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From the 'City by the Bay' to the 'City of Angels', explore the man-made and natural wonders of the west. Yosemite Valley, Las Vegas Boulevard and the Grand Canyon are rivalled only by the power and beauty of the Navajo's sacred Monument Valley.
a Destinations d > USA > Western Explorer
12 hotel nights in 3 star twin share accommodation, all transportation by private vehicle and 4WD in Monument Valley, services of a professional tour leader and free wi-fi in your vehicle. Please note group size a maximum 13 people, all meals paid locally.
Selected dates from 13 Apr - 17 Dec 2017.
A medley of man-made and natural wonders, are on full display on this popular tour of Western USA. Las Vegas Boulevard, Yosemite Valley and the Grand Canyon, are rivaled only by the power and beauty of the Navajo's sacred Monument Valley. Hike under the world's largest sandstone cliffs at Zion Canyon, marvel at Antelope Slot Canyon (2015 only), swim in the clear blue waters of Lake Powell and gaze upon the ever-changing colours of Bryce Canyon. Adventure awaits around every corner in the most geographically diverse region of the United States.
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Spot a range of wildlife with three nights in Yosemite National Park.
Explore Zion National Park. Like an oasis rising up from the desert floor, Zion's multi-coloured cliffs and spring-fed hanging gardens are spectacular.
Experiencing Monument Valley and its red sandstone monoliths, spectacular sunsets and sunrises which have been the backdrop to countless 'westerns' featuring cowboys riding off into the desert.
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Welcome to the 'City by the Bay' in sunny California. San Francisco is a city which the locals are fiercely proud of and for good reason. There's plenty to keep you entertained but the best introduction is to jump on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour or book one of our 'Urban Adventures' around the city. A welcome meeting will be held at 18:00 hrs in your hotel. Accommodation: Hotel included | Meals: Paid locally No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to Alcatraz. We recommend you book an extra night in our hotel the night before the tour starts and book your ticket online in advance with Alcatraz Cruises.
Depart San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, heading east through California's historic gold country and make tracks for Yosemite. Here, everything is in gargantuan proportions, including some of North America's tallest cliffs, waterfalls and trees. You'll check into your hotel in the scenic Yosemite National Park region - your 'home' for the next three nights.
Yosemite National Park sits nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range of northern California. Here green forest meets granite walls measuring several thousand ft. 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. As you explore the park keep your eyes peeled for varied wildlife such as deer, Bobcats, marmots, pika and if you're lucky, bear. After a visit to see the amazing Giant Sequoia trees, Yosemite Valley beckons, offering the chance to cycle, take a dip in the Merced River or wander the meadows. The views are breath-taking from every vantage point - the granite formations of Half Dome, El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks are sure to be forever etched on your mind.
See Day 3 for today's itinerary.
One of the hottest, driest and lowest places on earth, Death Valley is blessed with some of the most extreme and beautiful landscapes. Sculpted by erosion, richly tinted mudstone hills and canyons await exploration, with sand dunes and salt pans making for some exceptional photos. You cover some great distances today but also see some fascinating and contrasting scenery on your road trip.
Make your way to Utah and your destination for today - Zion National Park. Like an oasis rising up from the desert floor, Zion's multi-coloured cliffs and spring-fed hanging gardens are spectacular. 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 south-west USA can be found here in and around the fertile Virgin River Gorge. With an early arrival today and two nights here, you'll have plenty of time to explore.
Enjoy a full day to further exploring the delights of Zion National Park. There are various hikes to choose from, ranging from easy to strenuous. Warm up your legs by taking a short hike from the valley floor to view the Lower Emerald Pool then continue on to the sparkling Upper Emerald Pools, passing a stunning waterfall along the way to discover Zion's `beach'. Cool off from the heat of the summer sun by exploring the Riverside Walk section of the Virgin River. If you're feeling ambitious, enjoy the park's more challenging option and ascend 760 metres (2,500 ft.) to experience unbeatable panoramic views from the top of Angels Landing. After a beautiful but strenuous hike along the knife-edge ridgeline you'll be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking and powerful panoramas you've ever experienced. If weather conditions permit, you may choose to hike deep into the Zion Narrows, just be prepared to get a little wet.
Leaving Zion National Park you climb in elevation to almost 8,296 ft. 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. Some may prefer to hike on the Queen's Garden or remain on the rim and photograph the ever-changing shadows and hues as the sun makes its way across the wide-open sky.
Returning south along Scenic Highway 89, you descend from the high plateau to the arid plains and past the Vermillion Cliffs en route to 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 water sports or for relaxing in one of the many sandstone coves. Included is a Navajo guided visit to stunning Antelope Slot Canyon which in Navajo language means `the place where water runs through rocks'. Your guide will show you how flash floods have carved and sculpted this beautiful area. In the late afternoon you have the chance to swim before spending the night in a hotel near this beautiful lake depending on what time we finish at Antelope Canyon.
Stop at Horseshoe Bend for an amazing view of the Colorado River before heading to the heart of the Navajo Nation. Monument Valley, a sacred land to those who call it home, is dotted with fabulous red sandstone monoliths and from here you'll witness spectacular sunsets and sunrises. Having been the backdrop for countless Westerns, you'll half expect to see cowboys riding off into the sunset. You'll explore the incredible array of rock formations on an included and guided 4x4 back roads tour, learning all about the magic and myths of the rich Native American culture. The Navajo Tribal Lands of Monument Valley are a true photographer's paradise. For the evening meal, try a Navajo taco, a filling and local speciality dish.
After a spectacular sunrise you leave Monument Valley and drive towards the Grand Canyon, for the ultimate desert show stopper! Traversing the eastern entrance of the canyon, you'll catch your first glimpse 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 offers a perspective that you cannot see by 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. Alternatively, stroll the easy meandering South Rim Trail, hike your way down the more challenging trail to Plateau Point, or simply relax at the canyon's edge and enjoy a spectacular sunset over one of the world's natural wonders.
See Day 11 for today's itinerary.
En route to Vegas you travel a section of the original Route 66 and visit the quirky town of Seligman before stopping for a view of the mighty Hoover Dam - now for the hedonistic Sin City, which really has to be seen to be believed. Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in the United States and renowned as the 'tacky capital of the world' - home to pirates and pyramids, weddings and waterfalls. Upon arrival enjoy a driving tour down the famous Las Vegas Strip, this desert city really comes alive at night with casinos, shows and the Bellagio Fountain's regular displays. We recommend booking extra nights to explore the city which should be done at the time of booking. This tour ends at our gateway hotel at approximately 17:00 hrs. We can book you post-tour accommodation at our gateway hotel if required. If you are planning to fly tonight, please do not book a flight that departs before 21:00 hrs.
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