Complete a full circuit of the highlights of the USA
This is the ultimate American road trip. From north to south, east coast and west, experience the amazing diversity of this incredible continent. Experience Yosemite’s glistening falls, Lake Tahoe's incredibly crisp air and water, and the daunting peaks of the Rockies. Spot bears and wolves on a trek across Yellowstone National Park, come face-to-face (literally) with the giant presidents of Mount Rushmore, and camp out in the land of the Wild West. Discover the laidback local vibe of Chicago, find the American dream rising again in Detroit, then stand in awe at Niagara Falls. Bite into the Big Apple, snake through the jaw-dropping Appalachian Mountains, and take in everything from pioneer and political history to the musical legacies of Nashville and Memphis. Feel the good vibes of New Orleans, witness the legendary Grand Canyon and sacred desert landscapes of Monument Valley, and live it up in Vegas. Make your way through scorching Death Valley and the lush forests of Yosemite before returning to San Francisco. This is the best way to explore one of the most fascinating nations on earth.
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Visit seventeen states and eleven national parks in 47 days
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and pine trees, Lake Tahoe is idyllic. Shake off the driving dust with a late afternoon dip in the alpine blue waters or relax on a sunset cruise.
Drive along the majestic Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the States, and stare in awe at the sweeping views of Rocky Mountain National Park in all directions. Hike though outstanding landscapes and see elk, pikas, marmots, ptarmigans and bighorn sheep.
Spend an evening on the banks of the Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn style, and rent a canoe to paddle along the famous river
Spend two nights in Yellowstone and keep your eyes open for bison, bears and even rare grey wolves
Worship at the sublime altar to Mother Nature that is Niagara Falls, taking an optional wet and wild boat cruise
Enjoy a full day to explore Washington DC. There's lots to see and do in the US capital, and most of it is free. Visit the White House, Capitol Hill and the National Mall, and feel small next to the statue of Abraham Lincoln
The Grand Canyon National Park needs no introduction. Unlike most trips, you'll spend two nights in the park so there's a full day to explore properly. See the mighty canyon up close on a variety of hikes or take a helicopter flight overhead
Towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, redwood forests and epic night skies - Yosemite National Park feels like utopia. While other tour groups breeze through in a day, you'll get to visit twice, allowing plenty of time for hiking and exploring
This is a participatory trip. That’s a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride – you’re part of a team! You know the phrase ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’. Well that’s extra true on this trip. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand – everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!
That teamwork also extends to our optional food kitty of approximately US$10 per day, run to cover the cost of meals. This kitty saves you worrying about stuff like where to get food or what exactly sales tax is, and actually helps keep your costs down. Instead of paying individually as you go, it means we can bulk purchase items and cook our own food – though there’s always the chance to use it for the occasional pizza night! The kitty is optional and for your convenience, so if you've got specific dietary requirements you can opt out and purchase (and cook) your own food.
The United States is a world of endless possibilities – that’s why our Basix trips are designed so they fit together as (not quite endless) combinations. That means while you might just be starting your trip, some of your new travel mates may have been travelling together for a week or more (and so have some great tips for you). You can see how our trips fit together and all the different possible combinations at www.intrepidtravel.com/brochures. Simply click view/download on the North America brochure and look at the combo map on page 12.
Road tripping is the ultimate way to see the USA. So on this trip you'll be spending a fair amount of time in a van with other travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however, and you might even make some lifetime friends.
Some of the places visited on this trip are at high altitude, which mean they can be cold, even in summer. Mountains in summer also mean mosquitoes, so repellent is recommended.
This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Traffic in and out of the larger cities can be hectic, especially during holiday periods. There may be delays, so be prepared to take part in car games to keep you entertained.Many of the cities on this trip are best explored on foot. To get the most out of these, plus also the hikes within the national parks, it is best if you have a reasonable level of physical fitness and are able to wakl moderate-to-long distances.
This trip only allows for limited time at some destinations, so you may have to move quickly, and may not be able to see everything on your to-do list
Some travellers have reported feeling unsafe in San Francisco due to the large number of homeless people. Unfortunately homelessness is a fact of life in San Francisco and the problem is widespread throughout the city. It is very likely that you will see homeless people on the street during your time in the city, and while it can appear intimidating, they are mostly harmless.
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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Circle USA trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
1. This trip finishes on arrival into San Francisco in the afternoon on day 47.