Drive from New Orleans to Las Vegas, visiting the Grand Canyon and much more.

Explore southern America on a road trip and discover what is surely one of the USA's kookiest corners. Beginning among the good vibes of New Orleans, head west into Texas, uncovering the multicultural mega-city of Houston and historic riverfront of San Antonio along the way. From there it's on to New Mexico, home to the legendary Carlsbad Caverns, UFO sightings and 'the city different' – also known as Santa Fe. Finish up this adventure in Las Vegas after taking in the legendary Grand Canyon and sacred desert landscapes of Monument Valley. In a country that's all about the big, the bold and the bizarre, the America's southwest is not to be missed.

Start
New Orleans, United States
Finish
Las Vegas, United States
Countries
United States
Themes
Explorer
Code
SSRK
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 13
Carbon offset
562kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • 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'
  • 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

Itinerary

Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

As there's a great deal to do in New Orleans, we recommend arriving a few days early to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. Otherwise known as the 'Big Easy', New Orleans's eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture manifests itself in the city's architecture, cuisine and music scene. Take in the gaudy sights and sounds of Bourbon Street, relax in the Garden District and absorb the ambience of the French Quarter. In the evening, perhaps check out a jazz show and dance the night away in the bars along Frenchman Street.
It's quite a journey from Louisiana to Houston, Texas (nearly 700 kilometres). You'll be on the road for around six hours today, so sit back and enjoy the ride. There may be the chance to stop for a tour of a Tabasco factory at Avery Island en route. Houston is the largest city in Texas, and the fourth largest in the US. Big and modern though it is, it retains some of that Texas 'cowboy boots and pickup truck' charm.
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 and get to know the city's many canals and backstreets by night. Total driving time today is around six hours.
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 seven-and-a-half hours.
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. In the evening, perhaps wind down with a drink in one of the city's bars.
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.
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. 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.
Today drive from Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon, stopping at Native American trading posts 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.
Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon. Stroll along the meandering South Rim Trail or hike your way down to Plateau Point. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you might even opt for a scenic flight over the area (at your own expense). In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset.
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 nostalgic township 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. In 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.
Today your Southern USA Road Trip comes to end. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. As there's a great deal to do in Las Vegas, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of the city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
n/a
Transport
Private vehicle
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (8 nights), Hotel (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park

Dates

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Trip notes

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Reviews

Our Southern USA Road Trip trips score an average of 4.78 out of 5 based on 59 reviews in the last year.

Southern USA Road Trip , September 2015

Southern USA Road Trip , August 2015

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