Explore the wild West Coast on this nine-day trip through California and Nevada

Fall in love with the rugged and diverse American West on this nine-day adventure, from the granite peaks and pine forests of Yosemite National Park to the sun-baked dunes and canyons of Death Valley. This itinerary packs in the highlights of the wild West Coast and will see you sipping wine among the rolling hills of the Sonoma Valley, kayaking the clear waters of Lake Tahoe and strolling neon-lit boulevards in Las Vegas.


Start
San Francisco, United States
Finish
Las Vegas, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
SSKG
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why you'll love this trip

  • This trip embraces the great outdoors without sacrificing comfort, which means you’ll be tackling those long stretches of American highway in a private, air-conditioned vehicle for the entire trip.

  • Immerse yourself in the grand, natural beauty of Yosemite National Park. While other tour groups breeze through in a day, you'll enjoy two nights in the park – allowing for a full day of hiking and exploring.

  • Parched earth as far as the eye can see is the image many people associate with Death Valley, but the landscape is also home to undulating sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and fields of wildflowers that blossom in the spring.

  • Sample crisp cuvee, inventive pinot noirs and fruit-forward chardonnays while gazing out over an evergreen vineyard during a visit to a Sonoma Valley winery.

  • Explore Jack London State Historic Park, where the eponymous author lived the last years of his life surrounded by the rugged California wilderness that inspired his novels The Abysmal Brute, The Valley of the Moon and White Fang.

  • Lake Tahoe is breathtaking vision no matter the season. In summer you can explore the blue waters by kayak, and in winter you can lace up and ice skate while surrounded by snow-dusted pine and fir forest.

  • “A most amazing adventure,” “A fantastic way to see the country,” “The best of both worlds” – read the reviews and discover why Intrepid travellers rate this trip so highly.

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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. 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.

  • 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 friends in the van will keep you occupied.

  • 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.

Itinerary

Welcome to the San Francisco, USA, a city with a storied history and plenty of eccentric characters. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for today's welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. Get the formalities out of the way and then head out on a tour through San Francisco's famous Little Italy and North Beach districts with a local who knows all the best pubs, and finish with dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Francisco - Dinner Urban Adventure
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Notes: As there's very little time spent in San Francisco on this trip, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Consider doing our one-day sightseeing tours of San Francisco: urbanadventures.com.

This trip doesn't allow time for a visit to Alcatraz, so you'll need to make your own arrangements if you want to see the island prison. 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). We recommend reserving your tickets for the day before the tour commences.
Hit the road out of San Francisco and drive north to the beautiful Sonoma Valley wine region. Home to iconic varietals and picturesque countryside, Sonoma has the feel of a more relaxed Napa Valley. Enjoy lunch, a wine tasting and an optional winery tour at a local vineyard. Later, explore the historic buildings and scenic trails of nearby Jack London State Historic Park. The author of such classics as Call of the Wild and White Fang was attracted to the area – where he lived until his death – because of the rugged, natural beauty on display. See for yourself what London described as “an almighty sweet land you and I have chosen . . . our Valley of the Moon” and then spend the night in sleepy Sonoma.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Sonoma - Jack London State Historic Park
  • Sonoma - Wine Tasting
  • Sonoma - Picnic lunch
Optional Activities
  • Sonoma - Jack London Cottage - USD4
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Get set for a long day of driving east to Yosemite National Park. The journey will take about seven hours, and even though the scenery along the way is captivating it’s a good idea to have a book or podcast handy just in case you want a break from watching it stream by. Featuring sequoia forests, granite cliff faces and waterfalls, the scenery in World Heritage-listed Yosemite had made it a favourite among hikers for generations.
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day to explore glorious Yosemite National Park. There are plenty of hikes on offer, with varying degrees of difficulty. If you feel like breaking a sweat, the five-hour hike to the top of Nevada Fall features plenty of switchbacks, and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the cascading waterfall beneath the giant Half Dome. Feel like taking it easy? No problem, there are plenty of gentle trails on offer, like the one-hour walk to popular swimming spot Mirror Lake. Keep an eye out for squirrels (and watch for bears!) along the way. If you’d prefer, you can hire a bike and cycle around Yosemite Valley, stopping by the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants on the way. In the heat of summer, a nice option is a float down the Merced River on a raft followed by a few drinks at the local cafe.
Accommodation
  • Motel (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.
Drive four-hours to Lake Tahoe and enjoy a day to do as you please in this natural playground. The variety of activities on offer change with the seasons. In summer, you can paddle on the clear, blue waters of the lake in a kayak or take a refreshing dip. The hillside around the lake is perfect for hiking during the warmer months. You can even take an optional sunset sail, glass of champagne in hand. During winter the area becomes a snow-covered playground. Choose to strap on some snowshoes and go for a hike over powdery hills, take a sleigh ride, or try your hand at ice skating. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Lake Tahoe - Kayaking/watersports - USD25
  • Lake Tahoe - Sunset champagne cruise - USD75
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Watch the ash vault begin to quiver with heat shimmer as you make the six-hour drive into Death Valley. Tomorrow you’ll explore the wonderous landscape of the valley, but today the destination is Lone Pine. A tiny town famous as the setting for movies like Gunga Din, How the West Was Won and Django Unchained, there’s the chance to visit the Museum of Western Film History here, which celebrates the many films shot in the area. There may also be the opportunity to visit the Manzanar National Historic Site, a former Japanese Internment Camp during WWII while en route to Lone Pine, depending on the group’s interest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Lone Pine - Museum of Western Film History - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you'll explore the geologically rich Death Valley National Park. Don't let the name fool you, this park features huge sand dunes, canyons, sculpted rocks, valleys and volcanic craters. Elevations fluctuate from 85 metres below sea level near Badwater Point (the lowest point in the USA) to 3756 metres above sea level at Telescope Peak. Death Valley is extremely hot and dry (the highest recorded temperature in the world was measured in local Furnace Creek at 56.6˚C in 1913) so remember to pack plenty of water and don't overexert yourself. For expansive views of the valley, you can hike to Dante's View, or perhaps visit the puckered, volcanic Ubehebe Crater. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Death Valley National Park
Optional Activities
  • Death Valley National Park - Hiking (seasonal) - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
It's a short three-hour drive through Nevada today to the glitzy desert city of Las Vegas. This city may be the gambling capital of the world, but if the tables aren't your thing there's still plenty to discover in Las Vegas. Maybe wander along the Strip past impersonators, billboards and hotels to the choreographed Bellagio Fountain show. Or perhaps head to a rooftop amusement park, hit the chain stores or lose all sense of time exploring the gaudy interiors of hotels like The Venetian, Caesars Palace and New York-New York. In the evening, join up with the group for an included buffet dinner, a classic Vegas dining experience.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Las Vegas - Buffet Dinner
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas - Helicopter Tour of The Strip - USD110
  • Las Vegas - Limo (per group) - USD300
  • Las Vegas - Big Apple Express roller coaster - USD15
  • Las Vegas - Eiffel Tower - USD20
  • Las Vegas - Neon Museum Tour - USD28
  • Las Vegas - Neon Museum - USD20
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast. 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 (subject to availability). If you do decide to stay on, perhaps indulge in an unforgettable helicopter trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. The trip includes champagne, beverages and a light snack, all served above the Colorado River. 
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas - Grand Canyon Helicopter flight from Las Vegas - USD529
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (6 nights), Motel (2 nights)

Included activities

  • San Francisco - Dinner Urban Adventure
  • Sonoma - Jack London State Historic Park
  • Sonoma - Wine Tasting
  • Sonoma - Picnic lunch
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Las Vegas - Buffet Dinner

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.

Essential trip information

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