Experience the contrasts of the West; from overflowing cities to wild deserts and forests

Explore all the natural and urban beauty that western US offers. Spend time in the big parks of the States – Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and more. Discover a new landscape around every corner: from huge sculpted cliffs and monster trees to alien deserts filled with strange rocks and massive sand dunes. Sip wine in Sonoma, spend time with a Native America tribe and giddy up on a horse ride through the Old West. Overload your senses in ‘Sin City’ Las Vegas and relax in the city of Angels.

30% OFF Select 2019 Trips

Explore Japan, New Zealand, Cuba and many more.

Terms & Conditions

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

Why you'll love this trip

  • Enjoy a full day of optional activities to suit every adventurer, in every season, during your 2-night stay in Lake Tahoe.

  • Get the most out of your Yosemite experience by spending three nights in the park, meaning two full days of exploration.

  • Admire the oasis of Emerald Pools during a hike past waterfalls and lush vegetation in Utah’s Zion National Park.

  • Ride a jeep through Utah's iconic Monument Valley, and then share stories and a meal by the campfire with members of Navajo Nation.

  • Explore a city that’s home to dreamers, fortune seekers, and celebrities in the City of Angels: Los Angeles.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Less time spent in a vehicle; more time to explore each destination. This trip has been carefully designed to give you the best experience of a region by reducing the number of one-night-only stops, giving you extra time in the places that matter.

  • 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 private vehicles do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool. Expect to feel hot during summer and cold at other times of the year, 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.

  • Some of the best scenery in Yosemite is found on hikes. So, while this trip doesn't require a high level of fitness, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to partake in all activities.

  • This trip includes time spent travelling in a vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • From the boardwalks at Venice Beach to the strenuous hike up Angels Landing, 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 regions visited on this trip can experience extremes in weather and temperature. Bryce Canyon is deceptively unpredictable and can drop in temperature to the point of snow flurries, while Zion National Park down the road is generally hot and sunny. Please be prepared for all weather conditions, especially if travelling outside of the July/August summer months. Bring layers of warm clothing and sun protection and ensure you drink plenty of water.

  • If you wish to spend more time in San Francisco or Las Vegas, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Itinerary

Welcome to San Francisco! A city with a storied history and plenty of eccentric characters – your adventure begins at 3 pm with an important welcome meeting, followed by an Urban Adventure through the hidden gems of Chinatown. Explore this iconic neighbourhood with a local who has all the insider knowledge on how its residents live, eat and drink. Indulge in treats and tastings as you sample authentic Chinese pastries – mooncake anyone? And learn about the powers of traditional Chinese tea with a tea master. Make your own fortune cookie while listening to the sounds of an erhu – a traditional two-stringed instrument – and snack on a delicious dim sim!

It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Francisco - Chinatown Discovery Urban Adventure
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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.
This morning, explore the architectural landmarks of San Fran with a guided visit to the Palace of Fine Arts and the iconic Ferry Building – a historical monument home to an array of food stalls and eateries, then get your camera ready as you gaze upon the Golden Gate Bridge from the best view point in the city. After your guided tour, head across to Sausalito and stop for lunch (own expense) in Placerville – an old mining town with a notorious past, before continuing your drive to Lake Tahoe – the USA’s second-deepest lake and home to 116 km (72 miles) of scenic shoreline. This evening, (depending on the season) set sail on a sunset cruise around the stunning Emerald Bay and watch the orange hues glisten on the surface of the calm, cobalt waters.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Tahoe - Emerald Bay sunset cruise (summer only)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Sunset Cruise will be replaced with snowshoeing activity throughout the winter months December to March. Snowshoeing activity will take place on day 3.
Enjoy a day of leisure in Lake Tahoe, this natural adventure park has plenty going on all year-round which means there’ll be plenty of activities for you to choose from depending on the season. In summer, you can paddle on the clear, blue waters of the lake in a kayak or take a refreshing dip, and for the hiking enthusiasts – the surrounding hillside is perfect for scenic walks during the warmer months. During winter the area becomes a snow-covered playground where you can choose to take a sleigh ride or try your hand at ice skating. If you didn’t get chance to cruise around Emerald Bay yesterday, then (season dependent) try your hand at snowshoeing! An amazing way to explore the powdery white surrounds.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Tahoe - Snowshoeing (winter only)
Optional Activities
  • Lake Tahoe - Kayaking/watersports - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, head south to the world-famous Yosemite National Park. Featuring colossal granite cliff faces, cascading waterfalls (depending on the season) and redwood forests, the scenery in Yosemite attracts travellers from all over the globe. On arrival, wander through the jaw-dropping Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, home to two-dozen of the largest known trees on earth. These colossal, ancient wonders are adapted for survival. They’re resistant to disease, thanks to a large content of tannin (a type of natural chemical) in the wood – and their thick asbestos-like bark means that they can withstand the hottest of forest-fires, making them almost indestructible. The resilient beauty of these redwood beasts makes them a phenomenal must-see on any Yosemite itinerary.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance Fee
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a guided walk around the spectacular scenery of Yosemite National Park followed by a free day to explore. The breathtaking landscapes have made Yosemite a favourite among hikers for generations, and there are plenty of trekking routes on offer with varying degrees of difficulty. If you feel like breaking a sweat, the 5-hour hike to the top of Nevada Falls features plenty of switchbacks, and depending on the season, 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 the 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. This evening, if the weather is right, join the group for an included pizza picnic in the park! Alternatively, warm up with a local meal in the cosy indoors.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite - Pizza Picnic Dinner
Optional Activities
  • Yosemite - Cycling in Yosemite Valley - USD12
  • Yosemite National Park - Hiking - Free
  • Yosemite - Raft Rental (seasonal) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Today there’s a chance to explore a different side of the park as you join your leader on a guided hike to Hetch Hetchy Valley. Tucked away in the northwest corner of Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy is a wilderness of cascading waterfalls, towering cliff faces and beautiful wildflowers. Boasting one of the longest hiking seasons in the park, the ecologically diverse valley attracts a fraction of the visitors in comparison to other more well-known hiking spots in Yosemite – which means it’s an ideal area for those who have extra time to explore the park in depth.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning, stop and admire the glistening waters of Tenaya and Mono Lakes on the drive south to Death Valley (approximately 6 hours). On the way to Lone Pine, perhaps stop at Manzanar National Historic Site, a former military-style camp where more than 110,000 Japanese-American men, women and children were detained during WWII. Continue to Alabama Hills – where colourful undulating peaks roll in the foreground of the contrasting jagged, snowy Sierras – this beautiful landscape is just a stone’s throw away from where you’ll be spending the night in Lone Pine – not far from the entrance to Death Valley. On arrival, 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
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning 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. 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. Continue your drive through Nevada to the glitzy desert city of Las Vegas – it may be a gamblers paradise, but if the tables aren't your thing there's still plenty to discover! 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, why not join your travel buddies for an optional dinner!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Death Valley National Park
Optional Activities
  • Death Valley National Park - Hiking (seasonal) - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You'll have another day to further enjoy the delights of Las Vegas. Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. 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. This evening, gather together for another meeting at 6 pm where you’ll welcome some new travellers on the next stage of your USA adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary so please attend, and this is also a great chance to meet the new group. It’s important that you attend the welcome meeting as your new group leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Today, leave behind the neon and nightclubs behind, and travel to Zion National Park (approximately 3 hours). Warm up with a leader-led orientation or the park, and gentle walk to the lower end of the Emerald Pools, passing the sparkling waterfalls and streams along the way. Continue on a more difficult trail to the upper section, checking out another waterfall on the way to Zion's 'beach'. Enjoy some free time this afternoon to explore more of the park's hiking trails. If you're feeling ambitious, perhaps enjoy the park's most famous challenge: Angels Landing. After a hike along the thin ridge of the cliffs, you'll be rewarded with a sweeping panorama of the red desert. This isn't for the faint-hearted as the trails do get quite narrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy some 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, as it is probably the most popular hike in the park, and one of the best slot canyon hikes on Earth. Trek through a gorge surrounded by cliff faces 300 metres high, and after a while, cool off in a river along the way. The Narrows hike can be tailored to suit various levels of skill and experience, so there’s a trek for everyone!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Zion National Park - Entrance Fee
Optional Activities
  • Zion National Park - Hiking - Free
  • Zion - Narrows Hiking Gear Rental - USD25
  • Zion National Park - River tubing (seasonal) - USD24
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 desert. You will have heaps of time to explore the park's selection of hikes, 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 the canyon’s colourful landscapes. The group leader will join you on a hike and for lunch in the Canyon. If you’re feeling adventurous, book in a horse-riding tour and experience the park in a different way. The accommodation tonight is not too far away, so you’ll be able to enjoy scenic views over the canyon into the night.
Accommodation
  • Cabin (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - Entrance Fee
Optional Activities
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - Hiking - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you’ll make the 6-hour drive to the spectacular Monument Valley. There will be time to visit the cliffs, canyons and domes of the lesser-known but no less picturesque Capitol Reef National Park on the way. Take Scenic Byway 12 and stop off at Kiva Koffeehouse for lunch and views over the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument in southern Utah. Pass by more scenic lookouts at Goosenecks State Park and Moki Dugway before hitting Monument Valley. Once arrived, explore the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert as far as the eye can see. In the evening, travel by jeep through the valley with a Navajo guide. Join the locals for an authentic Navajo dinner around a campfire and settle in for an evening of 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 3.5-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, one of the largest canyon systems in the world. Photos really don't do this massive network of gorges, rivers and cliffs justice. This a real highlight of the trip, and you'll be spending two nights here in order to take it all in. Perhaps start with a stroll along the South Rim Trail, which gives great views over the park. While you can't hike to the Colorado River and back in one day, you can take a roughly 4-hour trail to Skeleton Point, which offers great views of the river. Ask the group leader for advice on which trails are right for you and your fitness level.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Grand Canyon National Park - Entrance Fee
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is as clear as an Arizona sky in summer. Explore at your own pace, but remember to always have a supply of water and high-energy snacks handy. Touch base with the group leader about optional activities available today – recommended is a helicopter flight over the gorges, providing a chance to see the entire park. If you'd rather get the bird’s eye view without leaving the ground, you can choose to watch a documentary on the canyon at the local IMAX theatre. Of course, there are myriad trails and treks to keep the active occupied. Bright Angel has wonderful views all along the trail and Ooh-Aah Point is a favourite shorter hike on the South Kaibab Trail, offering another viewpoint to the park. 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) - USD284
  • Grand Canyon - Hiking - Free
  • Grand Canyon - IMAX movie - USD10
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning, take the drive to Joshua Tree National Park (approximately 7 hours). You’ll spend some time driving the famous Route 66 and have a quick stop by the eccentric community of Seligman. Sitting between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, Joshua Tree is home to striking rock formations, many species of cacti and varied desert wildlife such as coyotes, lizards and bighorn sheep. Joshua Tree provides a considerable contrast to the wildlife and natural scenery you have seen recently.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Joshua Tree National Park - Entrance Fee
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There may be time to squeeze in a sunrise hike at Joshua Tree before making the approximately 3-hour journey to Los Angeles. Visit the Original Farmers Market for lunch before spending an afternoon at Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach for a bit of people watching. Then you’re free to discover LA at your own pace. Stroll Rodeo Drive, amp up the culture with a trip to the Getty Centre or take a tour around the Beverly Hills mansions. You will have no problem finding a spot for dinner this evening – the cultural mishmash of LA provides excellent food wherever you are.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no more activities planned today.  If you're planning to stay in LA for a little while longer, why not take an Urban Adventure tour like Sips of Old Hollywood. Stroll along the Walk of Fame and soak up the atmosphere at iconic bars, lounges, speakeasies, and mobster hangouts. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/los-angeles-tours.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

5 breakfasts, 2 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (16 nights), Cabin (1 night)

Included activities

  • San Francisco - Chinatown Discovery Urban Adventure
  • Lake Tahoe - Emerald Bay sunset cruise (summer only)
  • Lake Tahoe - Snowshoeing (winter only)
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Yosemite - Pizza Picnic Dinner
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Zion National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Monument Valley Tribal Park Entry Fee
  • Monument Valley - Jeep Tour and Navajo Dinner
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Joshua Tree National Park - Entrance Fee

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our USA National Parks Explorer trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may change, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. Please note this tour starts at 3pm on Day 1.

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.

View Essential Trip Information

Reviews