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Southwest's Best - Los Angeles to Las Vegas

joshua-trees

This route is one of the MOST popular choices for travelers and can best be explored by car or backpacker tour, and not as easily by bus. From the famous beaches and star-studded streets of Los Angeles to some of America's grandest national parks, this trip offers an experience you won't forget, especially if you hit it big in Vegas at the end of your journey!

Note: this trip can start in Las Vegas and end in Los Angeles. Alternatively, you can start in San Francisco and make your way to Las Vegas to start this trip.

Highlights

Spend your days exploring the beaches of Los Angeles from Venice to Santa Monica, and then make your way past the stars on the sidewalk to party in the dance clubs of Hollywood at night. Unwind from the big city at Big Bear Lake, and then head into Joshua Tree National Park for some real hiking and camping. Visit a cosmopolitan outpost in a desert oasis, Palm Springs, and hit the shopping outlets nearby. Discover the Old West in Sedona and Red Rock country and find a horse in Flagstaff. Blow your mind at the Grand Canyon, swim all day in Lake Powell, and climb into the arches of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Marvel at the magnitude of power harnessed at Hoover Dam, then head to Las Vegas for all-you-can-eat prime rib and fried shrimp, roller coasters, roulette, and real fake cities in the middle of the desert. Win a million dollars.

Suggested Route

Starting Point: Los Angeles

Ending Point: Las Vegas

Time Frame: 7-14+ days

To get to Flagstaff (7-8 hours from LA) you can choose from two routes. The first goes through Barstow (I-15 from LA) where you can stop in for some great outlet shopping. From there catch I-40 through the Mojave Desert and Needles, where you can take a detour north to Laughlin, a mini-Las Vegas town with cheap hotel rooms. Heading back on I-40 through Arizona, you pass through Kingman and Williams before arriving in Flagstaff.

Alternatively, from LA, you can take I-10 through Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park towards Phoenix (5-6 hours). From here, shoot up I-17 to Flagstaff (2 hours).

Once in Flagstaff, make sure you head south for the short trip to Sedona in red rock country for at least a day before you venture off to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim (Hwy 89 to Hwy 64, 1.5 hours). From here, head back up Hwy 89 to Page (2.5 hours), where you can base yourself for an exploration of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. From here, you can choose to head back and around toward Moab (6 hours) and visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks or continue along Hwy 89 to Kanab (1.5 hours) and Bryce Canyon National Park and then back down Hwy 89 to Hwy 9 to explore Zion National Park.

From Zion, get back on I-15 straight into Las Vegas (2.5 hours). Take some time to explore areas nearby to Vegas including Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. From Las Vegas back to LA, take I-15 for 5 hours.
Note: Bus service will get you near the National Parks, but not in and around them.


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