National Parks & Bright Lights
About United States
From the Golden Gate Bridge to glowing canyon walls at sunset, this trip captures the beauty of the cities and wilderness of the Western US. It’s perfect for the traveller looking to breathe in the scent of the sequoias of Yosemite by day but wanting the comforts of a hotel at night. Prepare yourself for otherworldly hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park and the desert scenery in Death Valley – the lowest spot on the continent – before taking an optional helicopter ride above the incomparable Grand Canyon. You won’t just visit the West Coast, you’ll live it.
All national park and national monument fees. Orientation to San Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Tioga Pass drive (seasonal). Death Valley visit. Zion NP visit. Glen Canyon Dam visit with Horseshoe Bend stop. Jeep tour with local Navajo guide (Monument Valley). Grand Canyon visit and stay with pizza dinner on the rim. Slide Rock State Park visit. Sedona stop. Imperial Sand Dunes visit. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Search for stars in Los Angeles, meet the Navajo in stunning Monument Valley, marvel at the Grand Canyon, hike in the beautiful Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, roll the dice in Las Vegas.
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
In order to cover the vast distance in North America to be able to visit several different parks and cities along our trip, we will have a couple of long driving days.
2. WALKS AND HIKES – OPTIONAL
All walks and hikes proposed by our CEO will be easy to moderate level. You may choose to participate or not, but exploring our national parks on foot is part of our way of travelling. It’s a healthy way to discover North America’s beauty and landscape.
3. COMBO TRIP
Please note that some trips could be a combination of multiple G Adventure tours. You should expect some group members to join or leave the tour between tour segments.
4. LEGAL DRINKING AGE
Please note that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and in Canada, 19 (with Alberta and Quebec at 18). Many bars and clubs will ask for ID at the door, therefore listening to live music in certain bars or spending a night out in Las Vegas or New Orleans is not possible when you are under the legal age, even if you don’t plan on consuming alcohol. Drinking laws in both countries are strictly enforced and our CEOs are unable to help those under age obtain alcohol of any kind.
While this should not stop those under legal drinking age from booking a tour, it is important to note that if a traveller is under-age there are certain optional nighttime activities that they may not legally be able to participate in. When trying to book the right trip, we recommend that travellers under legal drinking age take this into consideration when booking a tour that visits several big cities.
Group Leader Description
This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager, leader and driver – this person is experienced in the routes travelled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes for large groups.
As the group coordinator and manager, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.
While our CEOs are trained and have resources to assist them along the way, the United States is the fourth largest country on the planet, and it is impossible for them to know everything about this massive country. We recommend local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds
Please note that specific tour guide licenses are required to guide in certain cities and regions, and as such, our CEOs will oftentimes provide brief orientation walks to point out useful places like supermarkets, main squares and ATMs but for more specific or in depth destination information, an official guided tour is recommended.
Group Size Notes
Max 14, avg 10
Air-con private touring van, walking
About our Transportation
We use 15-passenger vans for up to 13 people plus the CEO/Driver for all our of our trips in North America. For groups of 8 and more travellers, we also use a trailer to carry luggage and camping equipment.
These vans are durable vehicles that allow us to drive on most types of roads in North America.
Each van has a front passenger seat and 4 benches that will accommodate 3 people each. No standing is permitted in these vehicles, but there is air conditioning to cool things down on warm days and mandatory seat belts to us secure and safe.
This is not a physically demanding journey. However, travelling can be difficult, with long drives and limited space in the van. Please take note of the travel times and distances in the above itinerary. Despite some of the long days, most clients feel that the diversity of the North American landscape, culture and wildlife are all well worth the experience!
We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels (twin-share with en suite facilities, 14 nts).
My Own Room
This trip uses 2-3 star hotels and motels in cities and near park entrances. Our chosen hotels vary in size, character, and amenities, but are of a good standard, and the rooms are double occupancy with a private bathroom.
Comfort Inn by the Bay
2775 Van Ness Ave
The international airport in San Francisco is located 14 miles (22 km) from downtown San Francisco. When arriving at the International Airport in San Francisco, proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where you have three transport options; public Taxi, door-to-door shuttle or the public Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
On the Arrivals/Baggage Claim Level continue to the designed taxi zones located at the roadway center islands right outside the Arrivals Hall. Uniformed taxi coordinators will help you with any questions you may have but it should be fairly easy to find a taxi. The approximate fare to downtown San Francisco is $40 (depending on traffic) plus gratuity.
Door-to-Door Shuttle also knows as “Shared-ride Vans”
This is probably the most convenient way to get to your hotel and definitely cheaper than a taxi ride from the Airport. From the Arrivals Hall make your way up one floor (Level 3) to the Departures/Ticketing Level. Proceed to the Center Island Transportation Zone located outside. Again, there will be uniformed coordinators to help you just in case you have any questions. You will see quite a few shuttle companies but wait for the Vans that say either “Go Lorries Shuttle” or “Super Shuttle”. The fare to your hotel is between $15 and $17 plus gratuity. This shuttle service is on a walk-up basis so it might take a few minutes until you see the right shuttle that will take you to the heart of San Francisco!
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) public transportation
The cheapest and definitely the most adventurous way to get to your hotel is by BART. The fare to downtown San Francisco is $8.10 (approximately 25 min). The BART station is located on the Departures/Ticketing Level of the International Terminal (Boarding Area G side). From any Terminal you can reach BART by taking the AirTrain to Garage G/Bart (no fare). Once at the station you need to get a ticket at the vending machine that accepts cash or credit card. Then you need to enter your ticket into the fare gate. The ticket will be returned to you since you will use the same ticket again when you exit BART at Civic Center/UN Plaza SF. From here transfer to the 19 Bus headed towards Fisherman’s Wharf. Exit at the Polk Street and Lombard Street stop. The Hotel is a 2 minute walked from here.
Please note that day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned, though a brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel on the evening of day 1. When you arrive at our joining hotel you will find the time and place of the meeting on a welcome note hung in the hotel lobby. If you are unable to find the note, please just ask the front desk staff.
At the meeting you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. If you arrive late and miss the meeting, your CEO will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call the G Adventures Local Operator. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures, please note that:
Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
From outside the USA: 1-530-784-4238
From within the USA: 530-784-4238
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local operator, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Outside North America, Australia and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
What to Take
You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible.
For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days to spend hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.
We recommend the use of a well-labeled duffel bag, soft bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). Suitcases or heavy luggage are not recommended for the health of the CEO! A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential as you will have the chance to walk and hike in different national parks during these trips This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, lunch and water bottle.
It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings, as well as a light jacket. A set of smart casual clothes is also advisable.
- Credit and/or debit card (see spending money)
- G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and trip details
- Passport (with photocopies)
- Travel insurance (with photocopies)
- Airline tickets (with photocopies)
- Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
- Travel pillow
- First-aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Hand sanitizers/ antibacterial wipes
- Rain Cover or plastic bags for daypacks
- Small travel towel
- Swim wear
- Sun hat
- Toiletries (biodegradable)
- Reusable water bottle
- Watch or alarm clock
- Moisturizer/Lip balm
- Weather-appropriate clothing
- Long pants/jeans
- Hiking pants
- Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
- Fleece top or long sleeves
- Comfort clothing for the night
- Nicer outfit for an evening out
- Under garments
- Thermal base layer
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Warm gloves
- Warm hat
- Hiking boots/Sturdy walking shoes
- Comfortable walking shoes
-Camera with extra memory cards and batteries
Laundry can be done at least once a week while on tour. Some hotels and most cities have laundromats where you can buy soap and wash your laundry in coin-operated machines. Your CEO will advise you along the trip where you will be able to do your laundry.
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. Visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as far as possible, but rules do change and sometimes without warning. While we provide the following information in good faith, it is vital that you check yourself and understand that you are fully responsible for your own visa requirements.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
The United States currency is the US Dollar (USD).
Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in the US and can be used to purchase small and large items. When purchasing products or services with a foreign credit card in the USA, you may be charged additional fees by your credit card company for foreign purchases.
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Both Visa and Master Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work check with your bank before you travel. A visit to an ATM can be arranged on Day 1 and other days of the trip.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US Dollars as cash (preferably smaller bills, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s), traveller’s cheques and credit cards is best. Currency exchange is best obtained prior to travel or at the airport, currency exchange is very difficult to find in the USA and most banks do not accommodate.
Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
It is customary in North America to tip service providers such as waiters, bartenders and taxi drivers, at approximately 15-18%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip any local guides used. Recommendations for tipping local guides would range from $2-8 USD per activity depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.
Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $5-10 USD per person, per day can be used as a guide. If your CEO exceeded your expectations, feel free to tip more.
All prices listed are in USD, per person (unless stated otherwise), and are subject to change as services are provided by third party operators.
Cable Car Ride US$6 one way, US$14 one day (pre tour activity)
Bicycle Rental US$11 per hour (not available in winter months)
Limo Tour (1.5 hrs) US$40
Rodeo US$11 (not available in winter months)
IMAX Movie US$14
Seaworld San Diego & Universal Studios Hollywood US$135
Boogie Board Rental (1/2 day) US$10 (not available in winter months)
Surf Board Rental US$5-15 depending on equipment (not available in winter months)
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.
We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility’ is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at:
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through support of international charities, local organizations and community projects in the places that we visit on our tours. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit www.planeterra.org
Planeterra Dollar-A-Day Program
Our Dollar-A-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to help us give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar per day for the duration of their tour. 100% of these proceeds will go directly to support our G Adventures for Good projects.
To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking)
Travel Forum - The Watering Hole
Be sure to stop by The Watering Hole, our adventure travel forum. If you’re interested in meeting others booked on your upcoming trip, check out the Departure Lounge section of our forum and introduce yourself. Otherwise, just drop in at anytime to share some travel tips, ask questions, meet other travellers and quench your thirst for travel. Our forum is located at wateringhole.gadventures.com.
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
Allow USD555-725 for meals not included.
PRODUCT_LINE: NUNP, ID: 24287
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.
Day 1 San Francisco
There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting.
We highly recommend booking pre-tour accommodation to fully experience this fascinating city.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 San Francisco/Yosemite National Park
Head out on an orientation of one of the greatest cities in the world, San Francisco.
Discover some of the city’s most iconic attractions such as bustling Fisherman’s Wharf or the stately Golden Gate Bridge.
In the afternoon, drive to Yosemite National Park.
Travel time includes stops along the way.
Private Van (7.00 hour(s), 225km)
Day 3 Yosemite National Park
Head to the Yosemite Valley. Take short hikes (weather permitting) to majestic waterfalls, clear lakes, beautiful meadows or walk amongst giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park.
If lucky, spot black bears, deer or coyotes with a keen eye.
Yosemite National Park Visit
Yosemite National Park Hike
Day 4 Yosemite National Park/Bishop
Head into the Yosemite Valley. Take short hikes (weather permitting) to majestic waterfalls, clear lakes, beautiful meadows or walk amongst giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. With a keen eye, you may be lucky enough to spot black bears, deer or coyotes.
Surrounded by peaks which soar more than 14,000 ft (4,593m) in elevation, Bishop, one of “America’s Coolest Mountain Towns” sits directly in the centre of an incredible area of natural beauty. Enjoy secluded natural hot springs where the star gazing is amazing.
Travel via the Tioga Pass viewing Mono Lake and the Tufa Towers on the way.
We intend on using the Tioga Pass, 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.
Yosemite National Park Visit
Tioga Pass Drive
Travel time includes stops along the way.
Private Vehicle (7.00 hour(s), 322km)
Day 5 Bishop/Las Vegas
Travel to one of the country’s most rugged landscapes — the legendary Death Valley, California. Soak in the dramatic landscape.
In the afternoon, drive to Las Vegas, Nevada, the ‘city of lights’. Explore the famous Vegas Strip and opt for a VIP limo experience.
Death Valley National Park Visit
Travel time includes stops along the way.
Private Vehicle (9.00 hour(s), 585km)
Day 6 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 or to head out on a day trip to the Hoover Dam.
Day 7 Las Vegas/Bryce Canyon National Park
Arrive in Bryce Canyon just in time to witness one of the most spectacular sunsets in the Southwest.
Zion National Park Visit
Bryce Canyon National Park Visit
Private Van (5.00 hour(s), 400km)
Day 8 Bryce Canyon National Park/Lake Powell
Explore Bryce Canyon NP on trails (weather permitting) among the amphitheaters and multi-coloured rock pinnacles called hoodoos before heading to Lake Powell. Opt for a cowboy steak dinner and a sunset horseback ride (seasonal).
Bryce Canyon National Park Visit
Private Van (3.00 hour(s), 265km)
Day 9 Lake Powell/Monument Valley
Take an optional tour to Antelope Canyon, the second largest of its kind in North America.
Glen Canyon Dam Visit
Horseshoe Bend Hike
Off-Road 4×4 Tour
Private Van (2.50 hour(s), 210km)
Day 10 Monument Valley/Grand Canyon National Park (1D)
Wander along a trail and feel the sunshine and wind on your face while admiring awe-inspiring views. Or sit and watch the changing play of light and shadows.
In the afternoon, enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon with an optional helicopter flight or watch the most spectacular IMAX Adventure of all, the Grand Canyon Movie.
Note: If you have pre-booked the Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride you will enjoy your 45-50min ride over the canyon today or tomorrow.
Grand Canyon South Rim Visit
Private Van (3.50 hour(s), 290km)
Day 11 Grand Canyon National Park/Scottsdale
Get out the camera for this next breathtaking experience. Take Arizona’s famous scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon towards Scottsdale.
Slide Rock State Park Visit
Private Van (5.00 hour(s), 360km)
Day 12 Scottsdale/San Diego
When the sun sets, experience the Gaslamp Quarter District with numerous pubs and nightclubs.
Imperial Sand Dunes Visit
Private Van (6.00 hour(s), 600km)
Day 13 San Diego
San Diego is a great city to experience where life is lived outdoors.
Day 14 San Diego/Los Angeles
Discover why Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach are highlights of Los Angeles. Opt to rent a bike.
Private Van (2.00 hour(s), 190km)
Day 15 Los Angeles
We highly recommend booking post-accommodation to fully experience this famous city.