The western half of the United States is far too big, and far too diverse, to see everything in a single trip. In fact, you could probably spend a lifetime driving your RV around the west and still not see everything there is to see. However, you can hit the highlights in a single trip, assuming you have plenty of time for this vacation and you don’t mind putting in some long miles between destinations. If you decide to take on the loop route that is described below, you are sure to see some of the most amazing sights that this country has to offer.
The general outline of the loop is defined by four ‘corners’, two of which are in the northern half of the country, while two are in the south. The upper left is marked by the beautiful city of Seattle, the upper right is marked by Yellowstone National Park, the lower left is defined as Southern California, and the lower right is the Grand Canyon. By taking an overview of a map of the western United States, you can quickly see how these four areas can be connected using major freeways and highways to complete a rough circle.
If you stick mainly to I-5, the drive time from Seattle to Los Angeles, is right around 18 hours (depending on traffic, of course). To get from L.A. to the Grand Canyon, you will need only around 8 hours. From the Grand Canyon up to Yellowstone, the drive is approximately 13 hours, while the final leg from Yellowstone back to Seattle is another 11 hours. If you add up those four legs of the journey, you are looking at a total of 50 hours of driving. While that might sound like a lot, it is certainly doable if divided up over the course of a couple of weeks.
What to See
When it comes to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, the objective of those portions of the trip is obvious – visit the parks. These are among the most popular tourist destinations in the country, so there are plenty of stunning sights to see at both locations. For Seattle and Los Angeles, however, there is more planning to be done. Do you want to go into the cities themselves, or see things in the general area? That is up to you.
Near Seattle, there is plenty of natural scenery to take you away from the big city if you prefer. Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are both worth your time, as are a number of other locations around Puget Sound. When you get into Southern California, you can choose to head right into L.A. to see things like Hollywood and the beaches, but you will probably need another vehicle as getting your RV around the crowded streets would be nearly impossible. Alternatively, you can head east into the desert to the Palm Springs area where there is more room to spread out and explore. Joshua Tree National Park is nearby, and recreation like golf and tennis abounds in the sun-filled Coachella Valley.
If you happen to live somewhere along this loop route, you can simply join in wherever you live and do the tour clockwise or counterclockwise as you wish. If you live elsewhere, you will need to factor in the drive time to get onto the loop so that you can plan your route to and from these destinations. Considering the varied terrain that you will find along the way, this is a trip that is best attempted in the warm summer months when the mountain passes should be free from snow. As always, check the conditions of any roads you plan on using before heading out.