Discover the landscapes and cities that have people saying West is Best.

Hit the west on a good ol’ American road trip from Seattle to Los Angeles. Cruise through Oregon exploring its stunning natural scenery, delicious food and progressive cities, then head south into California where the natural delights just continue. Trade the sheer granite faces of Yosemite for the desert landscapes of Death Valley, then roll the dice in Las Vegas and peer into the Grand Canyon before heading back to the coast and Los Angeles, where the sun sets on both Venice Beach and your trip.


Start
Seattle, United States
Finish
Los Angeles, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
SSKOL
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why you'll love this trip

  • Explore the incredible forests, mountains and rivers of Mt Rainier and Olympic National Parks then walk among the world’s oldest, tallest trees in Redwood National Park.

  • Experience the eclectic, progressive cities of Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, where world-class food and delicious microbrews reign supreme.

  • Yosemite National Park feels like something out of a film. While other tour groups breeze through in a day, spend two nights in the park - allowing for a full day of hiking and exploring.

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

  • Enjoy a free day to lose yourself among the bright desert lights of Las Vegas. This is a great way to end your adventure. Remember, what happens in Vegas...

  • From flashy Las Vegas to the red cliffs of Zion National Park and the distinctive hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, discover a huge diversity of American landscapes in a relatively short amount of time.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Road tripping is the ultimate way to see the US, and scenic drives are a big part of this adventure’s focus. It's a very big country, so on a short trip expect to spend a lot of time driving in the van, rather than lots of time in each destination. Distances may be much longer than what you're used to (especially if coming from Europe). Long driving days though, while a little cramped, are perfect for soaking up the spectacular scenery, getting to know your fellow travellers, and breaking out that new book or album.

  • Los Angeles is one of the most car-heavy cities in the world and so, along with San Francisco, traffic can be hectic – especially during the holiday period. Take any delays in your stride and get your best car game ready to play.

  • Death Valley is extremely hot and dry (it's the hottest recorded place on Earth after all), so hiking at certain times of the year isn’t recommended.

  • Our vans do have air-conditioning, but it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool, so you may be hot. At other times of the year, it can be quite cold, especially at night. Be prepared for all weather conditions, especially outside of the July/August summer months. Pack warm clothes for the cold, sun protection and layers for the heat. It’s best to carefully consider the season and weather conditions to determine the best time to travel for you.

  • 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 Seattle! The Pacific Northwest, or PNW, is all about the outdoors, good food, better beer and all the arts and culture you could ever want. You'll meet your leader at 6 pm, but there's plenty to see if you happen to arrive early. Take a walk around the waterfront and Pike Place Market, which includes the original Starbucks store for the coffee connoisseurs out there, visit the towering Space Needle for views of the surrounding mountain ranges or try a local beer at one of the many microbreweries. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Incorporating nearly a million acres of land, Olympic National Park protects glacier-capped mountains, old-growth forests and pristine rivers teeming with salmon. Take a ferry from Seattle across to Bainbridge Island then drive towards Olympic National Park, stopping at Lake Cresent on the way. Perhaps rent a kayak and explore by water and spend the evening in Port Angeles.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Olympic National Park
Optional Activities
  • Lake Crescent - Kayaking - USD40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend the day exploring Olympic National Park. Visit La Push, home to the Quilete tribe, and take a walk down to Second Beach where you'll have stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Explore the lush, green canopies filled with moss and ferns that make up the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the largest temprate rainforests in the United States, which can receive over four metres of rain annually. Spend a second evening in Port Angeles, the birthplace, and final resting place, of influential American writer Raymond Carver. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • La Push Beach
  • Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive four hours to Mt. Rainier National Park, home to the highest mountain in both Washington and the entirety of the Cascade Ranges. Rainier was the fifth national park to be created in the US and is popular with hikers, alpinists, climbers and tourists thanks to its varied landscape, from its ice-capped volcano namesake to subalpine meadows filled with wildflowers. Stop in at the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Centre and, depending on the weather, go for a short hike or two in the afternoon before heading to the hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Rainier National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You've probably heard of Portland. It's the indisputable hipster capital of the west and is known for flannel shirts, its outdoor lifestyle, bike-friendly attitude, microbreweries and coffeehouses. Love 'em or hate 'em, hipsters know how to put together a really liveable city (and it's just as good as a traveller). Drive for half a day from Mt. Rainier and take a walk around town with your leader on arrival. This super-progressive city is yours to explore in the evening, so hit the breweries, check out the music and theatre scene or simply find a good spot to people-watch. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Jump on an included, three-hour bike tour of NE Portland visiting cultural and historical sites as well the locals' favourite haunts for world-class food and coffee. The tour comes with 24-hour bike rental included and the rest of the day is free for you to explore on two wheels or two feet – too easy. Come evening, check out the Doug Fir Lounge, an iconic bar and restaurant featuring live music almost every night, located right next door to your accommodation, the ultra-hip Jupiter Hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tastes & Treasures of Portland Bike Tour
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Sit back and cruise down the coast with a bunch of pit stops along the way. We'll visit Tillamook and learn about this delicious, Oregon-made cheese, then check out the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and hit the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail. Grab a meal and a drink at the Rogue Brewery then explore Old Town Florence and its art galleries, antique stores and ample opportunities for wine tasting. Spend the evening along the gorgeous waters of Coos Bay. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lunch at Rogue Brewery
  • Tillamook - Cheese Factory Visit
  • Oregon Dunes NRA - Tahkenitch Dunes Trail
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Drive out to Crater Lake National Park for a scenic hike around the Rim Trail. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US, the second deepest in North America, and is famous for its pristine blue waters fed by the snowy peaks above. Spend the evening out in Ashland, a small city home to Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which runs from March till October.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Crater Lake National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we'll drive to Oregon Caves National Monument. This cave system is special in that it is formed from marble, and we'll take a guided tour through the tunnels and caverns with a ranger. Continue across the Oregon-California border and stop at Crescent Beach Overlook for a view of the wild Pacific, before ending the day with sunset on the beach and a night near the Redwood National Park. This area of the coast is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Redwood National Park
  • Oregon Caves Discovery Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a full day to hike and explore the Redwood National and State Parks. Go looking for elk in Prairie Creek then walk through the incredible ridge-top redwoods at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove of Tall Trees. The scenes on Endor with the Ewoks in Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi were filmed in this area, and you really will feel like you're on another planet.  
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a long travel day heading south to San Francisco. Arrive late in the afternoon and stop for obligatory photos of the Golden Gate Bridge then check-in to your hotel. Tonight you can take an optional sunset sail in the bay, or otherwise hit the town. With a bustling China Town, popular waterfront and plenty of nightlife options in Union Hill and the Mission District, there's no shortage of evening entertainment in this eclectic city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Adventure Cat Sunset Sail - USD50
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Because this trip combines two smaller journeys, today you may be joined by other travellers or have to say goodbye to some of your new friends. If there are any newbies joining, you'll meet them this evening when you head out as a group on an Urban Adventures tour, which includes a guided walk through San Francisco's famous Little Italy and North Beach districts with dinner at a local restaurant. Until then, the day is free for you to explore on your own. Alcatraz is always a popular sight, though in peak season it can sometimes be difficult arranging tickets to The Rock. You could also check out the arts scene in SoMa, stroll through Union Square or walk down ridiculous Lombard Street.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Francisco - Dinner Urban Adventure
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
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 before the tour commences.
This morning hit the road out of San Francisco and drive north to the beautiful Sonoma Valley wine region. The small town of Sonoma was the site of the rebellion that paved the way for California's independence from Mexico. Enjoy lunch, a wine tasting and an optional winery tour at a local vineyard. Explore the historic buildings and scenic trails of nearby Jack London State Park - the area the famous writer and adventurer once called home. Spend the second night of the trip in 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
Today is a long day of driving (approximately seven hours), as you head east to Yosemite National Park where you'll spend the next two nights. Featuring sequoia forests, granite cliff faces and waterfalls, the scenery in this World Heritage-listed park is amazing to explore.
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 Yosemite National Park. There are plenty of hikes to do, each varying in difficulty. Perhaps take a 4-5 hour hike to the top of Nevada Fall or a short and easy walk to the serene Mirror Lake. Keep an eye out for squirrels (and perhaps even a bear) along the way. You might like to 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, float down the Merced River on a raft and enjoy 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.
Make the short drive to Lake Tahoe (approximately 2–3 hours). Enjoy free time for the rest of the day. If it's summer, perhaps using it to hike, swim, rent bikes or simply relax. An optional sunset sailing cruise on the lake is also available. In winter, your optional activities revolve around snow – strap on some snowshoes and go for a hike, take a sleigh ride, or try your hand at ice skating. In the evening, return to camp for dinner with the group.
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.
Drive south to Death Valley (approximately 6 hours). On the way to Lone Pine perhaps stop at Manzanar National Historic Site, a former Japanese Internment Camp during WWII. Spend the night in the town of Lone Pine, not far from the entrance to Death Valley. Here there's the option to visit the Museum of Western Film History, which celebrates the many movies that have been filmed in the area, such as Iron Man, Django Unchained, How The West Was Won, and True Grit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Lone Pine - Museum of Western Film History - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we drive the short distance into Death Valley National Park. Death Valley National Park is a geologically rich area, featuring 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, so pack plenty of water. Perhaps hike up to Dante's View for amazing vistas over the valley. Check out Ubehebe Crater or find a shady trail through Golden Canyon.
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 this isn't your thing there's a lot more to do in town. Wander along the Strip past impersonators, billboards and hotels, checking out the Bellagio fountain show. Head to a rooftop amusement park, hit the chain stores or lose all sense of time exploring the gaudy interiors of The Venetian, Caesars Palace and New York-New York hotels. In the evening, join up with the group for an included buffet dinner, Vegas style. If you're up for it, see an after-dinner show or hit up a nightclub.
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
Enjoy a free day in Vegas. Your leader can suggest some ideas or why not check out one of our Urban Adventures. Because this is a combination trip, some members of your group may depart this morning and new ones may arrive in the evening. Feel free to join them for dinner tonight and, given you're essentially an expert in all things Las Vegas by now, show them a night out on the town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, travel across the border into Utah and the spectacular landscapes of Zion National Park (approximately three hours). There's a variety of trails to choose from and you'll have plenty of opportunity to explore among the park's soaring cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Warm up with a gentle walk to the lower end of the Emerald Pools. Continue onto the upper end of the pools, passing a waterfall on the way to Zion's 'beach'. If you're feeling ambitious, perhaps enjoy the park's most famous challenge: Angels Landing. After a strenuous hike along the narrow ridge of the cliffs, you'll be rewarded with a panorama of the red landscape. Please be aware that this isn't for the faint-hearted and requires a moderate level of fitness.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Zion National Park
Optional Activities
  • Zion National Park - Hiking - Free
  • Zion - Narrows Hiking Gear Rental - USD25
  • Zion - River Tubing (seasonal) - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a full day of free time in Zion National Park. This is a great opportunity to tackle any trails you may not have yesterday. The Narrows is a good choice, if you're not up for the more challenging Angel's Landing. The Narrows is probably the most popular hike in the park, and one of the best slot canyon hikes on Earth. It can also be tailored to suit various levels of skill and experience.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, drive to Bryce Canyon. Millions of years of wind and water erosion have formed the park's distinctive hoodoos – uniquely shaped rock spires rising out of the red desert. You will have ample time to explore the park's extensive network of hiking trails, from the easy Rim Trail, to the moderate Queen's Garden Trail or the strenuous Peek-a-boo Loop. Wherever you walk, you'll encounter unique landscapes and a kaleidoscope of desert colours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
Optional Activities
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - Hiking - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning make the six-hour drive to the spectacular Monument Valley. There may be time to visit the cliffs, canyons and domes of Capitol Reef National Park on the way.

Monument Valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the USA, home to more than 200,000 enrolled members of the Navajo Tribe. Explore the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert, witnessing the ever-changing colour of the landscape. In the evening, travel by jeep through the Monument Valley with a Navajo guide. Join the locals for an authentic Navajo dinner around a campfire and listen to their traditional songs and stories.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monument Valley Tribal Park Entry Fee
  • Monument Valley - Jeep Tour and Navajo Dinner
  • Capitol Reef National Park
Meals Included
  • Dinner
In the morning, make the 3–4 hour drive to the Grand Canyon, one of the largest canyon systems in the world. This a real highlight of the trip, so you'll be spending two nights here. Perhaps take a stroll along the South Rim Trail or hike to Skeleton Point. There's plenty to see and do during your time here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Grand Canyon National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon. There are plenty of optional activities to take part in - your leader will provide you with the details. Take a hike around the canyon or if you're feeling extra adventurous, opt for a helicopter flight over the area. In the evening, sit back and enjoy the sunset behind the red peaks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (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.
In the morning, take the long drive to Joshua Tree National Park (approximately 7-8 hours). Sitting between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park is home to striking rock formations, many species of cacti and varied desert wildlife such as coyotes, lizards and bighorn sheep. Spend the night in a nearby hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Joshua Tree National Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, continue exploring Joshua Tree in the morning then drive to LA (approximately three hours). After all that desert, the wide-open spaces and the beautiful scenery the only thing you’re probably missing is a good coffee, right? Never fear; LA has excellent coffee and then some. Visit the Original Farmers Market for lunch before spending an afternoon at Santa Monica Pier for a dose of sea, sand and eccentric boardwalk characters. Then you’re free to discover LA on your own terms. Stroll Rodeo Drive, amp up the culture with a trip to the Getty Centre or enjoy the sights from Venice Beach. You will have no problem finding a superb spot for dinner this evening – the cultural mishmash of the City of Angels provides excellent nosh on every corner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your adventure comes to an end this morning. There are no more activities planned and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Ferry, Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (26 nights), Motel (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Olympic National Park
  • La Push Beach
  • Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park
  • Mt Rainier National Park
  • Tastes & Treasures of Portland Bike Tour
  • Lunch at Rogue Brewery
  • Tillamook - Cheese Factory Visit
  • Oregon Dunes NRA - Tahkenitch Dunes Trail
  • Crater Lake National Park
  • Redwood National Park
  • Oregon Caves Discovery Tour
  • 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
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Monument Valley Tribal Park Entry Fee
  • Monument Valley - Jeep Tour and Navajo Dinner
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.

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.