From west to east and between the cities that never sleep

Every state has its own unique story to tell, and you’ll hear it in the fun and colour of Nevada’s Las Vegas, in Arizona’s legendary Grand Canyon and sacred Monument Valley, and the many thousand-year history of Utah’s Mesa Verde. Be wowed by New Mexico's tales of mysterious caverns and UFO sightings, and hear Texas boast of San Antonio's frontier fables and Houston’s up and coming foodie scene. Hear how New Orleans is back to its vibrant best after disaster, and move to the lyrics of Memphis and Nashville's musical legacy. The Appalachian Mountains are just one in a long library of incredible landscapes across this country, while Washington D.C. lies open like one giant history book. This epic tale comes to a close in the Big Apple, and you'll head home with so many stories to tell.

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Terms & Conditions

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

Why we love this trip

  • 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 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

  • The iconic sandstone formations of Monument Valley have played backdrop to many a cowboy western. Learn about Navajo culture and history during a jeep tour of the park, before spending a unique night in a traditional hogan hut

  • The Grand Canyon needs no introduction. Camp for two nights in the national park, allowing a full day to explore, a chance to see an incredible canyon sunrise, and maybe fly overhead

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 major 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. Distances between destinations may be longer than what you're used to, especially if you're coming from Europe. There are many long days of driving, so expect to spend a lot of time in the van.

  • 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.

  • 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! Kick off this adventure in the Neon City, Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm – double check with reception to confirm the time and place. There are no activities planned today so you can arrive at anytime before then. If you can't arrange a flight that arrives on time, you may wish to arrive a day early – we’ll happily book you additional accommodation (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. As there’s so much to do in Vegas we recommend arriving a few days early anyway! We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at the meeting, so please ensure you have these on hand. Las Vegas caters to all tastes, from opulent casinos on the Strip and all night party spots, to stimulating museums, dazzling circus shows, aquariums and botanical gardens. Try your luck on the casino floor, catch an eye-popping show, hit top speed at a theme park, relive the city’s past at the Neon museum (graveyard of iconic Vegas signs), head downtown for a slice of retro Vegas, or just simply relax at the pool. This evening, maybe head out with the group and test your limits at an all you can eat buffet!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas - Big Apple Express roller coaster - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
While the lights of Las Vegas might be dazzling, your eyes are in for a real treat today as they'll fall on the incredible Grand Canyon. Leave Vegas and drive along a section of famous Route 66 to one of the world’s seven wonders (approximately 5 hours). You’ll have two nights here to help you’ll fully comprehend this amazing sight. There are plenty of things to see and do during your time here, so be prepared for busy and active days. Peer over the rim and stand in awe as you watch the setting sun ignite the multi-coloured rock walls. For the next two nights you’ll camp out in one of the world’s most magnificent settings, surrounded by the smell of pine and cedar and enveloped by a stunning canopy of stars at night.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Grand Canyon - Helicopter flight (45 mins) - USD295
  • Grand Canyon - Hiking - Free
  • Grand Canyon - IMAX movie - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take time today to explore at your own pace. Maybe rise early for an incredible sunrise, then soar like a California Condor over the canyon with a scenic helicopter flight (not included). If you get active, then descend through pine trees into the heart of the immense abyss, hiking from red rock to white powder. Discover this stunning gorge – 1.5 kilometres deep and formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River – by strolling around the edges, or hiking along the South Kaibab trail or to Plateau Point. Or perhaps join rangers to learn about the park’s geological story, watch an IMAX film to discover the canyon from a different perspective, or simply relax with a book and a backdrop like no other. Whatever you choose, you’ll find that the canyon depths are nothing short of mind-blowing.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Grand Canyon National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Cruise the scenery of classic Western cinema into the Navajo Nation, home to Monument Valley and one of the largest North American Indian tribes (approximately 4 hours). The reservation here is the largest in the US and home to more than 200,000 Indians of the Navajo Tribe. The towering sandstone formations scattered across the landscape give the area its name, and the angle of the sun means that the landscape is constantly changing colour and it's near impossible to take a bad photo. When you arrive, let a Navajo guide share their culture and knowledge on an optional Jeep ride through the beautiful landscape, taking in flaming red cliffs, visiting traditional Navajo homes, and hiking up sweeping sand dunes. You’ll visit places that are only accessible with a Navajo guide, and tonight you can choose to join the locals for an authentic Navajo dinner around a campfire, listening to their traditional songs and stories.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monument Valley - Navajo-guided jeep tour (2.5 hrs) - USD55
  • Monument Valley - Jeep tour & overnight experience - USD90
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Step back in time today and understand human history in North American with one of the best and largest archaeological sites in the country. Travel from Monument Valley to Mesa Verde National Park (approximately 3.5 hours). Although the desert-scapes and cactus-spiked mesas might seem pretty uninhabitable, this part of the American Southwest has been settled for thousands of years. The park protects over 4,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans, who made the area their home for over 700 years from A.D. 550 to A.D. 1300. Explore a cliff dwelling on a short walk – where you can descend a ladder into a kiva, a round, subterranean ceremonial structure – or (for a small fee) join a ranger-led walk. The ranger will help you access the more difficult sites like ‘Cliff Palace’ or ‘Balcony House’, and help you learn more about this ancient site.
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.
Continue the journey north to Santa Fe (approximately 6.5 hours). Welcome to a place that the locals call ‘the city different’, a place often seen as a haven for colourful characters. Santa Fe is a city whose artistic, musical and culinary offerings are greater than its size suggests. The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the US, and a place where artists and culture-buffs flourish under the hot desert sun and year-round blue skies. Pop your head into the museums (like that dedicated Georgia O'Keeffe or those dotted around downtown), or contemplate eccentric (weird, wonderful and just downright bizarre!) folk-art at the numerous galleries. You might like to check out the pueblo architecture surrounding the town plaza or see the San Miguel Mission, the USA's oldest church.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head south and unearth a world hidden beneath the stark, barren desert after leaving Texas behind for New Mexico (approximately 5 hours). When you arrive, head deep underground for a world-class cave experience in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Marvel at the massive, ornate formations that burst from the cavern’s edges in the 8.2 acre ‘Big Room’ and beyond. One of the largest caverns in the world, Carlsbad Cavern is still only partially explored, with 119 caves recorded so far. There are yet more wonders outside the cave – take a seat outside the park at sunset and watch hundreds of thousands of bats spiralling out in a swarming column in search of food. Please note that as the bats migrate south in October for the winter, this is a seasonal sight and is best viewed in July and August. You’ll spend the night in a campground near the town of Carlsbad.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a long full day’s drive southwest across the Lone Star state of Texas to San Antonio (approximately 9 hours). This is the perfect chance to soak up the scenery, catch up on some reading, and ask your fellow travellers any questions you’ve been dying to know the answer to. In San Antonio discover a little piece of Mexico in the US and a city full of rich history. San Antonio is home to the famed Alamo, a shrine to Texan liberty. The 18th century Spanish-Mexican fort has been reconstructed and you can relive Davy Crockett’s last days here. The famous frontiersman was one of 187 people who died trying to defend the fort against a 1,000-strong Mexican army. San Antonio is also brimming with historical missions and fine art museums. Don’t miss the chance to meander through the shops and restaurants that line the city’s famous River Walk, sample the impressive cocktail scene, and seek out some of the city's amazing food trucks.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Antonio - The Alamo Mission - Free
  • San Antonio - Riverwalk - Free
  • San Antonio - The Alamo IMAX Theater - USD14
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Join the truckers along Highway 10 for the drive towards Louisiana (approximately 7 hours). Today is flexible as we try to cover as much ground as we can to get us as close to New Orleans as possible. We will likely camp somewhere in East Texas, or near Sam Houston Jones State Park or the town of Lafayette in Louisiana.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It's quite a journey from Houston, Texas to Louisiana (nearly 700 kilometres). You'll be on the road for around six hours today, so sit back and enjoy the ride. There may be time for a stop at the Tabasco factory or a swamp tour en route. When you arrive at New Orleans, you'll check into your hotel in the French Quarter and 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.
Today is free to fit in as much of New Orleans as you can. Founded by French traders in 1718, there are many layers of history in this city and its many attractions combine to make it one of the most visited cities in the USA – a trend that was only momentarily halted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Tour the Honey Island Swamp (watch out for ‘gators), cruise the Mississippi on a riverboat or visit the fascinating little Voodoo Museum. 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
  • New Orleans - Bourbon Street - Free
  • New Oleans - Cabildo - USD5
  • New Orleans - French Market - Free
  • New Orleans - Swamp Tour - USD40
  • New Orleans - Mississippi Riverboat Cruise - USD70
  • New Orleans - New Orleans School of Cooking - USD29
  • New Orleans - Presbytere - USD6
  • New Orleans - Preservation Hall Jazz - USD15
  • New Orleans - Ursuline Convent Tours - USD5
  • New Orleans - Voodoo Museum - USD7
  • New Orleans - Cemetery Tour - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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 travel companions. After the meeting, you'll be free to enjoy your last night in this energetic city.
Head north today and get into the groove of Memphis, the 'home of the blues' (approximately 6.5 hours). Memphis is a paradise for music lovers – feel the blues at live music venues on Beale Street, made famous by legends such as W.C. Handy, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King; visit the cradle of rock n’ roll – Sun Studios – which boasts the first recordings of legendary performers like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis; or shimmy out to the pilgrimage site of Graceland, the place where Elvis left the building. The King’s former home and the site of his tomb, you can tour the mansion, including the famous Jungle Room, and also see Elvis' cars and private planes. For a different type of history you can visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Memphis - Graceland Museum - USD35
  • Memphis - Sun Studio - USD12
  • Memphis - Sun Studio tour - USD13
  • Memphis - National Civil Rights Museum - USD13
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
From the home of blues to the land of country, break out the cowboy hat and boots as you head east to Nashville, Tennessee (approximately 4 hours). Outside of its music credentials, Nashville is also the capital of Tennessee and the state's second largest city after Memphis. Situated on the banks of the Cumberland River, it was established as a major river port by settlers in 1779. Once settled into the campgrounds, use your free time to explore. Country music is built into the foundation of the city, so maybe take a stroll through history at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. Music fans should also make their way to the Grand Ole Opry concert hall and to Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and around 200 music publishing houses are located. You could also take a walk around the pristine gardens of Centennial Park. In the evening, the Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot to experience authentic southern food and live music. Or maybe you could catch a show at the legendary Bluebird Cafe or ‘honky-tonk’ between the city’s great selection of bars.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nashville - Country Music Hall of Fame - USD25
  • Nashville - Grand Ole Opry Tour - USD19
  • Nashville - Ryman Auditorium Tour - USD14
  • Nashville - Tennessee State Museum - Free
  • Nashville - Wildhorse Saloon - USD10
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Escape the city, cross into the state of Virginia and traverse the jagged Blue Ridge Mountains, a segment of the Appalachian Mountains (approximately 6 hours). Shenandoah National Park is one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachian Mountains, one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of the American landscape, with an abundance of flora and fauna peppering the steep slopes. Dating back over 400 million years, the mountain range is home to wildlife, lush forest, scenic peaks, waterfalls and shallow rivers. You’ll camp here in the heart of the great outdoors for one night en route to Washington DC.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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 on the way to Washington DC (approximately 8 hours). Don't worry about not having too much time to explore today, as you'll have a full free day here.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Washington DC - Arlington National Cemetery - Free
  • Washington DC - Bike and Roll Tour - USD45
  • Washington DC - International Spy Museum - USD21
  • Washington DC - National Air & Space Museum - Free
  • Washington DC - National Archives - Free
  • Washington DC - National Gallery of Art - Free
  • Washington DC - National Museum of American History - Free
  • Washington DC - National Museum of Crime and Punishment - Free
  • Washington DC - National Museum of Natural History - Free
  • Washington DC - Newseum - USD22
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)
Included Activities
  • Washington DC - City tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Washington DC behind this morning, drive along the Delaware River and pass through the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ en route to New York (Newark) (approximately 5 hours). Philadelphia is the birthplace of America and the perfect place to brush up on your history. It was here that Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and where the United States Constitution was signed 11 years later. You'll have time to see a couple of the highlights of the city’s clustered cultural centre before continuing onto New York (Newark).

The trip finishes on arrival into Newark 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 9pm. 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 on, perhaps catch the train over to Manhattan to see the lights of Times Square, or head out for a slice of New York style pizza. As there's a great deal to do in New York City, staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city is recommended. See our list of optional activities below for suggestions of things to do if you are staying on. If you need help booking extra accommodation (subject to availability), our reservations team will be happy to assist you. You could also consider doing one of our one-day Urban Adventure sightseeing tours of New York. For more information, visit urbanadventures.com
Included Activities
  • Philadelphia - City highlights stop
Optional Activities
  • New York - American Museum of Natural History - USD22
  • New York - Brooklyn Bridge - Free
  • New York - Central Park - Free
  • New York - Empire State Building - USD27
  • New York - Metropolitan Museum of Art - USD25
  • New York - Museum of Modern Art - USD25
  • New York - Urban Adventure - USD65
  • New York - Guggenheim Museum - USD22
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

  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Washington DC - City tour
  • Philadelphia - City highlights stop

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival into New York 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.