Experience the south western corner of the USA in depth, visiting the iconic national parks, lesser known gems, as well as the glamorous capitals of California and Nevada. Towering granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls, redwood forests and epic night skies – Yosemite National Park feels like utopia. While other tour groups breeze through in a day, you’ll spend two nights in the park, allowing for a full day of hiking and exploring. For many, Death Valley conjures up images of a flat and barren wasteland. Be surprised by the park’s ethereal landscapes of sand dunes, water-sculpted canyons, extinct volcanic craters and, in the spring, fields of wildflowers. From the stone hoodoos of Bryce Canyon to the hanging gardens of Zion National Park, see a diversity of landscapes all within a short drive of each other
Discover the captivating cities and astounding natural attractions of the USA’s west on an adventure through California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Experience the wonderful wilds of Joshua Tree, Zion and Yosemite national parks, explore Monumental Valley, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon, and join the high rollers in glittering Las Vegas. With thrilling outdoor experiences, spectacular stretches of coastline and sensational city explorations, this is the ultimate round-up of the western USA’s highlights.
Breakfast Included: Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby today at 6 pm. 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). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
As this trip spends little time in Los Angeles, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. The 'City of Angels' is world-renowned for the glamorous districts of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, not to mention the shopping on Rodeo Drive. From Venice Beach to Disneyland, it's a veritable smorgasbord for the senses. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). You might consider doing our one-day Urban Adventure sightseeing tour of Los Angeles (see urbanadventures.com).
Today drive south for two-and-a-half hours to San Diego, close to California's border with Mexico. Sunny San Diego is a great city to get out and explore as it serves up year-round temperate weather. Perhaps relax along the golden beaches of Mission Bay, take a stroll through Balboa Park or feast on some delicious Mexican fare. In the evening, you may like to head down to the Pacific Beach district and sample some of the bars on Garnet Street.
Joshua Tree National Park
Today head away from the coast and drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Sitting between the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, the park is famous for its spectacular desert plants, including Joshua trees, cacti and Mojave yuccas. The area is also home to striking rock formations and mountain ranges. You might like to head out on a scenic hike around the park or even take a refreshing dip in the Colorado River. Today's total driving time is around seven hours.
Grand Canyon National Park
Drive for six hours to Grand Canyon National Park. Words don't do justice to the Grand Canyon. This stunning gorge is 1.5 kilometres deep, formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River. You'll spend two nights here, in order to allow a full day of exploration tomorrow.
Grand Canyon National Park
Today is a free day to explore the Grand Canyon, one of the largest canyon systems in the world. Stroll along the meandering South Rim Trail or hike your way down to Plateau Point. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you might even opt for a scenic helicopter flight over the area (at your own expense). In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one the world's natural wonders.
Today we drive for about five hours to Las Vegas. This 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.
Zion National Park
Today leave Nevada and drive for around three hours to Zion National Park. The park is home to stunning desert landscapes, sculpted rock formations, waterfalls and hanging gardens. There will be plenty of time on arrival to stretch your legs and have a good look around the park. Go for a hike in Zion Canyon, or if you are feeling adventurous (and aren't afraid of heights) tackle the famous Angel's Landing Trail. In the evening, set up camp for the night.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Drive for around two-and-a-half hours to Bryce Canyon. The canyon is famous for its 'hoodoos' - odd-shaped rock spires formed by centuries of erosion. 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.
Continue on your journey this morning through the impressive Utah landscape. Depending on time and the group's interest, perhaps make a stop at Capitol Reef National Park (additional cost) before heading to Moab. Close to the incredible Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, Moab is a small city in Utah that attracts hikers, mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts. Arches National Park is punctuated with spectacularly eroded sandstone formations, and contains the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches. Take a hike out to see famous sights such as Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch. The total driving time today is approximately five-and-a-half hours.
On your second day in Moab, discover the red plateaus, cliffs and canyons of nearby Deadhorse Point State Park. Enjoy incredible views from Deadhorse Point. 610 metres (2,000 feet) above the ground, cowboys used to the point to round up wild mustangs in the 19th century. You might like to take an optional float down the Colorado River, or even hire a mountain bike to explore the area.
Today drive through southern Utah to Monument Valley. Monument Valley is so-named for the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. The backdrop for countless westerns, the valley is part of the biggest Indian reservation in the US and home to more than 200,000 Navajo Indians. Head out on a guided jeep tour of the valley. Get your camera out and snap some photos of the spectacular landscape, which changes colour with the movement of the sun. Spend the night in a hogan, a traditional Navajo hut made of logs and earth. Total driving time today is approximately three hours.
Drive through the unspoiled landscapes of the northern Arizona desert plateau to Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This enormous manmade lake was created from the building of the Glen Canyon Dam along the Colorado River. Explore hidden coves and canyons, take a dip in the fresh water or laze on the lake's sunny shores. You could even paddle around in a kayak. Total driving time today is around three-and-a-half hours.