A misty, pastel-hued Los Angeles skyline with palm trees in the foreground and buildings in the background
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Road Trips

Road Trip from Virginia to California

By Dianne Titos | Updated on 10 August 2023

Are you ready for a monumental trip spanning to the width of the United States? Then hop on this road trip from Virginia to California with diverse landscapes and cultures. You will travel through iconic music scenes and pristine natural beauty on your way to the beaches and theme parks of LA.

The 2,850-mile road trip from Virginia to California takes 45 hours to complete, weaving through Richmond, Louisville, St Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bruce Canyon City, and Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

Sounds interesting? Then continue reading for the best routes, things to see on them, places to stop overnight, hotels to stay in, and the best times to embark on this long but fulfilling journey.

How far is California from Virginia, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip route options between Virginia and California
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Northern Route2,850 miles45 hours
The Southern Route2,960 miles45 hours

The Northern Route for this road trip from Virginia to California is shorter with respect to distance but takes the same time to cover, i.e., 45 hours. This 2850-mile route is more focused on big cities and natural landscapes.

The Southern Route is longer with 2960 miles to cover but takes the same amount of time. This route will suit you better if you love a vibrant arts scene during your road trips.

As this road trip from Virginia to California is quite long and has a lot to cover, we recommend setting aside at least 9 to 15 days to thoroughly enjoy both the routes and the striking destination.

Beautiful view of Zion Canyon National Park from a high scenic overlook on a sunny day with blue skies
This epic road trip from Virginia to California is packed with bucket-list worthy sights and Zion National Park is one of them on the Northern Route.
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Here is our ultimate California road trip itinerary if you want to explore the state further:

READ MORE - Ultimate California Road Trip Itinerary

Best road trip route from Virginia to California

Both routes for this road trip from Virginia to California take the same amount of time but offer a different vibe. So, your choice of route will depend on your taste for scenery.

The Northern Route takes you through West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. You'll meet key landmarks such as the Gateway Arch and cities rich in culture.

Towards the latter part of the trip, this route will take you through natural arches, canyons, hoodoos and lava bed. You will also find classic red rock formations and plenty of breathtaking views. This route gives snow in winter, so be prepared in advance and avoid arriving in LA during rush hour.

The Southern Route is rich in all types of art. You will encounter prominent music cities in Nashville and Memphis where you won't be far from live music. There are also notable music museums. As you travel across the country, the landscape changes.

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the canyons of Sedona in addition to encountering the most famous canyon of them all, the Grand Canyon. However, Flagstaff is a high-altitude city. So, it may be colder and you may experience some snow.

How to drive from Virginia to California