Last Modified: 20 Sep 2012
NEW! Self Drive Adventure. Southwest Loop - Standard Car
Trip code: SSDD1
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Jump in the car, hit the open highways of the USA and experience the freedom of a self-drive adventure through America’s Southwest. Watch the miles click over as you cruise the historic Route 66 in Las Vegas, gaze across the spectacular scenery of Arizona from atop the Grand Canyon and explore the moon-like landscape of Monument Valley. Scan the horizon for backcountry gas stations, stop for a cheeseburger at a traditional roadhouse or stroll the streets of tiny towns – we’ll provide everything you need to get out and start exploring. Packed with iconic monuments and incredible national parks, the Southwest Loop road trip adventure will really get your engine going.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Short Breaks - Independent Adventures, Self Drive Adventures
Day 1 Las Vegas
Welcome to Las Vegas.
You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no scheduled activities. Proceed to Alamo car rental at Las Vegasl airport to collect your car. Please refer to Joining Point instructions for further details.
You can check in to your hotel any time after 3pm, but if you arrive early you can store your luggage.
You will be provided with a welcome pack upon check in. This will contain maps, information on hotels and a guide book outlining everything you need to know about your upcoming adventure.
Las Vegas is Nevada's entertainment capital with countless attractions for young and old such as game arcades, shopping malls, amusement rides (some of which are inside the hotels or even on top of them!), swimming pools and live shows.
As there's a great deal to do in Las Vegas we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Zion National Park
Travel on to Zion National Park (270 km, approx 3.5 hrs).
Zion National Park has stunning desert terrain and huge sculpted rock formations that coexist with waterfalls and hanging gardens. Have a good look around, stretch your legs and perhaps even wade through the surprisingly chilly Virgin River.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Bryce Canyon National Park
Drive to Bryce Canyon (approx 2 hrs).
The indescribably beautiful Bryce Canyon (approx 2600 m above sea level) is noted for its eroded sculpture-like formations. The red, orange and white colours of the rocks provide spectacular views.
"Mysterious", "breathtaking", "out of this world", are only a few of the descriptions offered by past visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park. For close up views, we allow plenty of time to take advantage of the park's incredible system of trails, ranging from the easy Rim Trail to the moderate Queen's Garden Trail to the strenuous Peek-a-boo Loop. Wherever you walk, you will encounter a kaleidoscope of colours and a fantasy land of rock spires that will leave you searching for your own way to describe this 'indescribable' place.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Lake Powell
Drive through unspoiled landscapes in the Navajo Indian Reservation to Glen Canyon/Lake Powell (260 km, approx 3 hrs).
Lake Powell is an enormous, incredibly beautiful paradise for watersports with warm, crystal-clear water. Take a dip in the cool fresh waters or just laze on the lake's sunny shores.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Monument Valley
Drive an incredible scenic route across the northern Arizona desert plateau to Monument Valley (200 km, approx 4 hrs).
Monument Valley is an area of freestanding sandstone rock formations that rise majestically from the desert floor. Up to 300 m tall, they create a truly magical desert landscape.
The backdrop for countless westerns, Monument Valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the US and home to more than 200,000 Indians of the Navajo Tribe. Monument Valley is so-named for the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. The angle of the sun means that the landscape is constantly changing colour and it's near impossible to take a bad photo.
Take the Dreamcatcher tour and see all the magnificent sites Monument Valley has to offer in the back of a jeep with a Navajo guide. Visit areas only open to the Navajo, see traditional Navajo homes, hike the sand dunes and gaze up at spectacular rock formations, all with the insight of a local guide. At the conclusion of the jeep tour, be treated to a traditional Navajo taco, followed by native song and dance around a campfire.
- Dreamcatcher tour - USD60
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Grand Canyon
Drive from Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon (260 km, approx 3 hrs), stopping at Native American trading posts on the way.
The Grand Canyon is one of the world's seven wonders! It's 450 km long, 6-30 km wide and 1600 m deep. Marvel at this immense canyon on a rim walk or, for those that are feeling more active, a short hike into the canyon will help stretch those legs out.
Experience an exhilarating helicopter flight as you depart from the south rim of the Grand Canyon over the Kaibab National Forest.
You'll head toward the Tower of Ra and then fly north through the Dragon Corridor and over the mighty Colorado River towards the north rim of the canyon. View the Tower of Ra and the Vishnu Schist rock formation as you fly back through the Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest section of the canyon. From this point you can see some of the oldest exposed rock layers in the world.
In only 34 minutes, viewers will discover a Grand Canyon that would take a lifetime to experience. This IMAX movie opens with the beginning of man's fragile kinship with the twisting 277 mile Grand Canyon in Arizona, then moves the audience through time with brief glimpses at the stone pages of human history. From the mysterious Anasazi who inhabited the Canyon 4,000 years ago, viewers at The National Geographic Visitor Center will travel through Grand Canyon history to join Major John Wesley Powell as he challenges the unexplored Canyon and raging Colorado River in 1869.
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Helicopter flight (25 mins) - USD220
- IMAX movie - USD14
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Las Vegas
Drive on from the Grand Canyon and cross the western deserts of Arizona to Las Vegas (450 km, approx 5 hrs).
You can return your rental car up to 3pm on the last day of your trip.
Hotel (1 nt)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the unique situations that we encounter.
Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group. Our described itineraries are to be used as a general guide only.
This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
It can be difficult to exchange money while on the road so we suggest that you bring some cash in US dollars/Canadian dollars, or exchange/withdraw money at the airport when you arrive, or at least before you start the trip.
Your individual budget will depend on your personal plans. Think about how much you want to spend on souvenirs, shopping, entertainment, food, drinks, excursions and attractions that aren't included in your trip (eg. helicopter flights etc). Please bear in mind that North America has endless things to do and see. Not all possible optional activities are listed in our Trip Notes.
The cheapest and most convenient way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) which are plentiful throughout all cities and towns, and even at roadside stops. This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange rate. Bank fees for these withdrawals can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Check with your bank for information on their international fees.
Don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it's stolen. Keep this in a safe place. When using your debit card, check your receipts and keep them to compare against your statement when you get home.
Occasionally banks will also allow cash advances on your credit card, but it's not recommended to rely on this method only. We recommend that you carry some cash for situations when ATMs can't be accessed.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: We suggest 15% to 20% of your bill.
Bars: Recommended US$1 for each drink ordered to ensure you are served again.
Local guides: We suggest US$5-$7 per day for local guides.
Another charge not normally listed in North American costs is the state and federal taxes, keep this in mind when your bill comes out slightly higher than the original price listed.
As we offer trips year-round and will be travelling in changing climate zones, we advise you to carefully consider the weather and choose appropriate clothing and sleeping bag (if necessary). Please bear in mind that nights can be very cold even in the warmer months. We can experience temperatures as low as -10 deg. celsius and even snow.
The following national holidays are observed in the US, which can affect our itinerary as traffic can be extreme, and shops, restaurants and attractions can be closed:
- New Year's Day
- Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Washington's Birthday
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veterans Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
LEGAL DRINKING AGE:
Please note that the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and in some parts of Canada it's 19.
Please note the minimum age to hire a car in the USA is 21
AMENDMENT TO PRINTED BROCHURE:
The 2012 North America printed brochure mentions that if you are 21 years old that you will not have to pay any extra fees. Unfortunately since printing the brochure this has changed and any driver under the age of 25 must pay a surcharge of 25USD per day - payable direct to Alamo car rental agency on pick up. Please note that if you wish to nominate more than one driver their is also a 10USD per day per extra driver surcharge - again payable directly to Alamo.
Maximum of 3 travellers per group.
Hotel (8 nts)
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Las Vegas airport
Alamo car rental
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Joining point instructions
To collect your vehicle please proceed to the McCarran Rent-A-Car centre. Exit door 10 or 11, shuttle buses depart the airport every 5 mins. At the centre you will find the Alamo car rental desk. You will be asked to present your license and credit card for insurance excess coverage. Please note the following surcharges:
- Drivers under the age of 25 years old are subject to a 25USD per day supplement.
- Any additional nominated drivers are subject to a 10USD per day supplement.
These fees are to be paid locally direct to Alamo
After picking up your car, proceed to:
Super 8 Las Vegas Strip Area
4250 Koval Lane
When you check-in at the hotel, you will receive a 'welcome pack' with all the information you will need for your trip. If you have any difficulties locating the shuttle bus or Alamo car hire, or complications with picking up your car, the Intrepid representative can be contacted on the below number:
+1 310 292 8352.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the Joining Instructions section above for who to contact.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, again following the Joining Instructions in these trip notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Las Vegas airport
Alamo car rental
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Finish point instructions
On the final day of your trip please return your car to the Alamo car rental depot at the McCarran Rent-A-Car centre, located approx 11 miles from your hotel. The centre is approx 3 miles from the airport at 7135 Gilespie St, Las Vegas, NV. This is the same location you will have collected your car from. You can then take the free shuttle to the airport.
Your hotel for the final night of this itinerary is:
The Golden Nugget
129 E. Fremont St.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Room Reservations: 800-634-3454
General Information: 702-385-7111
PLEASE NOTE IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING ON THE 13TH JAN 2013 DEPARTURE
your finishing hotel is as follows.
Super 8 Las Vegas Strip Area
4250 Koval Lane
Intrepid offer post accommodation at this hotel if you wish to stay on in Las Vegas.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Entrance requirements to the USA have changed in recent years so please read the following instructions carefully, even if you have travelled to the USA before.
Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program (meaning a visa isn't required) however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel.
Many citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries can travel to the USA without a visa for a 90 day stay, if they meet certain requirements. Travellers from all Visa Waiver Program countries must present a machine-readable passport (which meets US requirements) at the port of entry to enter without a visa, otherwise a US visa is required. Canada doesn't require a visa for many foreign nationals however you should check to see if this applies to your country. You can get further information from the US Department of State and the Canadian government websites:
Also please note, all travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14.00 fee paid by credit or debit card. You should apply for your visa waiver authorisation at least 1 week prior to travel to avoid any last minute delays. You will require your passport details and your address in the US (you can use the starting point hotel/hostel address).
USA TOURIST VISA:
Australia: No - ESTA required
Belgium: No - ESTA required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - ESTA required
Ireland: No - ESTA required
Netherlands: No - ESTA required
New Zealand: No - ESTA required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - ESTA required
UK: No - ESTA required
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Medical prescriptions written outside of the US and Canada aren't accepted at pharmacies. Therefore, we recommend you bring along your personal medications in the necessary quantities for your trip.
DEHYDRATION & SUN PROTECTION:
The most likely medical incidents to occur on our trips are dehydration, over exposure to the sun, and twisted ankles from walking on uneven ground. While hiking please ensure you drink enough water to remain hydrated as some hikes don't have refill stations for your water bottles. The sun (especially in desert areas in the West) can be harsh, particularly in the warmer months. Ensure you apply adequate sun protection cream and wear a hat. Travelling with sunburn can be uncomfortable.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Whilst travelling throughout North America it's not uncommon to encounter bears within campsites and national parks. Your group leader has been specifically trained for these situations and, if camping, will inform the group on how to 'bear proof' the camp in the evenings or when the site is unattended. There's absolutely no reason to be alarmed by this possibility as it is extremely rare for bears to attack humans.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.
If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.