sparker1 wrote in post #9717246
It's hard to give good answers without knowing more of your plans or you financial situation. Do you plan to hike a lot, and can you hike long distances in the desert during the summer? Can you afford to stay in hotels/motels and eat all your meals in restaurants? Will you be alone? If I were 23, traveling alone, with the kind of budget most 23 YO have, and fit enough to hike in the desert and mountains, this is what I would do:
I would rent a high-clearance SUV, preferably with 4WD. I would either sleep in the SUV using an air mattress, or buy a small tent, sleeping bag, etc. I would buy a cooler, small camp stove, minimum utensils and groceries. Then I would plan a route that goes by all the places mentioned, plus many others. In this plan, there is no need for reservations or schedules. A National Parks annual pass will save money. Camping in government parks/campgrounds is free or very inexpensive. Making your own meals saves much money. By camping, you can be at the best places for sunrise and sunset, without having to rise hours earlier to be there by sunrise or drive long distances after dark.
Some of your planned stops are for longer than necessary, but that is moot in my plan. Stay at any place as long as you care to, moving to the next and staying there as long as necessary. I could recommend length of stay, since I have been to all these places numerous times. This would not necessarily be right for you.
If arriving in LA, I would immediately head up the coast highway (lots to see there) to San Francisco, seeing Muir Woods, Napa Valley and Point Reyes while in the area. Then over to Yosemite, see the valley, Glacier Point and Hetch Hetchy then leave over Tioga Pass. I'd visit Bodie ghost town, Mono Lake and some of the Eastern Sierra down to Death Valley. From there to Las Vegas, up to Valley of Fire then Zion (seeing the main canyon, Kolob Canyon and driving Kolob Terrace. I'd do all the hikes I was able to do.
From Zion to North Rim of Grand Canyon, then Page, AZ to do both Antelope Canyons, Horseshoe Bend, North and South Coyote Buttes, Paria Rimrocks, Wahweap Hoodoos, Cottonwood Canyon Road and some of its hikes/canyons, Kodachrome Basin State Park, drive Skutumpah Road and hike some of its canyons, then Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon. From there, drive Highway 12 (extremely scenic) doing some of the hikes/canyons to be found along it. Capitol Reef is next, then highway 95 to Blanding, down to Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods and hiking on Cedar Mesa. Then up to Moab for Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point SP. Lots of hikes and back roads to drive around there. Up to Salt Lake City, then through Logan Canyon to Bear Lake, then to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, driving Beartooth Highway while there.
From Yellowstone, I would go to Glacier National Park, into Canada for Banff and Jasper, down into Washington and drive through the Northern Cascades, visit Mount Rainier and Mt St Helens, into Oregon for Crater Lake (and other scenery you'll find), out to the coast highway to drive south through the Redwood forests and down to LA.
This would be a wonderful trip and can be done in two months, depending on how much hiking you do along the way. You would have to judge how well your time is being spent and make adjustments. You may not get to all these places, but will certainly be able to see a lot.
I have photos of most of these places on my gallery (link below) to help you decide what to see. I left off Colorado, one of my favorite states. Lots to do there in exchange for some of the other spots. Good luck and let us know how it goes.