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Epic USA Road Trip


Epic USA Road Trip

Start: San Francisco
End: Newark

This trip covers so much of America

Duration22 days
Start / EndSan Francisco / Newark
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel


Epic USA Road Trip

22 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: San Francisco
End: Newark


This trip covers so much of America it’s hard to know where to start. It’s your chance to channel your inner… everything. Take your pick. Beatnik? Check out San Fran’. Foodie? New Orleans will make your tastebuds cry. Music lover? Cut loose in Memphis and Nashville. High roller? Stay up late in Vegas. Nature lover? Hike in Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the Appalachian Mountains. And that’s all bef...

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Day 1San Francisco
Welcome to the US! San Francisco is a chilled-out city with a vibrant, multicultural heart. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive early, why not catch a tram to visit the waterfront, feast like a king in Chinatown or peruse the artwork in SoMa. As this is the only day you'll spend in San Francisco, we recommend you arrive a few days early to see the sights. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Day 2Yosemite National Park
Hit the road and drive 300 km to the east into the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our destination: Yosemite National Park. One of the most famous parks in the US, Yosemite National Park's colossal granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls and OMG-inducing giant sequoia trees attract visitors from all over the world.
Day 3Yosemite National Park
Today is a free day to get out and discover the park. There are plenty of hikes available, each varying in steepness and difficulty. Hike under the cooling breezes of Nevada Falls (4-5 hours) or to the serene Mirror Lake (45 minutes). Keep an eye out for squirrels and perhaps even a bear along the way. You might prefer to hire a bike and explore Yosemite Valley. Visit the park's photo gallery, shops and restaurants along the way. In the heat of summer, a relaxing float down the Merced River followed by a few drinks at the park's cafe is just the trick.
Day 4Sierra Nevada
Leave Yosemite behind and drive into the eastern Sierra Nevada. Spectacular mountain scenery, crystal clear lakes and breathtaking vistas are in store for us today. Total driving time is about 3-4 hours (170 km), depending on weather conditions and road access over Tioga Pass.
Day 5Las Vegas
Travel east through Death Valley to Las Vegas (about six hours). Las Vegas may be the gambling capital of the world, but there's plenty to do if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller coaster or simply stroll along the Strip, soaking up the glitz and gaudiness. In the evening, perhaps feast at a celebrity chef's restaurant (Giada de Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck are among the many well-known chefs who have restaurants here), check out one of the many shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub.
Day 6Las Vegas
You'll have another day to further enjoy the delights of Las Vegas. Use the opportunity to find a swimming pool to relax by, have a crack at blackjack, check out a show or just soak up the craziness that is Vegas. You may also choose to go on an optional adventure on the infamous Las Vegas Roller Coaster.
Day 7Grand Canyon
While the lights of Las Vegas might be dazzling, your eyes are in for a real treat today as they'll fall on the incredible Grand Canyon. Leave Vegas and drive along a section of famous Route 66 to one of the world’s seven wonders (approximately 5 hours). You’ll have two nights here to help you’ll fully comprehend this amazing sight. There are plenty of things to see and do during your time here, so be prepared for busy and active days. Peer over the rim and stand in awe as you watch the setting sun ignite the multi-coloured rock walls. For the next two nights you’ll camp out in one of the world’s most magnificent settings, surrounded by the smell of pine and cedar and enveloped by a stunning canopy of stars at night.
Day 8Grand Canyon
Take time today to explore at your own pace. Maybe rise early for an incredible sunrise, then soar like a California Condor over the canyon with a scenic helicopter flight (not included). If you get active, then descend through pine trees into the heart of the immense abyss, hiking from red rock to white powder. Discover this stunning gorge – 1.5 kilometres deep and formed by over six million years of erosion from the Colorado River – by strolling around the edges, or hiking along the South Kaibab trail or to Plateau Point. Or perhaps join rangers to learn about the park’s geological story, watch an IMAX film to discover the canyon from a different perspective, or simply relax with a book and a backdrop like no other. Whatever you choose, you’ll find that the canyon depths are nothing short of mind-blowing.
Day 9Monument Valley

Cruise the scenery of classic Western cinema into the Navajo Nation, home to Monument Valley and one of the largest North American Indian tribes (approximately 4 hours). The reservation here is the largest in the US and home to more than 200,000 Indians of the Navajo Tribe. The towering sandstone formations scattered across the landscape give the area its name, and the angle of the sun means that the landscape is constantly changing colour and it's near impossible to take a bad photo. When you arrive, let a Navajo guide share their culture and knowledge on an optional Jeep ride through the beautiful landscape, taking in flaming red cliffs, visiting traditional Navajo homes, and hiking up sweeping sand dunes. You’ll visit places that are only accessible with a Navajo guide, and tonight you can choose to join the locals for an authentic Navajo dinner around a campfire, listening to their traditional songs and stories.

Day 10Mesa Verde National Park
Step back in time today and understand human history in North America with one of the best and largest archaeological sites in the country. Travel from Monument Valley to Mesa Verde National Park (approximately 3.5 hours). Although the desert-scapes and cactus-spiked mesas might seem pretty uninhabitable, this part of the American Southwest has been settled for thousands of years. The park protects over 4000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans, who made the area their home for over 700 years from AD 550 to 1300. Explore a cliff dwelling on a short walk – where you can descend a ladder into a kiva, a round, subterranean ceremonial structure – or (for a small fee) join a ranger-led walk. The ranger will help you access the more difficult sites like ‘Cliff Palace’ or ‘Balcony House’, and help you learn more about this ancient site.
Day 11Albuquerque
Driving time 5 hours into New Mexico and Albuquerque. Fans of Breaking Bad will recognise the city as the setting for the show. It was also the setting for High School Musical. Otherwise you can explore Pueblo culture at the city's museums, hire a bike and cruise through the city on its interconnected trails system, or stroll along Central Avenue, which was originally part of Route 66 and still retains some of the original neon signs. This is also a great place to sample some southwestern cuisine (think chile) or Native America food at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. You should also try to track down New Mexico's state cookie, the anise-flavoured biscochito.
Day 12Amarillo
Hit the road again for another 5 to 6 hours of driving. Follow the old Route 66 for 460 kilometres (286 miles) from Albuquerque to Amarillo, Texas. This is a quintessentially Texan town - think cacti, cowboys, steak and oil. If you're into steak, this is the place to try it, at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Home of the 72 oz steak challenge (that's 2 kg in metric). Up for a challenge? If you can eat the whole steak, including shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad and bread roll in under an hour, you get the meal for free.
Day 13Dallas
Get that playlist ready - it's another long day of travel. Today you'll drive about 7 hours through Texas to arrive in Dallas. If there's time on arrival, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is highly recommended. This is where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot that killed JFK. The museum takes you through the whole story from the beginning of the day, to the conspiracy theories that followed.
Day 14Lake Charles
Today you'll start making tracks for the Big Easy. To break up the long drive, you'll stop at Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana. Maybe hit the hiking trails, sample Creole eats or get rhythm-n-bluesy before camping under the stars at Lake Charles.
Day 15New Orleans
Head across the state of Louisiana to New Orleans (approximately 2.5 hours). After checking in to your hotel in the French Quarter, use your free time to get to know the Big Easy. An eclectic mix of European, Creole and Cajun culture manifests in the city's architecture, cuisine and music scene. Possibly take a walk down rowdy Bourbon Street or through the former plantation area of the Garden District. Make sure to sit down to a typical, mouth-watering Cajun-style dinner in the evening.
Day 16New Orleans
Today is free to fit in as much of New Orleans as you can. Founded by French traders in 1718, there are many layers of history in this city and its many attractions combine to make it one of the most visited cities in the US – a trend that was only momentarily halted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Tour the Honey Island Swamp (watch out for gators), cruise the Mississippi on a riverboat or visit the fascinating little Voodoo Museum. In the evening, perhaps check out a jazz show and dance the night away in the bars along Frenchman Street.
Day 17Memphis
Head north today and get into the groove of Memphis, the home of the blues (approximately 6.5 hours). Memphis is a music-lovers paradise – feel the blues at live music venues on Beale Street, made famous by legends such as W.C. Handy, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King; visit the cradle of rock n’ roll – Sun Studios – which boasts the first recordings of legendary performers like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis; or shimmy out to the pilgrimage site of Graceland, the place where Elvis left the building. The King’s former home and the site of his tomb, you can tour the mansion, including the famous Jungle Room, and also see Elvis' cars and private planes. For a different type of history you can visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Day 18Nashville
From the home of blues to the land of country, break out the cowboy hat and boots as you head east to Nashville (approximately 4 hours). Outside of its music credentials, Nashville is also the capital of Tennessee and the state's second largest city after Memphis. Situated on the banks of the Cumberland River, it was established as a major river port by settlers in 1779. Once settled into the campgrounds, use your free time to explore. Country music is built into the foundation of the city, so maybe take a stroll through history at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which contains the golden Cadillac that once belonged to Elvis. Music fans should also make their way to the Grand Ole Opry concert hall and to Music Row, where more than 50 recording studios and around 200 music publishing houses are located. You could also take a walk around the pristine gardens of Centennial Park. In the evening, the Wildhorse Saloon is a great spot to experience authentic southern food and live music. Or maybe catch a show at the legendary Bluebird Cafe or hop between the city’s great selection of honky-tonk bars.
Day 19Appalachian Mountains
Escape the city, cross into the state of Virginia and traverse the jagged Blue Ridge Mountains, a segment of the Appalachian Mountains (approximately 6 hours). Shenandoah National Park is one of the highest and most scenic portions of the Appalachian Mountains, one of the most beautiful and iconic parts of the American landscape, with an abundance of flora and fauna peppering the steep slopes. Dating back over 400 million years, the mountain range is home to wildlife, lush forest, scenic peaks, waterfalls and shallow rivers. You’ll camp here in the heart of the great outdoors for one night en route to Washington, DC.
Day 20Washington DC
Taking the Skyline Drive along the crest of the mountains, travel through deep woods and past spectacular vistas. Stop to stretch your legs under the impressive oak trees and admire the gorgeous views on the way to Washington DC (approximately 8 hours). Don't worry about not having too much time to explore today, as you'll have a full free day here.
Day 21Washington DC
Today is a free to explore Washington DC, with the city being easily discovered on foot. To see as much as you can today, it may be an idea to get a map and make a plan. Choose from any of DC’s almost 100 world-class museums – the National Air and Space Museum, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Newseum are just a few. There are also many other small fascinating museums hidden around the city. The city is overflowing with iconic monuments and buildings, so don’t miss the White House, Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, MLK Monument, FDR and Jefferson Memorials. You’ll most likely do a lot of walking today, so maybe reward yourself with a relaxing evening.
Day 22New York (Newark)
Leave Washington DC behind this morning, drive along the Delaware River and pass through the City of Brotherly Love en route to New York (Newark) (approximately 5 hours). Philadelphia is the birthplace of America and the perfect place to brush up on your history. It was here that Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and where the United States Constitution was signed 11 years later. You'll have time to see a couple of the highlights of the city’s clustered cultural centre before continuing onto New York (Newark). The trip finishes on arrival into Newark and no accommodation is provided tonight. The arrival time depends on each group, but if you decide to fly out on this day, please don't book a flight before 9 pm. This will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and be there two hours before departure. If you are staying on, perhaps catch the train over to Manhattan to see the lights of Times Square, or head out for a slice of New York style pizza. As there's a great deal to do in New York City, staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city is recommended. See our list of optional activities below for suggestions of things to do if you are staying on. If you need help booking extra accommodation (subject to availability), our reservations team will be happy to assist you. You could also consider doing one of our one-day Urban Adventure sightseeing tours of New York. For more information, visit

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Last modified (date)

23 Jan 2019

Trip title

Epic USA Road Trip

Trip code



Validity: 01 Oct 2018 to 31 Dec 2019


This trip covers so much of America it’s hard to know where to start. It’s your chance to channel your inner… everything. Take your pick. Beatnik? Check out San Fran’. Foodie? New Orleans will make your tastebuds cry. Music lover? Cut loose in Memphis and Nashville. High roller? Stay up late in Vegas. Nature lover? Hike in Yosemite, Grand Canyon and the Appalachian Mountains. And that’s all before... Read more




18 to 29s


Private vehicle

Physical Rating


Physical preparation

We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trip to its fullest. Many of the National Parks that we visit have hiking opportunities where walks of up to 4 hours c... Read more

Joining point

The Red Roof Inn at San Francisco Airport

Finish point

Hilton Newark Airport

Finish point instructions

If you are departing from Newark Airport, take the hotel's complimentary shuttle to P4 station and transfer to the Airtrain to the airport. If you are departing from another airport or one of the train stations, check with your leader or hotel about the best options for getting you to your departure point.

Group leader

Your Intrepid group leader’s role involves organising the overall operation and smooth-running of the trip, managing trip logistics and camp responsibilities. They will work to make the trip as safe and enjoyable as possible for all travellers. Intrepid's North American trips are built around the co-operation and participation of all the group members under the supervision of the group leader. On ... Read more


Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more


WIFI Our vans in the USA are equipped with free WiFi however a fair use policy applies. It is limited to 5 users at one time, and is suitable for updating your Facebook status or sending an email home - not for streaming video or radio. Please be considerate of your use so that there is enough to go around. Some campgrounds also have WiFi access, as do many hotels. CHARGING BATTERIES North Americ... Read more


Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with ... Read more

Why we love it

Too young to hire a car? Worry not. This epic American road trip takes you from the national parks of the west to the musical cities of the south east. This is as much USA as you can fit into three weeks.

Is this trip right for you

The desert in the summer is extremely hot and dry. Death Valley for instance holds the record as the hottest place on earth after all. Hiking at this time of year isn't recommended. Although our vans do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool so expect to be hot. At other times of the year, especially in Yosemite, it might be quite cold, especially at night. Ple... Read more


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. 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.... Read more

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so ... Read more

What to take

LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS: 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 maximum) per person, plus a sleeping bag. Your suitcase/rucksack may get some rough handling, so make sure it's a tough one. A small daypack and camera may also be carried inside the vehicle.

Climate and seasonal

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 - Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. - Washington's Birthday - Memorial Day - Independence Day - Labor Day - Columbus Day - Veterans Day - Thanksgiving Day - Christmas Day

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Emergency contact

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 your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential nega... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

The campsites that we use are selected for either their scenic beauty, their convenient location to places of interest and/or the facilities available. We aim to offer you a selection of different types of campsites. If you've never camped before - no problem! We provide a complete set of camping and cooking equipment. This includes roomy easy-to-pitch tents, which are shared by only two people ... Read more

Transport notes

FLEET Our large fleet of vans are fully equipped with dual 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/tape or CD players. Your baggage is transported in a trailer which is towed behind the van. The vans are regularly serviced in our own maintenance facility and continuously check... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyo... Read more


Camping (with facilities) (16 nts),Hotel (5 nts)
€3,015per person
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Jun 8
San Francisco
Jun 29
Seats left: 12
Jul 13
San Francisco
Aug 3
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Aug 17
San Francisco
Sep 7
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San Francisco
Sep 21
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