Duration: 15 days
Trip Countries: United States
Trip Style: Yolo
Service Level: Camping
Physical Demands Rating: 2
HightlightsStargaze in Los Angeles, marvel at a Grand Canyon sunset, get your kicks on Route 66, take a chance in Las Vegas, camp under the stars, hike in Yosemite, embrace the laidback spirit of California's coast.
DescriptionSkyscrapers, sequoias and impossibly big skies await you in America’s West. This 15-day tour through the urban and natural wonders of California, Arizona and Nevada is perfect for travellers who want to inject a little downtown energy into their out-of-town escapes. In the cities, you’ll traverse the concrete jungle by day with an expert CEO and overnight in centrally located hotels. Elsewhere, you’ll get the chance to marvel at the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and bike in the Yosemite Valley before tucking into a barbecue dinner and camping under the stars. This is no dream; it’s the West like you’ve never seen it before.
Day 1 Los Angeles: Arrive at any time.
Day 2 Los Angeles/San Diego (1D): Marvel at Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive on an orientation tour of LA. Visit Coronado Island and Old Town in San Diego. Relax on Mission Beach and visit the Gaslamp District in the evening.
Day 3 Scottsdale (1B,1L): Visit the Imperial Sand Dunes, the largest mass of sand dunes in California. Travel to Scottsdale for a real southwest cowboy town experience.
Day 4-5 Grand Canyon (1B,2L,2D): Visit Montezuma Castle, enjoy a picnic and cool off at Slide Rock SP. Enjoy a pizza dinner at the Grand Canyon rim at sunset. Hike and explore this natural wonder and take an optional helicopter flight for a birds-eye view.
Day 6-7 Las Vegas (1B,1L): Journey along famous Route 66 and stop at the Snow Cap-Drive In, a wacky, off-beat burger joint. Explore Las Vegas with an orientation tour along the famous Vegas Strip. Optional VIP limo ride.
Day 8 Death Valley National Park/Bishop (1L,1D): Visit the hottest, driest and lowest point in North America: Death Valley. Stargaze at a secluded natural hot springs.
Day 9-10 Yosemite National Park (2B,2L,2D): Walk among the tufa towers at Mono Lake and marvel at spectacular views of the park's peaks and granite domes. Hike to majestic waterfalls, lakes, meadows and amongst giant sequoias. Opt to rent a bicycle in Yosemite Valley.
Day 11-12 San Francisco (1B,1L): Check out Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge on an orientation tour. Opt to ride the cable car over steep hills, explore the city by bicycle or set sail to the setting sun.
Day 13 Pismo Beach (1L,1D): Visit historic Monterey. Marvel at the beautiful coastline and mountain ranges of Big Sur and the famous Pacific Coast.
Day 14 Los Angeles (1B): Travel along the coast. Visit Santa Monica and Venice Beach on an orientation tour before a final night out on the town.
Day 15 Los Angeles: Depart at any time.
Entrance fees to all national and state parks with hiking and walking excursions. Orientation tours of Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Entrance fee to Montezuma Castle. Sunset at the rim of the Grand Canyon. Mono Lake visit and and walk among tufas. Drive along California's scenic Highway No. 1 including Monterey and Big Sur.
Group Size Notes
Max 13, avg 10.
7 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 7 dinners.
Air-conditioned private touring van
Hotels (7 nts), participation camping (7 nts).
My Own Room
If you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room/tent for all night stops.
1. An essential part of your trip is participation - from putting up your tent (while camping) or packing it away in the morning, to helping with meal preparation and cleaning up - it is all part of your adventure and when everyone puts in a little effort the trip will run smoothly. Your CEO will do all the meal planning, but we do ask the clients to help with the preparation and washing up. Team spirit is part of the fun! All camping equipment (with the exception of your sleeping bag and pillow) is supplied. We supply dome tents and assembly/disassembly takes only 5 minutes. All tents have built-in insect nets. Self-inflating mattresses are also provided, which are approximately 4cm thick, warm and comfortable.
Sleeping bags are a necessary for this tour, and can be purchased upon arrival if required.
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.
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.
Tioga Pass is a route through the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California on the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park, and we travel through the pass en route. In the spring and autumn seasons, there's a chance that the pass will be closed due to poor weather conditions or even snow. In such a case, we use an alternate route. The status of the road is monitored daily, and our travel plan for the area will be confirmed during the 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.
The American west is generally known for warm weather, but temperatures do vary significantly in the mountain and desert areas especially. The day time temperature could exceed 30 C, while the night time temperatures do regularly decrease to single digits, or even possible below freezing. Please be prepared for such extreme conditions.
Regarding our wi-fi equipped vehicles: we have limited bandwidth, and in the interests of allowing all travellers to access the wi-fi, travellers should limit their access to reasonable levels. Please note that wi-fi is not always available due to areas with limited or no cell phone service (e.g. in parts of national parks).
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.
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.
Your Fellow Travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and are likely to be of a variety of ages too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Most of the meals on this tour are included in the tour price. When a meal is not included, this is because there are often many options available - we would like to give you the opportunity to explore a bit and taste the local cuisine yourself. In these cases, your CEO will be able to suggest some good local restaurants or options for you to choose from.
All included meals will be prepared from fresh local produce. The majority of the shopping for food will be done before the trip departs, and fresh goods, such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, will be bought en route during the trip from supermarkets, local shops and markets. Breakfasts will generally consist of breads and cereals, if time allows a warm breakfast may be prepared. Many lunches will be provided en-route and will be light meals such as sandwiches and/or salads. All evening meals will be freshly-prepared hot meals, and will consist of a variety of continental and local dishes.
Our CEO will organize the meal preparation and lead the way here, but will prepare a duty schedule for ensuring a fair, rotating participation from you and your group members in the meal preparation and dish washing duties.
Vegetarian meals and other dietary requirements need to be specified prior to arrival.
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.
525 North Sepulveda Blvd.
El Segundo, Los Angeles
When arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) proceed to the Arrivals Hall. From LAX, you have two transportation options to get to the Joining Hotel, which is 2.1 miles (3.4km) away: public taxi or the Hacienda Shuttle Service. Both transportation options are located on the Lower/Arrivals Level in front of each terminal.
Hacienda Hotel Shuttle
The Hotel provides free transportation so the only thing you need to do is to go to the Lower/Arrival Level in front of the terminal and look for the red sign “Hotel & Parking Lot Shuttles”. It might take a few minutes until the Hacienda Hotel Shuttle arrives but then you only need to jump in and enjoy the short drive to your final destination for today! It is common to tip the driver at the end ($1 per bag).
The taxis are located outside of each terminal on the Lower/Arrival Level islands marked with a yellow sign. The cost a approximately $10 plus gratuity.
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 Representative. 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
G Adventures Local Representative (San Francisco)
During office hours (Weekdays, 8:30am-5:30pm PST)
From outside the USA: +1 707-538-8395
From within the USA: 707 538 8395
After hours emergency number
From outside the USA: +1 707-495-9488 (Jessica)
From within the USA: 707-495-9488 (Jessica)
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: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany 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.
The American west is generally known for warm weather, but temperatures do vary significantly in the mountain and desert areas especially. The day time temperature could exceed 30 C, while the night time temperatures do regularly decrease to single digits, or even possible below freezing. It is therefore important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings - a light jacket is necessary.
Seasonal temperature ranges:
March - May ; September to December: -7 C to +30 C
June – August: 0 C to + 35 C
Additionally, 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
- Camera and memory cards
- Charger for phone/camera/music device
- Reading/writing material
- Insect repellent (for North West and East Coast only)
- Head lamp with batteries
- Hand sanitizers/ antibacterial wipes
- Rain Cover or plastic bags for daypacks
- Small towel (pack towels are good) and swim wear
- Sun hat
- Toiletries (biodegradable)
- Water bottle (at least 2L capacity)
- Watch or alarm clock
- Sleeping bag : a down or synthetic sleeping bag (0° to +5°C) for the summer and warmer for spring and fall season (-15°C). You can purchase sleeping bags on the first day of the trip. An appropriate sleeping bag will cost from $40-$60USD. At the end of your journey, if you would like to donate your sleeping bag you can leave it with your CEO and we will donate it to a local charity.
- Sleeping bag liner (synthetic or silk - optional)
- Pillow (pack pillow recommended)
- First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band-Aids, anti-histamines, motion sickness remedy, after-bite salve and extra prescription drugs you may be taking).
Clothing and Footwear
- 3 or 4 lightweight shirts or T-shirts
- Windproof/waterproof jacket (rain gear)
- 2 pair of shorts
- 1 pairs of long trousers
- 2 pair hiking pants/track pants
- Comfort clothing for the night
- 3 to 5 pair of walking/hiking socks (synthetic or wool)
- Under garments
- Warm thermals/long underwear (fall and spring season only)
- Warm wool hat and gloves (fall and spring season only)
- Good hiking shoes or boots
- Sport sandals (suitable for water if you are planning on rafting)
- Extra comfortable slip-on sandal or shoes for the campsites
-Hiking poles, binoculars, Playing cards, games, frisbee, notebook, pens/pencils
Laundry can be done at least once a week while on tour. Some private campgrounds 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.
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
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.
Optional activity prices are subject to change and can fluctuate in relation to the high/low season and the number of people on a specific excursion. Not all excursions listed here may be available, due to season or weather conditions. As generally not a lot of time is spent in start/end cities, you may want to arrange to arrive early, or stay longer after the trip in order to allow sufficient time to participate in optional activities there.
All prices are per person, are in US dollar amounts.
Helicopter Flight 25 min US$234 ; 45min US$264
IMAX Movie US$14
Mule Ride US$123
Limo Tour (1.5 hrs) US$40
Bicycle Rental US$11 per hour
Horseback Riding (2 hr) US$64
Cable Car Ride US$6 one way, US$14 one day
Bike Rental (full day) US$32 or US$36 (for higher end bike)
Day sailing tour (1.5 hrs) US$25
Sunset Sail (1.5 hrs) US$40
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.
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.
Keeping in Touch
If you need to be contacted while travelling we recommend that you set up an email address that can be accessed on the road, rather than relying on postal mail. Email cafes are becoming increasingly commonplace and cheap throughout the regions we visit, and have quickly become the preferred way for our CEOs and travellers to stay in touch. If someone wishes to contact you in an emergency while you are on one of our trips we recommend that they contact your local booking agent, or refer to our Emergency Contact. We recommend that family and friends don't try to contact you through phoning hotels en route, as our hotels are subject to change, and our hotel receptions often don't have English speaking staff.