From Death Valley to the Grand Canyon, the American West features an astonishing array of geological extremes. Journey to seven incredible national parks in Utah, Arizona, and California, and gain new perspectives from scientists, naturalists, and other local experts along the way. Peer up at Sequoia’s General Sherman—the planet’s largest known living single-stem tree—and wade through the spectacular Narrows slot canyon. Step into the stunning natural sandstone cathedral of Antelope Canyon alongside a Navajo guide, and experience the sweeping majesty of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Cap off the adventure amid the urban vitality of San Francisco.

Trip highlights

Grand Canyon Exclusive, On this specially designed experience for National Geographic Journeys travellers, spend a day with a researcher from the Grand Canyon Association Field Institute. Walk along the scenic South Rim and into the canyon, discussing the park’s geology, history, and culture.

Seligman (Route 66) Visit, Take a trip back in time to the birthplace of Route 66. Check out the historic general store, and original motels.

Itinerary - 15 Days

Day 1 Las Vegas

Arrive at any time.

Day 2 Las Vegas/Zion National Park

Depart early for the sandstone slot canyons of Zion, Utah's oldest national park, where monumental cliffs of cream, pink, and red pierce the sky. Catch the shuttle into the park and hike to the tiered Emerald Pools and cascading hanging gardens, experiencing diverse plant and animal life.

Day 3 Zion National Park

Set out on an unforgettable guided hike to the famed Narrows. Splash, wade, and swim in the cool water of the river that cuts through this stunning slot canyon. Soak up the beauty of the high plateaus, towers, temples, mesas, and some of the planet’s tallest sheer sandstone walls.

Day 4 Zion National Park/Page

This morning, hike through Bryce Canyon National Park, famed for its maze of multi-coloured rock pinnacles called hoodoo. Keep your camera at the ready to snap shots of these spectacular natural towers that cover the canyon floor. Continue on to Page, Arizona, the gateway to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and the beautiful Lake Powell.

Day 5 Page/Grand Canyon National Park

Join a local Navajo guide for a thrilling exploration of Antelope Canyon, a stunning natural sandstone cathedral located on Navajo land and accessible only with an authorized guide. Later, go on a short hike to Horseshoe Bend, and stand on steep vermillion cliffs overlooking a spectacular natural bend in the Colorado River. Enjoy lunch at a family-owned Navajo food truck, a G Adventures–supported project, before continuing on to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon.

Day 6 Grand Canyon National Park

Spend the day exploring this ancient gorge with an expert from the Grand Canyon Conservancy Field Institute. Set out on foot along the South Rim and gain insights on the unique geology and botany of this geological phenomenon, as well as the local human history. After, view iconic park structures at the Historic Village District, then descend below the canyon rim along the Bright Angel Trail to see 2,000-year-old rock art and 250-million-year-old fossils.

Day 7 Grand Canyon National Park/Las Vegas

This morning, visit Lowell Observatory for a tour of the giant telescopes and to learn about the study of astronomy, as well as a lecture on Mars. Continue back to Las Vegas, but not before getting your kicks on Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona — the birthplace of this famed highway.

Day 8 Las Vegas/Death Valley National Park

Enjoy a scenic drive through the desert to Death Valley National Park—the lowest, hottest, and driest place in North America. Experience the extremes of this landscape as you pass through the multi-hued badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon, take a break to listen to the eroded rock salt at the craggy Devils Golf Course, and descend into Badwater Basin, cradled 282 feet below sea level. Cap off the day at Zabriskie Point as the sun sets over the distinctive Furnace Creek formation.

Day 9 Death Valley National Park/Sequoia National Park

Begin the day searching for animal tracks amid the otherworldly landscape of Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, where shifting sands soar up to 100 feet high. Then discover Father Crowley Vista Point, where an easy hike offers an epic payoff: a sweeping view over Rainbow Canyon and Panamint Valley. Keep an eye out for fighter jets practicing between the cliffs. Continue around the Sierra Nevada mountains to California’s Sequoia National Park.

Day 10 Sequoia National Park

Enjoy a full day to explore the legendary trees of Sequoia National Park. Walk in the shadow of its formidable giants—including General Sherman, the planet’s largest known living single-stem tree—alongside a naturalist from Sequoia Parks Conservancy. On an afternoon hike along Big Tree Trail, hear how, in 1916, National Geographic deeded tracts of giant trees here to the National Parks Service for safekeeping. This evening, return to the park for an evening of stargazing with a local expert; or, if skies are cloudy, set out on a nighttime walk to witness nocturnal life.

Day 11 Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon National Park

Embark on a spectacular drive, watching as the scenery changes from towering sequoias to one of the deepest canyons in the United States. On a journey from Grant Grove to Cedar Grove, be awed by the glacially carved Kings Canyon, and keep an eye out for the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep and other majestic wildlife.

Day 12 Kings Canyon National Park/Yosemite National Park

Head north through the Sierras to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park, a natural wonderland of picturesque valleys and ancient granite formations. Stop at the trailhead to Sentinel Dome and climb to the pinnacle for a picnic lunch and breathtaking 360-degree views of Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. Or, go on a hike in the old-growth forest of Mariposa Grove. Continue to Glacier Point for another dramatic vista—and a closer view at iconic Half Dome.

Day 13 Yosemite National Park

This morning, join a Yosemite Conservancy naturalist on a guided excursion around the park, gaining an insider’s perspective on the human, natural, and geological history of the region. Hike through the heart of Yosemite while hearing about its flora and fauna, and learn how this rugged backcountry became the U.S.’s first protected state park in 1864—and, with the help of John Muir, a national park in 1890. Enjoy the rest of the day on your own; choose your own adventure amid majestic waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, lush meadows, and pristine groves. Keep an eye out for glacial erratics, rock climbers, and a diversity of wildlife. Opt to visit the Ansel Adams Studio or relax by the river with Half Dome as the backdrop.

Day 14 Yosemite National Park/San Francisco

Pass through the Central Valley of California, stopping at a local farm stand to sample some of the region's best produce. Drive over the Bay Bridge on the way into one of America's most vibrant cities, San Francisco. Settle into the hotel before heading out on a CEO-led guided driving tour of the city. Take in the epic view from atop Twin Peaks, walk across a portion of the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge, and stroll past the Painted Ladies—a “postcard row” of Victorian houses that stand as symbols of the city. This evening, consider joining an optional sunset sail in the San Francisco Bay, departing from Fisherman’s Wharf to glide past notorious Alcatraz Island and underneath the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge.

Day 15 San Francisco

Depart at any time.

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