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National Parks of the American West

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.

  • Duration: 16 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Supplier Tour ID: NUNNG/166151
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Las Vegas, United States
  • Finishes: San Francisco, United States
  • Age requirement: 12 +
You will Visit
  • Las Vegas
  • Zion National Park
  • Page
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Monterey
  • San Francisco

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Las Vegas

Arrive at any time.
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.

02

Day 2: Las Vegas/Zion National Park

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

03

Day 3: Zion National Park

Enjoy a guided hike to the Narrows in Zion National Park. Splash and wade in the river that cuts through this stunning slot canyon. Witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the high plateaus, towers, temples, mesas, and the earth's tallest-known sheer sandstone walls of pinks and reds.
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. During the cooler months, there are available gear rentals including Gore-Tex dry pants, canyon shoes, and neoprene socks. Hiking poles are available for rent year-round.

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.

04

Day 4: Zion National Park/Page

This morning, hike through Bryce Canyon National Park, famed for its multi-coloured rock pinnacles called 'hoodoo'. Be sure to have your camera ready to snap shots of these spectacular, natural towers that cover the canyon floor. Continue on to Page, Arizona, home to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and the beautiful Lake Powell.

05

Day 5: Page/Grand Canyon National Park

Start the day with a visit to the incredible Antelope Canyon with a local Navajo guide. Located on Navajo land and accessible only with an authorized guide, this landmark is considered one of the most visually stunning slot canyon formations in the world. Next, travel to the Grand Canyon and have lunch en route at a local Navajo food truck supported by Planeterra.
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.

06

Day 6: Grand Canyon National Park

Spend the day exploring the Canyon with an expert from the Grand Canyon Conservancy 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 Bright Angel Trail below the canyon rim and view two-thousand-year-old rock art and 250-million-year-old fossils. Also visit the historic Kolb Studio, home to photography pioneers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, who shared with the world the first pictures of the epic Canyon.

07

Day 7: Grand Canyon National Park/Las Vegas

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.

08

Day 8: Las Vegas

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

Leave the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas behind and travel to Death Valley National Park — the lowest, hottest, and driest place in North America. Marvel at the extremes of this landscape as you pass mountains, valleys, badlands, salt flats, dunes, and more.
Drive through the spectacular landscape of Death Valley. Stop at Zabriskie Point and hike the short distance to the vista, one of the most photographed spots in the park. Take in the views of diverse geological features as far as the eye can see. Next, descend into Badwater Basin, the lowest, hottest, driest point in North America that sits 282 feet below sea level.

Continue to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for a further look into this unique park. Marvel at the 18-hole golf course adjacent to our hotel inside the park, an oasis in the middle of the desert.

10

Day 10: Death Valley National Park/Yosemite National Park

Before leaving the park, make a final stop at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Then sit back and enjoy the views on this full day drive via the mountain town of Bishop and across the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, along the famed Tioga Pass and through Yosemite Valley in the National Park.
Pass through Bishop, one of "America's Coolest Mountain Towns", surrounded by the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas which soar more than 14,000 ft (4,593m) in elevation. Pass Mono Lake and the Tufa Towers on the way to the entrance of Yosemite National Park.

Travel Tioga Pass, descending into the valley, lined with alpine lakes, granite monoliths, and giant trees. Stop at Olmsted Point, named after the architect of the valley floor, for the first view of Half Dome. Travel through the valley past El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Tunnel View for some of the most picturesque features the US has to offer.

11

Day 11: Yosemite National Park

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 among pristine groves in Yosemite. Keep and eye out for glacial erratics, rock climbers and the diverse wildlife, including black bears, within the park.
Carved by glaciers, Yosemite National Park became the first protected state park in the US in 1864. It took until 1890 to gain National Park status, with the work of John Muir. Though 95% of the park is backcountry, there is still plenty to explore via hikes or the shuttle system. Spend the day hiking amongst Giant Sequoias, granite cliffs, and rushing waterfalls and understand why around 4 million people come to the park each year.

12

Day 12: Yosemite National Park/Sequoia National Park

Depart early and walk through California's Sequoia National Park alongside a naturalist. Learn about these impressive giant trees and opt to enjoy a picnic lunch on the trail. 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).

13

Day 13: Sequoia National Park/Monterey

Depart the Sierra Nevadas and travel from one of California's mountain ranges to the other. Reaching the waters edge, stop to view elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery before driving north on the PCH, the famous Pacific Coast Highway.

Stop along the way for lunch in a little seaside town. Marvel at the dramatic vistas as the waves crash into where the cliffs meet the shore. Continue through Big Sur, past famous bridges and lighthouses, get out and stretch and even opt to feel the sand between your toes. Enjoy the day soaking in part of the most beautiful coastline this National Scenic Byway has to offer en route to Monterey.

14

Day 14: Monterey

Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a tour specially arranged for National Geographic Journeys travellers. Get an inside look at the workings of this world-class organization and find out how the Aquarium's mission aligns with that of National Geographic. After, enjoy a free afternoon. Opt to go whale watching, try the famous clam chowder, walk or bike the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail or wander historic Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row.

15

Day 15: Monterey/San Francisco

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 take a cable car ride over the steep hills, explore the city by bicycle, or embark on a boat ride into the setting sun.

16

Day 16: San Francisco

Depart at any time.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Grand Canyon Exclusive, Grand Canyon National Park Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Lowell Observatory Experience, Flagstaff Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Sequoia NP Hike, Sequoia National Park Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Sequoia Parks Conservancy Stargazing, Sequoia National Park Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Monterey Aquarium Exclusive, Monterey Your G for Good Moment: Native Grill Food Truck Lunch Your Discover Moment: Las Vegas
    • All national park fees
    • Zion NP visit and guided hike
    • Bryce Canyon NP visit
    • Antelope Canyon guided visit
    • Death Valley NP visit
    • Yosemite NP excursion
    • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotels (15 nts)
    • 15 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
    Transport
    • Air-conditioned private vehicle, hiking, walking
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
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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