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USA Holidays & Tours

Travel the USA with Explore

How to choose a holiday to the USA? It's hard to pin down a country the size of the entire continent - from tropical Hawaii to arctic Alaska, with parched deserts, lush green rainforests and eclectic multi-cultural cities, how to spend your time when visiting America can be a tough decision.

From the flashy casinos of Las Vegas to the immensity of the Grand Canyon, the Hollywood Hills to New York City; the United States is an iconic, thriving, passionate place - a land of pioneers and immigrants, adventurers and entrepreneurs. It is the land of the American Dream. When you travel to the USA, every single stereotype seems to be true: on arrival into the laid back city of San Francisco, the relaxed western vibe is really apparent, while New Orleans and Nashville ooze music and southern hospitality, and New York is an impressive giant of a city where modern skyscrapers can be found next to the romantic history of thousands of immigrants starting their new lives.

You can expect an Explore holiday to the USA to be big, in every way. Its climate, ecology and landscapes vary widely. Visiting Alaska you will spend time hiking around the glacial lakes and mountains of the Denali National Park, home to Mt Denali, also known as Mt McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. The Pacific Northwest around Oregon and Washington state is home to giant redwood forests, laidback coastal towns, lush rainforests and a great craft beer scene in Portland and Seattle.

Moving eastwards, you find thousands of bison roaming in Yellowstone National Park and black bears patrolling Yosemite, crossing the majestic Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada range to Death Valley and the national parks of Bryce and Zion, before moving southwards to spot alligators in the Mississippi swamplands around Alabama and Louisiana. Add into that diverse cities like Detroit, New York, Boston, Memphis and San Francisco, and you can really get an understanding of how the 'melting pot' has contributed to the USA's mentality that anything is possible.

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USA Holidays & Tours

Trips to the USA don't usually advertise themselves based on wildlife in particular. Yet no holiday would be complete without some fairly epic wildlife spotting. Forgetting Africa's 'Big 5' for a moment, these are the 5 biggest animals in the USA that you'll want to try and tick off your bucket list.

Spotting bears in Yosemite

Visiting the United States wouldn't be complete without attempting to spot (from a safe distance, of course) a bear. Grizzly, black or brown, North America is one of the best places to see bears, and no place more so than Yosemite National Park, where the black bear is ubiquitous. More than 90% of Yosemite is designated wilderness area, and on an Explore tour to Yosemite, the Explore Leaders always try to get our groups off the main tourist trails and into its natural charms. Another great option for spotting bears is Denali National Park, in Alaska, which has acres of rugged tundra to hide grizzly bears, as well as caribou, red foxes and over 160 different species of birds. Holidays in Alaska are great for wildlife spotting in general, but with bears you may even have the chance to see the salmon run - impressive enough in itself without the sight of a grizzly trying to catch his lunch.

Whale-watching in Alaska

Cruising within the outstanding towering peaks and glaciers of the Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, you'll be on the look out for humpbacks and orcas, as well as other diverse sea life including porpoises, sea lions and puffins. Moving to the East Coast, a trip to Nantucket, near Cape Cod, is also a good spot for whale-watching in the USA. A more gruesome side to the town is that Nantucket has a strong background in whaling, and even has a whaling museum that provides an unglorified view of this history.

Bison of Yellowstone

The bison in Yellowstone National Park are part of the oldest and largest public herd in the USA, and are almost impossible to miss. They are part of the park's landscape, but visitors to Yellowstone should be wary of approaching one - they can run up to 35 miles per hour and are aggressive if agitated.

Is it a moose or an elk?

Moose, elk and caribou are essentially different species of deer, of which moose is the largest variety. There are all sorts of behavioural differences to the three animals, as well as some physical differences - most notably in the shapes of the antlers. Moose antlers are broad and pointed, rather than elk and caribou whose antlers are more like tree branches. Playing the 'what deer' game is part of the fun of visiting places like Yellowstone, Baxter State Park in Maine, or in the Alaskan tundra. Visiting Olympic National Park in Washington State is a great place to view elk, being home to the Theodore Roosevelt elk, named after the former US president.

Alligators

Down in the swamps of the Bayou lie many creatures, from snapping turtles and raccoons to beavers and armadillos. No Explore holiday to New Orleans is complete without a swamp tour, where you can see the most famous of all - the alligator. This creature, indigenous to the swamps around Louisiana, Florida and Alabama, is so ubiquitous that gator soup is served in most of the restaurants in New Orleans, and the University of Florida's football team has taken the name of the Florida Gators.

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