Experience North America's diverse wilderness while exploring three national parks on a road trip from San Franisco to Denver
Roads that wind through forests of wooden giants, slip through narrow mountain passes, and stretch endlessly onto the horizon. Highways that cross ancient salt plains, snake through red rock landscapes of towering arches, and summit the peaks that divide continents. America is simply made for driving. With bookends in hip San Francisco and Denver, journey through California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, and find the diverse wilderness that lies at the core of this great continent. Experience Yosemite’s glistening falls, Lake Tahoe's incredibly crisp air and water, and the daunting peaks of the Rockies – this is true American Beauty.
Discover the huge diversity of the US’s landscapes with explorations of three national parks in just 10 days. Start with the lush beauty and waterfalls of Yosemite, cross the red earth and rock formations of Arches National Park, and end with the jaw-dropping vistas of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Bookending this adventure through the country’s wilderness are two of America’s most hip and progressive cities – San Francisco and Denver.
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and pine trees, Lake Tahoe is idyllic. Shake off the driving dust with a late afternoon dip in the alpine blue waters or relax on a sunset cruise
Drive along the majestic Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the States, and stare in awe at the sweeping views of Rocky Mountain National Park in all directions. Hike though outstanding landscapes and see elk, pikas, marmots, ptarmigans and bighorn sheep
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.
This is a real American road trip, crossing four states from the west coast to the mountains of the Continental Divide, so there is a lot of driving. There are some very long driving days of around 8 hours – enough time to really get to know your travel companions and break out your best car games.
Some of the places visited on this trip are at high altitude, which mean they can be cold, even in summer. Mountains in summer also mean mosquitoes, so repellent is recommended.
This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Please note that there is not much time spent at Lake Tahoe, so there is only limited time for swimming and watersports.
Some travellers have reported feeling unsafe in San Francisco due to the large number of homeless people. Unfortunately homelessness is a fact of life in San Francisco and the problem is widespread throughout the city. It is very likely that you will see homeless people on the street during your time in the city, and while it can appear intimidating, they are mostly harmless.
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There are currently no scheduled departures on our California to the Rockies trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.
1. This trip finishes on arrival into Denver in the afternoon on day 10.
Our California to the Rockies trips score an average of 4.82 out of 5 based on 11 reviews in the last year.