Arizona to California Road Trip via Nevada: USA South West Road Trip from Phoenix

Arizona to California Road Trip

USA South West Coast: Arizona to California Road Trip

This blog covers a simple itinerary for a Arizona to California road trip, one of the best road trips in USA across the south west approximately covering ~1000 miles. The journey started in Phoenix exploring Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona state, Las Vegas and Boulder city in Nevada state and ending in Los Angeles and San Diego in California.  This is one of the longest road trips that I have driven myself, covering some of the major US Highways 17, 40, 93 and 66. All the parts of the journey are written as exclusive blogs linked here for those interested in the overall journey.

Planet Hopper Girl's Journey Notes

Growing up in a patriarchal society that frowned upon women driving and being independent, it was a childhood dream of mine to drive and travel some day. Funnily enough, my first email id as a teenager contained the word “Ferrari” to show my love for sports cars, gaining me the nickname “Ferrari girl”. I vowed that I would buy myself a Harley Davidson bike one day and I used to collect posters of female models on Harley Davidson’s. Once I left home to continue my higher studies, I pursued this dream by going on many road trips both in India and later in Europe-all with friends who were the ones driving. However, the dream trip which I drove was always in my mind and I fulfilled it in 2018, which is one of my best road trips in USA. Thankfully, one of my friends decided to join me for this road trip from Arizona to California up until Los Angeles. Furthermore, with another friend who flew from the UK I continued the trip from LA by taking the California Amtrak to San Diego, where we spent three days driving around the city.

Arriving in Phoenix

I flew to Phoenix from Austin where I started this road trip across South West of America from Arizona to California. The evening drive from the Phoenix Airport to the hotel was already pretty exciting with sights of mountains and huge trucks on the wide American highways. Phoenix is one of the largest cities in Arizona, one of the desert states in America especially known for the Grand Canyons and is sprinkled with national parks, forests, and large varieties of mountains. 

Phoenix, Arizona, USA

In the evening, my friend Arun and I toured around the Phoenix city mainly going to a shopping area to purchase some items to go on the road early the next day. We were so excited that we are starting our long awaited Explore America Trip and while discussing our road trip ideas, we recognized how an American cap is a must and bought one each, of-course after trying almost all the hats in the shop. Also, we reviewed all our road trip routes to make sure that everything is going as planned.

Palm trees in Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Wannabe Americans, Phoenix, USA

Arizona to California Road Trip Route

Arizona to California Road Trip Itinerary

This journey was planned with less but major highlights to cover, focusing on scenic routes and national parks in Arizona and Nevada and then relaxing more in the California. It was also done this way to make sure we have room for spontaneous explorations than with a heavily packed itinerary. We thoroughly enjoyed this style and was a good mix.


We spent time followingly but I would adjust based on what attracts you more. One could also start this journey from somewhere in California. We didnt visit San Fransisco because we have been there before. Below is my recommendation for the 10-15 days planning. I wished I had more time in Arizona that we could afford to in our ten days trip.

Arizona: 3-5 days

Nevada: 2-3 days

California: 5-7days

Arizona Road Trip

On our list, we had three major bucket list items to cover in Arizona Road Trip apart from the surprises on the scenic road:

  1. Sedona
  2. Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Drive Across US Highway 66

Day 1

We drove from Phoenix towards Grand Canyon and spend the majority of the day exploring Sedona red rocks. I would recommend spending one more day here to go on the hikes. There are some nice outdoorsy staycation sites here to explore.

Entering the red rock city, Sedona, Arizona

Day 2

We spent the day at Grand Canyon South rim taking some short hikes and exploring the Kaibab National Forest. I would also recommend spending two days here if you have more time. Best time to see the Grand Canyons is during the sunrise or sunset time. 

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Nevada Road Trip

There were two major bucket list items to cover in Nevada Road Trip:

  1. Hoover Dam
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Las Vegas Casinos

Day 3

We drive along the US Highway 66, across Hoover Dam to Las Vegas and explored Vegas during the night.  

Day 4

We drove back to Hoover Dam from Vegas via Bounder city. This is one of the scenic route to take during a road trip from Vegas.

California Road Trip

There were two major bucket list cities to cover in California Road Trip:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Diego

We spent two days in Los Angeles which is good enough to see majority of LA. We spent three days in San Diego which was pretty relaxed end of the trip. For those of you not been to San Fransisco, I would recommend to add it in and do the PCH- the famous Pacific Coast Highway Route. I plan to go back and do this another time when I visit Cali.

USA South West Road Trip from Phoenix: Journey in Parts

If you wish to find out more about all these top bucket list destinations for road trips, below are the blogs of all parts of the journey. 

  1. The Arizona Road Trip from Phoenix to Sedona & Grand Canyon covers the major attractions in Arizona around Sedona and Grand Canyon.
  2. The Nevada Road Trip to Las Vegas and Hoover Dam covers the most scenic routes in Nevada apart from Las Vegas.
  3. Los Angeles Road Trip part covers the journey from Las Vegas to Los Angeles vacation and its main attractions.
  4. San Diego Road Trip blog covers our adventures in San Diego for three days. 

Pin this road trip!

Perosnal Highlights of this First Road Trip America:
  • First self-driven road trip
  • First fancy sport bike ride
  • Heated discussions on American corporate and wall-street
  • Gambling in Las Vegas (The ultimate casino masters)
  • Celebrity house hunting in Hollywood, Los Angeles
  • Astronomy study and exploration in Los Angeles
  • Purchasing and then getting rid of weed in California(legal there!)
  • First time kayaking in San Diego
  • Constantly evaluating life in the USA and UK/Europe, even judging pronunciation differences (woter/water? battle/bottle?)
  • Life is short, enjoy your best road trips in USA
  • Crashing the car to the footpath and acting like nothing happened in San Diego
  • Crossing a red light when a tram was approaching and still lucky to maintain friendships with those who were in the car
  • …. and casual gossips, self introspection and reflections in life

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Ramya May 11, 2020 - 5:47 am
Iam waiting for the next blog....
jumanamp May 11, 2020 - 1:15 pm
Have you seen the Arizona trip blog linked above? I am working on the upcoming ones, thanks for following :)
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