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Western USA Fly Drive Holiday

Filed under: Car Hire in USA,Trips — admin @ 11:33 am September 28, 2012

One of the most popular USA holidays is a fly drive to the western states of California, Arizona and Nevada taking in some lively cities, remote desert landscapes and impressive national parks.

The classic “Western Wonders” fly drive starts in Los Angeles and travels east along Interstate 10 to Palm Springs and on to Phoenix and Scottsdale in Arizona. From there north to Flagstaff then west to the Grand Canyon and on to Las Vegas, Nevada via the Hoover Dam. North of Las Vegas the trip goes through Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park to San Francisco before taking in the Big Sur coastal highway and Route 1 down the west coast back to Los Angeles. The journey can be comfortably completed in 2 weeks and can also be done in reverse starting in San Francisco.

With over 3000 km of roads to travel by car, choosing a suitable vehicle is essential to enjoying this western USA fly drive holiday. Driver and passenger comfort is an important factor so a standard/intermediate vehicle such as an Oldsmobile Alero or Pontiac Grand Prix is probably a minimum size to consider. Families should look at Minivans like the Chrysler Voyager or the Chevrolet Uplander. To travel in real style, drive a Ford Mustang Convertible.

Here is a suggested itinerary.

Day 1

Los Angeles

Fly to Los Angeles and pick up a car from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Los Angeles Street SignStay 2 nights in Los Angeles and use Beverly Hills, Hollywood or on the beach at Santa Monica as a base.

Day 2

Los Angeles

There is plenty to see and do in Los Angeles and car hire is essential for getting around as public transport is very limited. Visit the theme parks such as Universal Studios in northern LA or Disneyland in Anaheim, shop in Rodeo Drive or tour the Hollywood sights.

Day 3

Los Angeles to Palm Springs (108 miles/172 km) Map

Take Interstate 10 (I-10) east and drive to Palm Springs, the original desert resort. Stop off at Joshua Tree National Park, a desert park that was used as the name of the famous U2 album. Try staying just off Palm Canyon drive which is the main strip in Palm Springs with a great choice of bars and restaurants.

Day 4

Palm Springs to Phoenix/Scottsdale (285 miles/456 km) Map

Continue east on the I-10 crossing into Arizona before arriving into Phoenix/Scottsdale. Spend an evening soaking up the wild west atmosphere at Handlebar J, Scottsdale’s last authentic Western Style Steak House and Saloon or visit the Six Gun Theatre for a wild west show at Rawhide (shows Wednesday to Sunday) just south of Phoenix Airport.
Tip: Sunsets over the desert in Arizona are often spectacular so aim to arrive just after dusk.

Day 5

Phoenix to Grand Canyon via Sedona (244 miles/390 km) Map

Take the I-17 north towards Flagstaff, coming off after approx. 90 miles/145 km for Route 260 West towards Cottonwood.
Join Arizona State Route 89A N and visit Red Rock State Park before continuing on the scenic route 89A through Sedona and onto Flagstaff. Grand Canyon Arizona, USAContinue north from Flagstaff on US-180 N which joins Route 64 to Grand Canyon National Park. Tip: Although there are plenty of hotels and motels outside the gates of Grand Canyon National Park, for the best experience stay at one of the lodges inside the park. These can be booked through Grand Canyon National Park Lodges. There are plenty of places to eat inside the park including the Maswik Cafeteria, the Arizona Room at Bright Angel Lodge offering authentic Arizona cooking and fine dining at the El Tovar dining room.

Day 6

Grand Canyon

A day to enjoy one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth, take a helicopter or plane tour over the Canyon or possibly a mule ride along one of the trails.

Day 7

Grand Canyon to Las Vegas (277 miles/443 km) Map

The Western USA fly drive holiday continues south from the Grand Canyon to Williams on US-64 then west to Kingman along Interstate 40 and then northeast to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam. Tours of the dam run every half an hour between 0930 and 1600 and cost US$30 per adult. Las Vegas USA
Accommodation in Las Vegas comes in all shapes and sizes from a basic motel room to 5 star luxury. Staying on the Las Vegas Strip will have all the best attractions and Casinos close at hand.

Day 8

Las Vegas

There are plenty of attractions in Las Vegas to entertain everyone. Try a white knuckle ride such as Big Shot at the Stratosphere Hotel, visit the Liberace museum or take in one of Vegas’s more quirky attractions like the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Las Vegas really comes to life after dark. There are plenty of shows to choose from such as magic shows, comedy shows or big productions such as Cirque du Soleil and Jersey Boys. Of course a visit to Las Vegas would not be complete without trying your luck in one of the casinos on the strip.

Day 9

Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park (407 miles/651 km) Map

Drive north from Las Vegas along US-95 N, the Veterans Memorial Highway towards Reno. Turn left at Lida Junction Airstrip onto NV-266 W. The road crosses the border with California becoming the CA-266 N before re-entering Nevada becoming the NV-264 N. At the Junction with US 6 W take a left and enter California again. Turn right onto the CA-120 W which leads into Yosemite National Park over the Tioga Pass.Yosemite National Park, California
Please note this route through the Tioga Pass is closed in winter. Depending on weather conditions this is usually from the end of October to mid-May.
Accommodation inside Yosemite National Park should be booked well in advance and choices range from canvas tents to the AAA Four Diamond Ahwahnee Hotel.

Day 10

Yosemite National Park

Spend a day exploring Yosemite whether rafting, fishing or taking a leisurely stroll. Take one of the guided bus tours to get a real insight with a professional Yosemite guide highlighting the incredible scenery and hidden secrets of the park.

Day 11

Yosemite to San Francisco (213 miles/341 km) Map

Drive west from Yosemite National Park to San Francisco via California Highway 49, historically known as the Gold Rush Trail. Visit Sonora, the once booming centre of the California Gold Rush between 1840 and 1855.
Stay 2 nights in San Francisco. Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf are popular areas to make a base in the city, both having a good range of hotels to suit all tastes and budgets.

Day 12

San Francisco

Drive across Golden Gate Bridge, take a tour of Alcatraz or visit Chinatown, there is much to explore during a day in San Francisco.

Day 13

San Francisco to San Luis Obispo (254 miles/406 km) Map

Drive south from San Francisco as the fly drive holiday travels along the USA’s West Coast California State Route 1. Big Sur CaliforniaVisit Monterey and Carmel as the road continues along the Big Sur coast, one of the most dramatic scenic drives in the USA.
Overnight in San Luis Obispo

Day 14

San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles Airport (205 miles/328 km) Map

Continue south to Los Angeles Airport along Route 101 as it becomes Route 1 again along the coast through Santa Barbara and Malibu. Drop off the rental car at LAX Airport.
This classic Western USA fly drive holiday can be modified with nights added or removed to suit personal preferences.