To remain updated on highway info and situations it’s best to test the nationwide park web site earlier than your journey.
We accomplished our journey in the course of the summer season. The climate was all the time stunning and sunny however extraordinarily sizzling, particularly in Demise Valley and Joshua Tree Nationwide Park.
In case your journey contains outside actions, it’s best to finish them within the early morning or late afternoon. It would be best to restrict these actions in the course of the center of the day since you possibly can expertise scorching temperatures. At all times keep in mind to have a number of water with you!
Our 14-Day Highway Journey Itinerary
- Day 1-3: San Diego
- Day 4-5: Joshua Tree Nationwide Park
- Day 6-7: Demise Valley Nationwide Park
- Day 8: Sequoia Nationwide Park
- Day 9: Kings Canyon Nationwide Park
- Day 10-12: Yosemite Nationwide Park
- Day 13-14: South Lake Tahoe
The Coolest Airbnbs in California
Listed here are the good (and most charming) Airbnbs to remain at in California!
Day 1-3: San Diego
San Diego is a must-see metropolis on the West Coast and considered one of our final favorites.
It affords a vigorous downtown space with superior nightlife prospects, tons of seashores to unplug, wildlife encounters at La Jolla Cove, and unbelievable parks to wander round in.
Whenever you need to mix a calming afternoon on the seashore and a singular climbing expertise, don’t miss out on the Ho Chi Minh path which brings you proper to the shore. It’s a little bit of a climb via a sandstone passage however we had a whole lot of enjoyable on this little journey.
Greatest Issues to Do and See in San Diego:
- Go to the well-known San Diego Zoo
- Stroll round Balboa Park
- Expertise Downtown: Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, Little Italy
- Admire the ocean life at La Jolla Cove
- Hike the Ho Chi Minh Path, a singular climbing path that leads you to the Blacks Seaside
- Absorb the solar on considered one of San Diego seashores: Mission Seaside, Pacific Seaside
- Go on a hike via Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for beautiful overlooks of the Pacific Ocean.
- Catch a sundown at Sundown Cliffs Pure Park
The place to Keep in and Round San Diego
Ranchos Los Coches RV Park (20 minutes east of San Diego) This family-owned campground is a superb place for RV touring and tent tenting. One other plus is the costs are cheaper since you’re a little outdoors town.
Day 4-5: Joshua Tree Nationwide Park
Drive from San Diego to Joshua Tree Nationwide Park (south entrance at Cottonwood Spring)
[Approx. 158 miles | 3 hours 20 minutes]
Expertise how two deserts, Mojave and Colorado, come collectively to create a singular panorama in Southern California.
Snapping an image with the spiky Joshua Tree is a should. However don’t neglect to expertise the range of the plush and rocky panorama within the park up shut on one of many unbelievable hikes.
Maintain your eyes open for wildlife in your hikes! We had been fortunate to identify a chuckwalla (lizard) and a rattlesnake beneath a rock.
Greatest Issues to Do and See in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park
- Take a scenic drive via the park
- Try the weird Cholla Cactus Backyard
- See spectacular rock formations: Cranium Rock and Arch Rock
- Admire the panoramic view of Joshua Tree from the very best level at Keys View
- Take a hike on the Barker Dam Path
The place to Keep in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park
Camp out in one of many nationwide park’s campgrounds!
Day 6-7: Death Valley National Park
Drive from Joshua Tree National Park (north entrance at Twentynine Palms) to Death Valley National Park (east entrance via Highway 190)
[Approx. 228 miles | 3 hours 50 minutes]
Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest of all the U.S. National Parks. You can expect a true desert experience from climbing up the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, standing in salt flats at Badwater Basin, to admiring surprisingly colorful patterns on the Artist’s Drive.
You also have to see Death Valley from above, the views from Zabriskie Point and Dante’s view are breathtaking.
Best Things to Do and See in Death Valley National Park
- Take in the views of Death Valley at Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View
- See a salt pan at Devils Golf Course
- Visit the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin
- Journey down Artist’s Drive to see the beautiful colors of Artist’s Palette
- Explore the sight of Harmony Borax Works in Furnace Creek
- Stroll on the dunes at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
The place to Keep in Demise Valley Nationwide Park
Keep in one of many park’s campgrounds from late fall till spring. We’d not advocate tenting on this space in the course of the summer season months on account of excessive warmth. For a extra delicate expertise guide a room in one of many park’s lodges.
Kings Canyon Nationwide Park – Normal Grant Path
Day 8-9: Sequoia & Kings Canyon Nationwide Park
Drive from Demise Valley Nationwide Park (west entrance at Panamint Springs) to Sequoia Nationwide Park (Ash Mountain entrance at Three Rivers)
[Approx. 268 miles | 4 hours 45 minutes]
Drive from Sequoia Nationwide Park to Kings Canyon Nationwide Park by way of Generals Freeway
[Approx. 10 miles | 20 minutes]
Dwelling to the biggest timber on the earth, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nationwide Park are actually the land of giants.
What can be your favourite solution to expertise the land of giants?
Is it feeling like a tiny ant standing subsequent to those large timber, seeing within a tree whereas strolling in Grant Grove or driving via a fallen sequoia tree at Tunnel Log?
Greatest Issues to Do and See in Sequoia and Kings Canyon Nationwide Park
- Hike up Moro Rock
- Drive via a fallen sequoia tree at Tunnel Log
- Stand subsequent to the biggest tree on the earth on the Congress Path: General Sherman Tree
- Hike across the Normal Grant Tree and stroll via the fallen Monarch in Grant Grove
- Take a Scenic Drive on Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
- Cease and see Grizzly Falls on Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
- Benefit from the surroundings at Zumwalt Meadows
The place to Keep in Sequoia & Kings Canyon Nationwide Park
Day 10-12: Yosemite Nationwide Park
Drive from Kings Canyon Nationwide Park (Grant Grove Village) to Yosemite Nationwide Park (south entrance by way of Freeway 41)
[Approx. 111 miles | 2 hours 15 minutes]
Yosemite Nationwide Park just isn’t solely California’s most visited Nationwide Park however one of many high ten within the U.S. The park is greatest recognized for its spectacular waterfalls, particularly Yosemite Falls which is the very best in North America.
Benefit from the beautiful views on the scenic drive, have a picnic at one of many lakes, and if you find yourself up for an actual journey, take a strenuous hike up Half Dome or Vernal falls.
For a romantic ending of the day, drive as much as Glacier Level to see the enduring Half Dome shining within the orange and crimson lights of the sundown.
Greatest Issues to Do and See in Yosemite Nationwide Park
- Discover Yosemite Valley
- Take a Hike: Decrease Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, Bridalveil Falls. Or tackle the difficult 14-16 hour hike up Half Dome (permit required)
- Cease and see El Capitan: greatest views are at Bridalveil Falls space, the western a part of Yosemite Valley, and Tunnel View
- Seize a photograph at Tunnel View
- Catch a sundown at Glacier Level
- Take a drive on Tioga Highway to Tuolumne Meadows
- Have a picnic by Tenaya Lake
The place to Keep in Yosemite Nationwide Park
Day 13-14: South Lake Tahoe
Drive from Yosemite Nationwide Park (east facet by way of Tioga Cross Highway) to South Lake Tahoe
[Approx. 131 miles | 2 hours 45 minutes]
Lake Tahoe is really enchanting with its crystal clear turquoise water and the encompassing forest and mountain sceneries. You’ll get the perfect views from Emerald Bay State Park Campground which is situated on the southwest a part of the lake.
From there, take the Rubicon Path all the way down to the lake to benefit from the cool water in a kayak or whereas swimming round. For an ideal cultural expertise tour the distinctive Scandinavian Vikingsholm fort.
Greatest Issues to Do and See in South Lake Tahoe
- Go to a State Park: Emerald Bay State Park or D.L Bliss State Park
- Mountain climbing: Rubicon Path, Balancing Rock Nature Path
- Water Actions: kayaking, paddle-boarding, boating
- Take a tour of Lake Tahoe’s hidden fort: Vikingsholm Castle
The place to Keep in South Lake Tahoe
We take each likelihood to admire colourful avenue artwork and artsy creations wherever we go. If you’re additionally into artwork, take the 50 minutes detour to Salvation Mountain in your solution to Joshua Tree Nationwide Park. It’s only a fast cease however the visionary surroundings on the hill is indescribable, it’s best to see it for your self!
When you will have some additional time, make a cease at Las Vegas on your way to Death Valley National Park for a little sinful fun on the Las Vegas Strip.
For more original Vegas vibes, don’t miss out on the “old strip” around Fremont Street. Here you find beautiful original casinos that are worth checking out even when you are not into gambling.
A great way to end the day is to go to one of the dozen buffets which serve whatever you can imagine. Our all-time favorite is the Wicked Spoon. Be sure that to reach hungry…
Lastly, in case you have much more time, take into consideration making a loop again to San Diego by way of the California coast.
For individuals who desire a outing from know-how, that is your likelihood to unplug and benefit from the view, really feel, and odor of nature as a result of you can be fortunate to search out any service whereas within the parks.
If you’re touring by campervan or RV, we advocate campendium.com to search out low-cost or free spots to remain for the evening. Campgrounds within the nationwide parks in California guide out months upfront, so just be sure you reserve your favourite campsite in time.
However don’t fear, even when you possibly can’t get a web site on a campground, there are Nationwide Forests and BLM (Bureau of Land Administration) land the place you possibly can keep utterly without spending a dime.
One other good way to save cash on this 2-week California nationwide park highway journey is to buy an America the Beautiful pass. This cross gives you entry to a full 12 months of nationwide park adventures all around the USA.