Best of the West
*Begin your trip from the San Francisco Bay Area, or the Los Angeles area!
Food/Park payment required £205
Days 1 - 3
We'll stop at the coastal town of Half Moon Bay to savor a latte, sample a pastry or just stroll through the picturesque village. Later, hit the beach in Santa Cruz, or check out the Surfing Museum. In Monterey, stroll along John Steinbeck's beloved Cannery Row, spend time at Fisherman's Wharf, or visit the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium to marvel at the wonders of the Pacific Ocean.
Enjoy some time at San Simeon State Park and discover the beaches of majestic Pacific Ocean. Take a tour of opulent Hearst Castle or hike through the surrounding wetlands. Later, we head to our campsite just north of Malibu, where you have the option of a short hike through the chaparral to the ridge line overlooking the Pacific.
Scope out the surfers and cliff side mansions along the Pacific Coast Highway as we make our way into Los Angeles. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities on the way to the Hollywood sign and during your time at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and the Kodak Theatre.
Day 4 - 6
Socialize your way out of the city and through the Mojave Desert to Joshua Tree National Park. At camp, explore the rocks more, or relax under the stars after a delicious meal and share your adventure stories with new friends.
After our campout, we make our way through the desert on parts of Historic Route 66 to Native American lands. Our visit to the Grand Canyon West Rim, owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe, offers several exciting options: Stroll above the plummeting depths of the famous glass Skywalk, hire a pilot and see the canyon via helicopter, take a Pontoon boat tour of the Colorado River or learn about tribal dance and other Native American culture.
Later, the glittering lights of Las Vegas welcome our evening arrival in time for a night out on the town! For a taste of old Vegas, admire the spectacle of lights at the legendary Fremont Street Experience and try not to lose too much money testing your luck at one of the casinos.
The dramatic landscape of Zion National Park, Utah is our next destination. Stretch your legs with an exhilarating hike to Angel’s Landing and be rewarded with sweeping views of Zion, or take a short walk to witness the miracle of raindrops cascading directly from the sandstone arch of Weeping Rock. Cool your heels, splash around in the beautiful Virgin River and enjoy the scenery before saying goodbye to some of our new friends, and beginning our trek back to Las Vegas, Los Angeles or San Francisco.
Days 6 - 8
Awaken to an early morning float in the Great Salt Lake, and explore Antelope Island. We'll also visit the surreal Capitol Reef National Park - a hidden treasure filled with red rock arches, sandstone towers and ancient cave paintings.
The dramatic landscape of Zion National Park will be our next Utah destination. We’ll roll into the sandstone canyons where you can explore the beautiful park with a free shuttle bus that offers a multitude of stops. If you’d like to cool your heels, splash around in the beautiful Virgin River before our camp-out under the stars.
Days 9 - 12
Today we hit Bryce Canyon National Park - although not a true canyon, it is home to a brightly layered landscape that rivals the Grand Canyon. Hike through a series of amphitheaters, and you'll feel like your on a different planet.
At Arches National Park we'll trek along the Devil’s Garden trail, which takes us past arches perfect for selfies.
Later, we make our way along the mighty Colorado River and past Native American petroglyphs and crease south across the Colorado Plateau to Mexican Hat, Utah, and Navajo Nation.
For the ultimate Western experience, take an optional horseback ride or a jeep tour through the rugged desert-and-mesa landscape of Monument Valley.
Wash the dust off with a refreshing dip in Lake Powell before we roll into quaint Page, Arizona for dinner out. Get a little slice of Americana here -- show off your vocal skills at a karaoke bar, score a strike at the bowling alley, or sample the popcorn in the movie house!
Days 13 - 16
Settle in to our camp near Mather Point in Grand Canyon National Park; you'll have two full days to explore one of the most glorious natural marvels in the world. Here you can get a thrilling perspective of the canyon with an optional helicopter tour, or just sit at Hermit's Rest for a taste of wilderness solitude at sunset.
After out trek through Grand Canyon, get your kicks on the famous Route 66 to kitschy Seligman, Arizona.
Finish your adventure with a blow-out party in Las Vegas, Nevada, with a limousine tour of the Las Vegas Strip. For a taste of old Vegas, admire the spectacle of light at the legendary Fremont Street Experience or try your luck playing roulette at the Golden Nugget.
Soak up the incredible views on the most beautiful coastline that California has to offer as we cruise south on the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. We'll stop along the way to stretch our legs and stroll through some quaint coastal communities. Later, hit the beach in Santa Cruz while surfers challenge the waves in Steamer Lane, or check out the Surfing Museum housed in the Mark Abbott Memorial lighthouse.
In Monterey, discover John Steinbeck's beloved Cannery Row, spend time at Fisherman's Wharf spotting sea otters, or pay a visit to the world-famous aquarium for a glimpse of the world theta lies beneath he crashing waves. Afterwards, we'll head for our campsite under the towering coastal redwood trees of Big Sur.
The beautiful rolling hills of California meet the majestic Pacific Ocean in few places as picturesque as San Simeon State Park. Take an optional tour of opulent Hearst Castle, hike through the surrounding wetlands, or just relax on the beach. Other activities include kayaking. (Discount for groups, minimum of 4 people.)
Spot cliffside mansions in Malibu before finding your favorite Santa Monica, Venice Beach or Hollywood hang out. Recuperate from a night on the town with a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Hike the Wonderland of Rocks Trail or go bouldering, keeping an eye out for the whimsical trees for which the park was named.
Walk above the the plummeting depths of the Grand Canyon West Rim on the famous glass Skywalk, take an optional helicopter tour, have your photo taken on a point with dramatic panoramic views of the canyon, or learn about Native American culture at a Hualapai village.
Release your inner rock star in glittering Las Vegas! Take a limousine tour of the strip, catch the show of a superstar, or ride the mind-blowing roller coasters on top of the Stratosphere.
The following day, explore Zion National Park and hike to Angel's Landing for breathtaking views of Zion Canyon's sheer sandstone cliffs, then go for a swim or take an optional inner tube ride on the Virgin River. At Bryce Canyon, hike the Rim Trail or the Fairyland Trail to view the bizarre wind-sculpted hoodoos of Bryce Amphitheater.
Moving on to Arches National Park, hike the Devil's Garden Trail past eight of the park's best known features, including Landscape Arch. For the ultimate Wild West experience, take a horseback ride or a jeep tour through the rugged desert-and-mesa landscape of Monument Valley.
Escape the desert heat with a cool plunge into Lake Powell. From Mather Point, you'll have two full days to explore the Grand Canyon South Rim. Hike a vertical mile to the bottom of the canyon and camp beside the Colorado River*, or walk along the South Rim to Hermit's Rest for a taste of wilderness solitude.
Check out a classic slice of small-town Americana on Route 66, and wrap up your adventure with one last night on theLas Vegas Strip. Enjoy a few more hours with your new friends before we drop you off in Hollywood, Santa Monica or San Francisco!
* Subject to availability. Additional fees may apply.
Round trip transportation from San Francisco or Los Angeles, most meals, all camping fees, all National Park entrance fees.
Additional optional activities such as: Kayaking, Hearst Castle guided tour, Helicopter/boat tour, Grand Canyon West entrance or Skywalk fees, white water rafting, jeep or horseback trip, hostel stays in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, additional meals, driver/guide or server tips*.
*NOTE: It is customary in the United States to include a tip when paying for restaurants, bars, taxis, and for most activities involving service. In most situations, the tip should be about 15% of your bill. (Speaking of gratuities, Green Tortoise drivers have never been known to turn them down!)
Really enjoyed meeting all the varied people from across the world. Keep on doing what your doing- it's certainly unique, and I'll be recommending your trips.
Our driver was fantastic, great leadership qualities, good cook, and was chilled out and relaxed without negating his responsibilities. He also lent me his backpack and gave good advice for the hike into the Grand Canyon, which I appreciated greatly...
Bob and Hunter
The Tortoise isn't about good friends on a vacation, but new-found family on an adventure!