12 days

Western Explorer

Western Explorer

Monument Valley

Grand Canyon

Zion National Park

Yosemite National Park

Las Vegas

San Francisco

Bryce Canyon National Park

Trip rating
  • Move between desert scenery, immense national parks, breathtaking expanses of water and neon-lit streets on this two-week adventure through some of the US's best national parks and iconic cities. From San Francisco to Los Angeles and the wilds of Yosemite, Death Valley, Lake Powell, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon in between, experience the coast, wilderness, cityscapes and desert of this exceptional corner of western USA.

    Why we love it

    • This tour covers all the highlights of the southwest while staying in comfortable hotel accommodation
    • Travel from the bayside jewel that is San Francisco to the bright lights of Las Vegas and from the stunning sights of Yosemite National Park to the famous Grand Canyon
    • Along the way we also stop by Zion National Park, traverse the Nevada Desert, explore Bryce Canyon and spend time with the Navajo people in Monument Valley
    • This is the ultimate journey of discovery of both the land and its people


    Day 1 - San Francisco - Yosemite National Park

    • Your tour starts at 7:30 am at our gateway hotel in San Francisco. As this is an early start we recommend that you book a night's pre-tour accommodation at this hotel, which can be booked at the same time you book this tour.
    • You'll travel east through California’s historic gold country and check into your hotel at the scenic Yosemite National Park region – your ‘home’ for the next two nights.

    Day 2-3 - Yosemite National Park

    • Yosemite National Park sits nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range of northern California. Here green forest meets granite walls measuring several thousand feet in height. Rock climbers come from all over the world to scale the rocks whilst hikers get to walk to the base of some of the largest waterfalls in the world.
    • Visit to see the amazing giant sequoia trees.
    • In Yosemite Valley you can hire a bicycle for a ride, take a dip in the Merced River or wander the meadows.
    • Hiking options include one of the many trails that enable you to leave the crowds behind. The famous sites situated along these trails include Yosemite Falls, Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls, Mirror Lake and Half Dome. The views are breathtaking from every vantage point - the granite formations of Half Dome, El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks are sure to be forever be etched in your minds.
    Yosemite View Lodge or similar

    Day 4 - Death Valley

    • Today you'll continue west, to Death Valley. You will cover great distances and see the fascinating transformation from mountain to desert terrain on today’s road trip.
    • Death Valley National Park includes a wealth of geological phenomena: large sand dune formations, sculpted rocks, isolated valleys and volcanic craters. The canyon and mountain walls change colour with the changing sunlight. Elevations fluctuate from 85 m below sea level near Badwater Point (the lowest point in the United States) to 3756 m above sea level at Telescope Peak. Stop at the visitor centre and, heat permitting, take a walk on the stunning salt flats.

    Day 5 - Zion National Park

    • You will make your way to Utah and your destination - Zion National Park. Zion Canyon was named by the early Mormon settlers of Utah who thought of it as their ‘promised land’.
    • Some of the best hiking in this desert terrain of southwest USA can be found here in and around the fertile Virgin River Gorge.
    • With an early arrival today and two nights here, you will have plenty of time to explore.

    Day 6 - Zion National Park

    • You'll have a full day to further explore the delights of Zion National Park. There are various hikes to chose from, ranging from easy to strenuous.
    • Warm up your legs by taking a short hike from the valley floor to view the magical Emerald Pools.
    • You can also cool off from the summer sun by exploring the Riverside Walk.
    • The challenging option is to ascend 760 metres (2500 feet) to experience unbeatable panoramic views from the top of Angels Landing.
    • If weather conditions permit, you may choose to hike deep into the Zion Narrows.
    • There is also a chance to partake in some horse riding.
    Pioneer Lodge Zion or similar

    Day 7 - Bryce Canyon National Park

    • Leaving Zion National Park you'll climb to almost 2438 metres (8000 feet) and traverse a high plateau to Bryce Canyon National Park.
    • Bryce Canyon is a fascinating natural amphitheatre of pink, orange and white sandstone spires, known locally as ‘hoodoos’. There are a variety of scenic overlooks and trails that range from easy to moderate in difficulty.
    • The Navajo or Peek-a-Boo Loop trails will enable you to hike right in amongst these unique rock formations.
    • Remain on the rim and photograph the ever-changing shadows and hues as the sun makes its way across the wide-open sky.
    BW Bryce Grand or similar

    Day 8 - Lake Powell

    • Located on the border of Utah and Arizona and created by the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, Lake Powell has a shoreline that stretches longer than the western coast of the USA!
    • Many say that Glen Canyon was even more spectacular than the Grand Canyon before the dam was built. Now the lake is a haven for watersports or just relaxing in one of the many sandstone coves.
    • You will enjoy a day of fun in the sun and stay overnight in a hotel near this beautiful lake.
    Lake Powell Hotel or similar

    Day 9 - Monument Valley

    • In the heart of the Navajo Nation, Monument Valley is sacred land to those who call it home. The red sandstone monoliths have been the backdrop to countless ‘westerns’ featuring cowboys riding off into the sunset.
    • You will explore the incredible array of rock formations on an included guided 4WD tour and learn the magic and myth of the rich Native American culture. The Navajo Tribal Lands of Monument Valley are a true photographer’s paradise.
    • In the evening you will get to enjoy an included dinner by dining out on the famous Navajo tacos.
    Kayenta Mon Val Inn or similar

    Day 10-11 - Grand Canyon National Park

    • There is time to view a surreal sunrise at Monument Valley.
    • Traversing the eastern entrance of the Grand Canyon, you will catch your first glimpse of the canyon at Desert View. This incredible spectacle is difficult to comprehend, even as you stand at the rim or hike down into the canyon.
    • Carved over several millennia, this massive wonder of nature is 445 kilometres (277 miles) long, up to 29 kilometres (18 miles) wide and over 1.6 kilometres (1 mile) deep. Snaking through the canyon floor is the mighty Colorado River, which runs 2330 kilometres (1450 miles) through seven US states and two Mexican states.
    • In your free time, we highly recommend a scenic flight over the canyon, which offer perspectives that you cannot see by just visiting on foot. Also recommended is the film show at the IMAX Theater, which will give you a good overview of the area and how it developed.
    • There are many walks that you can enjoy ranging from easy to moderate walks.
    • The Cameron Trading Post is a good place to browse and shop for local jewellery, crafts and cultural souvenirs.
    Canyon Plaza Grand Canyon or similar

    Day 12 - Las Vegas

    • You will leave nature behind and head into Las Vegas and all of its neon splendour. Las Vegas is renowned as the ‘tacky capital of the world’ - home to pirates and pyramids, weddings and waterfalls. If it is gambling you want, you have come to the right place as nowhere else in the world will you find so many casinos. But if you really want to look at something different, stop by one of its countless wedding chapels.
    • In Las Vegas you will enjoy a city tour that will unveil some of the quirky things that epitomise this city, you'll also learn about some of its colourful history.
    • Your tour concludes upon arrival at approximately 5pm. Optional post-tour accommodation is available at the Las Vegas hotel - please inquire when booking your tour. If you are planning to fly out tonight, please do not book a flight that departs before 9pm (21:00 hrs).
    Alexis Park or similar
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of a professional tour leader
    • Included sightseeing: San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, Navajo guided tour of Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park and Las Vegas
    • Transport in a customised vehicle
    • Navajo taco dinner

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport transfers
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Any optional tours and activities
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Western Explorer

    Susan - Australia, 18 Sep, 2012
    Overall Rating

    The parks we visited were amazing.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PNPWE
Group size 5 - 13
Start City: San Francisco, California, United States
End City: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip is run by our experienced sister company Grand American Adventures.

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