Road trip to California and Western parks

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

Long last ? the day has come when my travel and life partner, Simone, and I realize a dream called: TRAVEL ON THE ROAD IN CALIFORNIA AND PARKS OF THE WEST!
This trip was originally scheduled for August 2015, but for personal reasons I had to postpone it, so I can say that it boasts a three-year preparation.
We spent 22 days discovering the American West, traveled by car for almost 4700 km, walked for about 270 km (I had the pedometer bracelet), which for someone will be? little but for a sedentary like me .. there are many!

1 day

Saturday August 04

At 08:30 our flight from Bologna with a stopover in London leaves on time, but the flight to San Francisco, with British Airways, leaves almost three hours late.
Apart from this inconvenience,? everything perfect, I must say that? good company.
We land in San Francisco, and after the various checks, the baggage claim, the waiting for the collective minivan (previously booked) we arrive at our hotel, located in the Union Square area, the GRANT HOTEL, around 11 pm. What struck us immediately? was the bitter cold! We didn't expect it!

2 day


Since we wanted to see at least a part of the coast that, due to lack of days, we had to make a choice of itinerary, we evaluated the idea of ​​taking a day trip, so? after having breakfast we arrive at the meeting point for the visit of Monterey and Carmel.
Yes ? turned out to be a good idea, if you don't have many days available, and therefore as we did, if you decide to skip the coast to focus on the parks, I highly recommend doing it. First we stopped at the very nice Pigeon Point Lighthouse and then they let us down several times, to take pictures and to watch the ocean waves crashing along the rocks.
We arrived in Monterey for lunch time, you could visit the Monterey Bay Acquarium, it was optional, but we chose to spend a couple of hours to visit it, relax and eat a sandwich, I must say what? very pretty.
Then we left for Carmel, passing the world famous 17 mile drive, where we stopped at almost every point to admire the splendid panorama, from the famous Pebble Beach golf course to the Lone Cypress, a tree positioned above a granite outpost. among the waves of the ocean, you could not miss the beautiful villas with the wonderful views, and the seals relaxing on the Seal Rock.
After all this we have come to Carmel. Walking we explored the delightful boutiques and art galleries and reached the beach where we relaxed for an hour.
We returned to San Francisco around 20pm, had dinner with a Hamburger and then went to bed.

3 day


This morning we started to? know ? the city? of San Francisco.
I state that as long as you can? I like to walk around, I use the means of transport when I really can't do without them.
We immediately enter the skyscrapers of the Financial District, then we go to see the Old St. Mary? S Church, Chinatown, the Transamerica Pyramid, and the Coit Tower, from which you can admire a splendid panorama of the Golden Gate bridge wrapped halfway through it. in the fog.
Then we reach, after a beautiful and tiring walk, the famous Lombard Street with its curves full of flowers, let's take some pictures so? we rest for a moment and then we go down already? towards the Pier.
We have lunch near Ghirardelli Square, and then we set off towards Fishermann? S Wharf.
From? we begin to see the various Pier, and buy some souvenirs, we arrive at Pier 39, where there are many sea lions lying in the sun .. fantastic!
After that we arrive at Pier 33, where will I leave at 18.00? the ferry for our excursion to Alcatraz.
As we reach the island, the sight of San Francisco, with its up and down streets, its skyscrapers, leaves us speechless.
As soon as we arrive at Alcatraz, we begin the visit of the prison by taking our audio guide in Italian, everything? was really very interesting, and well organized, for someone it will be? a very sad thing to leave out but in my opinion, it really deserves to be seen.
I had booked the evening visit why? returning I wanted to admire the sunset, but, I don't know, it will be? was the cold (and it was August !!) I didn't enjoy it much ?.
We return to the San Francisco Pier at 21.00 pm, have dinner there? on the port, then to get to the hotel, since it was a bit late, it was cold, and we were a bit tired we decided to take a taxi.

4 day


After breakfast we first reach Union Square, then the corner of Market Street and Powell Street to see the Cable Car Turnaround: when the cable car arrives at the terminus, people get out and two men with bare hands turn it, ready to pick people up. in line (already at 8.30 in the morning there was a lot) and then leave again.
After taking some photos and videos we take the bus, and arrive at the Golden Gate park.
Of this huge park we decided to visit the Japanese Tea Garden, and since it was a gray and? Chilly? we take a nice th? hot and some biscuits, then let's take a walk in this very special garden, do I recommend it to me? liked it very much!
We go out and take the bus that takes us to the Golden Gate Bridge, actually we wanted to cross it on foot, but it was too cold and windy, so we gave up.
Are we back towards the city center? , in the City Hall area, then on foot we reached Alamo Square, climbed the hill, we were fascinated by the Painted Ladies, the colorful houses all in a row, we relaxed a bit, a wonderful view.
Unfortunately the days in this beautiful city? of California are already? once finished we would have liked to go to Sausalito, but it took at least an extra half day.

5 day


We leave the hotel and head to AVIS to pick up the car.
We do half an hour in a row, then we go to the garage and here is our travel companion, a Red Ford Eco Sport! Brand new!
To tell the truth? we were hoping to do a test drive inside, more? what else why? neither of us knew the automatic gearbox, but nothing, we immediately catapulted into the traffic of San Francisco!
C? Was some d? ? anxiety? by car, but after crossing the Bay Bridge, everything is fine!

The day before they had opened the entrance to Yosemite (closed due to the fire), so? we managed to cross it, unfortunately the Valley was closed, but we managed to do the Tioga Road well, with various stops and some walks, a little smoke in the air there was obviously, for? we saw some beautiful landscapes.
We arrived at the YOSEMITE GATEWAY MOTEL for an overnight stay in Lee Vining and after leaving our luggage we went to Monolake, for the sunset and then we had dinner in a small restaurant in front of the motel.

6 day


Let's have a little breakfast, then let's go visit Bodie, yeah? at 9 we are there, c ?? still few people, it turns well,? a city? very suggestive ghost, we were there about an hour and a half, if you are staying in Lee Vining I suggest you take a tour, it is about fifty km away, the entrance costs 8 $ per person but it is really worth it.
We left for Mammoth Lake, where we stop for a walk and a quick sandwich.
We resume the US-395 towards the south, for the first time along this road we have the real feeling of being on the classic California highway, km and km of nothing, and it starts to feel the heat, we stop in Bishop, take a walk and we we grab an ice cold drink, then head back to Death Valley.
At 18 we are in Panamint Springs, fill up, and head towards Mesquite Flat Dunes.
Very beautifull!! You feel the warmth that surrounds you and walking barefoot on these dunes is priceless!
We arrive at the FURNACE CREEK RANCH, it took us a long time to find it why? a part was under renovation and then the navigator gave us another entrance, but we did it.
I advise , ? very big, but we had a good time, it has a restaurant inside where you can? find everything.

7 day


Wake up at 06.00, we get ready and leave the ranch, we immediately go to the Badwater basin, after a long walk we arrive in the middle of this salt lake, 86 meters below sea level, the most? low of the United States.
Let's get back into the car and walk along Artist? S drive, there are no words to describe this road, except what? a show! We arrive at? Artist? S Palette, we park the car and set off, a wonderful play of colors, take several photos and leave.
We arrive at Zabriskie Point. Here too a view to take your breath away.

We take the car back and head to the visitor center, change the single ticket made the night before at the machine (because the VC was closed) and buy the Annual Pass, paying the difference.
We stock up on water and leave for Las Vegas!

We pass by Pahrump where we get gas and a quick meal and arrive at our hotel, NEW YORK NEW YORK, at 15.00 pm.
We park the car in the multi-storey garage and head to check-in, taking care not to get lost for how long? immense! We leave the suitcases in the room, and immediately around the hotel,? huge, a city ?! C ?? really everything!
The temperatures are high, around 40 degrees and a lot of humidity. but we want to hurt ourselves and we go out, we walk on the strip, an unbearable heat, but we resist, we arrive at Paris, then at the Bellagio, we continue but in the end the heat and humidity? the sprout, we return to the hotel, we put on the swimsuit and swimming pool!

In the evening we go out, around the Strip, revisit Paris, and continue ... a river of people, of all kinds, we arrive at the Venetian, we go back, we stop at the Mirage for the volcano show, then at the Bellagio for that of the wonderful fountains.

With our feet destroyed we return to the hotel.

8 day


This morning, no alarm clock, but at 8 we are already? standing up, a breakfast at the hotel's Starbucks and swimming pool!
Today a relaxing day.
At 21:00 we go out to take a ride on the other side of the Strip, but it starts raining with a very strong wind, nothing we go back to the hotel.
After an hour it stops, we set off towards Mandalay Bay, passing by Excalibur, isn't there? no one in the street, and it starts to rain, we enter Mandalay Bay, and take the free train that takes us back to our hotel.

9 day


We take back our car and leave towards Zion. From Nevada to Utah the timetable changes, it goes one hour ahead.
We arrive at 12.00 and immediately find parking almost in front of the last stop of the shuttle in Springdale, since we are close we decide to walk and after 10 minutes we are already? at the park's Visitor Center.
After showing the Pass, we go to the point to take the shuttle and get off at the Temple of Sinawawa. We decide to do the Riverside Walk Trail, after about 45 minutes, we arrive where the Virgin River comes out of the narrow Narrows gorge. We allow ourselves a refreshing bath and a little relaxation.
Then we go back and take the shuttle back to the Visitor Center.
Taking back our car we continue on the beautiful UT-9 (also here they require the Pass), we cross cos? this wonderful park, the landscapes we meet enchant us, with the various colors of the rocks that go from red to white, wonderful!
Before arriving at Bryce Canyon, taking the UT-12, we begin to see the red peaks of the hoodoos, we are in front of the Red Canyon, we stop several times to photograph and admire this spectacle of nature, which already? with the sunset light it fascinates us a lot.
With this beautiful image in our minds we get in the car and arrive at our motel, the BRYCE VIEW LODGE located in a western-style town near Bryce Canyon.
I recommend having dinner at Ruby? S Inn, where c ?? the show with country music.

10 day


According to my schedule, this was the first park where we had to wake up early to go and admire the sunrise .. but we didn't do anything! We manage to get up at 07:30 and after about an hour we are already? at the entrance to Bryce Canyon.
We park the car and go to Sunset Point. We were really enchanted by the splendor of this Canyon, the colors of the gigantic spiers are wonderful, we really regret not being able to be there? with the lights of dawn who knows? what a show..
We go down already? from Sunset Point and do the Navajo Loop Trail, we go all the way, we stop every minute to take photo after photo .. too good! We arrive at the Amphitheater. We follow the path and go up from Sunrise Point, with no small effort for me (unfortunately about three months before leaving I got plantar fasciitis, since I'm not used to walking this thing has had a heavy influence, and therefore in part also justifies the fact of not having done all the various trails ..), I got two blisters but ne? Was it really worth it, for me? was the park more? beautiful!
Walking among the immense columns created by nature, wind and ice, over the centuries,? very emotional. I recommend it, this park will remain? imprinted in my mind forever I'm sure.
Once we got back we took the car and took the UT-63 Scenic drive, up to Rainbow Point, the most scenic point. high from where we have a breathtaking view of all of Bryce Canyon!
We retrace the road backwards by car, stopping at every scenic point: Black Birch Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, Agua Canyon, Natural Bridge, Farview Point and Inspiration Point .. where we admire and take pictures ..

Towards the half we go to the town pi? nearby for a snack based on pieces of fresh fruit, and then we leave again in the direction of Moab! Today we have several km to do, (the other days not ???) but this did not bother us at all, indeed, in our opinion even the long journeys by car alone are worth the trip! And then if we say? On the road? there will be a reason? no? Every km, every climb, every curve made on those roads, often and willingly in the middle of nowhere, have we seen scenarios, plays of light and colors never seen before? fantastic!
At 19 pm we arrive at? ADVENTURE INN & MOTEL in Moab, where we will spend two nights.

11 day


This morning, after breakfast, we go to visit the ARCHES NATIONAL PARK.
We have seen: Park Avenue Viewpoint, La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, North and South Window, Lower and Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint.
We preferred to see the famous Delicate Arch, from here, and even if we saw it from afar,? It was still beautiful, otherwise there were about 5 km to reach it (between the way mainly uphill and the return).
Then last, we did a good piece of the Devil? S Garden Trail.
Going back other stops with the car, then we leave the park and decide to go to see Canyonlands, Island In the sky. The points that I liked most were: Grand View Point Overlook, Mesa Arch and Shafer Canyon Overlook.

12 day


We leave Moab and head calmly towards Bluff, we arrive at the hotel at KOKOPELLI INN at 11.30. The hotel was good nothing to say but personally I do not recommend this town as a stop, has it disappointed us a bit, in my opinion? very off, if I went back, I would evaluate another solution or would I pay something more? and spend the night at The View (inside Monument Valley).
Fortunately the room? ready and we leave our luggage, we take something to tease at the market opposite, and we are ready to leave.
On the way we make a detour to Goosenecks State Park ,? it was a really nice surprise!
The shape that creates the San Juan River? truly spectacular.
We get back into the car and walk along the beautiful Scenic byway I-163, a long and straight road that takes us directly to Monument Valley, after obviously taking the usual photo, in the middle of the road in the famous viewpoint where Forrest Gump stopped to run, we arrive at the entrance around 14 pm, having time available we decide to take the guided excursion with the Navajo, what will I leave? after 10 minutes. What can I say, a beautiful experience, also why? our guide told us a little about s? and its history and perfectly described every point of Monument Valley.
After almost three hours, after the excursion, we take the car back and retrace the I-163 to return to Bluff, but first we make a detour to the Valley of Gods.

13 day


After breakfast we leave for Page, and here we recover an hour why? we enter Arizona.
Since the room will be ready in the afternoon we go directly to Lake Powell, we stop on the bridge of the Glen Canyon dam and then we go to the Wahweap Marina, where we buy the boat tour which lasts about a couple of hours to Antelope Canyon. I advise , ? it was a great experience!
After the tour, we relax a bit on the beach and then we go to see the sunset at Horseshoe Bend! What can I say, even here the words are always the same, spectacular, fantastic, beautiful ..
Let's go to our hotel, the TRAVELODGE PAGE. We arrange the luggage and then walk to the center of Page to find a place to have dinner. I recommend the Ken? S Old West Steakhouse, but? better to arrive early, at 20:30 c? was already? a very long line.

14 day


We have the 10:30 excursion to the UPPER ANTELOPE CANYON. We leave the car in the hotel car park and walk to the ANTELOPE SLOT CANYON TOURS agency where we booked the tour.
Punctual we leave, we arrive at about 11:00, our guide takes us inside the Antelope, the wonder of the play of light that is created on the walls are indescribable, perhaps not even the photos make it so beautiful.
We got along very well with this agency, for? are they very fiscal, if they say? NO BAG? ? really? NO BAG ?, in the sense that you can only bring: water, mobile phone and camera! Nothing else!
The guide ? she was very good, I recommend to give him the cell phone, they are phenomena to take pictures!
After the tour, we return to take the car and leave for the GRAND CANYON.
About 16:00 we are already? on the DESERT VIEW or AZ-64, just past the entrance after showing our pass, we immediately go to the Watchtower, a panoramic tower from which you can? enjoy great views of the Grand Canyon.
We continue on this splendid road, stopping in the various points that are: Navajo
Point, Lipan Point, Moran Point, and we finish at Grandview Point.
Are we captivated by this enormous beauty, with the most colors? lights of the Grand Canyon at the Colorado River Creek.
After about a couple of hours we go to our hotel, the YAVAPAI LODGE, we check in and after taking the luggage to the room, we immediately take the BLUE line shuttle, arrive at the Hermits Rest Route Transfer and take the RED line shuttle , up to Hopi Point, we go down and stay there? to admire the sunset .. And? beautiful and the silence that c? despite the multitude of people? almost surreal.
We decide to leave only when? almost dark, we take the shuttle back and arrived at our Lodge, we eat a Hamburgher at the restaurant, then after a short walk we go to sleep.

15 day


We woke up early, but not enough to go and see the sunrise, the only regret of this road trip, before leaving we had promised to do at least two up early to admire these parks with the light of dawn, I was even marked the times and the best points, instead nothing! Sin..
After having a fruit juice as breakfast, we checked out at the hotel, and left the car in the parking lot of the Visitor Center, we took the shuttle ORANGE line and we saw: Mather Point, Pipe Creek Vista, Yaki Point, and South Kalibab. We got off at every stop, took a ton of photographs and a few short trails.
Then around 12 we took the car back to Williams (via Tusayan).
As soon as we arrive, we immediately notice the legendary and long-awaited ROUTE 66! We park and set out in the beautiful town of Williams! A small center, all in the Route 66 style, with many colors, from the signs to the walls of the shops.
Let's have lunch, refuel and leave!
At the beginning we take the I-40, then as soon as we see the sign with the exit of the road pi? famous d? America, we go out, and we walk it up to Seligmann!
Also this ? a beautiful town, where the colors and the particular style are the masters!
We go back by car to arrive at our destination: Kingmann.
We register at our MOTEL 6 KINGMANN WEST, and we are immediately around the city center which is also very characteristic.
We dined at Mr.D? Z Route 66 Diner, what do I recommend,? very typical.

16 day


We leave Kingmann, and still on Route 66, after a series of breathtaking hairpin bends, we reach OATMANN! A gem not to be missed, both for the road and for the fantastic western-style village! It seems to us that time has stopped, with the free donkeys walking among us.
We leave behind this wonder, and continue to Palm Springs, but first, obligatory visit of the JOSHUA TREE PARK. Entering from Twentynine Palms. Our first stop? to Skull Rocks, a rock that resembles a skull due to its shape!
Then we went up to Keys view, where c ?? a wonderful view!
We drove around this wonderful park, stopping at various points along the way.
We took the west exit, and reached Palm Springs, where we stayed overnight at MOTEL 6 PALM SPRINGS DOWNTOWN.

17 day


This morning we leave for SAN DIEGO!
We arrive at our TRAVELODGE DOWNTOWN CONV.CENTER hotel around noon.
The first impact on the Californian highway has? Exhausted? my partner who was driving, cos? leave the car in the hotel car park and take the bus to Gaslamp Quarter immediately.
? a center full of shops and restaurants, we stop so? in one of these for lunch.
Then we leave, strictly on foot, and let's go and see: Horton Plaza (with its shopping center, Downtown, Little Italy, and the San Diego bay.
With the bus we arrive at Balboa Park, we turn it for a while, then again with the bus we return to the hotel.

18 day


Day dedicated to the beaches.
After breakfast, this time by car, we go to Mission Beach. We spend the whole morning sunbathing on this very long Californian beach.
Then we decide to go to Ocean Beach, equally wonderful, take a walk along the seafront and along the marina where all the fishermen are.
As a last stop, we go to Coronado Beach, and we stop for a while to admire the sunset.

19 day


We have breakfast calmly, and then we leave for the last destination of our tour: LOS ANGELES!
The first emotion I had, already? as we approached, looking at the green highway sign with the name of the city overwritten? of the angels and to follow, in the background the first forms of the skyscrapers, to become more and more? clear as the distance decreased .. the last part of a dream was becoming real, despite the fears and some initial anxiety, we felt important to be in an 8 lane California freeway !!
Without difficulty? (thanks to google maps !!) in the early afternoon we reach the CORAL SANDS MOTEL where we booked our last 4 nights.
Arranged the bags, we freshen up for a moment, and of course we go out immediately.
After a walk of about 40 minutes we are already? on the Walk of Fame, we begin to stop on each star, and look for the most? famous for the photo, and we go into almost all the shops ..
We arrive at the Chinese Theater, I stop to look at the famous hand and footprints of some famous people and I look like crazy for those of George Clooney .. I'm about to give up but in the end my determination is rewarded .. Here they are !!
We walk without getting tired on Hollywood Blvd, and yes we are already? made the 18:30, we go to eat something then return to the hotel.

20 day


We have breakfast at the Starbucks next to the motel and then go to Malib ?.
C ?? traffic and after finding, with difficulty? , the parking are already? 11 o'clock, we immediately eat something quick, and then we go to stretch out a couple of hours on the beach
Even if it was really good, we take the car back, we drive along the beautiful Highway 1, which skirts the ocean and we arrive in Venice.
We take a walk in the middle of the green around the canals, and we arrive on the waterfront, very characteristic, full of people, shops, music.
About 17:30 we leave Venice and go to Santa Monica, we take a ride on the famous Pier, which is also full of people, then through a staircase we go up and wait for one of the most? famous sunsets. We are captivated by the magic of the colors that appear in front of us.
At dusk we go back to the hotel, the traffic? hallucinating, it takes about an hour, we arrive at 20:45, we are not hungry so we decide to relax with a nice hot whirlpool in the swimming pool of our hotel.

21 day


After breakfast at the Starbuks, we take the metro (stop at 100 meters), the red line, and go Downtown, we take a walk in this neighborhood, where we see: the City Hall, the Doroty Chandler Pavillon, and always from the outside the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
We take the subway again, and we go to Chinatown, we take a short walk, but it disappointed us so after a short walk we go to Little Tokyo, (two stops later), very nice I must say, I recommend it in half an hour it turns all around? very small, full of typical Japanese restaurants but we decide not to have lunch there? why? they are all packed. We return to the hotel.
We take two sandwiches with some cold cuts and eat them in the room.
Then we settle down, get changed and go to Warner Bros, first we make a detour to Cahuenga Blvd, where we take a photo of the legendary Cunningham house from Happy Days!
We arrive at Warner at 15:30, I took two free tickets online to watch the live shooting of one of the sitcoms that most? I prefer MOM!
The waiting? long, why? the show starts at 18:30 pm, the studio? fully booked, and c ?? a very nice entertainer, the curtain finally opens, what a great thrill to see the actors while they act, laugh with them etc. .. Really a pity not to have been able to take pictures! (They seize your cell phone before entering).
At 20 they give us a bottle of water and a piece of pizza to eat, this suggests that they will still have other scenes to shoot, in fact everything lasted longer? two hours .
Around 21 pm they finish, all the actors and staff members greet us, and let us out.
We go back to the hotel, and we throw ourselves again in the pool before going to sleep.

22 day


This morning again at WARNER BROS, at 09:30 we have the excursion booked to visit the various sets and the most popular studios. famous.
I preferred this to Universal Studios simply because? I am passionate about TV series, and I don't particularly like amusement parks.
After the tour, it's 12.00, we eat a Hot Dog, at Central Perk and then we go to take the car back.
We immediately go to the Griffith Observatory, we take our photos, even if unfortunately c? mist, go back down and go to look for the streets from where you can see the classic HOLLYWOOD writing.
Then we go to Beverly Hills, we wander a bit in the streets of the famous, but you don't see much, the villas are all? Covered? from huge plants.
We look for a parking space, we find one in a free garage for the first two hours right in Beverly Drive, we take a nice walk in the middle of the luxury, we go to look for the Four Seasons hotel (the one from the movie Pretty Woman) and we eat a ice cream.
At 16:30 we are at the garage to pick up the car.
According to my schedule, we were supposed to go to Pasadena now, but isn't there ?? a long time, so we go back to the hotel, park the car, and walk back to Hollywood Blvd, for the latest purchases.
Los Angeles? often referred to as a city? that either you love it or hate it, different people don't have a positive memory of it, to me instead? loved it, I think this metropolis, with its heavy traffic, 8 lane highways, long beaches with lifeguard towers (including the classic red life jacket) Baywatch style and sunsets, represents California. We were there 3 and a half days, and for us there were even a few!
Considering that ? on the last evening, we also have the last hamburger before returning to the hotel.

23 day


Today ? the sad day of departure.
We wake up and calmly prepare.
We go to have breakfast for the last time at the usual Starbucks, then after leaving the keys at the hotel reception, we get into our car and head to the airport.
We stop to fill up and arrive at Avis to leave the car, not even the time for a last farewell to our travel companion is very fast, which in 15 minutes we are already? on the shuttle.
Does it take a long time, Los Angeles airport? immense, we arrive around noon, eat a sandwich (to consume the change) and wait for 14 pm to check in.
Will our flight depart? at 18:30 in the waiting, not to be taken by melancholy pi? total, I settle on my phone all the photos of this wonderful and unforgettable TRIP ON THE ROAD IN CALIFORNIA AND PARKS OF THE WEST!

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