Best time to visit:
There is a huge difference between the climate of the desert regions in the south (dry all year round, hot in summer) and that of the regions north of San Francisco, where it rains abundantly all year round. In summer, the sun warms the beaches and north-western mountains, but it also drives up prices. In winter the sun is warm in the south while skiing in the Rocky Mountains
In a word:
How ya doin’?
- The air conditioning is often set to maximum: keep a warm garment close at hand
- If you rent a car, remember that petrol stations are few and far between.
- Always carry an abundant supply of water with you if you are traveling by car.
At the table:
Burgers, pizza, fries and Coke! In large cities, the gastronomic offer is more varied due to the presence of many cultures, but even the smaller towns usually have at least one Chinese or American restaurant. Interesting specialties are Southwestern dishes that are affected by the Mexican influence such as the red chile and green chile of New Mexico. The portions are generous and nothing prevents you from ordering a plate to divide.
Walk along the Grand Canyon Arizona) or Bryce Canyon (Utah); Meet the Navajo natives in Monument Valley and sleep in a hogan (traditional house); Make a wager in one of the thousand casinos in Las Vegas!
The Far West includes the most beautiful regions of the United States in that wide strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountain Range which includes the states of: California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nevada .
The trip is splendid, we will visit the most beautiful and famous parks in the United States!
The fundamental theme of the trip is Nature and not so much the cities from which you try to escape as quickly as possible, moreover it is a real journey 'on the road' it is about traveling almost 5000 km along the classic roads seen thousands of times in films along some of the mythical ones like Route 66!
We rented a car in Denver, Colorado, and drove, in just over three weeks, to San Francisco through numerous states, sleeping in classic motels on the road, passing through dozens and dozens of towns with the small flowerbed in front of the house, the inevitable stars and stripes flag on the door and living the American dream!
Like all our stories, this one does not pretend to be a travel guide but only a means of inspiration and a starting point for a possible future trip!
Our suggested itinerary (30 days)
Denver, Arches NP, Moab, Bluff (visit at Dead Horse Point), Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly (trekking)
Grand Canyon (trekking and flight on the helicopter), Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon
Powell Lake (visit at the dam), Hatch, Bryce Canyon (trekking), Las Vegas, Bishop, Bodie (visit at the ghost town), Merced
Yosemite NP (trekking), Mariposa Grove (visit at the sequoias), Fresno, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Malibu, Santa Monica, San Francisco
A long intercontinental flight takes us to the legendary United States of America!
Small pit stop in Atlanta before leaving for Denver, Colorado from where our long adventure on the road will begin, which will lead us to the Pacific coast of California!
But we are dead tired, we collapse on our king size beds of our first American motel!
From the snow-capped peaks of Colorado, we are not far from the famous Aspen, we pass the 3000 meters of altitude during the long transfer that takes us to Utah.
The funny thing is that we were all in flip-flops and undershirts while around us there were only mounds of freshly swept snow ...
These United States never cease to amaze us.
Only shortly after we were already inside the rocky and desert "Arches National Park".
We travel the long way (Devils Garden Trail) to its extremity (Landscape Arch).
Balanced Rock, a huge rock in the balance, reminded us of all the cartoons of the legendary Willy the coyote and his faithful "enemy" Beep-Beep.
We depart once again. Destination: Moab.
This small town, famous in the past for its rich uranium deposits, now plays the secondary role of "caravanserai" for the many visitors to the parks in the area.
We sleep in the "Gramma House", a classic traditional American wooden house complete with yard, BBQ and post box from the movie.
After a fleeting typical American breakfast in a petrol station we reach the “Dead Horse Point”, made famous by the ending of the film “Thelma & Louise” or “Mission impossible II”.
Large rocks alternating with wide desert spaces, long tongues of asphalt that die towards infinity ...
The spectacular "Monument Valley" suddenly threw us into the set of a Sergio Leone film. My traveling companions began to transform, as we entered the valley in John Wayne or Butch Cassidy, the cars looked like indomitable horses and we often met real Navajo Indians.
The latter represent one of the last remaining tribes even if, a bit like the Maori in New Zealand, they are placed on the margins of society.
They should absolutely protect these populations with their ancient and old traditions, customs and languages.
Monument Valley is stunning.
If you've seen any western movies you will feel like you've known them for a lifetime!
I was enchanted when I let my imagination run wild, suddenly tribes of Indians began to materialize in front of a campfire and in my amazed eyes ...
I saw wild horses running free, whole herds controlled by cowboys with classic hats and a rifle always ready in hand ... Redskins huts, arrows, guns, caravans, saloons, the red earth ...
The evening ends in the small town of Mexican Hat, enjoying excellent steaks at the Swinging Steak.
Canyon de Chelly is a Navajo Indian Reservation.
We continue stopping often along the various spots to admire the many landscapes that this canyon can offer us.
“Spider Rock” is a panoramic point from which you can enjoy a very suggestive view. At the center there is a rock formation in the shape of a large pin, it seems to lack any perspective ... You can't distinguish where the sky ends, where the mountain, the surrounding hills, everything changes according to the point of observation.
The trek that took us from White House Windows to White House Ruins was very intense, a couple of hours with steep slopes… everyone felt 36 degrees!
There is nothing to do, I love walking in nature, in whatever form it represents itself.
In the evening we reach Flagstaff, famous because the legendary Route 66 passes here as well as for its legendary railway through which freight trains made up of dozens and dozens of convoys pass!
The Grand Canyon is a one-of-a-kind natural wonder. The cracks in its rocks show all the life of our Planet… since the dawn of time.
It is impressive. With a single glance you cannot grasp all its entirety and grandeur so I would suggest, if time and wallet permit, take a helicopter flight in order to appreciate this umpteenth wonder from a privileged point of view!
The trek to the rim of the Canyon is amazing. I would suggest spending at least three days here to be able to experience it more intensely thanks to its numerous journeys.
Sometimes I stopped, in silence, to admire those cliffs without perspective in which the blue of the Colorado River, which continues to dig into the rock, almost clashes with the red that dominates the whole landscape.
I stopped to breathe the wind, to hear the beats of Our Mother Nature and to admire her in all her intimacy.
Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River.
Lying on my stomach on the edge of the precipice, I admired the majestic rocky walls that rose high into the sky from the bowels of the earth.
Antelope Canyon. Last Navajo Reservation.
Inside you feel like you are inside a magical snail.
It is an ancient canyon that allows you to experience it directly in contact with its soul.
A path dug among the rocks by the wind and floods has created a very characteristic passage and when the sunlight manages to filter through the show is guaranteed.
Lake Powell is an artificial lake formed by the waters of the Colorado River… It took them 17 years to give life to this umpteenth wonder.
I speak of wonder because in such a desert area a body of water becomes precious.
But above all because thanks to the Glenn Canyon dam, electricity is offered to the entire state of Utah.
Come on, we're off to Hatch.
Hatch has retained all the charm of the western era. If, instead of parking our cars in the delightful motel that hosted us for the night, we had left our horses to rest, it wouldn't have clashed with the background in the least.
Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its hoodos, which are rock formations that rise into the sky and end with a boulder at the tip.
A path that from a spot of 8000 feet (Sunrise point) goes down between canyons and arid paths.
We leave right away to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is a unique city of its kind.
Born in the heart of the desert, one Dubai american made of lights, sounds, fictions and money.
Getting married here has a different meaning, it's like shopping! The funny thing is that a wedding celebrated here has 100% legal value in Italy and elsewhere and it becomes sad to read the big advertisements for lawyers at the discount, perhaps even the contrary practices are too easy.
We continue along the Strip, the long way of fun so called by the fact that the so-called "red eyes", the hardened players, often remain even in their underwear (to strip = undress)!
We have dinner at the Luxor casino with an excellent buffet in which there was every good thing!
Finally our tour begins. We go through all the various hotels / casinos that with their lights and attractions make this city so alive! We pass the “New York New York, Bellagio, Venetian, Palazzo, Luxor, Mirage” etc.
We try to play roulette at the Venetian casino but it is too expensive for us ($ 25 per stake!)
We end up at the Circus Circus!
Soon after I'm behind the green table!
At three in the morning, dead tired and with the beauty of $ 28 won, I stretch out in bed!
I confess that the air you breathed around left me very dumbfounded!
Sad people sitting in front of a monitor accompanied by a drink or a cigarette by pressing a button and dreaming of a fortune that almost never comes!
I also admit that despite not being a bettor or a gambler, in there, it becomes so easy to get caught ...
At eight in the morning we are ready to leave.
The lights of the large neon lights no longer shine, there are no Hispanics on every corner of the street who fill you with advertising cards with a thousand naked women offering themselves for sex, there is no river of people flowing along the Strip ...
Another night has passed, thousands and thousands of dollars have passed from one hand to the other ...
Many people rejoiced, many more cried, someone changed their lives, but now everything is silent ...
No fear: in a few hours everything starts again!
Death Valley. Never was any name more appropriate.
The closer you get, the more the temperature rises ...
We start our tour from Zabrinskie Point, a hill from which you can enjoy the "usual" incredible spectacle. A dry plain, a plain of death.
I wonder how they managed, many years ago, to overcome these places with horse-drawn caravans and without today's hi-tech equipment.
Badwater Basin, a depression about 86 meters below sea level. There is a carpet of salt and the thermometer on my watch stops at 44.8 °.
You are out of breath and you sweat profusely.
In the evening we arrive in Bishop. We are in California!
Moments of tension when we learn that the East entrance to Yosemite (Tioga Pass) is closed due to snow. We look for different alternatives that bring us closer to our goal.
We work hard to change the initial programs.
As we feared, the Sierra Nevada has denied us its access and when Mother Nature takes sides against us we can do nothing but obey.
This detour costs us about 8 hours more by road, the United States is really huge!
The landscape of California, however, is so varied and above all unexpected that this change of program becomes a source of new discoveries.
We decide to stop in Bodie, an abandoned ghost town that developed at the beginning of the last century after some gold diggers had found some nuggets ...
The village has been preserved in perfect condition as it was when it was abandoned.
It is surreal to walk among those old wooden shacks ... and to think that until a few decades ago there were caravans, bandits, bounty hunters, saloons ...
So did the Far West really exist?
The landscape changes completely. It becomes Alpine!
You go up more and more, centuries-old and evergreen trees rise upwards, streams, waterfalls begin to appear everywhere ...
We are finally in Yosemite National Park!
We stop in the various commercials to try to steal some images with our cameras, at least we try!
We walk a few miles inside the forest, beware of pumas and bears to see some waterfalls or viewpoints ...
The vegetation is so thick that not even the blue sky allows you. It envelops you completely.
Unfortunately there are too many things to see and time is very short so we cannot enjoy those landscapes and silences as we would have liked.
In the late afternoon we arrive at Mariposa Grove, a forest famous for the presence of millenary sequoias. There are some 2700 years old!
We feel like ants in the presence of these giants of nature.
A truly special city!
From the highway you begin to read the signs to places we have always known: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Melrose, Rodeo Drive ...
You enter the city and a thousand lights, glittering advertising signs, rivers of people running and flowing everywhere.
You see the strangest things: a guy with an old wig on his head who sat at a McDonald's table reading a newspaper and with an inflatable doll all made up at his side.
The city tour starts from a vantage point from which you can admire the famous inscription: "Hollywood" on the hill. Susan, a first-rate gossip woman, accompanies us: “here where Brad Pitt was discovered by a talent scout when he worked as a spit-roasted chicken seller, here where Paris Hilton was arrested for drunk driving”.
You enter this quiet tree-lined neighborhood and you feel like you are in a movie.
The first thing that comes to mind is the eponymous show from our adolescence with Brandon and Brenda but in reality it is a fake movie since it was shot in Pasadena, not far from here.
What is true, real and tangible are the many villas of American stars.
The Spielberg villa dominates the valley complete with a helicopter pitch ... The rest is a whole series of hyper-protected and guarded villas that seem abandoned from the outside.
"Eddie Murphy lives here, Jennifer Aniston here, Brad Pitt here, George Clooney here, Tommy Hilfiger here ..." It almost makes you smile to see that Britney Spears lives opposite Justin Timberlake and next to Madonna and imagine ... you finish your coffee and ask to the neighbor?
We stop for a while in Rodeo Drive, a famous shopping district, and then end up in Melrose today more alive than ever for gay pride!
We arrive at the Kodak Theater, famous because the delivery of the Oscars takes place there ... but be careful! What is that crowd there? A disinterested passer-by calmly tells me that there is only Jim Carey who is presenting his latest film of him and after a while here he is in a green jacket among the flashes of the photographers a few meters from us!
By metro we easily reach Universal Studios.
How many films have we seen that started with that famous logo?
The interior is a world apart, we get lost in the streets of Universal Village among street artists and colored lights.
The evening ends along the "Walk of fame", that of the stars on the sidewalk and the casts of the hands of Hollywood stars.
We decide to dedicate the whole morning to the famous Californian beaches, from Venice by Baywatch to Santa Monica to Malibu.
In the afternoon we leave for the delightful Santa Barbara and in the meantime the sun also comes out.
A colorful marina, a tree-lined avenue full of shops and young people welcomes us!
Here is the America I expected and I meet it in San Francisco.
A huge city full of malls, people of all kinds on the street, gangs of black rappers, homeless every 50 meters, obese walking around with big fat sandwiches, street performers, preachers ...
Here we spend two days like mavericks trying to admire as much as possible of this great Californian city.
Fisherman Wharf with its tourist crowds, seafood and crab restaurants; Chinatown and its Chinese community, several times I had the impression of wandering around Hong Kong; Union Square, the heart of the city, the place where luxury hotels, department stores, boutiques and shops of various kinds are concentrated and the terminus of the Cable Car, an unmissable spectacle; Castro, San Francisco's hub of gay culture; Golden Gate Bridge, with its mighty orange pillars, is certainly the symbol of the city. Walking along its entire length of 2.7 km is truly exciting to be able to touch the colossal dimensions and enjoy the view of the city.
From Pier 33 we embark for an interesting visit to the Alcatraz penitentiary.
For 30 years it was the toughest prison in the United States, including Al Capone among the most famous guests. The visit is well organized also thanks to the help of audio guides that are able to enhance even more such a particular place and which I strongly recommend renting.
The island that houses the penitentiary lies just two kilometers from the mainland and has always been considered impregnable except for a historical escape.
This wonderful journey is coming to an end, with your eyes still dreaming you think that if you hug the wall of a canyon you feel that it breathes, if you look along the cracks in the mountains you see the Indians, you hear them howling and the dust that can be seen in the distance is certainly that of their horses running at a gallop, if you move a few miles you can spot Brad Pitt meeting Thelma & Louise in a fast food restaurant before the two launch from Death Horse Point. And beep beep? He runs with our car chased by Willy the coyote. Bambi together with the Yogi bear, Chip and Dale playing between our feet ... they are all there. And then it happens that your imagination no longer serves you because there is Jim Carey who greets you from the other side of the street and as you walk around you arrive at Brad Pitt's house.
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