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National Parks of the American West
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Spend two weeks in the American West, discovering the beauty of many of its most iconic national parks. Encounter the crimson-striped cliffs of the Grand Canyon and hear the thundering surf at Big Sur. Stroll among the giants of Sequoia National Park and step behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a tour designed for National Geographic Journeys. From Yosemite to Death Valley, escape to some of the greatest natural wonders anywhere.

North America
  • Duration: 16 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Accommodation standard:   Moderate%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Tour code: 166151
  • Starts: Las Vegas,
  • Finishes: San Francisco,
You will Visit
  • Las Vegas
  • San Francisco

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Las Vegas

There are no planned activities today until the evening welcome meeting, so check out the strip or get tickets to a show for this evening.

Included Activities:
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting

02

Day 2: Las Vegas/Zion National Park (1B)

Depart early for Zion, Utah's oldest national park which offers some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States. Catch the shuttle into the park with our CEO and hike to the Emerald Pools and hanging gardens.

Included Activities:
Zion National Park Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-3.50 hours, 250km)

03

Day 3: Zion National Park (1B, 1L)

The canyon is narrow, and the river covers the bottom in many places, which means you will have to wade or swim to proceed. Prepare to get wet but the cool water makes this hike particularly pleasant during the hot summer months.

Hiking is not permitted when the river is high from runoff or flash flooding. Runoff mostly occurs in April and early May. Late summer thunderstorms can occasionally produce flooding. If the hike is not possible due to weather, it will be replaced with another activity.

Additional Notes:
This is a moderate level hike of 4 to 5 hours, during which you are wading through water which could be ankle or waist deep, depending on local conditions. As well, the terrain is often rocky and uneven. We recommend bringing water shoes with a hiking tread.

Should you choose to not do the hike, you can stay and relax at the lodge or discuss with your CEO other optional activities that may be available (at additional cost).

Included Activities:
Narrows Hike

Transport:
Private Vehicle

04

Day 4: Zion National Park/Page (1B)

This morning, visit Bryce Canyon National Park for a hike. Famed for the multi-coloured rock pinnacles called 'Hoodoo' that cover the canyon floor – be sure to have your camera ready to snap shots of these spectacular, natural towers. Continue on to Page, Arizona.

Included Activities:
Bryce Canyon National Park Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours, 120km)
Private Vehicle (3.00-3.50 hours, 250km)

05

Day 5: Page/Grand Canyon National Park (1B)

Marvel as the Grand Canyon unfolds before you but don't get too close. The land drops almost straight down for more than 1,000m (3,280 ft) into the serpentine canyons below! The gorge is filled with rocky buttes, sheer limestone cliffs, and deep canyons all arrayed in a rainbow of colors. Words defy. This is truly one of the most magnificent sights on earth.

Included Activities:
Antelope Canyon Tour
Horseshoe Bend Hike

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.00-4.00 hours, 220km)

06

Day 6: Grand Canyon National Park (1B)

Spend the day exploring the Canyon with an expert from the Grand Canyon Association Field Institute. Enjoy a walk along the South Rim discussing the unique geology and botany of the Canyon, as well as human history here. After, visit the Historic Village District viewing iconic park structures then continue down the historic Bright Angel Trail below the canyon rim and view 2 thousand year-old rock art and 250 million year-old fossils. Also visit historic Kolb photography Studio, home to photo-pioneers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, who shared with the world the first pictures of the epic Canyon.

Included Activities:
Grand Canyon Exclusive

07

Day 7: Grand Canyon National Park/Las Vegas (1B)

This morning, visit Lowell Observatory for a tour of the giant telescopes and to learn about the study of astronomy, as well as a lecture on Mars. Continue back to Las Vegas, but not before getting your kicks on Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona – the birthplace of this famed highway.

Included Activities:
Lowell Observatory Experience
Seligman (Route 66) Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s), 150km)
Private Vehicle (5.00-6.00 hours, 400km)

08

Day 8: Las Vegas (1B)

Enjoy a full free day to explore Las Vegas. Wander the Strip, do some shopping, and refuel at one of the many bars or restaurants. Opt to take in a glitzy Las Vegas show, try your luck at the gaming tables, or head out on a day trip to the Hoover Dam.

09

Day 9: Las Vegas/Death Valley National Park (1B)

Leave the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas behind, and travel to Death Valley – the lowest, hottest and driest place in North America. Marvel at the extremes of this landscape and opt to take a jeep tour.

Additional Notes:
Expect high temperatures of 100°F to over 120°F (38°C to over 49°C). Drink plenty of water and carry extra supplies. Avoid hiking at mid-day.

Included Activities:
Death Valley National Park Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.50-3.00 hours, 230km)

10

Day 10: Death Valley National Park/Yosemite National Park (1B, 1D)

Surrounded by peaks which soar more than 14,000 ft (4,593m) in elevation, Bishop, one of "America's Coolest Mountain Towns." Travel via the Tioga Pass viewing Mono Lake and the Tufa Towers on the way.

Additional Notes:
We intend on using the Tioga Pass (weather dependent), a scenic route through the Sierra Nevada mountain range that connects Bishop with Yosemite NP. The status of the road is monitored daily, and our travel plan for the area will be confirmed during the trip.

Included Activities:
Tioga Pass Drive

Transport:
Private Vehicle (8.00-10.00 hours)

11

Day 11: Yosemite National Park (1B)

With our CEO, explore stunning Yosemite National Park in the High Sierra. Explore on foot to view majestic waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, lush green meadows and walk amongst pristine groves in Yosemite.

Included Activities:
Yosemite National Park Visit

Transport:
Private Vehicle

12

Day 12: Yosemite National Park/Sequoia National Park (1B)

Depart early and walk through California's Sequoia National Park alongside a naturalist. Learn about these impressive giant trees, enjoy a picnic lunch on the trail, and then drive to Big Tree Trail for an afternoon hike and learn about how National Geographic deeded tracts of giant trees in the heart of the park to the National Parks Service for safekeeping. This evening, we return to the park for an evening of stargazing with an expert from the Sequoia Parks Conservancy (SPC).

Additional Notes:
In cases where the night sky is cloudy, we will replace the star gazing activity with a nighttime nature walk in the National Park. Embark on a one-mile walk to experience the dramatic changes of the soundscapes and nocturnal biodiversity of the area. This engaging walk will awaken awareness and provide an in-depth experience of Sequoia's nocturnal plants and animals.

Included Activities:
Sequoia NP Hike
Sequoia Parks Conservancy Stargazing

Transport:
Private Vehicle (2.50-3.00 hours, 222km)

13

Day 13: Sequoia National Park/Monterey (1B, 1D)

Time and conditions permitting, we will try to make a stop to view elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery.

Transport:
Private Van with Wi-fi (10.00-12.00 hours)

14

Day 14: Monterey (1B)

Go behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on an experience customized for Journeys travellers. Get an inside look at the inner workings of the facility and learn about sea otters, kelp and all the marine life that call the Aquarium home. After, enjoy a free afternoon, opt to explore the Bay, or wander historic Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row.

Included Activities:
Monterey Aquarium Exclusive

15

Day 15: Monterey/San Francisco (1B)

Continue on a scenic coastal drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco for our final evening. Catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge on the way into one of America's most popular cities. Opt to catch a cable car ride over the steep hills, explore the city by bicycle or set sail into the setting sun.

Transport:
Private Vehicle (3.50-4.00 hours, 227km)

16

Day 16: San Francisco (1B)

Depart at any time.

Included Activities:
Departure Day

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • All national park fees
    • Zion NP visit
    • Bryce Canyon NP visit
    • Antelope Canyon visit
    • Grand Canyon full-day excursion with instructor-guide
    • Lowell Observatory visit
    • Yosemite NP excursion
    • Full-day Sequoia NP excursion with naturalist guide
    • Stargazing activity
    • Exclusive Monterey Aquarium tour
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotels (15 nts)
    • 15 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
    Transport
    • Air-conditioned private vehicle, hiking, walking
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Tour Highlights:
  • Visit Utah's oldest park
  • Check out the multi-coloured rock pinnacles ay Bryce Canyon NP
  • Explore the scenic Antelope Canyon with a local Navajo guide
  • Try your luck in Sin City
  • Take in an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium