Take in deserts, mountains, beaches and America’s most famous national park, Yosemite

Take in Las Vegas to Los Angeles while making your way across the countryside, passing through the scorching Death Valley, the forests of Sierra Nevada and the famous Pacific Coast. Enjoy the sights, sounds and decadence of Sin City, then leave the desert as you make tracks for California’s mountain region. Trek and explore Yosemite, marvel at the size of Half Dome, and then head on to the coast as you move through America's constantly changing scenery.

25% off selected trips in the USA

Get 25% off our trips to the USA! See our terms and conditions for applicable departures. Hurry, offer runs out 31 August 2017.

Terms & Conditions

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

Why we love this trip

  • Experience some of the highlights of California and Nevada in a short period of time. Enjoy the freedom to discover cities and national parks at your own pace, while letting someone else drive you from A to B

  • 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 spend two nights in the park, allowing for a full day of hiking and exploring

  • For many, Death Valley conjures up images of a flat and barren wasteland. Be surprised by the park's ethereal landscapes of sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and, in the spring, fields of wildflowers

  • Tightly hugging the spectacular California coast, Highway 1 is simply one of the most amazing drives in the world. This trip allows you to focus all your attention on the incredible views and let someone else do all the driving!

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.

  • Death Valley in the summer is extremely hot and dry. It does hold the record as the hottest place on earth after all. Hiking at this time of year isn't recommended. Although our vans do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool so expect to be hot. Sometimes in mid-summer we may be unable to visit the Valley itself if we feel that the heat presents a safety risk. At other times of the year, it might be quite cold, 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 Yosemite to the towering hills of San Francisco, this trip can involve 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.

  • 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 some long days of driving, so expect to spend a lot of time in the van. Conditions can feel a little cramped, but the passing scenery and your new travelling friends will keep you occupied.

Itinerary

Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby today at 6 pm. 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.

Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. We recommend you arrive a few days early to make the most of this exciting city. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas - Big Apple Express roller coaster - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a long day of driving (approximately six hours). You'll cover more than 550 kilometres through Death Valley and across the Eastern Sierra. Death Valley is one of the hottest places on the planet, with temperatures rising to 56°C in the summer. The park features huge sand dunes, sculpted rocks, isolated valleys and volcanic craters. The canyon and mountain walls change colour with the changing light. Elevations fluctuate from 85 metres below sea level near Badwater Basin (the lowest point in the United States) to 3,756 metres at Telescope Peak. Stop at the visitor centre and, if it's not too hot, take a walk on the stunning salt flats.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Death Valley National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that sometimes over the summer months, we may not be able to visit Death Valley itself if the heat is extreme and we feel that the conditions present a safety risk. In these cases we will visit some areas on the outskirts with similar geography so that you can still get a feel for the valley, but at a higher elevation where it is not as hot. Depending on weather and the wishes of the group, you may also be offered the option of spending the morning in Las Vegas, visiting a ghost town in the desert, or going to Mono Lake.
Driving west, travel through the Tioga Pass (snow levels permitting) into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Your destination is Yosemite National Park. One of the most famous parks in the USA, Yosemite's colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls and redwood forests attract visitors from all over the world. You'll spend two nights in the park in order to have a full day of exploration tomorrow. The total driving time today is approximately five hours, or longer if the Tioga Pass is closed.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that the campsites around Yosemite National Park are limited and receive mixed feedback. We tend to use different campsites depending on the time of the year. The campsites closest to the park can get overcrowded in summer and tend to have poorer facilities, whereas the nicer campsites are a little further away, requiring more driving time to enter the park each day. Your leader will book the site they believe best suits the needs of the group depending on the time of year and availability, however please note that there may be limited access to showers whilst at this location, or that you may be camping just outside of the park.
Today is a free day to get out and discover the park. There are plenty of hikes available, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike under the cooling breezes of Nevada Falls (4-5 hours) or to the serene Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels and perhaps even a bear along the way. You might prefer to hire a bike and explore Yosemite Valley. Visit the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants along the way. In the heat of summer, a relaxing float down the Merced River followed by a few drinks at the park's cafe is just the trick.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yosemite - Cycling in Yosemite Valley - USD12
  • Yosemite National Park - Hiking - Free
  • Yosemite - Raft Rental (seasonal) - USD30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Yosemite behind today and drive west for about four hours to San Francisco. In the evening, perhaps head out with the group to sample some dumplings in Chinatown or pasta in North Beach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you wish to visit Alcatraz while in San Francisco, tickets must be booked in advance, as they sell out quickly and numbers are limited. You can make your reservations online at alcatrazcruises.com or by calling +1415 981 7625 between the hours of 8 am and 7 pm, Pacific Standard Time (USA).
The 'City by the Bay' has a beautiful setting and a vibrant, multicultural heart. You might like to check out the vintage stores along funky Haight Street, catch the tram down to the waterfront or take a cruise on the bay to see the impressive Golden Gate Bridge.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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.
We leave the city this morning and drive south down the coast to Monterey (approximately 3.5 hours). You’ll spend the afternoon in the Monterey area, which is home to a National Marine sanctuary – an incredibly deep ecosystem just metres off shore. Mammals, seabirds, fish, invertebrates and plants all thrive in a remarkably productive coastal environment. Maybe see it up close up with a kayak around the bay, or head further out to try and spot some whales. On dry land, you can wander down atmospheric Cannery Row, a favourite hangout spot for sea lions. This evening you’ll set up camp here along the beautiful California Coast.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monterey - Kayak rental - USD30
  • Monterey - Bike rental - USD20
  • Monterey - Cannery Row - Free
  • Monterey - Monterey Bay Aquarium - USD50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM
At Intrepid we have a strong commitment to animal welfare. We only visit facilities involving wild animals in captivity if the rationale for the sanctuary operation is in the best interests of the animals involved. We have listed as an optional a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in support of their conservation and education programs run by the Aquarium and it’s Center for Ocean Education and Leadership. It’s important to note that the Monterey Bay Aquarium does not keep large marine mammals such as dolphins and whales in captivity. We encourage you to do your own research on the aquarium, and welcome your feedback. You can view a copy of our animal welfare policy at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/animal-welfare.
Today, cruise southbound along Highway 101 for approximately 4 hours. There will be restroom breaks along the way before stopping for lunch on San Simeon Beach. After lunch, head north and check out the elephant seals near Piedras Blancas. This special spot is visited by over 25,000 elephant seals every year! From here, head up to Ragged Point for a short walk overlooking the cliffs. Time permitting, we may also stop at one of the small seaside communities, such as Cambria or Morro Bay, before driving past classic Californian hotspots like San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach on the way Santa Barbara (approx. 2.5 hours).
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Santa Barbara - Mission - USD8
  • Santa Barbara - Beaches - Free
  • San Luis Obispo - Bubblegum Alley - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
ITINERARY CHANGE - HIGHWAY 1 CLOSURE

Due to recent heavy rains Highway 1 along the California coast has been closed between Ragged Point and Notleys Landing. Mudslides have caused a bridge to collapse and sections of the road have become unstable. It is expected that this closure will remain in effect for the whole year. While this closure is in place, instead of driving down the coast on this day the tour will instead take Highway 101 inland towards Paso Robles. From here, the tour will drive up the coast as far as possible so you can see some of the Big Sur coastline, as well as other sites such Ragged Point and San Simeon Beach. After this the group will continue to the Santa Barbara area.
Spend some time in Santa Barbara this morning, one of the prettiest towns in California. The relaxed atmosphere, Mediterranean-style architecture and an exceptional year-round climate have long made it a millionaire’s residence of choice. It’s attracting a younger, ‘hipper’, crowd these days too thanks to its new “Funk Zone”, a 12-block area of converted warehouses with new restaurants, pop-up shops, galleries and craft breweries. A walk along the long beach, gazing out at Stearns Wharf, and then a sip of one of the famous local wines is the perfect way to round out your time here. Then it’s on to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with a drive down to LA. The adventure down the California coast ends on arrival in the City of Angels. There much to see and do here, so maybe stay a couple of days longer to explore.
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) (5 nights), Hotel (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Death Valley National Park
  • Yosemite National Park

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival into Los Angeles in the afternoon on day 9.

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.