National Parks of the USA - 21 night fly drive
If it has ever been on your bucket list to see as many of America’s stunning and varied National Parks as possible in one trip, 2016 could be your year! This year marks the momentous centennial anniversary of the National Park movement, pioneered in August 1916 by then-President Teddy Roosevelt. To celebrate this milestone, AmeriCan & Worldwide Travel have put together two great itineraries that allow you to visit many of the breathtaking landscapes and scenic vistas you have been dreaming about. This itineraries has a three week duration, but if you aren’t lucky enough to have that much time on your hands, we also have a 15-night tour.
The first National Park you will come across on your trip is known as one of the great wonders of the natural world, and it won’t disappoint; the mighty Grand Canyon. Yosemite National Park will also be on your list; the stunning views afforded from the top of the waterfalls here are not to be missed. Experience the gargantuan trees within Sequoia National Park and the interesting, changing landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. Conclude your trip with two giants of National Park experiences, Yellowstone and Glacier. Yellowstone is often referred to as the ‘beating heart of the planet’ and when you set eyes on the majestic geysers, it won’t be hard to imagine why. You really will finish your time here with a whole new appreciation of the natural world.
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks
- Yosemite National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks
Arriving into the Phoenix area today, you’ll instantly be captivated by the Valley of the Sun. This multi-cultural, historical and rapidly growing metropolitan area, which began as a small town in the middle of the desert, gets 360 days of sunshine a year, and has heritage, entertainment and recreation to spare.
Experience the splendour of the Victorian era at Historic Heritage Park, view one of the finest displays of Native American art at the renowned Heard Museum, and wander through the specialty plants and flowers at the Desert Botanical Garden. You’ll find fabulous shopping in nearby Scottsdale. Enjoy this unique area, throughout which you’ll see the architectural influence of Frank Lloyd Wright complementing the striking landscape of the Sonoran Desert.
Surrounded on all sides by national forest land and with a backyard full of wild country, the urge to see it all Sedona has to offer is overwhelming. Go bouncing into the outback on a jeep tour, take a thrilling helicopter ride and witness the Sedona that only eagles see or greet the sunrise aboard a hot air balloon. Pick the brains of knowledgeable guides for their tricks on how to best capture such an immense landscape on photography tours or go hiking, biking or on a kayak tour. Be sure to include a visit to Tlaquepaque, a recreated village reminiscent of Mexico; it is full of art galleries, craft shops and restaurants. Also visit Oak Creek Vista for a dramatic view of the canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is all that you expect it to be. Vast, breathtaking and ever-changing according to the light and weather. Whilst here, you can take a helicopter trip or a small plane flight over the Canyon for further spectacular views. There are also many hiking, biking and horse-back excursions available to further enhance your experience of the most famous Canyon in the world. For water babies at heart, make sure to check out the rafting trips through the Canyon on the Colorado River that are on offer as these offer an entirely unique perspective on your surroundings.
Bryce Canyon National Park
"144 miles/2hrs 45mins"
Some of the most bizarre and extraordinary natural architecture anywhere is found here; your first view of the park is a dramatic unveiling. Wind through pine trees until they break at the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park. Wind, water and time have eroded sandstone cliffs into otherworldly characters; these colourful and whimsically arranged rocks form a landscape of mazes, offering some of the most exciting and memorable walks and hikes imaginable. Take a horse or mule tour deep into the canyon. If you don’t want to park, hop on the shuttle and people-watch between viewpoints. Take a camera-full of pictures no one will understand and let the giant yellow-pink monsters haunt your dreams.
Zion National Park
"72 miles/1hr 20mins"
Zion is a true desert paradise; watch as the light plays on the sandstone, plateaus, and monoliths in an ever-changing array of colour. The southern part of the park is a desert area where mesas are bordered by rocky canyons and washes. The northern sections of the park were formed by volcanoes and petrified wood from ancient forests. The cool, green forests overlook broad panoramas of rugged canyon country. Enjoy horseback rides or rent bikes to explore. The Zion Human History Museum is also well worth visiting for its exhibits on the park’s rich geological and human history.
"161 miles/2hrs 40mins"
A neon tribute to tinselled affluence, Las Vegas booms 24 hours a day with a heady “get rich quick” atmosphere. The lure of easy money, the whirling wheels and gaming tables, and the numerous plush hotels provide ready entertainment; glitz and escapist fun are supplied in quantity. The MGM Grand has over 5,000 rooms and is home to eight restaurants and three showrooms. The New York New York Hotel has its own Statue of Liberty, Park Avenue and Central Park and the Venetian has its own canals that weave through the hotel. As well as the casinos, enjoy theme parks, medieval banquets, musical revues and magic shows.
Death Valley National Park
"142 miles/2hrs 20mins"
Death Valley is known for its extremes: it is North America's driest and hottest spot (with fewer than five centimetres of rainfall annually and a record high of 134°F), and has the lowest elevation on the continent—282 feet below sea level. The park is the largest south of Alaska and features rocks sculptured by erosion, richly tinted mudstone hills and canyons, luminous sand dunes, and a 200-square-mile salt pan surrounded by mountains. As night falls, Death Valley's elusive populations of bobcats, kit foxes, and rodents venture out and hawks soar into vivid blue, cloudless skies.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is breath-taking and has so much to offer its visitors. Make sure to look out for Half Dome and El Captain, two of the huge granite cliffs in the park depicted in many photographs. You could also drive to Mariposa Grove to see the sequoia trees, visit the historic village of Wawona, enjoy the fantastic view of the valley from Glacier Point Overlook and hike back down the 8 mile trail to the valley floor. You could hike to one of the many waterfalls in the park; apart from Yosemite Falls there are several other major Falls including Ribbon, Bridalveil and Vernal Falls. Or you could hire a bike to take you around the valley floor, join a horseback trip or even learn to mountain bike.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
"138 miles/2hrs 30mins"
Arriving in Sequoia, you’ll find yourself looking skyward at the quiet majesty and beauty of the Giant Sequoia trees which surround you. Whilst here, enjoy biking, climbing, kayaking and swimming; hike through the stunning Mineral King Valley and gaze thousands of feet down into the mighty Kings River or the Trail of 100 Giants in Long Meadow Grove. Make sure to visit the Boole Tree, the largest Sequoia tree in America, which grows in Converse Basin Grove. But most importantly stop, take a deep breath of crisp mountain air and simply take in the wonder of the Giant forest around you; these trees have been around for thousands of years and survived the test of time better than any other living thing on Earth.
Joshua Tree National Park
"312 miles/5hrs 20mins"
Two desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado, join within Joshua Tree, dividing the park into two ecosystems of profoundly contrasting appearance. The areas of the park formed by the Colorado seem sparse and forbidding; sweeping east across empty basins studded with creosote bushes and occasionally decorated by flowering cactus, it runs across the Pinto Basin into a parched wilderness of broken rock in the Eagle and Coxcomb Mountains. The Mojave section is home to giant branching yuccas, sandy plains studded by massive granite monoliths and rock piles. These are among the most intriguing and photogenic geological phenomena found in California.
"131 miles/2hrs 15mins"
Driving in Los Angeles is a way of life – and a glamorous one at that. So roll down the windows and head out on one of the fabulous scenic drives around the city. Cruise the Sunset Strip; check out the entertainment hot spots on Hollywood Boulevard, or journey through the city’s historic, cultural and architectural roots along Wilshire Boulevard. Enjoy classic boardwalk fun on the historic Santa Monica Pier, visit “the Mouse” at Disneyland, window shop on Rodeo Drive, and take in any number of LA’s fabulous museums and attractions. The view from the Getty Center, sitting high above the city, is as spectacular as the art collection inside.
Jackson & Grand Teton National Park
As you arrive at Jackson, it becomes immediately obvious why the Grand Teton’s, the 40-mile long mountain range that surround it, are a National Park. All three Scenic Drives are a must do: the Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, and Signal Mountain Summit Road. We highly recommend taking a Wildlife Expedition, which will take you into the back country of Grand Teton National Park, otherwise inaccessible to traffic. There are also plenty of fly-fishing, skiing and white-water rafting opportunities, depending when you are visiting. Hot air balloon trips are also popular.
Yellowstone National Park
"128 miles/2hrs 40mins"
Yellowstone National Park contains 300 geysers that account for approximately one-half of the world’s total. The geography of Yellowstone is made up of eight distinct areas. Mammoth Hot Springs hosts Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. The Old Faithful area is made up of four different basins where 60% of the world’s geysers share a very small space. The Grant Village and Lake areas are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake at a high elevation in North America. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is roughly 20 miles long and varies between 800 and 1,200 feet deep and the falls along the river include Tower Falls, which drops 132-foot. Tower Creek is framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles that were documented by the earliest explorers in the region. There are also many excellent museums and visitor centers throughout the park which will put your experiences into perspective.
Drive today to Montana's delightful capital city, Helena, home to one of the richest gold strikes - Last Chance Gulch, something that is reflected in the city’s architecture; from the spires of St. Helena’s Cathedral to the restored miner’s village of Reeder’s Alley. Begin your stay here with a trip on the Last Chance Tour Train which will give you a chance to gain your bearings and see your first glance of this historic city. Also make sure to visit the oldest house in the city, Pioneer Cabin and follow in the footsteps of explorers Lewis and Clark by taking a ‘Gates of the Mountains’ boat tour along the Missouri River.
Glacier National Park
"215 miles/3hrs 45mins"
Glacier encompasses more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, mountains and glacial-carved valleys. It is named for its prominent glacier-carved terrain, dating back some 10,000 years to the Ice Age, creating some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. This diverse landscape is home to more than 70 species of mammal including grizzly bears and grey wolves over 260 bird species including golden eagles, and an incredible variety of plant life. An absolute must while you’re here is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, truly the scenic drive of a lifetime. Just over the Canadian border is Glacier’s sister park, Waterton Lakes. To the west of Glacier is Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Take the 70-mile self-drive tour of Blackfeet Country, following the historical “Blackfeet Trail”, and you’ll understand why the Blackfeet felt so at home here.
"138 miles/2hrs 35mins"
Missoula's historic downtown boasts unique dining and shopping opportunities and a lively nightlife. Just outside the city, Rattlesnake National Recreation Area offers endless mountain trails; here you’ll find mountain lakes, waterfalls, and slopes of sub-alpine fir, pine and spruce and open parklands. An abundance of wildlife can also be found, from elk and coyotes to black bears and mountain lions. In the city itself, explore the exhibits at the Art Museum of Missoula or take a trip back in time at the Historical Museum. Dragon Hollow, a magical playground that features a hand-carved carousel is a must for families.
Today, enjoy your final morning before flying home later today.
- 21 nights’ accommodation and room tax
- International flights from London (please ask if regional airports are required)
- Fully insured compact car hire (larger vehicles are available)
- A detailed and comprehensive travel pack with driving instructions and maps