- Trip Outline
- Trip Includes
- Trip Excludes
Join our small groups of hikers to discover the legendary national parks of the Western United States. On this remarkable journey you will not only see all the highlights of the West, but also uncover its hidden gems, spending ample time within each park. Our small vans allow us access to special sites, which are closed to large buses. Come with us and discover Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley in addition to the world-renowned cities of Las Vegas & San Francisco! There will be time to explore the parks on foot, by jeep, on a raft or even by horse. Each night we stay in centrally located, well-appointed hotels within or near the entrance to the national parks. Join us for this once in a lifetime journey and discover the wonder of the American West!
Duration: 13 nights, 14 days
Start City: San Francisco, California
End City: Las Vegas, Nevada
Group Size: 4-13 Participants
Tour Type: Guided Walking Tour, Easy to Moderate
Languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
Arrival in San Francisco
Arrival in San Francisco, guests are responsible for individual transfer from the airport to the hotel. Our hotel is centrally located. Whitcomb Hotel or similar (3-star), 2 nights
8 AM: Your guide will welcome you at the hotel. In the morning, we explore the city on foot and by cable car to unveil such hidden wonders as Union Square, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. We then enjoy amazing views of the city and surrounding area from Coit Tower. You will be given a day pass for the cable car, allowing you to explore the city all afternoon on your own. We also recommend a harbor cruise and/or a tour of Alcatraz. Excursions are not included, various fees apply.
City tour: approx. 3-4 hours, 2-3 miles / 4-7 km, elevation difference: +/-100 m
Golden Gate and Giant Sequoia Trees
In the morning, we leave the city via the famous Golden Gate Bridge, providing the opportunity to walk across for those who wish to savor the views. We will then head for Yosemite National Park, where we will enjoy the spectacular experience of strolling beneath mighty stands of colossal Sequoia trees. This family of ancient giants have been seen to grow to 275 feet tall (84 meters), and aged to be over 2,000 years old! Our accommodations are in the heart of Yosemite Valley at Curry Village, the hub of activity in the valley, providing direct access to all of the hiking trails.
We will spend two nights here in “tent cabins”, which are rustic cabins with beds and bedding, concrete floors, canvas walls, and communal bathrooms. The benefit of this accommodation is the direct access to hiking trails for those who wish to hike Half Dome. (2 nights
Drive time: 250 miles / 400 km or 4-5 hrs
Exploring Yosemite on foot, bear watching
Those up for the Half Dome climb can leave at 6 am to challenge themselves on this extraordinary peak. The rest of the group will take a more leisurely morning, with breakfast followed by a drive up to Glacier Point, the most impressive viewpoint in the park. From here, high above the valley, we may survey the stunning walls of Half Dome and gaze down at the valley floor far below. Three different walks, varying in length, difficulty, and views are available from Glacier Point: two walks head down into Yosemite Valley (self-guided) or you may enjoy a loop walk with your hiking guide along the valley rim.
The afternoon is free for you to enjoy relaxing in the valley. We recommend you rent a bike and visit the waterfalls, or on a hot summer day, soak up the scenery floating the Merced River (floating is only possible during times of safe water levels). In the evening, we can watch for bears and coyotes in the apple groves!
Panorama Trail from Glacier Point: 4-6 hrs, approx. 7 miles / 12 km, elevation difference: +200 m/-900 m
Four Mile Trail: 4-5 hrs, approx. 6 miles / 10 km, elevation difference: -900 m
Sentinel Dome & Taft Point Loop: approx. 4 hrs, approx. 6 miles / 10 km, elevation difference: +/-200 m
Half Dome: 8-10 hrs, approx. 13 miles / 20 km, elevation difference: +/-1500 m
Hiking in Tuolumne Meadow and Mono Lake
In the morning, we depart Yosemite National Park via Tioga Pass, crossing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 10,000 feet (3048 m). Time and weather permitting, we may hike and scramble to the top of Lembert Dome, offering expansive views over the Tuolumne Meadow. The day will conclude with a short exploration of Mono Lake, one of the world’s oldest lakes, famous for its white Tufa towers formed by hot springs. Our hotel is in the small ski town of Mammoth Lakes. Sierra Lodge, or similar (3-star), 1 night.
Drive time: 120 miles / 200 km or 2 hrs
Lembert Dome: 3 hrs, approx. 5 miles / 8 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m
Through the Valley of Death
After a short drive, we reach Death Valley National Park. This area is known for extreme weather conditions and temperatures, and is one of the hottest places on earth. In summer, temperatures can reach 50° Celsius. Additionally, being in a rift valley, Death Valley is also the lowest location in the Western Hemisphere at 100 m below sea level. We will explore the golden sand dunes, which contrast with the stark brown and black hillsides; Badwater with its poisonous springs; the Devil’s Golf Course formed by salt deposits; and the colorful formations at Zabriskie Point. Temperature permitting, we may hike through the “Badlands”. Our hotel is close to the entrance of Death Valley National Park. Longstreet Casino (3-star) or similar, 1 night. Drive time: 240 miles / 400 km or 4 hr
Badlands: 2-3 hrs, approx. 3 miles / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-200 m
On to the Grand Canyon
In the morning, we travel via Route 66 through the hot deserts of Nevada and into the world famous Grand Canyon. The opportunity for a breathtaking helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon (not included, flights start at approx. $180) will be available. Our pleasant hotel is at the entrance to the park. The Red Feather Lodge, or similar (3-star), 2 nights.
Drive time: 320 miles / 500 km or 5 hrs
All Day at the Grand Canyon
We have all day to spend at this amazing sight. The Grand Canyon is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and although plenty of tourists visit the area, few hit the trails. If you prefer, you can hike into the canyon to Plateau Point or walk along the West Rim, where incredible views await. There will be time to enjoy an unforgettable sunset. (Hikes in Grand Canyon National Park are self-guided due to permit regulations.)
Kaibab Ridge: 3-4 hrs, approx. 3 miles / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m
Plateau Point: 8-12 hrs, approx. 12 miles / 20 km, elevation difference: +/-1150 m
Hike along the rim: up to 4 hrs, up to 8 miles / 13 km, elevation difference: +/-50 m
Exploring Monument Valley with Navajo Native Americans
Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon
Lake Powell was created by the damming of the Colorado River. The deep blue waters reflect sheer dark red stone towers in an amazing display of color, offering unforgettable impressions. We have all day to explore the area and recommend a Jeep tour to Antelope Canyon, “the classic slot canyon” (not included, approx. $70). There is time to hike to famous Horseshoe Bend. In late afternoon we drive to our next destination, Bryce Canyon. Bryce View Lodge or similar (3-star), 2 nights
Drive time: 150 m / 240 km or 2.5 hrs
Bryce Canyon National Park
For many visitors Bryce Canyon ranks among the most beautiful in the United States. We have all day to enjoy this amazing park. Hiking trails wind through red and pink stone towers glowing in the sunlight. The color contrast between the red rocks, green pines, and blue sky delight every photographer and nature lover. Those wanting to explore the formations on horseback can do so (not included, approx. $65). We enjoy sunrise or sunset at this beautiful park.
Queens Garden / Peek-A-Boo Loop: 5 hrs, ca. 8 miles / 13 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m
Additional walks are available
To Zion National Park
In the morning, we drive to the spectacular Zion National Park where you may take a hike to Angel’s Landing (self-guided), a huge sandstone dome that rises over the narrow valley of the Virgin River offering unforgettable views. If you wish, you can hike all the way to the top. Time permitting, we may rent river boots and wade through the famous Narrows of the Virgin River. Our accommodations await at the Ramada St George or similar, 1 night.
Drive time: 120 m / 190 km or 2.5 hrs
Angel’s Landing: 4-5 hrs, approx. 5 miles / 8 km, elevation difference: +/-450 m
Narrows: 1-2 hrs, approx. 2-3 miles / 3-5 km, elevation difference: +/-0 m
Hidden trails & Dinotracks at Snow Canyon State Park
We hike over beautiful slick rock, past a lava tube, and over moqui marbles. Then we marvel at the remarkable dinosaur footprints (entrance included). Our tour concludes with a drive to Las Vegas. La Quinta or similar (3-star), 1 night
Drive time: 100 miles / 160 km or 2 hrs
Lava Tube loop: 2-3 hrs, ca. 3 miles / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-100 m
End of Tour Departure
We highly recommend you spend additional days in this vibrant city. Departure is at your own leisure and additional days may be booked upon request at the La Quinta (approx. $98/night) or you may arrange for individual reservations. There is a complimentary shuttle from the hotel that you may sign up for at the front desk.
Half board (breakfasts and picnic lunches)
11 nights in tourist class hotels of 3* and two nights in fixed tent cabins in Yosemite Valley (communal bathrooms)
12 picnic lunches (L) (self-made)
13 breakfasts (B)
*Guided, easy to medium hikes of 3-6 hours – shorter walks or longer hikes can be offered for those wanting to increase or decrease the walks
*Opportunities for fantastic optional trips: helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon, horseback riding through Bryce Canyon, Jeep tours in Monument Valley, walking tour of Alcatraz and Antelope Canyon
*A chance to hike into the Grand Canyon
*A chance to trek to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite
*2 days in San Francisco with guided city tour
*Ample time to explore each national park in depth
*Famous and hidden natural wonders
*Mostly centrally located hotels in the parks or at the entrance to the parks
*Balanced mix of nature, cities, and world famous sights
*Small Group tours with a maximum of 14 pax
*Small group size allows tour director to address individual desires of each group
*Expertly trained, dedicated, local tour directors
*All other meals
*Tips of $90-130 per person for the tour manager depending on his / her performance
*All meals not listed (all dinners)
*Half Dome hikes require a permit. These permits must to be reserved by the client individually via the Internet at www.recreation.gov and cost approx. $15 per person. Guides cannot reserve these hikes in advance.
*Not all optional activities are possible every day. The group may have to decide on which programs to compromise or choose.
Pricing NameStartEndGroup (Min-Max)Pricing
Each passenger is allowed to bring one luggage with a maximum weight of 23 kg, plus one carry-on item with the weight of 10 kg. We recommend you bring sturdy rolling duffel bags. Hard-shelled luggage will be scratched due to the rough road surfaces in the country side.
Worn-in hiking boots (over the ankle with cleated sole, tennis shoes are NOT acceptable on our hikes!!!)
Hiking socks (we recommend a combination of liner socks with wool socks)
Sports sandals (these are sandals that will stay on your feet while swimming in creeks, lakes, or oceans)
A daypack (for rain shell, sweater, 1-2 liters of water & food)
2 one-liter water bottles
Lip balm with UV
Bathing costume / pareo / beach towel
Insect repellent (preferably also a spray to spray clothing)
Personal first aid and blister kit
Long hiking pants
Rain jacket and pants, breathable material
T-shirts or shirts
Fleece jacket or sweater (jumper)
On camping tours, bring your own sleeping bag (and pillow if you desire)
Spring and autumn tours: fleece hat and fleece gloves
Headlamp and batteries
We recommend you dress in layers, as that allows you to properly adapt to the varying temperatures of the trip. We might experience crisp mornings followed by warm to hot days. Layering helps to adapt to these temperature changes.
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