Hike through beautiful Joshua Tree National Park among the park’s desert cactus gardens and unusual rock formations, before hitting the road to Seligman on Route 66.. Fly like an eagle and treat yourself to an optional scenic helicopter flight over the winding gorges of the Grand Canyon – an experience you’ll never forget.. Discover another side to Yosemite’s Towering granite cliffs, redwood forests and epic night skies by hiking one of its best, lesser-known trails – Hetch Hetchy – with your expert guide.. Soak up the scenery on a relaxing visit to a natural hot spring near Bishop, the perfect way to relax before an action-packed few days!
Get a dose of a classic USA on this 11-day wild western Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. Stroll among the bizarre flora of Joshua Tree National Park, peer over the edge of the Grand Canyon and people-watch on the sandy boardwalks of Santa Monica. Trek and explore Yosemite, marvel at the size of Half Dome, and then head on to the coast as you move through constantly changing scenery through to the City by the Bay, San Francisco. For those who just want to hit the wide open road and see the natural wonder of USA’s west, this extensive LA to San Fran adventure is just the ticket.
Breakfast Included: 1 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Welcome to the USA! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the lobby today at 6 pm. If you do arrive early, perhaps take a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or spend some time learning about the lives of the rich and famous on a celebrity homes tour. After the welcome meeting, we’ll head beachside and visit Venice and Santa Monica beach for a stroll and some people watching. Day 1 is all about introductions, so why not spend some time getting to know your fellow travellers with an optional group dinner.
Joshua Tree National Park
Today, you’ll 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 the park’s namesake Joshua trees – along with cacti and Mojave yuccas. The area is also home to striking rock formations and mountain ranges, so you might like to head out on a scenic hike around the park or take a refreshing dip in the Colorado River. You’ll head to Lake Havasu City later on to your accommodation for the night, and check out London Bridge: a 280-metre structure rebuilt in Arizona in 1971 after being transported, piece by piece, from the banks of the Thames in London.
Grand Canyon National Park
Drive for 6 hours to Grand Canyon National Park, along a section of the famous Route 66, stopping in at the eccentric town of Seligman. Once we arrive at the Grand Canyon National Park, be ready to visually delight in the natural beauty for hours. 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, and you’ll need it, to allow for 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. With eagles soaring overhead and chasms extending as far as the eye can see, it’s so important for you to experience its vast gorges from multiple viewpoints. If you're feeling adventurous, you can choose to take a scenic helicopter flight over the area (for an extra cost). In the early evening, relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one of the world's natural wonders.
Today drive across the border into Nevada and back to Las Vegas. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness. The arrival time depends on each group, and some fellow travellers may bid you farewell today. If you are staying in town for the evening, perhaps check out one of the many stage shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub.
Today is as clear as the blue skies in the deserts of Nevada. There are no planned activities until another meeting in the hotel lobby today at 6 pm, where you may meet some new travellers on your wild west adventure. After your briefing, why not go check out one of the all-you-can-eat buffets on offer with your new and updated crew.
Sierra Nevada / Keough Hot Springs
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.
Yosemite National Park
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.
Yosemite National Park
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.
Yosemite National Park
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.
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).