SELF DRIVE TOUR
LOS ANGELES | PALM SPRINGS | GRAND CANYON | LAKE POWELL | BRYCE CANYON | ZION NATIONAL PARK | LAS VEGAS | VISALIA | SAN FRANCISCO | PISMO BEACH
This incredible adventure takes in all the highlights of West Coast USA; from the big city sights of Los Angeles, San Francisco and the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas to the stunning coastline of the Big Sur and Highway 1.
• Marvel at the Grand Canyon
• Watch the sunset over Bryce Canyon
• Explore Yosemite National Park and see the spectacular falls
• Spend two nights in San Francisco and discover this vibrant city
• Visit Joshua Tree National Park
• Drive the spectacular “Big Sur” coastline
• Live it up in Las Vegas
• Drive through Death Valley
Day 1 : Arrive Los Angeles
Arrive into Los Angeles airport, collect your rental car and drive to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or explore.
Day 2 : Los Angeles
A free day to explore the world-known areas of Los Angeles, from Downtown to glamorous Hollywood with its Walk of the Fame; Beverly Hills and the houses of the stars to Santa Monica, Venice and Malibu, located on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean.
Day 3 : Los Angeles - Palm Springs (125 miles)
You leave the boisterous city of L.A. and drive through the San Bernardino National Forest and by Lake Arrowhead to Palm Springs, which stretches in a dry, hot desert valley. This pretty city, also famous for its golf courses, is a favourite weekend destination for wealthy Californians. A gondola ride up Mt. San Jacinto offers great views of the surrounding area.
Day 4 : Palm Springs - Grand Canyon (406 miles)
Leave Palm Springs behind and head for the Joshua Tree National Park, where two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, come together; see a fascinating variety of plants and animals including the wacky namesake trees. Then head on to Kingman and the Indian reservation of the Hualapai Nation to Williams and the Grand Canyon National Park. Perhaps you’ll explore the rim, watch the sunset, or take a helicopter flight for a better view.
Day 5 : Grand Canyon - Lake Powell (150 miles)
Take time this morning to discover the sunrise over the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and then leave the canyon behind as you enter Navajo country and the Painted Desert. Take a popular route through sparsely populated Indian Country to Monument Valley, where isolated monoliths of red sandstone tower 1,000 ft. above the valley floor. Arrive in Page, site of massive man-made Lake Powell. The red rocks provide an impressive contrast to the blue water. Boat tours, house boats and water sports provide a lively atmosphere of the lake.
Day 6 : Lake Powell - Bryce Canyon (162 miles)
Head north into Utah this morning and through scenic Kanab to the Bryce Canyon National Park. The park includes some of the Earth’s most colourful rocks, sculpted by erosion into pillars and other fantastic forms. A walk at sunset through this fantasy world of sandstone is particularly rewarding.
Day 7 : Bryce Canyon National Park - Zion National Park (134 miles)
Awake this morning and take the short drive to Zion National Park, which offers many hiking possibilities. See its desert terrain and huge sculpted rock formations, a monument of time carved by wind and water which coexist with hanging gardens. The bizarre sandstone formations and especially the view of the “Angels Landing” are breathtaking
Day 8 : Springdale - Las Vegas (125 miles)
Depart this morning for Las Vegas. On the way perhaps take a short detour and visit Nevada’s oldest State Park, Valley of Fire. The rough floor and jagged walls of the park contain brilliant formations of eroded sandstone and sand dunes that often appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. From the fantastic works of nature to the man-made miracle in the desert - welcome to Las Vegas! Explore the opulent hotels with their fantastic shows, enormous casinos and non-stop entertainment. Perhaps you’ll take in a show tonight, or try your hand with lady luck at a game of chance. Whatever you do, don’t stay up all night as tomorrow’s a special drive!
Day 9 : Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park - Visalia (442 miles)
Leave early this morning before the sun gets too hot for the drive through Death Valley. With the lowest point of the Western Hemisphere at 282ft below sea level and mountains 11,000ft high it is quite an experience. This desert area offers a great variety of landscapes which you should not miss like Zabriskie Point with its impressive views and Badwater. Leaving Death Valley behind head towards the Sequoia National Forest and continue through fertile farmland to Visalia.
Day 10 : Visalia - Yosemite National Park (146 miles)
Head north across the lush Californian farmland to Fresno and on to the amazing Yosemite National Park, 1,170 square miles of breathtaking natural splendour. Ranging in altitude from 2,000 feet to more than 13,000 feet above sea level, it’s hard to believe that Yosemite is just hours from bustling cities like San Francisco and Sacramento. The valley floor is over eight miles long and a spectacular sight. Towering waterfalls cascade over the hard granite rocks and through lush green trees to the valley floor, where rivers flow through tranquil flower filled meadows, wildlife is prolific and birdsong fills the air. There’s more to Yosemite than the Yosemite and Bridal Veil Falls, famous El Capitan and Half Dome though. Three stands of giant Sequoia trees, Black oak and Ponderosa pine provide welcome shade for forest walks, whilst Glacier Point, at 7,214 feet on the rim of Yosemite Valley, provides an eagle’s view of the valley floor 3,214 feet below.
Day 11 : El Portal - San Francisco (197 miles)
Head west this morning through gold rush country and over the Oakland Bridge to the “City by the Bay”, said by many to be America’s most beautiful city. Enjoy the rest of your day exploring on foot or using the cable cars, see Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square, and if you book in advance visit Alcatraz for an experience that you will never forget.
Day 12 : San Francisco Free Day
A full day for sightseeing, shopping or just relaxing. Or will you cross over the Golden Gate Bridge to enjoy the art galleries of Sausalito and advance to the Muir Woods where you find some of the last giant redwood trees; or venture even further afield and spend the day tasting California-grown wines in Napa Valley.
Day 13 : San Francisco - Pismo Beach (240 miles)
Head first to historic Monterey with its famous Cannery Row, then take the 17- Mile Drive to Carmel with its mission, art galleries, lovely boutiques and good restaurants. Then it’s time to hit the “Big Sur”, the iconic and most famous stretch of Highway 1, and head south to Pismo Beach, the “Clam Capital of California”. You’ll find superb beaches washed by the rolling pacific and a 1200 ft pier, both perfect for viewing the stunning Pismo sunsets. Dining is a delight with superb seafood and an impressive range of cuisines from modern American to classic Italian and Japanese.
Day 14 : Pismo Beach - Los Angeles (176 miles)
Head south through Solvang in the Ynez valley, founded in 1911 by a group of Danes escaping the harshness of the mountain winters. Often called “little Denmark” it has an array of bakeries and coffee shops and the only Danish museum outside Denmark. Continue to Santa Barbara, a beautiful city with a strong Hispanic background. Make a stop and see the Old Mission, founded by Franciscans on December 4th 1786, the Court House and State Street with its beautiful boutiques and inviting restaurants. Continue to Los Angeles for your final night.
Day 15 : Depart Los Angeles
Check out of your hotel this morning. Return your car to the rental counter by the time you collected it on day one and take your onward flight.