From New York to New Orleans, grand canyons to grand cities, this really is seeing it all.

Journey east to west on a great American adventure that takes in the best that this expansive country has to offer. Explore the story of a nation in its birthplace in Philadelphia and political heart D.C. Feel the rhythms of country and blues in musical Tennessee before taking it easy in New Orleans, a city filled with life, music and great food. Discover how Texas is more than just cowboy country in Houston and San Antonio’s thriving cultural scene, while still leaving time to strap on a bib and devour some barbeque. Get closer to nature and camp in the Appalachian Mountains, explore deep caves, hike grand canyons and traverse sand dunes in the Navajo Nation. Embrace the outrageous glitz of Las Vegas or go in search of its more refined side before this three-week journey plays out.


Start
Newark, United States
Finish
Las Vegas, United States
Country
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
SSRYC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why we love this trip

  • The flexibility of this trip allows you to do what you want, when you want, without the restrictions of an overly packed itinerary

  • Enjoy a full day to explore Washington DC, New Orleans and the Grand Canyon. While most trips breeze through, we give you time to see much more of these amazing places

  • The cities of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans are notorious for their rich music and nightlife scenes. See live performances of blues, jazz, country and rock in celebrated musical venues

  • Learn about the ancient culture and history of the Anasazi Indians on a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, home to 600 traditional Indian cliff dwellings

  • San Antonio is a little piece of Mexico in the USA. Visit the World Heritage-listed Alamo, an 18th-century mission and fortress, and take a stroll along the lively San Antonio River Walk

  • The oldest capital in the US, sunny Santa Fe has an ancient history, a contemporary heart and a desert soul. With its adobe architecture and colourful art scene, it's not hard to see why Santa Fe's eccentric locals refer to their home as the 'City Different'

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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.

  • Traffic in and out of the big 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.

  • You'll be travelling in a van with a group of travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however, and you might even make some long-term friends.

  • The USA is a big country and there are many long days of driving. The drive through Texas for example is about seven hours.

  • Although our vans do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool. Expect to feel hot during summer and cold at other times of the year, especially at night. Please consider the season and research the weather conditions to determine the best time to travel for you. Remember to come prepared with adequate clothing.

  • From the steep hiking trails of the Grand Canyon to the sight-seeing tours of Washington DC, this trip involves a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness.

  • This trip only allows for one night in Nashville and one night in Memphis. Although you'll get more or less a full day to explore these great cities, you might have to move quickly to see everything on your to-do list.

Itinerary

Welcome to the USA. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details, food kitty and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive a couple of days earlier to see the sights (recommended), we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Consider doing a one-day sightseeing tour of New York by visiting: urbanadventures.com.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, drive south towards the nation's capital of Washington DC, stopping at Philadelphia on the way for a quick look at some of the highlights of the Old City, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the 'Rocky' steps. After touring around Philly, continue onto DC. The total driving time from New York to Washington DC will take about seven hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Philadelphia city highlights stop
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free to explore Washington DC, with the city being easily discovered on foot. To see as much as you can today, it may be an idea to get a map and make a plan. Choose from any of DC’s almost 100 world-class museums – the National Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Newseum are just a few. There are also many other small fascinating museums hidden around the city. The city is overflowing with iconic monuments and buildings, so don’t miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Monument, FDR and Jefferson Memorials. You’ll most likely do a lot of walking today, so maybe reward yourself with a relaxing evening.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Arlington National Cemetery - Free
  • Bike and Roll Tour - USD45
  • International Spy Museum - USD21
  • National Air & Space Museum - Free
  • National Archives - Free
  • National Gallery of Art - Free
  • National Museum of American History - Free
  • National Museum of Crime and Punishment - Free
  • National Museum of Natural History - Free
  • Newseum - USD22
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Journey into the breathtaking scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains (500 km). Shenandoah National Park is one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachian Mountains. Taking the Skyline Drive along the crest of the mountains, travel through deep woods and past spectacular vistas. Stop to stretch your legs under the impressive oak trees and admire the gorgeous views. Later in the afternoon, drive to your campsite for the night. Total driving today will take around eight hours including stops.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shenandoah National Park
Optional Activities
  • Shenandoah National Park Hikes - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive for around six hours further south today to Nashville, Tennessee. Once settled into the campground perhaps visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. Another point of interest is Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and approximately 200 music publishing houses are located. The Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot in the evening to experience authentic southern food and live music.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Country Music Hall of Fame - USD25
  • Ryman Auditorium Tour - USD14
  • Tennessee State Museum - Free
  • Wildhorse Saloon - USD10
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head west this morning to Memphis, which should take around four hours. Just out of the city you can visit Graceland, Elvis Presley's former home and the site of his tomb. Here you can see the famous jungle room, as well as his cars, private planes and much more. In the evening, consider heading down to check out Beale Street's traditional blues clubs, made famous by legends such as W.C Handy, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King. For those with an interest in history, there's the National Civil Rights Museum (at the former Lorraine Motel) where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

If you have time, a must-see in Memphis is Sun Studio - the 'Birthplace of Rock'. It boasts the first recordings of legendary performers like Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Graceland Museum - USD35
  • Sun Studio - USD12
  • Sun Studios Tour - USD13
  • National Civil Rights Museum - USD13
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today make the long drive across the state of Mississippi to New Orleans (the 'Big Easy'), which usually takes around six and a half hours. After checking in to your hotel in the French Quarter, use your free time getting to know the ‘Big Easy’. An eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture manifests in the city's architecture, cuisine and music scene. Possibly take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District. Perhaps join the rest of the group tonight for a typical Cajun-style dinner and toast to your adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day to fit in as much of New Orleans as you can. Tour the Honey Island Swamp (watch out for ‘gators), cruise the Mississippi on a riverboat or visit the fascinating little Voodoo Museum. As this is a combination trip, your leader and the composition of your group may change at this point. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. You're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.In the evening, perhaps check out a jazz show and dance the night away in the bars along Frenchman Street.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bourbon Street - Free
  • Cabildo - USD5
  • New Orleans - Cemetery Tour - USD25
  • New Orleans - French Market - Free
  • Mississippi Riverboat Cruise - USD70
  • New Orleans School of Cooking - USD29
  • Presbytere - USD6
  • Preservation Hall Jazz - USD15
  • Ursuline Convent Tours - USD5
  • Voodoo Museum - USD7
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet any new travellers that join the group.
It's quite a journey from Louisiana and into Texas (nearly 700 kilometres). You'll be on the road for around nine hours today, so sit back and enjoy the ride. There may be the chance to stop for a swamp tour along the way, and you'll get other chances to stop and stretch your legs as well.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Join the truckers along Highway 10 to San Antonio. Mexican-influenced San Antonio is the home of the Alamo, an original reconstructed Spanish-Mexican fort from the 18th century. On arrival, you can stroll along the famous River Walk or walk in the footsteps of Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie at the Alamo. Total driving time today is around three to four hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • The Alamo Mission - Free
  • San Antonio Riverwalk - Free
  • The Alamo IMAX Theater - USD14
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After traversing the state of Texas, enter the deserts of New Mexico on the way to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. One of the largest caverns in the world, Carlsbad Cavern is still only partially explored. Hike deep into the 'Big Room' and beyond. In the evening, witness the overwhelming sight of a bat flight - thousands of bats swarming out of the caverns. As the bats migrate south in October for the winter, this is a seasonal sight and is best viewed in July and August. Total driving today is about nine hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue the journey north to Santa Fe today. The total drive should take around five hours. Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the US. You might like to check out the pueblo architecture surrounding the town plaza or see the San Miguel Mission, the USA's oldest church. If you're an art buff, then a visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum is a must.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Miguel Mission - USD1
  • Georgia O'Keeffe Museum - USD12
  • Loretto Chapel - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue on to Mesa Verde National Park, home to the largest and best-preserved cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians. The park protects over 4,000 known archaeological sites. Explore a cliff dwelling on a short walk, or (for a small fee) join a ranger-led walk to the harder-to-access sites. Total driving time today is approximately five hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mesa Verde National Park
Optional Activities
  • Mesa Verde Guided Tour of Ruins - USD13
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After a drive through fascinating desert regions, reach Monument Valley. Monument Valley is so-named after the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. The backdrop for countless westerns, the valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the US and is home to more than 200,000 Navajo Indians. Perhaps see the sights from the back of a jeep with a Navajo guide. Visit areas only open to the Navajo, see traditional Navajo homes, hike up sand dunes and gaze at spectacular rock formations. Total driving time today is around three-and-a-half hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Navajo-guided jeep tour (2.5 hrs) - USD55
  • Jeep tour & overnight experience - USD90
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today drive from Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon, stopping at a Native American trading post along the way. The total drive will take around four hours. Words don't do justice to the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. This stunning gorge is 1.5 kilometres deep, formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River. You'll spend two nights here, in order to allow a full day of exploration tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Grand Canyon National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon. Stroll along the meandering South Rim Trail or hike your way along the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you might even opt for a scenic helicopter flight over the area (at your own expense). In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Helicopter flight (45 mins) - USD295
  • Grand Canyon hiking - Free
  • IMAX movie - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head out of the Grand Canyon and cross the western deserts of Arizona to Las Vegas. Along the way, you'll drive along a section of the famous Route 66, stopping in at the eccentric town of Seligman. The total drive will take around five hours.

Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness.

The trip finishes on arrival into Las Vegas and no accommodation is provided tonight. The arrival time depends on each group, but if you decide to fly out on this day, please don't book a flight before 8pm. This will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and be there two hours before departure. If you are staying in town for the evening, perhaps feast on an 'all you can eat' buffet, check out one of the many shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub. If you do wish to spend extra time in Las Vegas we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas Helicopter Strip Tour - USD110
  • Las Vegas Limo (per group) - USD300
  • Roller Coaster - Las Vegas - USD14
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (13 nights), Hotel (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Philadelphia city highlights stop
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

Jump to a departure month

 

Earn 2,500 Qantas Points on all tours over $1,000 Find out more >

Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival into Las Vegas in the afternoon on day 17.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.