Hit the road in search of California’s best

City, coast, hot springs, national parks and a whole load of wide-open roads – take on Vegas to San Fran in just six days with a Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. Stop by Sierra Nevada to soak in local hot springs and pass by Mono and Tenaya lakes on your way to the extraordinary Yosemite National Park. With two full days spent here, marvel at Half Dome and hike the Hetch Hetchy Valley with your small group, plus reap the benefits of the freedom to explore at your own pace. Once you wind up along the culture-filled harbourside of San Francisco, you’ll have found your calling. The Western USA is a place for dreamers – let one be you.


Start
Las Vegas, United States
Finish
San Francisco, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
SSRH
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Spending three nights in Yosemite National Park means two full days of exploration. With so many options on what to do, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

  • Discover another side to Yosemite’s towering granite cliffs, redwood forests and epic night skies by hiking one of its lesser-known trails – Hetch Hetchy – with your local leader.

  • Soak up the scenery on a relaxing visit to a natural hot spring near the township of Bishop. It’s the perfect way to relax and get to know your travel pals.

  • With a knowledgeable leader and driver getting you from place to place, all you’ve got to worry about is snapping the best photo and getting the most out of your Californian road trip.

  • Where better to end your adventure than in San Francisco, the eclectic, multicultural 'City by the Bay'. With the option to extend your visit a couple of days, you won’t be wanting to go home just yet.

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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 USD 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 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.

  • North America is a world of endless possibilities – that’s why our trips are designed so they fit together as (not quite endless) combinations. This means that 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).

  • From the steep hiking trails of Yosemite to the towering hills of San Francisco, 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 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 travelling friends will keep you occupied.

Itinerary

Welcome to the USA! There are no planned activities until your welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm. 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. We recommend you arrive a few days early to make the most of this exciting city. After the welcome meeting, perhaps feast on an 'all you can eat' buffet, check out one of the many shows on offer – book in advance if you can, to get the best deals – or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas - Big Apple Express roller coaster - USD15
  • Las Vegas - Mob Museum - USD27
  • Las Vegas - Monorail - USD5
  • Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience - Free
  • Las Vegas - Bellagio Fountains - Free
  • Las Vegas - Eiffel Tower - USD22
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Leave the bright lights of Vegas behind and drive into the Eastern Sierra Nevada toward the quaint town of Bishop. On arrival, check out the town or perhaps treat yourself to the crispy cookies or ‘bear claws’ at Erick Schat’s German bakery. Later this afternoon, join the group for a soothing soak in a natural hot spring – perfect for those wanting to relax before an action-packed few days in Yosemite. Tonight, you’ll camp under the stars in Bishop.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Prepare for some spectacular mountain scenery as you depart from Bishop and head west to Yosemite National Park. This morning, stop at crystal clear lakes – including Mono and Tenaya – before continuing through the Tioga Pass (snow levels permitting) into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Stop by Olmstead Point to marvel at Yosemite’s natural wonder, Half Dome, before arriving at one of the most famous parks in the USA. Yosemite's colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls (depending on the season) and redwood forests attract visitors from all over the world. You'll spend three nights in the park, meaning you have two full days to explore. The total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Visit to Mono Lake
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Start today with an orientation tour of the village before heading out for a free day of exploration. There are plenty of hikes available, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike The Mist Trail to Nevada Falls (2–5 hours) or to the serene Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels and perhaps even a bear along the way. You might prefer to hire a bike and explore Yosemite Valley, visiting the park's museum, photo gallery, shops and restaurants along the way. In the heat of summer, a relaxing float down the Merced River followed by a few drinks at the park's cafe is just the trick.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (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.
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
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Yosemite National Park - Hiking - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Yosemite behind today and drive west to San Francisco (approximately 4 hours). The 'City by the Bay' has a beautiful setting and a vibrant, multicultural heart. You might like to check out the vintage stores along funky Haight Street, catch the tram down to the waterfront or take an Adventure Cat Bay Cruise. The trip finishes on arrival into San Francisco after a stop to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, and no accommodation is provided tonight. As there's a great deal to do in San Francisco, we recommend you stay a couple of extra days to make the most of the city. If you do wish to spend extra time in San Francisco, we'll be happy to help you book additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • San Francisco - Adventure Cat Bay Cruise - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As there's a great deal to do in San Francisco, we recommend you stay a couple of extra days to make the most of the city. This trip doesn't allow time for a visit to Alcatraz, so you'll need to make your own arrangements to visit the island prison. Tickets must be booked in advance, as they're limited and sell out quickly.

Notes: You can make your own Alcatraz reservations online at alcatrazcruises.com or call +1 415 981 7625 between the hours of 8 am and 7 pm, Pacific Standard Time (USA). We recommend booking your tickets for the day after the trip finishes. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist (subject to availability). Also consider joining a one-day sightseeing tour of San Francisco through urbanadventures.com.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (4 nights), Hotel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Yosemite National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Visit to Mono Lake

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Vegas to San Fran trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1 and finishes on arrival into San Francisco at approximately 5 pm on the final day.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. A sleeping bag is required for 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.

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