Backpacking USA

The US is definitely undoubtedly a backpacker’s land of unlimited possibilities. Here, you can experience vibrant cities pulsating with life and pay a visit to picturesque national parks, scenic beaches, serene desert landscapes, and much more. Enjoy your trip with our ideal backpacking route for the US.


Important Basics

Language

de jure: none; de facto: American English

Capital city

Washington D.C.

Form of government

federal presidential constitutional republic

Best time to travel

varies from region to region

Currency

United States dollar

Country code

+1

Cities

Los Angeles

There are already round trips available to Los Angeles from German airports at the price of 500 euros. Be it Beverly Hills, the Walk of Fame or the Hollywood Sign – the list of must-sees in the City of Angels is seemingly endless. So, take a few days to explore the second-largest city in the United States before picking up your rental van and continuing your trip through the USA.

Relax on Venice Beach, stroll through the hip downtown area, visit Rodeo Drive and dive headfirst into the legendary nightlife of West Hollywood. Seeing as you’re in the entertainment capital of the US, also don’t miss out on a visit to Warner Bros Studios in Hollywood.

Not only does this allow you to get a glimpse behind the scenes of world-famous films and shows but you can also re-enact a scene from the cult series “Friends”, climb onto Harry Potter’s broomstick and test out the interactive sound stage, Stage 48. You will learn interesting facts about the production of Hollywood films and discover how, step by step, the script and screenplay are turned into an actual movie. A three-hour guided tour costs around 50 euros.

After picking up your rental van, cruise along the legendary Sunset Boulevard and head to Santa Monica or Malibu. We also recommend a trip to Newport Beach and the beautiful Laguna Beach.

Monterey

Let’s continue along the legendary Highway One to Monterey. This coastal town’s most famous attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. The real highlight of this area, however, is the 17-Mile Drive to Carmel-by-the-Sea.

This road takes you along one of the most picturesque stretches of coastline in California. You can stop at numerous viewpoints to marvel at the awe-inspiring scenery and, with a bit of luck, even watch seals playing in the surf.

With its gorgeous beaches, small boutiques and romantic cafés, Carmel-by-the-Sea itself is a place well worth a visit. You also shouldn’t miss out on the famous McWay Falls and the stunning view on the drive to Big Sur.

San Francisco

Next stop: San Francisco, the city of Silicon Valley and cable cars. Countless sights await you in the city many consider to be the most scenic in North America. While there, you can visit one of the most unusual streets in the world: Lombard Street.

Take a tour of Alcatraz Prison Island and discover the cool bars and restaurants around Fisherman’s Wharf. And let’s not forget about the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s most distinctive landmark.

We recommend cycling to and over the Golden Gate Bridge until you reach Sausalito – a truly unforgettable experience. Also consider taking a ride in one of the historic cable cars, taking a walk through the idyllic Golden Gate Park and hiking to the Twin Peaks for a breathtaking view of “San Fran”.

Lake Tahoe

Your trip now takes you to the border between the states of California and Nevada. There, situated at an altitude of about 1,900 metres, lies the largest mountain lake in North America. Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Californians.

Once you leave the quaint town of South Lake Tahoe, picturesque, unspoiled nature awaits you. In this oasis of peace, you will be able to find the relaxation needed after experiencing the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Due to its magnificent panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is also considered to be the most picturesque lake in the USA. In addition to the stunning landscape, this place offers numerous outdoor activities.

Whether you want to enjoy mountain biking, climbing, trekking, wakeboarding, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking or you just want to take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters – this is the place for you!

Yosemite

For many, Yosemite National Park is the highlight of a road trip to California. With its countless waterfalls, giant sequoias, deep gorges and endless expanses it is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA. Covering an area of over 3,000 square kilometres, there is much to be discovered during your visit.

While you can drive through the national park, the fantastic hiking trails and spectacular viewpoints are worth working up a bit of a sweat. You could, for example, take a round trip hike to Glacier Point or visit Horsetail Fall, one of the most famous waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. Especially in the summer months, a dip in one of the waterfalls is a lovely way to cool off after a demanding hike.

Death Valley

When visiting eastern California, be sure to leave time for a stop in Death Valley. With its fascinating stone sculptures, rocks, salt lakes, volcanic craters and canyons, the national park’s bizarre appearance is sure to remind you of a lunar landscape.

Death Valley is the hottest region in the United States and, during the summer months, temperatures in the aptly named desert valley may reach up to 50 °C (122 °F). So, what are you waiting for? First stock up on provisions as well as fuel and then explore this fascinating place of extremes. Did you know that the southern part of the national park is the lowest point in the USA? If you are headed there, consider visiting the salt flats in Badwater Basin.

Cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the magnificent Tioga Pass. Hike up the Telescope Peak Trail through the pine forests and enjoy the view of the snow-capped Panamint Range. Then make a stop in Titus Canyon and walk through a ghost town used as a film set for both westerns and action movies.

Las Vegas

Vegas, baby! The glittering metropolis in the Nevada desert is a must-see on any road trip along the West Coast of the USA. While the city offers its visitors only a handful of classic sights, Las Vegas is still so much more than just the magnet for gamblers that it is reputed to be.

In Las Vegas, aka “Sin City”, not only casinos but also thrilling amusement parks, world-class restaurants, bewitching magic shows and much more await you. Vegas has anything you can think of! Take a photo with the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign, ride the world’s largest Ferris wheel, dive into the city’s colourful nightlife and dance the night away in some of the best clubs in the world.

On the way to the Grand Canyon, you will also come across the Glen Canyon Dam and the Horseshoe Bend. When there, consider paying a visit to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, the place that offers the most impressive view over this bend in the Colorado River. The surreal rock formations of Monument Valley are another highlight of the region. Throughout your 17-mile drive to the Grand Canyon, you will pass through a truly unique landscape that, more than any other, perfectly embodies the Wild West.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world and, without a doubt, a must-see for any visitor to the area. As a kilometre deep gorge carved out by the Colorado River for millions of years, the rock formations are made up of different layers of stone. The closest part of it, which includes the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk, is located in Nevada.

To see the most scenic part of the Grand Canyon we do, however, recommend making a detour to Arizona. Once there, you’ll be able to choose from numerous viewpoints and starting points for hikes spread along the scenic Desert View Drive. The sunrises in the Grand Canyon are particularly memorable. That feeling when the very first rays of sunlight set the cliffs ablaze in bright oranges, reds and purples – goosebumps! We can also only recommend a hike to the entrancing Havasu Falls located near the Native American community living in Supai Village.

Joshua Tree NP

On your way back to Los Angeles, we recommend making a stop at the fascinating Joshua Tree Cactus Garden. Situated in the region where Mojave and Colorado deserts meet, the national park was named after the Joshua palm lilies that grow in it. For a fee of around 25 euros, you can drive through the park in your car. The Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Indian Cove and Arch Rock are its most famous attractions.

Explore the scenic hiking trails with panoramic views during the day and spend the night at one of the numerous campsites. Just allow yourself to be enchanted by the dazzling starry night sky and the awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets over the unique desert landscape. From Joshua Tree National Park, the last leg of the road trip takes you back to Los Angeles.


Los Angeles

Los Angeles

There are already round trips available to Los Angeles from German airports at the price of 500 euros. Be it Beverly Hills, the Walk of Fame or the Hollywood Sign – the list of must-sees in the City of Angels is seemingly endless. So, take a few days to explore the second-largest city in the United States before picking up your rental van and continuing your trip through the USA.

Relax on Venice Beach, stroll through the hip downtown area, visit Rodeo Drive and dive headfirst into the legendary nightlife of West Hollywood. Seeing as you’re in the entertainment capital of the US, also don’t miss out on a visit to Warner Bros Studios in Hollywood.

Not only does this allow you to get a glimpse behind the scenes of world-famous films and shows but you can also re-enact a scene from the cult series “Friends”, climb onto Harry Potter’s broomstick and test out the interactive sound stage, Stage 48. You will learn interesting facts about the production of Hollywood films and discover how, step by step, the script and screenplay are turned into an actual movie. A three-hour guided tour costs around 50 euros.

After picking up your rental van, cruise along the legendary Sunset Boulevard and head to Santa Monica or Malibu. We also recommend a trip to Newport Beach and the beautiful Laguna Beach.

Monterey

Monterey

Let’s continue along the legendary Highway One to Monterey. This coastal town’s most famous attraction is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. The real highlight of this area, however, is the 17-Mile Drive to Carmel-by-the-Sea.

This road takes you along one of the most picturesque stretches of coastline in California. You can stop at numerous viewpoints to marvel at the awe-inspiring scenery and, with a bit of luck, even watch seals playing in the surf.

With its gorgeous beaches, small boutiques and romantic cafés, Carmel-by-the-Sea itself is a place well worth a visit. You also shouldn’t miss out on the famous McWay Falls and the stunning view on the drive to Big Sur.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Next stop: San Francisco, the city of Silicon Valley and cable cars. Countless sights await you in the city many consider to be the most scenic in North America. While there, you can visit one of the most unusual streets in the world: Lombard Street.

Take a tour of Alcatraz Prison Island and discover the cool bars and restaurants around Fisherman’s Wharf. And let’s not forget about the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s most distinctive landmark.

We recommend cycling to and over the Golden Gate Bridge until you reach Sausalito – a truly unforgettable experience. Also consider taking a ride in one of the historic cable cars, taking a walk through the idyllic Golden Gate Park and hiking to the Twin Peaks for a breathtaking view of “San Fran”.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Your trip now takes you to the border between the states of California and Nevada. There, situated at an altitude of about 1,900 metres, lies the largest mountain lake in North America. Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Californians.

Once you leave the quaint town of South Lake Tahoe, picturesque, unspoiled nature awaits you. In this oasis of peace, you will be able to find the relaxation needed after experiencing the hustle and bustle of San Francisco. Due to its magnificent panoramic view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is also considered to be the most picturesque lake in the USA. In addition to the stunning landscape, this place offers numerous outdoor activities.

Whether you want to enjoy mountain biking, climbing, trekking, wakeboarding, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking or you just want to take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters – this is the place for you!

Yosemite

Yosemite

For many, Yosemite National Park is the highlight of a road trip to California. With its countless waterfalls, giant sequoias, deep gorges and endless expanses it is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful national parks in the USA. Covering an area of over 3,000 square kilometres, there is much to be discovered during your visit.

While you can drive through the national park, the fantastic hiking trails and spectacular viewpoints are worth working up a bit of a sweat. You could, for example, take a round trip hike to Glacier Point or visit Horsetail Fall, one of the most famous waterfalls in Yosemite National Park. Especially in the summer months, a dip in one of the waterfalls is a lovely way to cool off after a demanding hike.

Death Valley

Death Valley

When visiting eastern California, be sure to leave time for a stop in Death Valley. With its fascinating stone sculptures, rocks, salt lakes, volcanic craters and canyons, the national park’s bizarre appearance is sure to remind you of a lunar landscape.

Death Valley is the hottest region in the United States and, during the summer months, temperatures in the aptly named desert valley may reach up to 50 °C (122 °F). So, what are you waiting for? First stock up on provisions as well as fuel and then explore this fascinating place of extremes. Did you know that the southern part of the national park is the lowest point in the USA? If you are headed there, consider visiting the salt flats in Badwater Basin.

Cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the magnificent Tioga Pass. Hike up the Telescope Peak Trail through the pine forests and enjoy the view of the snow-capped Panamint Range. Then make a stop in Titus Canyon and walk through a ghost town used as a film set for both westerns and action movies.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Vegas, baby! The glittering metropolis in the Nevada desert is a must-see on any road trip along the West Coast of the USA. While the city offers its visitors only a handful of classic sights, Las Vegas is still so much more than just the magnet for gamblers that it is reputed to be.

In Las Vegas, aka “Sin City”, not only casinos but also thrilling amusement parks, world-class restaurants, bewitching magic shows and much more await you. Vegas has anything you can think of! Take a photo with the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign, ride the world’s largest Ferris wheel, dive into the city’s colourful nightlife and dance the night away in some of the best clubs in the world.

On the way to the Grand Canyon, you will also come across the Glen Canyon Dam and the Horseshoe Bend. When there, consider paying a visit to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, the place that offers the most impressive view over this bend in the Colorado River. The surreal rock formations of Monument Valley are another highlight of the region. Throughout your 17-mile drive to the Grand Canyon, you will pass through a truly unique landscape that, more than any other, perfectly embodies the Wild West.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world and, without a doubt, a must-see for any visitor to the area. As a kilometre deep gorge carved out by the Colorado River for millions of years, the rock formations are made up of different layers of stone. The closest part of it, which includes the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk, is located in Nevada.

To see the most scenic part of the Grand Canyon we do, however, recommend making a detour to Arizona. Once there, you’ll be able to choose from numerous viewpoints and starting points for hikes spread along the scenic Desert View Drive. The sunrises in the Grand Canyon are particularly memorable. That feeling when the very first rays of sunlight set the cliffs ablaze in bright oranges, reds and purples – goosebumps! We can also only recommend a hike to the entrancing Havasu Falls located near the Native American community living in Supai Village.

Joshua Tree NP

Joshua Tree NP

On your way back to Los Angeles, we recommend making a stop at the fascinating Joshua Tree Cactus Garden. Situated in the region where Mojave and Colorado deserts meet, the national park was named after the Joshua palm lilies that grow in it. For a fee of around 25 euros, you can drive through the park in your car. The Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Indian Cove and Arch Rock are its most famous attractions.

Explore the scenic hiking trails with panoramic views during the day and spend the night at one of the numerous campsites. Just allow yourself to be enchanted by the dazzling starry night sky and the awe-inspiring sunrises and sunsets over the unique desert landscape. From Joshua Tree National Park, the last leg of the road trip takes you back to Los Angeles.

USA Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Los Angeles
Home - Los Angeles
Flight
250
Campervan
2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles
-
Campervan
3. Los Angeles- Monterey
Los Angeles- Monterey
Van
4. Monterey
Monterey
-
5. Monterey- San Francisco
Monterey- San Francisco
Van
6. San Francisco
San Francisco
-
7. San Francisco- Lake Tahoe
San Francisco- Lake Tahoe
Van
8. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
-
9. Lake Tahoe- Yosemite
Lake Tahoe- Yosemite
Van
10. Yosemite
Yosemite
-
11. Yosemite- Death Valley
Yosemite- Death Valley
Van
12. Death Valley
Death Valley
-
13. Death Valley- Las Vegas
Death Valley- Las Vegas
Van
14. Las Vegas
Las Vegas
-
15. Las Vegas- Grand Canyon
Las Vegas- Grand Canyon
Van
16. Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
-
17. Grand Canyon- Joshua Tree NP
Grand Canyon- Joshua Tree NP
Van
18. Joshua Tree NP
Joshua Tree NP
-
19. Joshua Tree NP- Los Angeles
Joshua Tree NP- Los Angeles
Van
20. Los Angeles - Home
Los Angeles - Home
Flight
250

Total price.

Flights 500,00
Transportation 300,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 0,00
Total800,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

American Breakfast: It consists of eggs, ham, cornflakes and toast. It’s often also served with bacon or sausages.

Continental Breakfast: This is a little more toned down than the full portion. It includes bread rolls, muffins and cornflakes. Pancakes may also be a part of the deal.

Soups

Clam Chowder: Creamy clam chowder is an absolute classic in the USA. This delicious soup is made with fresh seafood and can be sampled in many restaurants.

Main courses

Curly Fries: These are a real hit. You can order them with a burger or simply enjoy them with any kind of dip.

Spare Ribs: They are an essential part of the typical American BBQ. These ribs are served with a spicy sauce and a side of fries.

Hot Dogs: You likely already know these, of course, but they’re twice as good in the USA. In America, hot dogs come with tartar sauce, onions and pickles.

Burger: A burger is obviously a must when you’re in the US.

Drinks & Snacks

Bagels: This simple snack is a must. Essentially, bagels are ring-shaped sandwiches with different spreads and ingredients.

Cheesecake: This cake is a favourite in the USA, and for good reason!

7 Up: This drink is now also available in Europe and many other countries, but it’s originally from the United States.

USA

The exchange rate for 1 US dollar is approximately 0.93 euros (as of February 2020). Below you will find the living costs as well as the costs of certain common items in the USA.

Cost of living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Be punctual: Punctuality is very important to Americans and anything less than being right on time will likely be considered rude.

Pay attention to the road signs: They may look a little different in the USA, so be careful and pay close attention!

Speak formally: Speaking formally and politely to one another is very important to Americans.

Be aware of how much alcohol you’re consuming: In America, someone may want to check how intoxicated you are. Just keep that in mind if you’re out partying.

Don'ts

Don’t take off your shoes: Unless the owner of the house asks you to, you don’t necessarily have to take off your shoes when entering someone else’s home.

Don’t act disrespectfully towards other races and cultures: The United States are an ethnically diverse country, so do be open-minded and respectful.

Don’t forget your documents: Be it your driver’s licence or your insurance documents, you will need to keep your documents at hand.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

yes

Temporary passport

yes

National ID

no

Temporary national ID

no

Child’s pass

yes

Visa

not necessary

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Institute

Additional Remarks.

The traveling document needs to be valid at least for the entirety of your stay, including the day of departure. There can be discrepancies between the conditions of different flight companies and national regulations.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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