California & the Golden West
Please note some hotels will differ for 2018 itineraries - see details in itinerary or accommodation section below. Explore the world’s most famous National Parks, intriguing Native American culture, amazing desert landscapes, the lush forests andlofty peaks of Yosemite and the vibrant, pulsating cities.
There are few places in the world that generate more iconic imagery than California and the western USA, and even fewer live up to it in reality! The sights and amazing natural wonders just roll off the tongue, with probably nothing more aptly named than the Grand Canyon. Then there’s Monument Valley, whose towering sandstone pillars are immortalised in countless Westerns, the Painted Desert, Yosemite, home to the highest waterfall in the USA, the lofty snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. The natural splendours of this huge region are quite simply astonishing. Combine these with the allure of such genuinely unique cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas and you have a destination that simply cannot be matched. Our tour visits all these and more besides!
Inhabited for thousands of years by Native Americans, California and Arizona were then visited by Spanish explorers searching, as always, for gold. They found none, but founded Missions all along the California coast. During the 19th century, California, Nevada, Utah and most of Arizona, were ceded to the USA for just $15 million and by a twist of fate, barely a year later gold was finally discovered and the Californian Gold Rush began. Prospectors flooded in and within just a year San Francisco’s population rocketed from just 600 to 25,000. They were soon followed by the trans-continental railroad and the ‘Golden State’ was born.
The names of the cities, some of the most famous in the world, still display their Spanish heritage: San Francisco, charmingly eccentric with a topography few cities in the world can match. Its centre is row upon row of lovingly restored Victorian houses, easily explored using the iconic wooden cable cars that trundle up and down the steep hills and valleys. The magnificent brick-red Golden Gate Bridge beautifully completes the picture. In contrast, Los Angeles is the archetypal US mega-city: criss-crossed by 6-lane freeways. Nevertheless, it is home to some very attractive and exciting neighbourhoods like Santa Monica. No visit would be complete without a stroll down the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame!
Then it’s off to San Diego, which has the laid-back atmosphere so typical of Southern California – its surfing beaches, cultural attractions and the balmy climate have made it one of America’s most popular cities. Finally there’s Las Vegas, originally an isolated oasis in the Mojave Desert and now a vibrant, exciting and genuinely fascinating manmade wonder that attracts over 40 million visitors a year and boasts 15 of the world’s largest hotels.
For many, however, the real attraction will be America’s most famous National Parks. The Grand Canyon is such an astonishing natural wonder that the sheer scale of it is almost too much to comprehend. Over a mile deep and 14 miles across, this geological masterpiece offers a glimpse of the enormous complexity and beauty of the normally hidden rocks beneath our feet. There is simply nowhere like it on earth! Subject to weather conditions, there is the option of a spectacular helicopter flight over the canyon. Much of Arizona is occupied by the Navajo Reservation – one of the few Indian tribes that has rejected the commercialism of gambling in favour of heritage tourism. We visit their most famous treasure, Monument Valley. This instantly recognisable landscape, with its fiery-red spindles of rock is even more spectacular when you find yourself within it!
In nearby Utah we visit Bryce Canyon, an enormous amphitheatre created by thousands of spires, pinnacles and towers of eroded pink-hued rocks that have produced an intricate labyrinth of deep gullies. Finally, high in California’s Sierra Nevada we visit Yosemite and some of the world’s most pristine and awe-inspiring wilderness. Dominated by the huge mass of the Half Dome rising to almost 9,000ft, its vertical granite wall is so huge and smooth that until 50 years ago it was thought to be un-climbable. The wildlife is as varied as the landscapes. There are the black bears of Yosemite, mule deer and chipmunks at Bryce and rare mountain lions at even higher altitudes, whilst coyotes still roam the deserts and vultures soar over the canyons. From the highest plateau to the deepest gorge, from LA to San Francisco, this tour showcases the very best of western USA’s natural and manmade wonders and you will return home with some truly amazing memories.
- Four states in one tour, visiting California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada
- Experience the stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Yosemite National Parks
- Stay two nights in the famous Fisherman's Wharf area of San Francisco and enjoy a guided tour of the city
- Visit timeless Monument Valley, a masterpiece of ancient erosion
- Visit glitzy Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world with eye-popping architecture
- See Los Angeles, the City of Angels, with highlights including the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Sunset Strip
- See the iconic London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
- Tour of sunny San Diego, the classic southern California city
- Return direct scheduled flights from London with premium economy upgrades available at a supplement
- Flights available from UK regional airports via Dublin
- Hand-picked accommodation rated three to four stars, with daily breakfast, including all local taxes
- Services of our experienced tour manager
- Selected departures from March to October 2019
- The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room with single rooms available at the relevant supplement. Price includes return travel to Los Angeles and returning from San Francisco; all transfers; thirteen nights’ accommodation on room only basis in three and four-star hotels and four continental breakfasts; all tours and National Park entrance fees as mentioned; all touring as mentioned; hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; the services of a Rivera Travel tour manager.
- Included excursions are: guided city tours of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Visits to Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Park and Yosemite National Park and Las Vegas.
- Not included: There are several optional excursions available during this tour which are to be arranged with the tour manager in resort. You will be advised of these and the relevant prices within your final travel documents.
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