LA to San Fran: Ultimate National Parks

Trip Code: SSKUC

Why we love it

Hike through sequoia forests, granite cliff faces and cascading waterfalls in Yosemite National Park – one of the best places for hiking, walking and wildlife spotting. , Enjoy a full day exploring California’s coastal parks near Monterey, kick back on the gorgeous white sands of secrets coves and end with an evening of wine tastings at dinner at a local winery. , Witness the Grand Canyon’s steep red-rock escarpments and gorges. Learn about Indigenous history and geology with a naturalist guide from the Grand Canyon Conservancy. , Ride a jeep through Utah's iconic Monument Valley, and then share stories and a meal by the campfire with members of the Navajo Nation. , At Lower Antelope Canyon, descend into the mystical interior with a Navajo guide. Learn the local history and discover the iconic sandstone walls shaped by years and years of water and wind., Discover Zion National Park on a guided hike – then immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas.

Is this trip right for me?

The regions visited on this trip can experience extremes in weather and temperature. Bryce Canyon is deceptively unpredictable and can drop in temperature to the point of snow flurries, while Zion National Park down the road is generally hot and sunny. Please be prepared for all weather conditions, especially if travelling outside of the July/August summer months. Bring layers of warm clothing and sun protection and ensure you drink plenty of water. 

There is a lot of walking and hiking on this trip and while it doesn't require a high level of fitness, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to partake in all activities. 

This trip includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

Important information

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00 PM on Day 1 in Los Angeles. This trip ends on Day 17 upon check out in San Francisco.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
3. Please note that the legal drinking age in the US is 21 and in some parts of Canada it's 19.
4. During the summer months (May to September) it’s often too hot for vehicles and people to safely enter Death Valley. When heat prevents you from visiting, you’ll take an alternative route through Mojave National Preserve, where you’ll visit the Kelso Dunes and the Kelso Depot Visitor Center.

What to bring/pack

All luggage is carried in trailers or inside the vehicle so please don't bring more than one medium sized bag, backpack or suitcase (20kg/44lb maximum) per person. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack with your water bottle and camera may be carried with you inside the vehicle.

ESSENTIAL:
 Reusable water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. Tap water in the USA and Canada is safe to drink and there are many places to fill up along the way, so please save plastic by bringing your own water bottle.
 Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
 Lightweight, breathable clothing you can layer. No matter the season, you should be prepared for changing temperatures and weather conditions. Make sure to have a warm outer layer even in summer months as well as a waterproof jacket.
 Closed-in walking/hiking shoes. We highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in/closed-toe walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.
 Personal travel documents which may include a passport, visa, driver's license, travel insurance, flight tickets and your Essential Trip Information. Photocopies of these documents stored separately from the originals will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy of your identification makes it much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

RECOMMENDED:
 Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and power/plug adaptor (Types A & B are used in the USA and Canada. Voltage is 120V)
 Insect repellent (insects are present intermittently all over the USA and Canada depending on recent rainfall.)
 A cotton bandana or scarf. Can be wetted and worn around the neck to facilitate evaporative cooling in high temperatures, used as sun protection, or used to protect your neck and head from cold/rain.
 Swimwear
 Comfortable sandals/Recovery shoes. To put on after a day of hiking or during a long ride in the van.
 Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, anti-diarrhoeal, antibacterial gel, wet wipes, bandaids/plasters etc.

OPTIONAL:
 Travel pillow if you like to sleep during long drives
 Lip balm and extra moisturizer if traveling to arid desert areas.
 Ear plugs to guard against a snoring roommate
 A good book, a journal or headphones to listen to music with.

WINTER:
If you are travelling on one of our winter trips in North America be prepared for temperatures to drop to well below zero (Celsius). We recommend you bring shoes for walking across snow or ice (good waterproof walking boots with a good grip), a warm wind and waterproof jacket and trousers, gloves or mittens, thermals and base layers, fleece, good head wear and sunglasses.

If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list here:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

Physical rating

 
2

Many of the North American national parks that we visit have hiking opportunities where walks up to 4 hours can be an option for you. There are often easier options too.

Joining your group

Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice, Los Angeles, 90291, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Our hotel has eclectic décor, friendly staff, and a predominant location right on Venice Beach and adjacent to the world-famous Venice Beach Boardwalk. From day one, Hotel ERWIN has offered guests an experience that could not be found anywhere else, and now, decades later, the hotel is still a go-to hotspot for locals, out-of-towners, and SoCal day-trippers.

Alternate Joining Point


Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Hotel Caza Fisherman’s Wharf, 1300 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Alternate Finish Point

For trips departing on the following dates
use this finish point.
21 Apr 2024 (SSKUC240421)
01 Sep 2024 (SSKUC240901)
Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman's Wharf
2500 Mason St
San Francisco CA
United States.
San Francisco
94133
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Phone: +1 415 362 5500

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 8

Lunches included: 5

Dinners included: 5

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

Climate & seasonal information

WEATHER IN NORTH AMERICA
Due to the size and topography of the US and Canada, there's a huge amount of variation in the climate. We recommend you consider both the season and the part of North America you intend to visit, so that you can best pack for your adventure. We recommend you check the weather in your destination 10 days prior to your arrival to help guide your packing choices.

SOUTHWESTERN USA (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and parts of California)
The Southwestern USA is known for its desert and semi-arid climate. Some areas of the Southwest, like Bryce Canyon, are at high elevations so temperatures can be much lower than in surrounding areas. It is important to stay hydrated and come prepared for changing weather conditions.

Summers (June-August)
Summers in the Southwest are hot. You can expect high temperatures from 90°F to 110°F (32°C to 43°C) or higher, especially in desert areas. Low temperatures usually fall between 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C) in lower elevations, cooler in higher elevations. Parts of the Southwest experience a monsoon season from July-September with the potential for heavy rain.

Fall (September-November)
In Fall you can expect high temperatures between 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C) during the day and low temperatures from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C) during the night. Parts of the Southwest experience a monsoon season from July-September with the potential for heavy rain.

Winters (December-February)
Winters are mild in the daytime, but nights can get quite cold, especially in desert regions. High-elevation areas (like the Grand Canyon) experience snowfall. You can expect high temperatures from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C) during the day, cooler in desert regions. Winter low temperatures usually fall between 30°F to 50°F (-1°C to 10°C) in lower elevations, colder in higher elevations, and occasional freezing temperatures in the desert at night.

Spring (March-May)
Spring is a pleasant time to visit with milder temperatures and blooming desert wildflowers. You can expect high temperatures from 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C) during the day and low temperatures from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C) at night.

CALIFORNIA
California has several distinct climate regions, so conditions can vary significantly depending on where you're visiting. The state is typically divided into the coastal regions (Los Angeles, San Francsico), the Central Valley (Sacramento), the Sierra Nevada Mountains (Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks), and the desert areas (Death Valley National Park & Mojave Desert).

Coastal Areas:
Coastal regions, including cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, have a Mediterranean climate. Summers are generally dry, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C). Winters are mild and may be rainy, with daytime temperatures around 50°F to 65°F (10°C to 18°C).

Central Valley:
The Central Valley, which includes areas like Sacramento, experiences hot, dry summers with temperatures often exceeding 90°F (32°C). Winters are cool and damp, with temperatures averaging around 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C).

Sierra Nevada Mountains:
The Sierra Nevada Mountains, including Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks, cover a vast area with varying elevations, which significantly impacts the climate. Summers in lower regions like Yosemite Valley are warm, with daytime temperatures typically ranging from 70°F to 90°F (21°C to 32°C). However, temperatures decrease as you gain elevation. Fall brings milder temperatures with highs from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). Winters can be cold, especially at higher elevations. You can expect daytime temperatures of 40°F to 50°F (4°C to 10°C), while high-elevation areas receive snowfall. In Spring, temperatures are warm with daytime highs of 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C). In mountainous regions, spring brings melting snow, leading to higher water levels in rivers and streams. Snow can keep mountainous roads like the eastern entrance to Yosemite, Tioga Pass, closed through June and even into July in particularly snowy years.

Desert Areas:
Regions like the Mojave Desert and Death Valley are hot and arid, with summer temperatures often surpassing 100°F (38°C). For safety reasons, we will not enter Death Valley National Park when temperatures are too high and will find an alternate route to our next destination. Fall (September-November) temperatures drop to the 90s°F (32°C) and 100s°F (37°C). Winters are mild and pleasant, with daytime highs ranging from 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 24°C). Nights can be chilly. Spring is a comfortable time to visit, with daytime temperatures in the 80s°F (27°C) and 90s°F (32°C).

USA NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
The following national holidays are observed in the US, which can affect our itinerary as traffic can be extreme, and shops, restaurants and attractions can be closed:

New Year's Day (01 January)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday of January)
Washington's Birthday (third Monday of February)
Memorial Day (last Monday of May)
Independence Day (4 July)
Labor Day (first Monday in September)
Columbus Day (second Monday of October)
Veterans Day (11 November)
Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday of November)
Christmas Day (25 December)

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

POLICE AND AMBULANCE
In case of an emergency, local authorities can be contacted by calling 911 – this is the toll free phone number for the police, fire department and the ambulance in the USA and Canada. In case of doubt, call the operator on 0.

For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

Intrepid local operator : Available for phone call on +1 435-231-9696

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

Transportation

NORTH AMERICA VEHICLES
Our large fleet of 15-passenger vans are fully equipped with air-conditioning system, V8 engines and any camping or cooking equipment needed for your trip. Most have cloth-upholstered seats and carpeted interior with radio or CD players. Your luggage is typically transported in a trailer which is towed behind the van.

The vans are regularly serviced by a well-established network of maintenance and service facilities throughout the continent. However, unforeseen maintenance problems can still occur while on the road and we appreciate the patience of our travellers as we make necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

While your group will have a van for all included activities on the trip, the services of the van and leader may not be available for your use during free time, or after you have arrived for the day. If you need a special trip into town you may need to arrange transport or a taxi.