This summer I returned to my home country after living in the Far East and embarked on a month long road trip through the Western United States, experiencing my homeland like I never dreamed: through a Great American Road trip.

Coming from the East Coast originally, I have spent many long hours experiencing the open highways of America. However, much of the Western United States was a foreign land to me. I had no idea of the amazing beauty I was about to discover in the fairy tale lands that make up the National Parks throughout the Western United States! After traveling to over 60 countries I was amazed to find some of the worlds most tremendous beauty in my very own country.

Without further a do, here are 50 must see places and to-dos in the Western United States.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

1. Joshua Tree National Park

Become a botanist and discover the twisted Joshua Tree, uniquely growing in this vast protected area of Southern California.

2. Art Boutiques in Downtown  Sedona

Wander along the quaint streets that make up Downtown Sedona, and get inspired by the many art galleries while surrounded by nature’s painted rocks. Who’s the better artist?

3. Slide Rock State Park

Slip and slide along this natural water slide and cool off after a day of exploring the desert by jeep.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

4. Bright Angels Trail – Grand Canyon

Follow the massive break in the cliffs, formed by the Bright Angel Fault, into the heart of the Grand Canyon on the park’s most iconic trail.

Read on: Grand Canyon, I love you!

5. Star Party (Multiple Locations throughout the summer at the National Parks)

Discover how tiny we really are, as you gaze up at our galaxy in total darkness, or spot Saturn’s rings through one of the many giant telescopes available for guests to take a peak.

Read on: 100 Years of American National Parks

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

6. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Geologists can’t figure out why this river makes a massive bend but can you? Discover for yourself this iconic fleet of nature from above or on a half-day rafting trip!

7. Antelope Canyon – Arizona

Watch as the sun dances along the rocks and colors shift before your eyes when you venture into the world’s most picturesque canyon.

Read on: 10 Must See Desert Destinations in Arizona

8. Camp out on Lake Powell

Stay at the real ‘Best Western’ and spend the night camping right on the sand at refreshing Lake Powell.

9. Highway 12 – Scenic byway

Drive along the route that’s nestled between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon while weaving through some of the West’s most jaw dropping scenery in the heart of Grand Staircase Escalante.  

Read on: How to Prepare a Great American Road Trip

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

10. Angel’s Landing – Zion National Park

Defy gravity as you scale the cliffs of Angel’s landing to get a 360° bird’s-eye view of Zion National Park.

11. The Narrows – Zion National Park

Hiking stick in hand, splish-splash your way along this hiking trail, that is actually a riverbed, through the Narrows of Zion.

12. Queens Garden Trail – Bryce Canyon

Follow the Native American legend and spot the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon as you wander along the Queens Garden Trail. If hiking isn’t your thing, gallop along instead by horseback.

13. Camp out in a Teepee – Ruby’s Bryce

Go native and spend the night outside Bryce Canyon camping in a riverside Teepee at Ruby’s!

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

14. Double Arch – Arches National Park

Set your alarm and rise early to see the magnificent sunrise at Arches National Park. Sit tight at double arch as the colors of these magnificent arches morph into different hues.

15. Hanging Lake

After a short hike, marvel at two of Colorado’s magnificent gravity defying waterfalls above one of the state’s most beautiful lakes.

16. Celestial Tea Factory

Pop out your pinkie and have a spot of tea (for free) as you discover the origin of this local brand on the Celestial Tea Factory tour. 

17. Lucile’s – Downtown Boulder

Chow down on the cities best brunch in this creole style homestead turned restaurant.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

18. Elk spotting – Rocky Mountain State Park

Watch the herds of elk wander along the mountains that make up Rocky Mountain State Park while having a summertime sky-high snowball fight!

19. Follow the Oregon Trail

Hop in your wagon and drive along the Oregon trail, discovering Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock along the way – just like the sooners.

20. Mount Rushmore

Say hello to some of America’s most famed presidents as you check out this iconic landmark.

21. Devil’s Tower

1,200 feet above Wyoming’s plains stands this wild tower, that legend has it was put there by the devil himself. Wander around it and watch the many climbers taking advantage of the 100’s of parallel rocks that form this giant.

22. Badlands Loop Road

Hop in your car just before sunset and watch day turn into night over this other worldly place.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

23. Upper Geyser Beysen – Yellowstone National Park

Check out some geothermic activity and even watch Old Faithful’s punctual eruption among the geysers of Yellowstone.

24. Grand Canyon – Yellowstone National Park

Spot a rainbow at the lesser known, but quite possibly as beautiful, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

25. Lake Solitude – Grand Teton National Park

Walk along the canyons of Grand Teton National Park then ascend into the snowy pass en route to what possibly may be one of the most tranquil spots on earth.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

26. Ghost Hunting

Hunt for ghosts in one of the several ghost towns outside of Butte, Montana and discover why local minors abandoned places like Terrys landing and Junction City Long ago…or did they?

Read on: California’s Most Haunted Ghost Towns

27. Fly Fish in Yellowstone river

Rent yourself a countryside cabin and catch dinner while learning to fly fish for the weekend in one of the best angler locations in the US.

28. Charter a boat in Coeur d’Alene

Get on the lake in Iowa’s hidden gem and enjoy beautiful Coeur d’Alene.

29. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Be inspired by the great things happening in this world thanks to organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

30. Chihuley Museum – Seattle

Get blown away (just like the glass did) at the Chihuley Museum right under Seattle’s Space Needle.  These large-scale colorful creations make for a museum like no other.

31. Pikes Place Market – Seattle

Sample all the extraordinary gourmet treats at Pikes Place Market and see if you have what it takes to catch one of the flinging fish.

32. Thrift Stores of Portland

Individualize your wardrobe by shopping at one of Portland’s many thrift stores and discover how the locals keep their fashion weird.

33. Craft Beer – Portland

Forget donuts, and indulge in a stronger adult treat by sipping your way through the craft beer scene in Portland!

34. Columbia River Gorge Drive

If water falls are your thing, don’t miss a drive along the Columbia River Gorge and see the place that houses Multomah, Horseail, and Punchbowl falls.

35. Ape Cave

Grab a lantern (free from the ranger station) and feel like Indiana Jones as you explore this mile long Lava tube.

36. River tubing in Oregon

Kick back and relax after renting a tube in Bend, Oregon and spend the day riding the river that flows through this charming town.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

37. Crater Lake

Do a loop drive along America’s deepest lake and stop at one of its frigid swimming holes.

38. Circles in the Sand

Spot the amazing sand artist creating masterpieces along Oregon’s stunning coast during a coastal drive.  Make sure you arrive before the tide washes it all away or you’ll only see a sandy blank canvas.

39. Camp out in the Redwood Forest

Grab your sleeping bag and lie down as you gaze up at the world’s tallest trees at one of the campgrounds located inside the Redwood Forest.

Read on: 7 Highlights along the Pacific Northwest Coast

40. Stay in a Yurt in Napa

Buy your favorite local wine and take it back to relax over a camp fire outside your yurt in the heart of the valley at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park.

41. Alcatraz – San Francisco

Book your tickets in advance so you can explore the wild, weird and downright spooky military prison on Alcatraz Island.

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

42. Camp out with views of the Golden Gate Bridge

Stay in some prime real estate (for free) while viewing the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  

Read on: 5 Things to do in San Francisco

43. Half Dome – Yosemite National Park

Get your fitness on in this full day hike that shows off some of the best views of Yosemite.

44. Big Sur – Highway No. 1

Take a cliff along one of the most breath taking American costal drives and watch as fresh water McWay Falls plummets into the ocean.

Read on: The Travelettes Itinerary for Central California

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

45. Check out Dante’s View – Death Valley

Drive through Death Valley and stop for a picturesque sunset at Dante’s View.

46. See a fabulous show in Las Vegas

Sin city isn’t always about the sin, take some time away from gambling, gorging on buffet food and wild nightlife to see one of the city’s award-winning shows!

47. Monekopi Loop – Red Rock Canyon

Loop around this beautiful desert in Red Rock Canyon just a short drive from the Vegas strip.

Read on: A Climbing Trip to Red Rock Canyon

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

48. Santa Monica

Discover how the other half lives in this stunningly beautiful California Costal Town.

49. Hollywood Walk of Fame

Go ahead and be a tourist, get on your knees and see if your hands can slide into the prints of some of your favorite celebs.

50. Hollywood Sign

Do like a local and hike up to the Hollywood sign for views of this iconic city.

Read on: 10 FREE Things to do in LA

Want to explore the best of the Western United States in a month? Here are 50 places you must not miss and things to do along the way!

In conclusion, if you are considering taking a road trip around the Western United States, I say DO IT! It doesn’t really matter what kind of traveler you are, because there is a little bit of something for everyone and many styles to travel (luxuriously or on a budget). From tent camping and RVing to 4-star hotels, casual drives, day hikes or extreme sports, no matter how you do it, it will be a trip you will never forget.


This is a guest post by Megan Fox.

AuthorBioImage A visual artist by profession and a sightseer at heart, Megan has worked as a photographer before letting her urge to Travel Elsewhere take over. Since that time her travels have lead her to visit over 60 countries, marry a fellow globetrotter, move intercontinentally nine times and create a temporary home in four continents! Follow her travels at Travel Elsewhere.