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Yosemite and Grand Canyon
20 days
USA - Trip code YSH

Yosemite and Grand Canyon

From the vast landscapes of Yosemite, Zion and Arches National Parks to the vibrant cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas, we visit many of America's natural and cultural highlights. We marvel at the Grand Canyon and discover the spectacular rock formations of Bryce Canyon. We also visit the iconic Monument Valley and the archaeological site of Mesa Verde.

Trip highlights

  • National Parks - Hike in Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon; explore the unique landscapes of Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Arches national parks
  • San Francisco - Explore the city highlights including the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Yosemite National Park - Fabulous scenery of the world's first protected area
  • Route 66 - Drive along one of the most historic highways in America
  • Monument Valley - Incredible landscapes and Navajo culture
  • Mesa Verde National Park - Visit the UNESCO ruins of the Anasazi
  • Las Vegas - America's surreal and extravagant playground
Accommodation grade:
Standard
Our standard, mid-range accommodation offers a good level of service, often with other amenities such as a restaurant, bar, garden or swimming pool. Generally rooms will be comfortable with en suite facilities.
Trip pace:
Full on
Full on paced trips are for travellers who like their holidays packed with activities and experiences, moving on quickly from place to place with lots of early starts and long, busy days. Some may find them tiring, but others get a buzz from packing their precious holiday-time as chock-a-block full of new experiences as possible!
Group Size:
8 - 13
Maximum group size ranges from between 6 to 20 people, depending on the type of trip, the transport and accommodation used and activities included. We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader.

Itinerary

Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join tour in San Francisco

Join tour San Francisco and check-in at the hotel. Hugging the shores of San Francisco Bay, America's second most populous city is a fascinating mix of culture, commerce and character that cannot fail to charm.

Accommodation: Triton Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 2 - Sightseeing tour including the Golden Gate Bridge, free afternoon

We have the day to explore some of San Francisco's famous sights. On a morning's orientation tour of the city we take in the colonial architecture of Alamo Square and the colourful eccentricity of Haight Ashbury, San Francisco's once thriving 'hippie district' of the 1960s. Driving up to Twin Peaks we then enjoy some great views across the city and the bay (weather dependant), before moving on to Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman's Wharf. This afternoon is free to perhaps take in Lombard Street and Coit Tower, returning by the city's famous cable cars back down to Union Square and Market Street.

Accommodation: Triton Hotel(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 3 - Transfer to Yosemite National Park, walk to the base of Yosemite Falls

This morning we leave San Francisco behind and drive northward, heading through Stanislaus County towards Yosemite National Park. Passing numerous orchards and vineyards we head up into the Sierra Nevada, towards the rugged beauty of Yosemite. A mere 20 kilometres long, the central valley is dominated by the vast granite bulks of Half Dome and El Capitan (twice the size of the Rock of Gibraltar). We aim to take a walk up to the base of Yosemite Falls (the highest waterfall in the States), before continuing along to our hotel in Mariposa.

Accommodation: Mariposa Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 4 - Explore Yosemite National Park on foot

More than 90% of Yosemite is designated as a wilderness area and over the next two days we have ample chance to explore. We can hike up to Glacier Point and then follow the Panorama and Mist Trail back down into the valley (an additional 5-7 hours), a challenging walk that takes us past Nevada and Vernal Falls and offers some stunning views of Half Dome and El Capitan. Other less demanding options include bike hire, a walk up to the top of Yosemite Falls (3 hours walk to the top) or a relaxing day along the riverbanks. The park is filled with a variety of wildlife too, including hummingbirds, deer and even black bears.

Accommodation: Mariposa Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 5 - Walks in Yosemite National Park

Today we continue exploring Yosemite National Park.

Accommodation: Mariposa Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 6 - Travel to Bishop via Tenaya and Mono Lakes

Leaving the park this morning we plan to drive across the scenic Tioga Pass (3032m) en route to Tenaya Lake. After lunch we continue on to the surreal landscapes of Mono Lake, at the base of the High Sierras. This incredible body of water is two and a half times as salty and eighty times as alkaline as sea-water and whilst it can sustain no fish life, it does abound in brine shrimp and flies, providing food for millions of migratory birds. From here we drive to Bishop, where we spend the evening. On early season departures, if the passes over the Sierra Nevada are closed we may have to amend our itinerary and re-route the tour.

Accommodation: Travelodge Bishop(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Meals Provided: None
Day 7 - Journey through Death Valley to Las Vegas

Starting early to avoid the heat, we descend into Death Valley today, one of the lowest and hottest places on earth. After taking breakfast in Stove Pipe Wells (at own expense), we then journey into the heart of one of the most remarkable settings on earth, where the marbled rocks, salt pans and black mountains provide us with an incredible backdrop. In marked contrast we end our day in Las Vegas, America's extraordinary desert playground, where exploding volcanoes share centre stage with Venetian canals and ancient pyramids. This evening we have some free time to explore this unique city.

Accommodation: Golden Nugget(or similar)

Premium Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 8 - Head to Zion National Park, walk to the Emerald Pools

Leaving the bright lights of Vegas behind us this morning we head next into the wilderness of south-western Utah and the stunning beauty of Zion National Park. Zion Canyon is an incredible natural landscape that sits at the meeting point of the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin and the Mohave Desert. Home to golden eagles, elk and black bear, Zion boasts an incredible diversity of flora, from Ponderosa pine to desert bush. On arrival in the park this afternoon we take a walk to Emerald Pools before overnighting in nearby Springdale.

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express - Zion Natl Pk(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 9 - In Zion National Park, walks include Angel's Landing or the Narrows

Today we have a chance to hike up to Angel's Landing, to enjoy a spectacular viewpoint down across the valley (approximately 4 hours). Other option for today includes The Narrows, the latter of which takes us along the river bed and (depending on the season) may require us to negotiate waist-high water (approximately 3 hours). Those looking for a more arduous trek might like to try the hike up to Observation Point (about 5 hours). Later, we drive to Bryce Canyon, travelling via Buffalo and Mt Carmel Junction.

Accommodation: Bryce View Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 10 - Early morning at Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon, time to discover this natural wonder

This morning we see Bryce at its most radiant, in the golden hues of sunrise. This afternoon we do an afternoon hike around the Navajo Loop, possibly taking in Queens Gardens as well if we have time. Bryce's stunning multicoloured formations are steeped in the legends of the Paiute Indians and this evening we have a chance to watch the sun set across the sandstone 'hoodoos' from the canyon's rim.

Accommodation: Bryce View Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 11 - Transfer to Capitol Reef National Park and Moab

Today we drive to Capitol Reef National Park, where we can stop and take a short hike. Capitol Reef encompasses a landscape of coloured sandstone cliffs, twisting canyons, monoliths and spires. From here we then drive to Moab, the largest town in south-eastern Utah, where the rest of the evening is free to relax and enjoy at our own pace. Time permitting we may visit Dead Horse point.

Accommodation: Red Stone Inn(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 12 - Hikes in Arches National Park

Located a short distance from Moab is Arches National Park, home to the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. With over 2000 arches, giant sandstone fins, balancing rocks and towering spires, the park provides a unique setting for today's hike. We take in the Devil's Garden, a strenuous four-hour trek that takes us through a landscape littered with arches. We also enjoy a more gentle walk around The Windows Loop (approximately 1.5 hours), before returning to Moab later this afternoon.

Accommodation: Red Stone Inn(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 13 - Optional activities including mountain biking and rafting, view the sunset over Arches National Park

A free morning in Moab allows us a chance to enjoy some optional mountain biking or rafting excursions. Please note: Participation in canoeing, kayaking, or rafting (including whitewater) requires that you are able to swim 25 metres unaided. We then head back to Arches to walk to Delicate Arch for sunset (2 hours). Probably one of the most photographed arches in the American southwest, Delicate Arch, with its backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of La Sal, provides the perfect setting for our late afternoon hike. After our walk we then head back to Moab for the evening.

Accommodation: Red Stone Inn(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 14 - Drive to Mesa Verde National Park; afternoon guided tour, continue to Cortez

After breakfast, and a quick visit to the News Paper Rock, we continue on to Mesa Verde National Park this morning. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mesa Verde is home to some of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the world. After viewing the Native American exhibits at the Visitors Centre, we then take a guided tour of the site and pay a visit to the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum. After our visit we continue to the city of Cortez.

Accommodation: Baymont Inn and Suites(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 15 - Travel to Monument Valley; optional jeep tour with a Navajo guide; continue towards Page

Set deep in the heart of the Navajo Nation, the sandstone buttes and monoliths of Monument Valley present us with some of the most famous landscapes on earth; stars of countless westerns and Hollywood movies.There is the option to join a jeep tour this afternoon to enjoy a Navajo Cultural Experience. We then continue towards Page, via the Navajo National Monumeny. The Navajo Nation constitutes the largest tribe left in the United States and we take a short walk from the visitors centre to view the Anasazi (ancient Pueblo) ruins in the Betatakin Canyon, before heading to our overnight hotel near Page.

Accommodation: Quality Inn(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 16 - Head to Lake Powell; optional boat tour to the naturally formed Rainbow Bridge

Waking up in Page, we head out to Lake Powell, the second largest manmade lake in the United States, enjoying a scenic hike to Horseshoe Bend and paying a visit to the impressive Glen Canyon Dam complex en route. We have the option for a boat tour to the impressive Rainbow Bridge, a large natural bridge sculpted by the power of wind and water, before returning to Page.

Accommodation: Quality Inn(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 17 - Optional visit to Antelope Canyon, drive to the Grand Canyon

There is the option this morning for us to pay a visit to Antelope Canyon, probably the most photographed slot canyon in the southwestern United States. Formed by water erosion, the Navajo sandstone has been sculpted into an incredibly beautiful landscape of \ flowing\ rocks. From here we drive to the Grand Canyon, stopping off to view the national park from the vantage points of Desert View and the Grand Viewpoint, before finally reaching our hotel later this afternoon.

Accommodation: Red Feather Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 18 - Free day at the Grand Canyon

Today we explore one of the oldest landscapes on earth. Reaching a depth of 1600 metres the Grand Canyon took over two billion years to create and this morning we have a chance to hike down into the canyon. The hike down to Indian Gardens takes around three hours, with the journey out to Plateau Point adding an extra 45 minutes each way. Alternatively you may like to use the park's free shuttle service to explore the West Rim and the Hermit's Rest. This afternoon is free to continue exploring, or perhaps enjoy a helicopter flight over the canyon (optional).

Accommodation: Red Feather Lodge(or similar)

Standard Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 19 - Return to Las Vegas via Route 66

This morning we drive along one of the most historic highways in America, the famous Route 66. A shadow of its former self, the road is nonetheless still rich in the Americana of its glory days, when it used to be known as the \ Main Street\ of America. Our drive back to Las Vegas takes us through the towns of Kingman and Seligman, home to the wonderfully eccentric \ Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-in\ . On arrival in Vegas we then have a final free evening to make the most of one of America's most iconic cities.

Accommodation: Golden Nugget(or similar)

Premium Hotel
Swimming pool available
Single room available
Meals Provided: None
Day 20 - Tour ends Las Vegas

The tour ends in Las Vegas this morning.

Meals Provided: None

What's included?

Transport
  • Maxiwagon
Trip staff
  • Explore Tour Leader / Driver
Accommodation
  • 17 nights standard hotel
  • 2 nights premium hotel
Award Winning Explore Leaders
Read more
Price Guarantee Promise
Read more
Airport Transfers
Read more
FairFX currency card
Read more

Trip information

Country information

USA Holidays & Tours

Climate

There are great variations in the altitude and terrain of the areas visited and this is reflected in the temperatures. Desert areas can be extremely hot in the summer months (49°), though temperatures can drop dramatically at night. The mountains are cooler and wetter especially in the north of the Rockies. At the beginning and end of the season there may still be some snow around in the high passes and it can be cold, whereas in mid-summer the day time temperatures can soar.

Time difference to GMT

-9

Plugs

2 Pin Flat

Religion

Christian

Language

English

Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

There are a number of exciting optional excursions you can do on tour. These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract. Page - Antelope Canyon jeep excursion US$ 45; Boat excursion US$ 45. Monument Valley - Jeep excursion US$ 45-75 including dinner. Grand Canyon - Helicopter overflight approximately US$ 254-284; IMAX cinema US$ 13. San Francisco - If you want to visit Alcatraz, we strongly recommend that you book your tickets in advance, especially during August. Please visit www.alcatrazcruises.com for tickets. Las Vegas - Limousine ride US$ 150 per hour (between 13 people). Moab - Float trip US$ 55; Jet Boat US $80 for 1/2 day; Hummer sunset tour US $90

Clothing

Pack for hot conditions for June, July and August departures. For departures earlier and later in the year, the weather can be cooler, especially at night in the desert so make sure you bring some warmer layers including a fleece. Include a long sleeved shirt and warm trousers. Also a lightweight waterproof jacket, swimwear and a sun hat.

Footwear

Lightweight walking/hiking boots with good ankle support, trainers and/or sandals for travelling.

Luggage

20kg

Luggage: On tour

Bring only the bare essentials - one main bag plus a small daypack for walking and for personal items. Main luggage cannot be accessed during the day. Soft luggage is more practical. Bring plastic bags to keep things dry. Laundry facilities are available at various points during the trip.

Equipment

Bring a water bottle (3 litre capacity), high factor sunblock, plastic bags to keep things dry and a (head) torch and a towel. You may find a walking pole useful and insect repellant especially in June and July.

Tipping

Explore leader
Tour Leader: At your discretion you might also consider tipping your Tour Leader in appreciation of the efficiency and service you receive.
Local crew
In North America tipping is a recognised part of life across the service industry, including restaurants, activity suppliers, taxis and guides. Local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. To assist with this the Tour Leader may organise a group tips kitty for included activities and meals, they will then account for kitty use throughout the tour. For this we suggest US/CAN$50. For all non-included services and meals on your North American trip, we recommend tipping at around 15%.
Country Information

USA Holidays & Tours

Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.


Lunch price
£15
Dinner price
£21
Beer price
£Varies for different towns, average £4.00
Water price
£1.1
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
US Dollars.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Bring your money in US$ cash.
Where To Exchange
Banks or 'Forex' offices in main towns/cities. Your tour leader will advise you on arrival.
ATM Availability
Widely available.
Credit Card Acceptance
Widely accepted just about everywhere.

Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Maxiwagon

Accommodation notes

Booking a Single Room

All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation. Please refer to the tour notes where the single room option availability is detailed on a night by night basis for this tour, and the price for the available nights is detailed on the dates & prices tab by departure date. For Self-Guided trips the Single Room supplement offers the option of a single room each and is charged per person. The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.


During this trip you will be staying for one night at a simple motel in Kayenta, near Monument Valley. This accommodation is very simple, with basic facilities and old-fashioned decor. We use this place in order to support the local Navajo people, as it is the only accommodation in the area that is owned and operated by Navajo.

Essential information

FCO Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here
 

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Essential Information

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

USA: (including those in transit) Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - where you apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which applies if you enter the country by sea or by air. This must be done on line - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. Please note for your ESTA application you will be required to supply Point of Contact information. Explore' s USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. If you are leaving for the USA before this, please call the Explore team to get this information.(Not necessary if in transit) For further information please check out the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html


If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may consider applying through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
 

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Transfers

Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.


Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will now receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The transfers will be from the Explore designated airport or train station to the joining point of your tour, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  


For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here

Insurance

It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.


Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

  

Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Non refundable permits

USA Holidays & Tours

Vaccinations

Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.

Dates, prices and booking

Date
Price from
Single room option

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