Day 1 Las Vegas There are no planned activities today until the evening welcome meeting, so check out the strip or get tickets to a show for this evening.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Las Vegas/Death Valley National Park (1B) Drive through the spectacular landscape of Death Valley. Stop at Zabriskie Point and hike the short distance to the vista, one of the most photographed spots in the park. Take in the views of diverse geological features as far as the eye can see. Next, descend into Badwater Basin, the lowest, hottest, driest point in North America that sits 282 feet below sea level.
Continue to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for a further look into this unique park. Marvel at the 18-hole golf course adjacent to our hotel inside the park, an oasis in the middle of the desert.
Expect high temperatures of 100°F to over 120°F (38°C to over 49°C). Drink plenty of water and carry extra supplies. Avoid hiking at mid-day.
Death Valley National Park Visit
Private Vehicle (2.50-3.00 hours, 230km)
Day 3 Death Valley National Park/Yosemite National Park (1B, 1D) Pass through Bishop, one of "America's Coolest Mountain Towns", surrounded by the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas which soar more than 14,000 ft (4,593m) in elevation. Pass Mono Lake and the Tufa Towers on the way to the entrance of Yosemite National Park.
Travel Tioga Pass, descending into the valley, lined with alpine lakes, granite monoliths, and giant trees. Stop at Olmsted Point, named after the architect of the valley floor, for the first view of Half Dome. Travel through the valley past El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Tunnel View for some of the most picturesque features the US has to offer.
We intend on using the Tioga Pass (weather dependent), a scenic route through the Sierra Nevada mountain range that connects Bishop with Yosemite NP. The status of the road is monitored daily, and our travel plan for the area will be confirmed during the trip.
Tioga Pass Drive
Private Vehicle (8.00-10.00 hours)
Day 4 Yosemite National Park (1B) Carved by glaciers, Yosemite National Park became the first protected state park in the US in 1864. It took until 1890 to gain National Park status, with the work of John Muir. Though 95% of the park is backcountry, there is still plenty to explore via hikes or the shuttle system. Spend the day hiking amongst Giant Sequoias, granite cliffs, and rushing waterfalls and understand why around 4 million people come to the park each year.
Yosemite National Park Visit
Day 5 Yosemite National Park/Sequoia National Park (1B) Depart early and walk through California’s Sequoia National Park alongside a naturalist. Learn about these impressive giant trees and enjoy a picnic lunch on the trail. Drive to Big Tree Trail for an afternoon hike and learn about how National Geographic deeded tracts of giant trees in the heart of the park to the National Parks Service for safekeeping. This evening, we return to the park for an evening of stargazing with an expert from the Sequoia Parks Conservancy (SPC).
In cases where the night sky is cloudy, we will replace the star gazing activity with a nighttime nature walk in the National Park. Embark on a one-mile walk to experience the dramatic changes of the soundscapes and nocturnal biodiversity of the area. This engaging walk will awaken awareness and provide an in-depth experience of Sequoia’s nocturnal plants and animals.
Sequoia NP Hike
Sequoia Parks Conservancy Stargazing
Private Vehicle (2.50-3.00 hours, 222km)
Day 6 Sequoia National Park/Monterey (1B, 1D) Depart the Sierra Nevadas and travel from one of California's mountain ranges to the other. Reaching the waters edge, stop to view elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery before driving north on the PCH, the famous Pacific Coast Highway.
Stop along the way for lunch in a little seaside town. Marvel at the dramatic vistas as the waves crash into where the cliffs meet the shore. Continue through Big Sur, past famous bridges and lighthouses, get out and stretch and even opt to feel the sand between your toes. Enjoy the day soaking in part of the most beautiful coastline this National Scenic Byway has to offer en route to Monterey.
Private Van with Wi-fi (10.00-12.00 hours)
Day 7 Monterey (1B) Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium on a tour specially arranged for National Geographic Journeys travellers. Get an inside look at the workings of this world-class organization and find out how the Aquarium’s mission aligns with that of National Geographic. After, enjoy a free afternoon. Opt to go whale watching, try the famous clam chowder, walk or bike the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail or wander historic Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row.
Monterey Aquarium Exclusive
Day 8 Monterey/San Francisco (1B) Continue on a scenic coastal drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco for our final evening. Catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge on the way into one of America's most popular cities. Opt to take a cable car ride over the steep hills, explore the city by bicycle, or embark on a boat ride into the setting sun.
San Francisco City Tour
Private Vehicle (3.50-4.00 hours, 227km)
Day 9 San Francisco (1B) Depart at any time.