Snow-capped peaks will be the backdrop to your adventures in this fabulous, frosty trip.

You might think you know what to expect with a North American winter. After all, you’ve probably been watching these snow-capped vistas for years on screen. But nothing can quite prepare you for the magic of California in the colder months. In this trip you'll enjoy the great outdoors with enough activity to keep your cheeks rosy. Hike through the frosted wonderland of Yosemite Valley, see the golden gate bridge from beneath San Francisco’s famous mist and hit the slopes around Lake Tahoe.


Start
San Francisco, United States
Finish
San Francisco, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Comfort
Theme
Active Adventures, Explorer
Code
SSTW
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why you'll love this trip

  • Hike through a frosted valley in Yosemite National Park, where there’s more stunning vistas than you can poke a walking stick at with fewer people than the Summer months

  • Get your fix of creature comforts and wild adventure at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Take a scenic gondola ride over snow-dusted hillside then choose to tackle the terrain or simply grab a beer in the village

  • Hit the slopes by foot, ski or snowboard in Lake Tahoe, breathing in the crisp smell of pine and snow

  • See the rugged Clark Ranges so close you could almost feel the rough rock beneath your fingers – if it weren’t for your gloves

  • Ice skate in the great outdoors beneath the stunning granite Half Dome

Is this trip right for you?

  • Just as a heads up before you book: this trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

  • You'll be travelling in a van with a group of travellers on long journeys, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure though, and you might even make some long-term friends.

  • You'll need to possess a moderate level of fitness to participate in many of the included and optional activities featured on this trip.

  • It will be cold. Very cold. You'll need to make sure you have appropriate gear such as a pair of warm winter boots. See our packing list (http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/packing-list) for a full suggestion of what to take.

Itinerary

Welcome to colourful, eclectic San Francisco. Your leader can help you to get the most out of your night in the city, just make sure you attend the 6pm welcome meeting so you can introduce yourself and pass on your insurance and next of kin details. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time, you might want to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Despite rapid gentrification due to the Silicon Valley tech boom, there’s still plenty of dusty dives and kooky spots to grab a nightcap and a feed in the city. Why not head for Divisadero Street? It’s overflowing with such gems.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we head inland on a 4-hour drive to Lake Tahoe, with a stop in the city of Placerville just over half way. It’s around here that the scenery starts to get really pretty, and the historic houses and shops of this gold rush town are framed by towering green pines. Continue to Lake Tahoe, keeping an eye out the window on the mountains. Arrive in the afternoon, check in and get your boots on for an orientation hike around the South Lake. Your first taste of North American winter magic starts here, with views of the frozen lake offset by snow-capped mountains. Choose how you would like to spend the evening. Maybe hit the casino nearby if you’re feeling lucky. Alternatively, sip a hot cocoa and get cosy.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Soar high above this incredible terrain with an included gondola ride at Heavenly Mountain Resort, taking in views of snow-dusted mountains and perhaps getting a sense of where you'd like to venture today. Your schedule is as clear as the mountain air, and there are plenty of ways to stay warm and entertained. Maybe hit the slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort, where you can find runs for beginners and experienced powder-chasers alike. If you’d prefer to stop and smell the pines, you might want to explore via a snowshoeing tour – an easier way to tackle the terrain if you’re not ready for the slopes just yet or simply prefer to take it slow. If you don't want to trudge up and down the peaks and dips, you could always zoom through the thickets on a snowmobile.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Tahoe - Heavenly Mountain Resort - Scenic Gondola Ride
Optional Activities
  • Lake Tahoe - Heavenly Mountain Resort - Skiing/Snowboarding - USD125
  • Lake Tahoe - Hiking - Free - Free
  • Lake Tahoe - Snowmobiling - USD155
  • Lake Tahoe - Snowshoeing Tour - USD75
  • Lake Tahoe - Ice Skating - USD20
  • Lake Tahoe - Cross Country Skiing (rental) - USD30
  • Lake Tahoe - Cross Country Skiing Tour - USD80
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Perhaps lace-up and get into the Winter wonderland spirit with outdoor ice skating at the Heavenly Valley rink. For those who love to ski but don’t want to queue (or careen downhill) there are plenty of cross-country trails in the area that you can explore either on your own with rented gear or on a guided tour. If you’ve exhausted yourself in the great outdoors, you could always head to a one of the restaurants, bars or shops in the Heavenly Valley Village. Food-wise you can find everything from Mexican to sushi, but why not keep it classic stateside and grab a burger from the grill? You’ve earned it.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Another lush, scenic journey delivers you to grand Yosemite National Park. It’s a 5-hour drive, so it’s a good thing you can stretch your legs with an afternoon hike in the valley upon arrival. Enjoy majestic views of stark grey cliffs that swell on either side of the frosted grass and trees. The best part is it’s far more secluded that during the summer months, lending the area an otherworldly feel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you’re free to discover the delights of Yosemite by whatever means you’d prefer. Developed a taste for cross-country skiing in Lake Tahoe? Hey, it happens. Why not rent some gear and embark on one of the trails? Glacier Point Road trail offers views of the rugged Clark Range up close along easily navigable tracks. Thrill seekers and playful types might want to give tubing a go. There’s also an ice skating rink where you can swish and twirl under the watchful eye of the towering granite Half Dome. In the evening enjoy traditional North American food (think crab cakes and slow roasted prime rib) in an included dinner at the chandelier-lit Majestic Yosemite Dining Room.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite - Majestic Yosemite Hotel - Dinner
Optional Activities
  • Yosemite - Cross-Country Skiing - USD28
  • Yosemite - Ice Skating - USD10
  • Yosemite - Snowshoeing - USD23
  • Yosemite - Tubing - USD17
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Return to San Francisco and visit the bridge. You know the one. No matter how many times you’ve seen it on TV, nothing can really prepare you for the span and grandiosity of the Golden Gate Bridge. The great thing about San Francisco is that the Winters are relatively mild, with low temperatures generally bottoming at around 10˚C. That means you can get out and about and enjoy some of the city’s famous nightlife. Wine bars abound in this town, which makes sense given the proximity to so many production hot spots. Perhaps relax with a glass of cab sav or pinot noir on your final evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This active adventure has come to an end, but your journey in North America doesn't have to.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Lake Tahoe - Heavenly Mountain Resort - Scenic Gondola Ride
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance
  • Yosemite - Majestic Yosemite Hotel - Dinner

Dates & availability

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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

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.