- Embark on a three-week journey with family, friends or as a couple across the West Coast of the USA
- Visit the some of America’s most famous national parks, legendary cities and drive Highway One along coastal California
- Go kayaking on Lake Powell, enjoy a 4x4 tour of the Canyonlands and experience San Francisco and Los Angeles with a local guide
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This iconic US road trip offers the freedom to cruise down the endless roads horizon made famous from John Ford's westerns at your own pace. Combine the awe-inspiring landscapes of Arizona, Utah and Yosemite with the legendary cities of Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles on this three-week road trip across the West Coast.
Drive your 4x4 hire car through the giant red rocks and deserts as far as the eye can see, explore both Zion and Yosemite National Parks alongside rangers, who know the landscapes inside out. Kayak on Lake Powell and explore its nooks and crannies between a couple of swims. Beyond the main roads, breath-taking views of the Colorado River line the cliff-hugging hairpin turns in the road.
FLIGHT TO PHOENIX - SCOTTSDALE
Head to the airport and board your 11-hour flight from London to Phoenix, Arizona. Upon arrival in Arizona, you’ll collect your hire car and drive to Scottsdale (a high-end suburb of Phoenix). Spend your first night in a contemporary hotel overlooking the desert. Dine on Arizona-style dishes, recuperate after your long flight with a swim or a walk, or seek out the hotel spa for a rejuvenating treatment.
SCOTTSDALE - SEDONA
Today marks the first day of your road trip! Set off from Scottsdale and head in the direction of Sedona. The drive takes about two and a half hours, with the route snaking through a landscape of cactus fields and desert expanses. Along the way, it's worth taking a detour into Jerome, a Far West ghost town, which lies in the middle of 'red rock country’. Encircled by immense red and gold pillars, gigantic mesas, mounds and mineral columns, the city has these geological accidents to thank for its development, as they nourished the imaginations of Western writers in the past. Today, the town attracts a new-age community in search of mystical energy and spiritual well-being. Your arrival into Sedona will be marked by views of the town’s red-rock cliffs and steep canyons, which transforms into a collection of bohemian cafes and art galleries as you head uptown. While in Sedona, stay in simple yet cosy and comfortable accommodation, where you can enjoy the local food, which features Mexican influences. On your second day here, discover Sedona’s red-rock landscape during a jeep tour of the backcountry, including insider knowledge from local guides along the way.
SEDONA - GRAND CANYON
Hop back in your rental car and hit the road again, this time in the direction of the Grand Canyon. Arizona's characteristic cacti and desert areas gradually give way to pine forests, with temperatures cooling as you approach the Grand Canyon. This exceptional geological phenomenon is the best-known site in the West, and one of the most impressive sights on Earth. Visitors approach this 277-mile long, 18-mile wide fault on foot – a glass walkway allows you to safely advance to the edge of the precipice. Its immensity is breath-taking. If you want to go all-out, the ultimate way to see the full extent of the Canyon is on a helicopter ride, which we can arrange as part of your itinerary.
After two and a half hours of driving, you’ll arrive at your hotel, situated on the rim of the Grand Canyon. As a National Historic Landmark property, the hotel retains its picturesque surroundings and traditional 20th century architecture, with the historic design meaning no two rooms are the same. Some of the rooms offer striking views across the Grand Canyon, while the property also possesses a spectacular viewing platform. Activities during your stay include walking, hiking or horse riding along the scenic trails nearby.
GRAND CANYON - MONUMENT VALLEY
Once you’ve witnessed the Grand Canyon in all its glory, set off towards Monument Valley on a three-and-a-half-hour drive which takes you through some typical Western scenery. Monument Valley has been capturing the world’s imagination since 1939, when John Ford filmed the famous Western movie Stagecoach among its soaring red rocks. It has become one of the most photographed natural wonders in the world and during your stay we can organise a tour of the region alongside a local guide, which includes stunning views of the ochre-hued buttes, Anasazi ruins, ancient artworks and access to out-of-bounds areas. Your accommodation here is designed with the sacred surroundings in mind and features an orange colour palette, which blends seamlessly into the red rocks of the valley. Your comfortable room has a balcony with views of the valley, so you barely need to leave your room to witness its splendour.
GRAND CANYON - PAGE (LAKE POWELL)
Depart from the Grand Canyon and drive through the 'painted desert', with its parade of red, orange, pink and grey rocks in shades that change according to the composition of the rocks, to Page and its artificial lake, Lake Powell (about two hours away). Spend the night in a comfortable hotel, close to Lake Powell. At 186 miles long, with 96 canyons and 1,960 miles of coastline, Lake Powell is the largest artificial lake in the United States and one of the highlights of the West. Explore this reservoir, a true oasis within the desert, during a kayak excursion. You could also head off-the-beaten-track on a tour of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, through the sandy hills of the Navajo lands.
PAGE (LAKE POWELL) - SPRINGDALE (ZION)
Set off from Northern Arizona in the direction of Southern Utah. Along the way you can stop in Kanab and soak up the views of the Vermillion Cliffs and the majestic arid landscape of this region. Around two-and-a-half hours later you’ll arrive at Springdale and Zion National Park. Springdale, at the park's southern entrance, is all about charming rocky hotels and little shops. Spend the night in a cosy, western-style lodge, with warm decor and beautiful views of Zion Park’s ochre-hued cliffs. During your stay you can take a day trip to Bryce Canyon, which tends to have fewer crowds than Zion, and explore its striking scenery.
SPRINGDALE, ZION - LAS VEGAS
Drive three hours from Springdale to Las Vegas, stopping along the way for a swim at Sand Hollow State Park and a wander through the volcanic landscape of Snow Canyon State Park. Continue to Las Vegas, Sin City itself. You’ll be met by neon lights upon arrival, offering a stark contrast to the desert landscapes you’ve encountered so far on your trip. Stay for two nights at one of the Strip's luxurious themed hotels, equipped with a spa, pool and nightclub.
Las Vegas is America's gaming capital and a symbol of eccentricity which lights up the Nevada desert day and night. After a morning enjoying the pool or scouring one of the many malls, stroll past one themed casino hotel after another along the famous Strip, taking a look at the never-ending parade of eclectic, eccentric crowds. In the evening, get caught up in the frenzy and have fun in Old Downtown, unless you prefer the more intimate setting of a Michelin starred restaurant. We could also arrange tickets to go on the 500ft-tall observation wheel (the largest in the world), which overlooks the city and offers the best views of the Strip from its glass cabins, or tickets for a Cirque du Soleil show.
LAS VEGAS - MAMMOTH LAKES
Head to Mammoth Lakes (around a five-hour drive), a small mountain resort that starkly contrasts with the scenery at the beginning of the trip and the lights of Las Vegas. This is a good place to stop before starting the journey across Yosemite National Park. Spend the night in a cosy location in Mammoth Mountain, the Mammoth Lakes Ski Resort on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
MAMMOTH LAKES - EL PORTAL (YOSEMITE)
Departure for Yosemite, in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, California (which will take around two and a half hours). This national park is home to alpine landscapes, granite domes, enormous cliffs, majestic lakes, rivers and waterfalls, giant redwood forests and hundreds of species of birds and mammals. The scenic Tioga Road runs west to east across the park. Spend three nights in a rustic lodge at the edge of the Merced River, close to the entrance of the park, with rooms overlooking the river. Enjoy classic American fare at the hotel restaurant, and enjoy the pool and spa facilities in-between exploring Yosemite. A ranger tour of the park can be included in your itinerary, so you can discover the full scope of its natural wonders.
EL PORTAL (YOSEMITE ) - SAN FRANCISCO
Hit the road to San Francisco (around a four-hour drive). Leave the pine forests and rocky domes behind, as you reach the Pacific West Coast and head along the Panoramic Route 140 (shadowed by the Merced River), which runs through small western towns such as Mariposa. Next, San Francisco Bay appears against a background of fog. Stay at a comfortable and authentic boutique hotel for three nights, which is located in Fisherman’s Wharf, just a stone’s throw from the must-see North Beach neighbourhood.
In San Francisco, everything is legendary, from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and the winding Lombard Street, to its hills, cable cars and colourful houses. Spend your first full day here discovering the city with the help of a local guide. Head to Chinatown, one of the oldest and largest Chinese neighbourhoods in the United States; then North Beach, where Italians mingled with the Californian beatniks who started the hippie movement; followed by Jackson Square Historic District, with its 1850s houses. They're the only buildings that survived the earthquake and fire in 1906 and give you an idea of what San Francisco was like in the past. Hitchcock and 'Vertigo' fans will also be able to recognise Ernie's Restaurant (847 Montgomery St.), where Scottie and Madeleine met for the first time. The walk ends with a 360° rooftop view, where you can appreciate Nob Hill, Chinatown, Telegraph Hill, the bay and its islands. If cycling is more your style, we could arrange a day’s bike rental, which allows you to cross the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
SAN FRANCISCO - MONTEREY
Drive from San Francisco to Monterey (around two hours),stopping at Elkhorn Slough Marine Reserve along the way to kayak close to otters, sea lions and seals. Arrive in Monterey, a former fishing port that has become a popular resort, and is renowned for its gentle way of life by the sea. Spend two nights in a small, Mediterranean villa-style hotel, with comfortable rooms and a beautiful pool. Depending on the time of year, you could head out on a whale-watching cruise, as the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the largest and most abundant national marine reserve in the United States, making it the perfect spot to spot these giants of the ocean.
MONTEREY – SANTA BARBARA
Continue south to Santa Barbara, along panoramic Highway 1 (which will take approximately five hours). Follow the twists and turns of the ocean in this magnificent setting, often punctuated by a lighthouse or lookout point. Santa Barbara’s white-washed stucco houses with red-tile roofs and palm-lined beaches give the city a Mediterranean feel, earning this stretch of coastline the nickname of the American Riviera. Spend two nights at a hotel facing the Pacific Ocean, a short walk from the Marina and Stearns Wharf.
Gear up for your final drive, from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, which takes about an hour and a half. The city is big, sprawling and impressive, and you can enjoy exploring its famous neighbourhoods: the beaches of Malibu and Santa Monica, the stars of the Walk of Fame in Hollywood and the countless life-sized film sets with concept architecture downtown. Stay for three nights in a chic, modern hotel, with fabulous panoramic views of the city and mountains in the distance.
While here, visit the Getty Centre on Brentwood Hill, a huge museum with access via cable car; sunbathe with your feet in the sand before hitting the ocean for a surf; or climb up to the Griffith Observatory for a 360° view of the city. You could also head out on bike tour of Santa Monica and Venice Beach, cycling the famous beaches and boardwalks of Santa Monica and Venice Beach aboard a classic cruiser bike and taking in the sights along the way. Or we could arrange entry tickets for a day at Universal Studios (still regularly used for filming) and theme park.
After a final day spent exploring Los Angeles, this evening you will board your 10-hour flight back to London, which will arrive the next day.
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THE GRAND CANYON FROM ABOVE
The Grand Canyon is arguably the most legendary national park in the United States. To grasp the immensity of the location, it's best to opt for a helicopter ride to really appreciate its enormity and watch the colours of the strata grow darker with the fading sun.
CANYONLANDS - COLORADO RIVER RAFT DESCENT
A gentle six-mile raft ride on the iconic Colorado River. Drift through this postcard setting, through the heart of rock formations and the Professor Valley locations of director John Ford's westerns. The trip is punctuated by rapids (class I-II), with sizes and intensities varying according to the time of year and water level. Nothing better than getting your feet wet to impress the children.
SAN FRANCISCO ON BIKE
The Golden Gate Bridge, nearly two miles long, is among the longest bridges in the world and an iconic city landmark. The bike ride offers fantastic views of the bay. The walk, a little over six miles, leaves from Fisherman's Wharf, goes along the beach, and then crosses the bridge to arrive in Sausalito. This former fishing village has become a chic seaside resort with a French restaurant decorated like a garage, with views of the Port de Plaisance. Experience the friendly atmosphere and gourmet food, with a return by ferry.
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