The Ultimate 14-Day Southwest Road trip Itinerary

Planning a 14-day road trip through America’s Southwest? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Being on a road trip has got to be one of the best ways to see any location and I couldn’t think of a more unique place to explore than the Southwest of America!

Characterised by other-worldly landscapes that look like Mars, deep, winding caverns carved out by rivers and time, small towns that look like something out of a Wild West movie and towering red rocks dotted across the horizon. There really is no other place like it!

We were lucky enough to visit this jaw-dropping part of the world for 2 weeks and I’m here to share this 14-Day Southwest Road Trip itinerary with you!

A girl sitting on the edge of a rock. The road in front of here goes between red sandstone rocks. Valley of Fire, Day 5 of 14-day southwest road trip
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Overview Of 14-Day Southwest Road Trip

This 14-day road trip is done as a loop from LA, although you could travel to Las Vegas on day 14 if this is easier for you to end your trip here.

When we visited, we decided the best way to travel this route was to rent out a camper van. We found that this was the most budget-friendly option as you only need to pay for your camper, petrol and camp spot. If you decide to rent a car instead you will need to factor accommodation into your budget also.

We rented our camper from Travellers Autobarn, these guys have unlimited mileage which is a good option for this trip.

On your 14-day road trip through the Southwest, you will travel through 4 states, California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

The route is approximately 1750 miles but this doesn’t account for how much you will be driving around the national parks.

14-Day Southwest Road Trip – Day 1 – Los Angeles

AccommodationVenice Beach Suites

Spending your first night in LA is the perfect way to start your trip, especially if you’ve flown in from another state or country.

Home of the stars, sandy beaches and the Hollywood sign, LA is a really fun place to start your Southwest adventure. If you enjoy eating lots of good food and boutique shops then I highly recommend stopping by Abbot Kinney.

Just around the corner are the iconic Venice Beach where street performers can keep you entertained for hours. But my personal favourite spot is Santa Monica, there’s such a cool vibe here, especially at sunset when the rainbow lights of Santa Monica Pier flicker to life.

Southwest Road Trip – Day 2 & 3 – Death Valley

Journey time – 4.5 hours 

Campsite – Furnace Creek Campground. You can book between mid-October to mid-April but the remainder of the year is a first come first serve basis. Alternatively, Sunset Campground is just across the road and is another good campsite.

AccommodationThe Ranch At Death Valley

Once you’ve picked up your camper, the first stop on your 14-day Southwest road trip is Death Valley National Park.

Known for being the hottest place on earth and the driest place in North America, this stark but beautiful landscape is a must while you’re visiting the Southwest.

When we arrived we were too late to catch sunset, so we set our 5 am alarm to get to Badwater Basin for sunrise. 

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. This is where you will find salt flats which stretch out for miles!

The area closest to the car park does look a bit underwhelming but don’t be fooled! Once you start walking out the ground starts to transform. You’ll slowly start to see the geometric shapes that the salt flats are so well known for. The further out you walk on this lunar-like landscape the brighter and more crisp the salt is.

Depending on the time of year you visit, the temperature can get super hot very early. I recommend spending the hottest hours driving to different spots rather than hiking anywhere.

We made the mistake of walking out to the Red Cathedral at 11 am when it was 40 degrees celsius!

Great stops to drive to are Dantes Viewpoint, Artists Palette and Zabriskie Point.

Mesquite Flat Sand dunes

Another stop that you won’t want to miss is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes!

These rolling golden mountains are a stark contrast to the backdrop of rocky mountains. The best time of day to visit is either early morning or late afternoon. I can’t imagine these would be fun to climb in the heat!

When the sun starts to set (or rise) the colour of the mountains slowly shifts from grey to purple and the dunes glow a beautiful golden tone.

Tip – The cost to visit Death Valley is $30 per vehicle. But if you plan to visit a few National Parks (like you will in this itinerary), then it will be worth buying the America the Beautiful Pass. This costs $80, is valid for 12 months and gives you access to over 2000 parks across the country. You can pick this up at the Death Valley Visitor Centre.

A girl standing on top of a mountain of sand. In front of her are smaller sand dunes and mountains.

Southwest Road Trip – Day 4 – Vegas

Journey time – 2.5 hours

Campsite – Sams Town (KOA)

Accommodation – Circa Resort & Casino

Would this be a Southwest road trip without making a pit stop in Vegas? It’s a great place to break up the drive and have some fun!

I must admit, I’ve never seen anywhere like it and was blown away by the hotels and casinos along the strip. New York New York and The Venetian were my favourites.

Make sure you catch the fountain show at The Bellagio. This runs every 30 minutes from 3 pm – 8 pm and then every 15 minutes from 8 pm – midnight. I found that the best time was after sunset when it was darker.

I loved the vibrant and quirky Downtown and here is where you’ll see there’s more to Vegas than the strip. Downtown has that old Vegas charm combined with a modern buzzy atmosphere.

Make sure you visit Fremont Street which stretches out over five blocks and is lined with glitzy casinos and bars.

The Neon Museum is another must-see if you have the time! This boneyard for retired neon signs preserves and exhibits all the iconic retro signs of Las Vegas.

A girl walking towards tall stacks of of rocks that have been painted bright pink, blue, green, yellow and white.

Southwest Road Trip – Day 5 – Valley Of Fire

Journey time – 1 hour

Campsite – Atlatl Rock or Arch Rock

AccommodationNorth Shore Inn at Lake Mead

You might end up having a slower morning in Vegas, so you’ll be pleased to know your next stop is only a short drive away. This is actually one of my favourite stops on this 14-day Southwest road trip!

The Valley of Fire is nestled in the Nevada desert and is a gem that’s often overlooked. It’s known for its fiery aztec sandstone, ancient petroglyphs and petrified trees. This is a state park and the cost to enter is $10 for NV vehicles or $15 for non-NV vehicles.

There are lots of awesome things to discover here, the most popular of which is the Fire Wave. This formation is made up of wavy cream and orange layers and is similar to The Wave in Arizona, except you won’t need a permit to visit!

Other awesome stops for you to see here are the Pastel Pink Canyon (a short walk), The White Dome trail (a bit more of a hike) which has a cool slot canyon, Rainbow Vista and the petroglyphs that can be found around the park. We saw the ones at Atlatl Rock. 

If you want to get the iconic shot of the road weaving through the park head to Mouse Tank Road. The best place to stop is at the Rainbow Vista car park and walk down the road as if you were heading back towards the Visitor Centre. Here you can climb to various viewpoints to get your shot! 

Southwest Road Trip – Day 6 – Bryce Canyon National Park

Journey time – 3.5 hours 

Campsite – Ruby’s Inn Campground

AccommodationRuby’s Inn

The next stop on your journey is the beautiful Bryce Canyon! Try not to be put off by the length of this drive as the views on this stretch of the journey are something else!

This is where the landscape really starts to change. You’ll drive between the rock walls of the Virgin River Gorge and past the towering red rock formations of the Dixie Forrest. You will want to stop at every twist and turn so you can take in the endless views so allow extra time for this drive!

Brimming with winding trails and fiery orange hoodoos, Bryce Canyon is smaller than the neighbouring parks but this is what makes it perfect for a stop off for one night. If you can, get here on time to watch the sunset at sunrise point (yep that’s right!).

If you feel like an early start, wake up and catch the sunrise at, you guessed it….sunset point! This is also the perfect place to pick up the short and sweet Navajo Loop Trail which weaves down through the hoodoo-filled valley.

If you are visiting in the winter months, be aware that some sections of the trail may be closed.

Tip – Bryce Canyon is at a really high elevation meaning that even in the summer months the evenings will be cooler here. When we visited in April, nighttime was -12 degrees celsius! Make sure you pack some warmer clothes!

Southwest Road Trip – Day 7 & 8 – Moab

Journey time – 4 hours 

Campsite – ACT Moab (this is a great campsite but is a bit further out of town)

Accommodation – The Gonzo Inn

Surrounded by deep red rock, the city of Moab is a desert oasis and is the perfect gateway to all the nearby National and State Parks.

You’ll most likely arrive here in the afternoon. Once you’ve checked in to your campsite or accommodation, I recommend heading straight to Dead Horse Point.

This stunning state park has sweeping views over the Colorado River and the neighbouring Canyonlands National Park. At sunset, the rocks reveal stunning red, orange and purple hues.

The entrance fee for Dead Horse Point is $20.

Arches National Park

After a good night’s rest, I recommend getting up bright and early to catch the sunrise at Arches National Park!

The ever-changing scenery here with the distant snowy mountains on the horizon feels like stepping onto another planet!

Shaped through weather and time, the arches are pretty unreal and there’s plenty to see in all their different shapes and sizes! My favourite was Double Arch!

Make sure you visit the Windows and Devil’s Garden where you can pick up different trails. We walked out to Landscape Arch and Pine Tree Arch although there are some longer walks from here too.

A girl and a boy standing underneath a orange sandstone arch. Behind them is another arch towering above. Arches National Park

The main attraction though is Delicate Arch. This free-standing arch on the edge of a rocky hill is so iconic that it’s on all the Utah license plates! It’s definitely worth the 45 – 60 minute hike but I recommend doing this earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon due to the daytime heat. Bring plenty of water!

If you have some spare time in Moab I highly recommend stopping by the Brewery! It’s a great place to unwind after so much hiking and driving!

A girl sitting on an orange rock. In front of her is a stand alone sandstone arch, with mountains in the distance behind it.

Tip – Your America the Beautiful Pass will cover Arches National Park but to enter the park between 1st April and 31st October you need to pre-book your time slot to enter. You can do this here try to book in advance to avoid disappointment!

Southwest Road Trip – Day 9 & 10 – Monument Valley

Journey time – 2.5 hours

Campsite – KOA 

Accommodation – Goulding’s Lodge

On your drive from Moab to Monument Valley, you conveniently pass Canyonlands National Park. The district that you’ll be closest to is The Needles which is a great place to spend the morning.

There are 4 short walks you can choose from here ranging from just 20 minutes to 2 hours in length. Pothole Point (40-minute walk) and the Slickrock trail (2-hour walk) both have panoramic views of the park.

I recommend stopping in Bluff for some lunch and visiting the Sand Island Petroglyphs just outside of town.

Another cool spot to stop en route to Monument Valley is Mexican Hat. This precariously balanced piece of sandstone makes the rock look like its namesake.

Monument Valley’s panoramic views and red sandstone buttes are iconic and usually spring to mind when picturing the Southwest. Tons of Westerns have been filmed here but most people will recognise it from the famous scene where Forrest Gump decides it’s time to go home after his marathon across America!

This particular piece of road (Highway 163) will be your first glance at this natural wonderland. It does get busy here with people dodging cars to get that iconic picture which can be a bit sketchy.

I recommend visiting later in the day around sunset or early in the morning at sunrise when the roads are quieter.

A girl standing in the middle of the road. Of in the distance where the road leads to, is the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley. Day 9 & 10 of 14 day Southwest road trip.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

The next day visit Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. The cost to enter is $20 but prices can be more if travelling in a larger group.

Here you can do a self-guided scenic drive which is a 17-mile loop through the valley which I’d allow 3 – 4 hours for. Keep in mind, this is a dirt road and may not be suitable for certain vehicles, although we were fine.

One of the best stops, in my opinion, is John Forde Point where you get stunning views over the craggy buttes and colourful terrain.

The Valley is sacred land and is part of Navajo Nation which is the largest Native American reservation in America. Please be respectful and follow the rules in place here.

Tip – A great place to watch the sunrise is Forrest Gump Point and a great place to watch the sunset is actually the car park at the entrance of the park overlooking the buttes!

Southwest Road Trip – Day 11 – Page

Journey time – 2 hours

Campsite – Lake Powell Campground

AccommodationCourtyard Page at Lake Powell

Next up on your journey is a quick overnight stop-off in the small and sweet town of Page.

You’ll probably arrive here in the late morning/early afternoon so this will leave you with plenty of time to explore. A great place to spend the day is Wahweap Recreation Area (which is included in your America the Beautiful Pass), where you will get views across the Colorado River and the Glen Canyon Dam.

A slot canyon with towering jagged sandstone walls. Rays of light shine down from the gaps above.

Antelope Canyon is another awesome stop but this can only be accessed by booking a tour with a local Navajo guide. What you may not know though is there are two slot canyons you can visit, Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular of the two and is known for its towering rock walls and photogenic light beams that you can capture in the midday sun. Out of the two, this is the better option for anyone who enjoys photography.

Lower Antelope Canyon is the quieter location. It is wider at the top so it lets more light in but is narrower at the bottom. This can make exploring here a bit more of a fun adventure and there are some ladders you’ll need to climb too. This is the better choice if you want to avoid big crowds.

Tours can sell out months in advance so plan ahead if you wish to visit.

One of the most popular and iconic stops in Page is Horseshoe Bend which I recommend visiting at sunset.

The cost to enter is $10 and the viewpoint is a short, fairly easy walk from the car park. It does get extremely busy here but watching the sunset over the horizon is well worth the huge crowds.

Please be super aware here, there are some really steep drops and only one small section has railings.

A river the curves around a sandstone rock in a deep canyon. Horseshoe Bend, Page. Day 11 of 14-day southwest road trip

Southwest Road Trip – Day 12 & 13 – Sedona

Journey time – 3 hours

Campsite – Rancho Sedona RV Park

Accommodation Casa Sedona Inn

After a long few days filled with lots of driving, I recommend spending your first afternoon in Sedona unwinding and exploring the artsy city.

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat some fresh, organic food I recommend stopping by Chocolatree. They have a small on-site garden where they grow some of their ingredients, it doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Next, stop by Tlaquepaque a Spanish-inspired outdoor market, or as they call it, a crafts village – that’s the vibe here! Brimming with a mix of handmade shops, art galleries, and live music, it’s a great place to explore for the afternoon.

One of the best things you can do after dark in Sedona is to go stargazing!

Sedona is one of only 20 Certified Dark Sky Communities in the world meaning this is a great place to get a better view of the cosmos! There are some great tours you can book which will take you out of town where there is no light pollution.

You can even look out for some UFOs if that’s your kind of thing!

Devil’s Bridge

It’s the penultimate day of your 14-day Southwest road trip and the best way to start the morning is a sunrise hike to Devil’s Bridge!

Devil’s Bridge is a natural sandstone arch that’s located in the Coconino National Forest.

The natural arch is the largest in Sedona and spans approximately 50 feet! On your hike out to Devil’s Bridge, you’ll be surrounded by stunning red rock formations in the desert landscape. The last section of the trail can be a bit of a challenge but you’ll be rewarded with stunning vistas once you’re at the top of the arch.

There are two routes that are recommended for this hike. You can opt for either the Mescal to Chuckwagon to Devil’s Bridge trails (a 4.0-mile round trip) starting from Long Canyon Road or the Chuckwagon to Devil’s Bridge trails from Dry Creek Road (a 5.8-mile round trip).

This is a pretty popular hike in Sedona so having an early start is the best way to avoid huge crowds.

A sandstone arch that looks like a bridge. In the background is a desert covered in small green bushes.

Cathedral Rock

Now this is a great spot to enjoy the sunset!

Cathedral Rock is an iconic sandstone formation also located in the Coconino National Forest. Rising dramatically from the desert landscape, the red rock buttes create a silhouette reminiscent of cathedral spires, giving it its name.

The hike to the top of the trail will only take around 45 minutes to an hour but don’t be fooled. This hike is steep and the elevation gain is around 650 feet!

Don’t let this put you off though, if you don’t mind getting a bit of a sweat on, the views are certainly worth it.

Southwest Road Trip – Day 14 – Los Angeles Or Vegas

Journey time – 8 hours (LA) or 4.5 hours (Vegas)

It’s the final day of your adventure filled 14 day Southwest road trip!

I’m not going to lie, today you really are going to be putting in a stint on your journey back to LA. I’m sure you’ve had some awesome road trip tunes for this whole trip, but I’d make sure you’ve got some extras downloaded for today.

Luckily, your journey back to LA does take you past some great locations to break up the journey.

Lake Pleasant is the largest lake in the Phoenix area and it is a great place to stop and have a picnic breakfast. Entrance is $7, but I do think it’s worth it.

Another awesome stop is Joshua Tree National Park. If you’re looking for a good spot to stop and stretch your legs this could be the one. You’ll also get to see the unique Joshua Tree!

If you’re driving back to Vegas, the journey is a considerable amount shorter!

This route will take you through the small town of Kingman which is located on the iconic Route 66.

A girl leaning against her campervan, behind her campervan is a huge sign saying Utah with a image of a valley with water and sadnstone.

Final Thoughts: 14-Day Southwest Road Trip Itinerary

This 14-day Southwest road trip itinerary will take you to what I think are some of the best locations you can visit across California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona!

From the bright lights of Santa Monica to the red desert landscape of Monument Valley this road trip takes you through all the diverse locations the Southwest has to offer.

If you have a few more days to spend exploring you can add in stops at Capitol Reef National Park and Zion National Park as these are easily accessible along this route.

If you have less time you can start your journey on day 4 and do a loop from Vegas.

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