- Enjoy the sunrise across the desert skyline in Joshua Tree
- Hike the Grand Canyon's impressive South Rim
- Watch the sun dipping over the Grand Canyon
- Drive along the historic Route 66 and stop at its famous rest stops
|Day 1||Drive from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, Visit Pioneertown||Pioneertown|
|Day 2||Explore Joshua Tree National Park||Pioneertown|
|Day 3||Drive from Joshua Tree to Lake Havasu||Lake Havasu City|
|Day 4||From Lake Havasu to the Grand Canyon||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Day 5||Explore Grand Canyon National Park||Grand Canyon National Park|
|Day 6||Drive to Kingman via Route 66||Kingman, Arizona|
|Day 7||Drive from Kingman to Los Angeles||Los Angeles|
Day 1: Drive from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, Visit Pioneertown
Get ready to disconnect and revitalize in this sojourn through the California desert. Joshua Tree National Park is filled with its namesake tree, and is also home to stunning rock formations and incredible natural landscapes. This picturesque park is perfect for those looking for a little adventure and a big change of scenery. From Los Angeles, jump in your car and head a little over 2 hours (120 miles) east on the I-10 towards Joshua Tree National Park. At Highway 62, turn in and drive to Pioneertown, a worthy place to stop on the way to the park. Before turning in on Pioneertown Road, stop at Frontier Café for a cup of coffee and a light lunch in its colorful, eclectic atmosphere.
Travel back in time to the Wild West with a stay in this movie-magic town. Built in the 1940s by some big names in Hollywood, Pioneertown was created as the perfect backdrop for an Old West movie set. It features 1880s-style facades throughout the town, complete with saloons, stables, and even jails. Stroll around Mane Street (not a typo) and enjoy the sights and sounds (which sometimes include mock gun fights) before stepping inside Pappy & Harriet's for dinner, live music, and an all-around infectious atmosphere. We recommend a stay in the authentic Pioneertown Motel, or check out an Airbnb in the surrounding area.
Day 2: Explore Joshua Tree National Park
A note of caution as we venture into the park today and through the desert on subsequent days- this desert area regularly sees temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and up, so it is best to avoid peak summer months in order to properly enjoy hikes and outings. Stay hydrated and start your days early to take advantage of the cool mornings before resting up in the middle of the day back at your accommodation. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks to start, though there are plenty of stops along the way to restock as well.
Beat the heat and hop in your car bright and early, making the 20-minute drive for breakfast to Crossroads Cafe in the town of Joshua Tree. Our advice, order lunch to go and take it with you for your day exploring! As it's right next door, stop by the Park's Visitors Center, located on Highway 62 and Park Blvd., to grab a map and get your bearings, and from there continue on to the North Park Entrance (another 20-minute drive). Before entering the park, be sure to fill up on gas, and have plenty of snacks, water, and something for lunch. Note, entering the National Park costs $30 USD per vehicle.
There is one main road, Park Blvd, throughout Joshua Tree. You'll drive first to the White Tank Campground, where you can park and make the easy walk over to Arch Rock. Get out and stretch your legs and even climb on this impressively large rock structure for your first stop of the day. Back in the car, head on in the same direction before turning down Park Blvd and stopping at Skull Rock. This granite rock formation has two concave depressions, giving it the appearance of a skull. There are also some short trails in this area you can explore further.
Hop back in your vehicle and continue the drive along the main road, soaking in the views. Make another stop to see Cap Rock. This area has a well-marked trail for an easy guided walk around the formations. Stay on Park Blvd and head up towards Intersection Rock, close to the picturesque Hidden Valley Nature Trail. Grab a spot on one of the many rock formations and enjoy an incomparable sunset. Then, it's back in your car to continue along the main road until you exit the Park at the West Entrance.
Right next to the Visitors Center from this morning, you'll find Joshua Tree Saloon, a great spot for dinner. Alternatively, you could make the 20-minute drive back into Pioneertown before grabbing dinner closer to your accommodation.
Day 3: Drive from Joshua Tree to Lake Havasu
Time to leave Joshua Tree behind and continue on your way. For breakfast, stop at Natural Sister’s Cafe, a quaint, local spot that's open early and offers delicious vegetarian options. Afterwards, make your way down the 29 Palms Highway (Highway 62) before crossing into Arizona and cutting up the 95-N to Lake Havasu, a little over 3-hour drive.
Known as Arizona's playground, this reservoir is home to a plethora of recreational activities. Head first to admire the historic London Bridge that used to span the River Thames in London and now offers a spectacular first look at all Lake Havasu has to offer. Pop into a nearby restaurant for lunch, like Shugrue's Restaurant and take in the lovely views.
Afterwards, make your way to the London Bridge Beach to soak up the almost year-round sunshine and take a dip in the water. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to make the most of your afternoon on the water. Or relax on the waterfront, strolling through its green areas and walking trails before making your way to your hotel.
For dinner, try Juicy’s, a long-time local favorite with classic American dishes.
Day 4: From Lake Havasu to the Grand Canyon
As you start your day, make a quick stop at Street Side Coffee Company for a morning coffee before heading on your way to the Grand Canyon. Hop on the 40-E and journey just under 4 hours to reach the South Rim of the iconic national park.
Along the way, stretch your legs in Seligman, an iconic rest stop along Route 66. Grab some lunch at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap for an old-school American diner experience before continuing on the I-40 E. Turn up on AZ-64 N before arriving at the Southern Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
There are two areas you can stay when visiting: Grand Canyon Village or Tusayan. The former is right inside the park and within walking distance to several viewpoints. There are just a few hotels inside Grand Canyon Village, so they fill up fast and can be pricey depending on the season and availability. Tusayan is a town located just a 15-minute drive from the Park and has more hotel and dining options- these tend to be more reasonably priced. With a convenient shuttle bus to take you along the South Rim trail, we recommend staying in Tusayan.
After you've checked in, take the rest of the afternoon to venture out to the South Rim Trail and enjoy your first peek at these stunning views of the Grand Canyon. Settle into a viewpoint along the way and watch the sunset over the south rim. Be sure to pass by Mather Point for sweeping views of the stunning canyon. Head back to Tusayan and grab some dinner at Plaza Bonita, a casual dining spot with tasty Mexican cuisine.
Day 5: Explore Grand Canyon National Park
Take the day to explore the epic beauty of the Grand Canyon on some of its hiking trails. With 1.2 million acres of land inside the park, there is plenty to discover during this full day. Take in sweeping views of the canyon on two main hikes near the South Rim: Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail. They can be done separately, or combined for a challenging full day hike through the Grand Canyon. Bring plenty of water and a packed lunch to take with you.
The South Kaibab Trail is a great option for more moderate to advanced hikers. It's a bit shorter in length than the Bright Angel, covering 6.5 miles, but descends 4,820 feet total. About a mile into the South Kaibab Trail, after a steep descent, you'll find the aptly named Ooh Ahh Point. As it follows the top of a ridge, the trail offers sweeping views of the canyon, but little shade on hot days. Once you reach the Colorado River at the bottom of the trail, you can return on the same route, or loop back up on the Bright Angel Trail.
The Bright Angel Trail is the classic route for those just looking to get a taste of hiking in the Grand Canyon. The out-and-back trail is 9 miles one-way and ascends just under 5,000 ft. This trail is well maintained, runs alongside the Garden Creek canyon side, and you'll find rest stops at 1.5 and 3 miles from the trailhead where drinking water is available. For those looking for a shorter hike option for the day, take the Bright Angel Trail to one of these rest stops before heading back.
After a full day of hiking, reward your efforts with a well-deserved meal. We recommend the Arizona Room restaurant for dinner, located right in Grand Canyon Village, before heading back to your accommodation for the night.
Day 6: Drive to Kingman via Route 66
Leave the Grand Canyon behind this morning and set out in your car down the 64 until you reach Williams, Arizona. From there, you'll continue along the I-40 before merging over onto the famous Route 66 at Seligman/Peach Springs.
Check out the Grand Canyon Caverns at Peach Springs, underground dry caverns you can explore with a tour. There's also an onsite restaurant, the perfect place to stop for lunch. From there, continue your drive a bit further and stop in Kingman at the Hackberry General Store, a once-gas station now-museum and an inspiration in the Pixar-Disney animated movie "Cars."
Without stops, this route from Tusayan in the South Rims takes about 3 hours. With 5 more hours of driving ahead of you to reach Los Angeles, consider staying the night in Kingman. This quaint town along the Historic Route 66 offers the Arizona Route 66 Museum and Locomotive Park to explore. For dinner, there is no shortage of classic American diners like Calico's to complement the scene or, if you're craving something different, mix it up at Bangkok Thai Cuisine.
Day 7: Drive from Kingman to Los Angeles
Grab some coffee to start your day at Beale Street Brews Coffee Lounge before continuing on your journey to Los Angeles. It's a straight shot today as you jump in your car and head across the 40-W into California.
Around 3.5 hours into your drive you'll arrive in the city of Barstow. Here, you'll find gas stations to fill up your tank and restaurants to grab a bite before continuing on. Just outside of Barstow, take a moment to visit Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch: a forest of tree-like sculptures made from glass bottles and vintage pieces. This quirky pit stop is located right alongside Route 66. Take a look around this unique, open-air folk art installation to stretch your legs before finishing the last leg of your journey (about 2 hours) into Los Angeles.