After the beautiful discovery of the State of Oregon, we took the road to the National Parks in the southwestern part of the USA. Our itinerary starts in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles with a tour of the Grand Canyon.
In orange, the road that we drove in 1 month and a half through the land. This represents more than 3'800 kilometers.
Since this year (2022), the park is accessible only by reservation because of construction in the area. You have to book a pass one week in advance to have access to the park for 3 days. People without a reservation can only enter the park before 6am and after 4pm.
Being good students, we booked our tickets a week before, but if you followed our adventures on Instagram, you already know that we had a few problems with our pick-up on the way to Yosemite. We were less than an hour from the park entrance when our car started to stop shifting and making strange noises. We stopped at the first garage on the road and they informed us that we had a transmission problem. After a quick diagnosis, we quickly realized that we would have to leave the car in a garage for a few days. Therefore, we had to find a garage near a campground so we could remove the Camper of the pickup and continue living in it while the car was being repaired.
Jeff at the doctor
The garage in Oakdale
The garage owners and Benji (Ramon on the right)
Thanks to this forced stop of a little less than a week, we had time to progress on the renovations of our little house. We also had the chance to get to know Ramon, one of the mechanics at the garage. He did an amazing job on the car and was super nice to help us with a critical problem we needed to fix quickly: the solar panels! Thanks to him, we were able to order all the materials on Amazon Prime and had everything delivered to his house in a record time.
After long discussions with Ramon, we also learned that he and his wife, Calisse, had been talking about doing a trip like ours for a long time, but had never taken the time to make it happen. They want to travel through the USA, Alaska and would also like to go down to Central America. Despite their motivation, they never had the courage to go ahead with this project. But during the few days we talked, Ramon and his wife had a breakthrough. They set a deadline, started to make a budget, to make a construction plan for their van and Calisse even started to look for ways to earn some money while traveling.
Since then, we have been exchanging regularly. On our side, we give them news of our trip and on their side, they explain us the progress on their van and their future trip.
After this week full of emotions, we left with our pick-up all repaired, with solar panels and very beautiful memories.
Since we didn’t have a reservation and couldn’t register online to get one… we had to wake up very early to enter Yosemite National Park before 6am!
For our first day, we get up at 4am and watch the sunrise from Tunnel View. We have the chance to see the deer walking on the road before the tourists arrive.
Sunrise from Tunnel View
At 6am, we left for a good 14km walk with 1000m of positive elevation gain towards the magnificent Glacier Point viewpoint.
Arrived at the top, we take a good breakfast with our friends the squirrels.
The view of Half Dome from Glacier Point
The squirrel friend
After this hike, the river gives us very very envy. In spite of the freshness of the water, we dive in and enjoy this moment of calm.
Then, we went to admire the famous Yosemite Fall.
On the way to Yosemite Fal
And to finish our beautiful day, we find a nice place to have dinner while admiring the evening colors with the view of El Capitan.
Dinner with a view of El Capitan
Second day, second hike but this time towards waterfalls. A route of about 14 km with again 1000 meters of difference in altitude. The walk takes us first to Vernal Fall and then to Nevada Falls.
From the top of Nevada Fall
After this hike, we take another dip in the river to refresh ourselves before taking the road out of the national park.
We head to Las Vegas through Death Valley. The park is known to have the highest summer heat in the world (55 degrees). Wanting to drive through the park on a day when the air is milder, we notice that the same weekend we are in the area, the temperatures do not exceed 40 degrees. Perfect! So we take advantage of these ” gentle ” heats to discover this National Park.
But during our visit, we quickly understand why it is so cool. We are in full storm of wind and this one makes lower the thermometer. The wind is so strong that it forces us to drive very very slowly at the risk to overturn our vehicle. Having planned to sleep in the park, we unfortunately had to change our plans for fear of ending up with all four wheels in the air.
We were still able to admire the sand dunes, the roads between the mountains and the colorful palettes on the rocks.
On the road to Death Valley National Park
Well arrived in Death Valley
Fill up before going to the park
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Golden Hours in Death Valley
After having spent two days in the city of Las Vegas, we go back to the nature in the direction of the Valley of Fire park. As its name indicates it, it is also very hot but nothing scares us anymore after Death Valley 😉
We arrive in the park for the morning lights and discover these magnificent rocky facades.
On the road to the Valley of Fire
We were getting ready for a little hike and suddenly a tropical rain fell on us. To tell the truth, this rain was very pleasant because the air was suddenly cooler.
After this torrent of water, we go for a walk inside the canyons.
On our way back, we see a whole family of wild goats.
In Zion National Park, cars are not allowed in high season, you have to go by bus. We decide to take the first bus at 6am. We sleep at 40 minutes of car from the entrance of the park. The alarm clock stings a little but we know that it is worth it.
Zion National Park
One of the most famous walks, The Narrow, is a hike that follows the Virgin River in a small canyon. We chose this one for its originality which is to walk all the way in the river, feet in the water. This is not something you do every day.
The river crossing
Our spot a few miles from the park entrance
The river next to our camping spot
Somewhere on the road to Zion
The Virgin River a few minutes from our camp
The river that refreshes well
A roadtrip in the USA without passing by the Grand Canyon would not be a complete trip. Therefore, we went to discover this grandiose park. The immensity of these landscapes leaves us speechless.
Once again, we woke up very early (3:30 am) to admire the sunrise on this canyon. We did the South Kaibab walk of about 7 km. We went down to two famous viewpoints, Ooh Aah Point and Cedar Ridge.
On the way back up, we experienced a farwest scene as we met “cowboys” and their mules going down the canyon. It was magical!
South Kaibab trail
Ooh Aah Point at sunrise
The Grand Canyon at sunrise
Ooh Aah Point
The first rays of sunshine
Cowboys and their mules
When we were staying in Yosemite, we met some Canadians who strongly advised us to visit the Sedona area. After asking around and seeing the beautiful scenery on the internet, we added this stop to our “to do” list.
When we arrived in the area, we didn’t feel like we were in the United States anymore. The architecture of the houses is breathtaking and we quickly notice that the population is quite well off.
Tlaquepaque Arts Village
We hiked at the end of the day with the warm colors on Cathedral Rock. We didn’t expect such beautiful scenery and are very glad we took this little detour to visit the area.
The breathtaking view from Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock Vortex
Chapel of the Holy Cross
The next day, a new morning awakening at 3 am to discover Devil’s Bridge. We leave with the headlamps in the complete night to arrive at the sunrise on this famous stone bridge.
Very early wake up call
Then, we go on a second walk to visit the “secret spot” Subway Cave. The way is not indicated, but we had done some research before on the internet to find the place.
Before arriving in Joshua Tree, we drove on the famous and unavoidable Route 66. We travelled back in time and saw the beautiful old cars, motels, gas stations, grocery stores, etc.
The iconic Route 66
To end our trip in the National Parks, we visited Joshua Tree before heading back to the coast in Los Angeles.
To visit this park, we of course started with an early wake up call around 3:45 am to hike Ryan Mountain.
After this beautiful walk, we visited the park the “American way”, that is to say moving with the car from one point to another to admire the landscapes.
We saw a skull carved in a rock “Skull Rock”, a stone arch “Arch Rock”, a cactus garden “Cholla Cactus Garden” and the famous Joshua trees.
Cholla Cactus Garden