DAY 1: Arrive Phoenix
Upon arrival at Phoenix Airport pick up your rental car (optional supplement) and take a short drive to Carefree Resort. Depending on your time of arrival you may wish to take a scenic warm-up walk which begins at the Gateway Trailhead and takes you through the beautiful desert of Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. As you walk you will enjoy views of the city and the preserve’s diverse desert flora and fauna, including the famed Giant Saguaro Cactus.
Overnight: Carefree Resort, Carefree
This is resort is located just north of Phoenix with great views of the Continental Mountains. All the comfortable rooms are spacious and you can relax by the pool or in the fitness centre.
Walk: Optional 4.4 miles, elevation gain +/- 640 ft
Driving distance and time: From Phoenix Airport to Carefree, 30 mins. To Trailhead, 10 mins.
DAY 2: Oak Creek Trail
An early departure from your hotel takes you north through the Sonoran desert and into the high elevation plateaus of Northern Arizona. On today’s drive you traverse four distinct biomes showcasing the incredible diversity Arizona has to offer, from Sonoran desert to Ponderosa Pine Forest. About an hour into your drive you will come to Sedona then wind your way through Oak Creek Canyon. This route has been named one of Rand McNally’s top 5 scenic drives in America.
Continue on to the Grand Canyon National Park, where you will get your first glimpse of this magnificent abyss.
Overnight: Yavapai Lodge, Grand Canyon
This property is located within the Grand Canyon National Park and has 198 rooms. They are all decorated in a modern style and have air-conditioning, ceiling fans and coffee-making facilities.
Walk: 6 miles, elevation gain +/- 300 ft
Driving distance and time: From Carefree to Sedona & Oak Creek Trailhead, 1.5 hours. From here to South Rim, 4 hour and 220 miles
DAY 3: South Kaibab Trail
After breakfast and a short ride on the park’s convenient shuttle you will be at the trailhead for the South Kaibab Trail. This scenic trail is unique in the Grand Canyon as it traverses along a ridgeline instead of descending a side canyon, allowing for unobstructed views and excellent photography opportunities.
After your hike, drive to Lake Powell to begin another stage of your journey.
Overnight: Courtyard Page at Lake Powell, Lake Powell
The hotel has 153 deluxe Southwestern-style guest rooms near Lake Powell, featuring free HBO, complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, and luxurious Marriot bedding. The Southwestern-themed hotel, surrounded by Lake Powell National Golf Course, is located within minutes of Glen Canyon Dam, Antelope Canyon, Wahweap and Antelope Point marinas.
Walk: 3 miles, elevation gain +/- 1140 ft
Driving Distance and time: 3. 5 hours and 134 miles to Lake Powell from the East Park Gate (Grand Canyon South Rim).
DAY 4: Bryce Canyon Classic Trail
Today’s journey takes you deeper into the intricately-carved landscape of the Colorado Plateau. Towards the end of Long Valley you will cross over the Sevier River as you make your way onto Utah’s Scenic Highway 12 leading you to breath-taking Bryce Canyon National Park and your home for the next two nights.
Located in the high desert of southern Utah, the Bryce Canyon landscape is a mysterious wonderland of distinctive rock formations known as hoodoos. Enjoy your walk today through this unusual and spectacular scenery.
Overnight: Ruby’s Lodge, Bryce Canyon
This lodge is located only 1 mile from Bryce Canyon National Park and
offers comfortable, airy rooms, and an on-site general store.
Walk: 3 miles, elevation gain +/- 400 ft
Driving distance and time: 2.5 hours and 155 miles from Lake Powell to Bryce Canyon.
DAY 5: Calf Creek Falls Trail
Continue deep into Utah’s outback on Scenic Highway 12, the only paved road traversing the Grand Staircase National Monument. Rolling pastoral farmland is contrasted against towering buttes, domes and peaks on your way to the trailhead for Lower Calf Creek.
The Grand Staircase National Monument is a vast and intricate wilderness and one way to really appreciate it is to walk along the meandering trail that leads to Calf Creek Falls .This trail is exquisitely beautiful and en route you will also see the native tribal rock art and pictographs.
Overnight: Ruby’s Lodge, Bryce Canyon
Walk: 6 miles, elevation gain +/- 100 ft
Driving Distance and time: 2. 5 hours and 127 miles
DAY 6: Zion National Park
Make your way to Zion National Park, often called “Yosemite dressed in red” due to its towering sandstone cliffs sculpted and carved from an ancient desert by the force of flood waters and time. Zion was named by early Mormon settlers, meaning a ‘place of refuge,’; you’re sure to see why they found comfort within these walls.
Take the park shuttle to begin today’s suggested walk where you will discover a hidden “micro-climate” surrounding three serene ponds.
Overnight: Pioneer Lodge, Springdale
This historic pioneer lodge built in 1882 has simple, yet comfortable rooms and there is an outdoor pool, full-service restaurant and an internet café.
Walk: 8 miles, elevation +/- 400 ft
Driving distance and time: 1.5 hours and 127 miles.
DAY 7: Angel’s Landing Walk
Your day begins with a summit to Angel’s Landing. Drive 30 minutes to the trailhead at the grotto and when you have completed the hike you can spend the afternoon wading in the waters of the Virgin River or stop for a picnic under the shade of an enormous Cottonwood tree outside the Zion Park Lodge. Check your route book for tips on discovering some of the many hidden secrets of the park that few visitors will ever see.
Overnight: Pioneer Lodge, Springdale
Walk: 5 miles, elevation +/- 1700 ft
Driving distance and time: 1 hour to and from the trailhead.
DAY 8: Zion National Park.
Celebrate your final morning in Zion National Park by walking the shoulders of the Watchman Spire to a stunning lookout over Zion Canyon. The rising sun splashes the walls in crimson red as you take in the sights and sounds of the valley one last time.
After the walk wave farewell to the Zion as soon you will be entering the bright lights of Nevada’s famous Las Vegas Strip! This evening explore the nightlife, casino’s, sights and sounds of this famous city.
Overnight: New York, New York Hotel, Las Vegas
All of the rooms at this hotel, situated at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana, have flat screen tv’s, marble bathrooms, internet access and luxurious linens.
Walk: 3.5 miles, elevation +/- 368 ft
Driving distance and time: 2.5 hours and 165 miles
DAY 9: Death Valley Trail
Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, boasting close to four million acres of protected land. Most of this wilderness is accessible only by rugged dirt roads and backcountry trails.
Today you will drive a little way to Stovepipe Wells (or take a short but rewarding detour to Badwater Basin – the lowest point in North America at 286 ft below sea level). Pass some wonderful sightseeing opportunities such as Zabriskey Point, Devil’s Cornfield and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Overnight: Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel, Death Valley
This 83-room hotel boasts authentic western comforts and breath-taking views. All rooms are comfortable and offer standard amenities.
Walk: 2 and 2.5 miles, elevation +/- 450 ft
Driving distance and time: 2.5 hours and 142-175 miles
DAY 10: Eastern Sierra Range
Today’s drive is broken up with stops to enjoy the changing scenery. Keep your camera handy as you traverse from one iconic location to another; Death Valley to the Eastern Sierra Mountains. Two great walks bookend the day with a lovely stop in Bishop, California at Erick Schat’s Bakery. Take some time to walk the main street in Bishop and enjoy the quaint, small town vibe of the Eastern Sierra. Your morning hike is in Death Valley park to one of the only watering holes, and then the afternoon takes you up to wonderful and gorgeous alpine lakes
Tonight will be spent in the charming town of Mammoth Lakes that started as a gold rush mining settlement in 1878.
Overnight: Alpenhof Lodge, Mammoth Lakes
This lodge-hotel has an outstanding location in beautiful Mammoth Lakes. Relax in the outdoor pool, the sauna, or in the on-site bistro or pub.
Walk: 2/2.5 miles, elevation gain, +/- 275/375 ft
Driving distance and time: 3.5 hours, 277 miles
DAY 11: Hoffmann Peak
If it wasn’t tor Scottish-born naturalist John Muir, an early advocate of the preservation of US wilderness, Yosemite National Park might not exist as it does today. Take in the sites at Mono Lake and its otherworldly tufa towers before heading west on the Tioga Pass road. Entering Yosemite via Tioga Pass and heading into the Sierra’s high country provides a certain solitude which you will enjoy on today’s hike to Hoffman Peak, the geographic centre of Yosemite National Park.
Overnight: Half Dome Village Tent Cabins, Yosemite
Tucked right in the heart of Yosemite, below the towering majesty of Half Dome and Glacier Point, the Curry Village Tent Cabins offer you a unique, clean and comfortable place to stay. Please note that the bathroom facilities here are not ensuite at this location.
Walk: 6 miles, elevation +/- 2100 ft
Driving distance and time: 2.5 hours and 104 miles
DAY 12: Yosemite Mist Trail
Enjoy a full day in Yosemite today. If you are an early riser be sure to take a stroll from beyond the pine-forested tent camp to watch the morning light pour into the valley, bringing the sheer walls, towering trees, and grassy meadows to life.
Today’s hike will thrill and excite and will also give views of the canyon walls, domes, peaks and waterfalls. For your final night in Yosemite you may want to treat yourself to a celebratory dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel restaurant, the crown jewel of Yosemite dining.
Overnight: Curry Village Tent Cabins, Yosemite
Walk: 6.5 miles, elevation +/- 1900 ft
DAY 13: Drive to San Francisco.
Take one last look at the mighty El Capitan which presides over the Valley. Today’s drive passes through Big Oak Flat before descending sharply down the Priest Grade, giving way to rolling foothills and on to fruit and almond orchards and small agricultural towns. Tonight you will stay in the sweet little neighbourhood of Cow Hollow near the San Francisco marina and which has great dining and nightlife and is also within walking distance of the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
Overnight: Hotel del Sol, San Francisco
This typical 1950’s motor lodge has been transformed into a boutique hotel and is only a few minutes’ walk from the Golden Gate Bridge. The 57 cheery and colourful rooms are spacious and have walk-in wardrobes/closets.
Driving distance and time: 3 hours and 200 miles
DAY 14: Onward Travel
After breakfast you can either make your way to San Francisco Airport (it may take an hour or more depending on the traffic) or perhaps you would like to add an extra night to your stay in San Francisco. Macs Adventure can make this arrangement for you. Either book on-line on the Macs Adventure website or speak to one of our Destination Specialists.
Time of Year
The American West has a primarily warm season from March through to November. The deserts are very hot in high summer, but the mountains and canyons are cool. Peak visitors arrive between June and September. Ideal months to travel are April, May, June or October.
As you will have your own car the bags will be transferred from accommodation to accommodation by yourself.
As this is a drive & hike programme you can either rent a car through Macs Adventure or independently.
Included in your tour is a welcome and orientation meeting with one of our team who will familiarize you with the driving directions and trail route notes for each day of hiking. Additionally maps of the local trails and maps for the driving will also be supplied. There are many different options for trails each day, but we provide information for the walks which we think are the best options. You will also be provided with information about the sites, suggested restaurants and things to do in all the local areas.
Grade & Fitness
Although some of the suggested walks have significant elevation gains and losses, there are lots of choices on offer which provide easier walking, so we have graded this trip as easy to moderate which is perfect for regular walkers. A good level of fitness is definitely required in order to enjoy this tour to the maximum. The terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths.
Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, waterproof clothes, and lightweight clothing for the summer, and a day pack.
Getting to Phoenix
The most convenient airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which is served by many different airlines, including British Airways, American Airlines, US Airways and Virgin Altantic. From here you can pick up your rental car and it is an approximate 30 min drive to your first hotel.
Getting from San Francisco
Since the hotel we will be using in San Francisco has free parking you can park your rental car here for the night and then drop it at the airport when you fly home. There are many airlines that serve San Francisco Airport such as US Airways, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. The journey by car can take over an hour depending on the traffic.