Western USA National Parks holiday

“Active 14 day small group tour of Western America featuring national parks and city sightseeing. San Fran to Vegas via Yosemite and the Grand Canyon.”


San Francisco | Walking in Yosemite National Park | Tuolumne Meadows | Mono Lake | Death Valley | Hiking in Zion National Park | Sunrise at Bryce Canyon | Capitol Reef | Hiking in Arches National Park | Mesa Verde | Monument Valley | Hiking the Grand Canyon | Route 66 | Las Vegas

Description of Western USA National Parks holiday

The southwest corner of the USA is home to more than its fair share of natural wonders, from national parks to national monuments and some of the most famous landscapes in the world. This two week tour of the best of Western USA, from its national parks to its cities, features plenty of iconic scenery, with the option to book a slightly longer itinerary if you want to spend more time exploring this vast region.

We’ll travel as part of a small group tour, lead by experienced local guides who will explain the history and traditions of the Navajo Indians who live in this area. Arriving into San Francisco, we will first visit the Golden Gate Bridge and the hippy district of Haight Ashbury. From here, we’ll wind our way east, taking in the surreal, saltwater Mono Lake, the extreme temperatures of the infamous Death Valley, one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on earth, and Monument Valley. Our tour ends with a road trip along Route 66 and a stay in the dazzling desert city of Las Vegas.

There will be lots of opportunities for hiking during this holiday. Highlights include views of El Capitan, which attracts world-leading climbers, and the thundering waterfalls in Yosemite National Park, the Emerald Pools trail in Zion, and the towering rock arches of Arches National Park. We’ll arrive in time to watch a magical sunrise over Bryce National Park, walk through the unique landscape of Capitol Reef and spend two days exploring the magnificent valleys of the Grand Canyon.

Travel Team

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08 Aug 2021
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Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

The USA may not be the first country you think of when considering responsible travel, but the National Park authorities have a long tradition of maintaining high standards of conservation and environmental practice in the parks. Your trip thus helps to support conservation as we explore many of America’s most wonderful natural places on this tour. Travelling solely by small vehicle, we visit the National Parks of Yosemite, Bryce, Death Valley, Zion, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, with the option to extend your trip into Arches and Monument Valley.

Visiting so many areas of pristine wilderness, it's essential that our Tour Leaders are trained to high standards of environmental management in order to minimise our impact. They are all given training on our Responsible Tourism policy, and as they are all inherently hikers and explorers at heart, who explore these Parks in their spare time, they are eager to impart their principles of travelling sustainably onto their groups.

Most hotels on this tour have the option to save towels and bedding, rather than washing each day. In order to save water and energy and to reduce pollution from detergents, we encourage you not to get towels changed if you are staying two or more nights. We ask you to do your bit to reduce plastic bottle waste by bringing a water bottle as tap water is drinkable

As a company we support Cool Earth. Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions to tackle climate breakdown. CoolEarth work with indigenous communities empowering them to conserve their forest; keeping CO2 locked in.

The Impacts of this Trip

The USA has a huge amount of history to uncover and particularly interesting in this area is the history and culture of the Native Americans. Our local leader will be able to explain the customs and traditions of the Navajo Indians who we may encounter in Monument Valley. In this location, we stay on Navajo land in the Kayenta Monument Inn, which is Navajo-run. It's a good way to bring in money to their economy, rather than visiting for the day and staying outside the area.

Our Tour Leaders will encourage us to eat in family-run restaurants and visit local shops whenever possible throughout the tour. This all brings economic benefit to the local communities that we visit.

We travel in small groups of 12-13 people to minimise the effects that large groups have when visiting remote areas and small villages. This allows us to stay in smaller properties and eat in more local establishments, while larger coachloads of 40-50 would need to eat in more touristy places.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.


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