14 States in One Month: An Epic Western US and Canada Roadtrip
After being diagnosed with a severe case of wanderlust and the only cure being a month long road trip throughout the western US and Canada I began to chart out the journey. By camping, staying in hostels, and using priceline/travelocity sites to find inexpensive hotels along the way we kept the trip affordable.
The trip would turn into an incredible adventure that trekked through 12 states and 2 Canadian provicial states and delivered unbelieveable memories.
1. Lookin For Adventure... Head Out On The Highway!
Across Minnesota and South Dakota the first stop is Mount Rushmore, South Dakota.
2. Remnants Of A Volcano
Head across the state border into Wyoming and behold Devil's Tower, as the tower erupts from the plains below. There was a very pleasant and affordable Best Western to stay at nearby.
3. Bears, Bison, Wolves, Geysers, Mountains, Snow And Rain All In One Place
Wake up and drive to Yellowstone National Park. Bison, Wolves, Grizzlies, and Black Bears, among many other wildlife call the park home. The thermal pools were incredibly diverse and colorful and the geysers are spectacular. The Madison campground is a good spot to avoid Grizzlies as you slumber, but even in June it can be cold as flurries fell through the night.
4. The Tetons Rise Abruptly Above The Valley Below
After two nights the Tetons beckon and with a heavy heart leave for the Grand Mountains to the South. The views throughout Grand Teton National Park are incredible so explore the different vantage points throughout the park.
5. Home Of The 2002 Winter Olympics
Stay the night in Salt Lake City and spend some time touring the city. READ MORE
6. Arches Carved By Wind And Rain
Go south of Salt Lake a couple of hours to Arches National Park.
Great hiking, wonderful weather, and formations that challenge our preconceived notions of what is possible to be crafted by nature lie with the park boundaries.
Delicate Arch is a behemoth and 8-9 people stacked on top of each other could walk under with ease. Plan ahead early and reserve a camp site at the park otherwise you will most likely not get a spot.
7. I Didn't Know That My Eyes Could See This Far
In the morning grab a bite in quirky Moab, then head towards the Grand Canyon. There are multiple routes to get there, but take the path through Monument Valley.
Your eyes will not believe how far they can see.
8. The Grand Canyon, A Natural Wonder Of The World
Find yourself with expansive views of the canyon and beyond as the sun sets.
We made sure to reserve a camp spot in advance and set up for the next two nights to get in a little hiking around the canyon.
9. Viva! Las Vegas!
A little fun after the sun goes down.
Going mid week affords a great deal at the Monte Carlo for a night of fun in the desert.
10. Where Mountains Meet The Ocean: The Pacific Coast Highway
From Vegas, San Francisco is next, but with the Pacific Coast Highway calling your name hit the highway towards LA. In June the fog can roll in heavy, but aim to arrive in San Simeon by nightfall. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is a worthy stop for spectacular views of the mountains diving into the ocean below.
11. City On The Bay, San Francisco
The glorious drive up the coast leads to one of the best stops on this journey. Boat tours of the bay, all the amazing food, trolley rides and waterfront sights make leaving SF hard, so stay an extra night. The first couple of nights at a Holiday Inn and the last night at a hostel.
12. The Wine Of Sonoma And Napa
When in Rome... venture out to wine country to tour and taste some of the wine makers in the region.
13. The Giants Of The West
Continue further north into Redwood National Park where gigantic trees hovered above the cars, like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
14. Windswept Beaches: Oregon Coast
The scenery gradually evolves as windswept beaches engulf the views to the left and evergreen forests to the right. Surprising busy in the coastal towns and it can be difficult to find a place to sleep, but eventually everything works out.
15. Relax In Portlandia
With a big micro brew culture find a place to relax and grab a beer. Other options include a drive through the Columbia River Gorge and to the foothills of Mt Hood to explore the farms and vineyards. The region has wonderful Pinot Noir that is worth a taste. Staying near the airport is less expensive and is still connected to the light rail into downtown, so ditch the car for the evening.
16. Seafood In Seattle
Pike's place market, the space needle are all fun and must sees for a quick visit through, but finding what makes Seattle unique may require a little local knowhow.
For an amazing view of the city head over to Queen Anne hill and roam the streets searching for an epic skyline view.
17. In Search Of The Mighty Orca In Victoria BC
In search of the most scenic route take the road along the Olympic National Park to Port Angeles where the ferry leaves for Victoria, Canada. The city is a great launch point to go whale watching for Orcas (Killer Whales). Two nights at a minimum to ensure a successful sighting. The first trip may not yield a sighting and the tour operators tend to offer a guarantee, which can be used the 2nd day if needed.
18. Vancouver BC
From Victoria take a ferry through a beautiful waterways to Victoria. Plan to camp 3 nights at a campground only minutes from downtown as there is a lot to see. North of the Lions Gate Bridge is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Test your kayaking skills along a Vancouver beach. Or tour Stanley Park and the aquarium that calls the park home.
19. Banff, Where The Sun Seldom Sets In Summer
The most magnificent mountains of the trip.
Banff not only has unimaginable scenery, but a neat downtown and natural hot springs to warm you up even in mid summer. Arriving at the campground late? No worries, even around 11pm the sky will still be slightly lit. The campground makes a great base for nearby adventures and is surrounded by a 10 ft high electrified fence to keep the critters out.
20. The Columbia Ice Field
The highway that connects Banff and Jasper has sights beyond comprehension. The largest ice field in North America lies along the highway so get on a guided tour aboard giant 8 foot wheeled cruiser that will take you up the glacier for further exploration.
21. The Road Home Passing Glacier
After many wonderful days and nights the final leg of the road trip approaches. Heading back into the US brings cheaper gas and views of Glacier National Park. The park saw an incedible amount snow, which still blocked most of the roads, and remained mostly closed at the time. Grab a trout dinner or bison burger at a local restaurant before continuing on.
22. The Middle Of Nowhere: Ingomar Montana
The last day of the trip make a stop in Ingomar as you drive through MT. The town motto is there isn't a place to sleep for 100 miles in any direction. The population fluctuates from single to double digits, but when we visited it was 7. But they are a welcoming bunch at the Jersey Lilly, a small bar and grill, and with expansive views of the plains the drive is very pleasant.
23. One Month Later, All Good Things Must Come To An End
Thank goodness no bears made it this close during the trip. Stop at the Minnesota Zoo to officially end the road trip. With over 6,500 miles traveled through 12 states and 2 Canadian provincial states in one month the trip has been a memorable success.
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