Meet up with your fellow travelers and Tour Manager in happening Chicago before we continue on into the USA’s heartland and across the plains of Wisconsin. Next stop: Milwaukee. It’s home to the nation’s largest beer brewers and to Harley-Davidson. Learn about the city’s famous brew in a behind the scenes look with our Local Guide at the Miller Brewery. Later, we pull into Madison, a friendly college town. If you’re up for a night out, grab a few buddies and hang out among the lively student population on State Street, where there’s a choice of taverns, local specialty breweries, comedy clubs and bars.
Cross the Midwest and pretty Minnesota farmlands before hitting the wild and stunning state of South Dakota. We travel across the county’s biggest prairies and enter a region once dominated by the Sioux Tribes – the only Native American Nation to defeat the US army. Arrive in Sioux Falls and get the background behind the city’s name with a visit to Falls Park, where many tribes originally established their homes.
Watch the amazing natural sites of South Dakota go by as we journey through Badlands National Park, past a surreal, lunar landscape of rugged-edged cliffs, sharp spires and crevices. With a stop here there’s time to walk the easy-going Fossil trail, take it all in and see fossils found within the park that are on display.
Today is all about South Dakota’s Black Hills - sacred land to the Sioux and patriotic hot spot for Americans. We visit iconic Mt Rushmore and see the 18 m (60ft) stony faces of four former US presidents. It took over 14 years to carve Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelt into the rock. You’ll be blown away by the massive monument of the famous Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse. Standing at 563 feet tall and carved out of rock, this work in progress is amazing. Get a crash course in heroism and learn how he led the Sioux tribes to victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Get ready for Deadwood and a real taste of the Wild West. Packed with old saloons, gambling parlors and Wild West storefronts from the gold rush era, Deadwood is National Historic Landmark. See shoot-outs in the street in the former stomping ground of outlaws like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
Cut into Wyoming’s cowboy country and travel across historic routes that the legendary Pony Express (postal service on horseback) used to follow and see where the pioneers lived. Stop off at the Devil’s Tower, a massive natural monument formed by volcanic activity. Then it’s on to Cody. With pick-up trucks, dusty streets, lots of cattle and legendary beginnings, this ‘rodeo capital of the world’ still has its Wild West charm. Use your free time to check out Cody’s Historic Trail Town and get the low down on the cowboys who used to hang out in the local saloons, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or see the Irma Hotel Bar, an expensive gift from Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill Cody, the town’s namesake. Otherwise, if the season’s right, you’ve got a chance to experience an authentic rodeo and see some of professional cowboys at work in a fun night time optional.
Start the day off with a white-water rafting optional on the river if the conditions are right - and have a go with the paddle in a fun ride. Then we’re up for some of the USA’s most awe-inspiring scenery as we head to Yellowstone, the world’s first national park. The result of a massive volcanic eruption, the park is a breathtaking spectacle of nature.
Explore the crown jewel of America's national parks. It's a masterpiece of wilderness, wildlife & natural wonders. Set you sights on the towering spires of the Teton Range & arrive in the chic, yet western-styled ski & boarding town, Jackson Hole.
Enjoy the scenic drive through Idaho before arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah where you'll visit Temple Square and see the impressive six-spire Temple & Mormon Tabernacle.
Kick start the day with an optional hot-air balloon ride over pretty Park City, which holds the annual Sundance Film Festival. Enjoy sweeping vistas over the state of Utah and get another angle on the impressive Wasatch Mountains, which divide the lush eastern and arid western halves of the state. We hit another national park known for its hoodoos (thin rock spires streaked in whites, yellows and oranges), Bryce National Park. Take in the strange shapes, vivid colors and rugged rocks that rise up as we hike a trail in the park.
Today, we discover the mind-blowing landscape of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most recognizable natural wonders and pride of Arizona. A day here means time to take in the immensity and spine-tingling beauty of the scene-stealing canyon – you won’t be able to stop looking at it! Hike along the rim for full-blown vistas of the dramatic scenery. See some of the oldest exposed rocks on earth, take in the depths of the abyss and soak up the wildness of the area. There are trails for all levels of hiking, so take it up a notch or cruise along at your own pace.
It’s a change of scene today when we cut back into Utah and visit Zion National Park – with loads of greenery, waterfalls and colorful cliffs, it’s a far cry from the dry parks and rock formations we’ve seen so far. Your Tour Manager will point out the park’s landmarks, including the Watchman and the West Temple. Get ready to arrive in larger-than-life Las Vegas – a man-made entertainment oasis smack in the middle of the desert. Often dubbed Sin City, it’s all about glitz, neon lights, and excess. See the bright lights of this city and its world-famous casinos in a first taste of Vegas kitsch as the group heads down the main drag, the “Strip”, and your Tour Manager fills you in on the story behind Vegas. Then cruise downtown to Freemont Street and experience a slice of the spectacular at a light and laser show in a massive pedestrian mall.
With a free day, you’ve got time to get a real feel for this outrageous town, so keep an eye out for Elvis impersonators and fast-paced chapel weddings! Explore more of the Strip and check out over-the-top versions of international icons, like the Eiffel Tower, Venetian canals and gondolas, a Roman temple or the pyramid, whose nightlight can be seen from the moon. Try your luck at one of the casinos, sit yourself down at a blackjack table and watch the high-rollers or go for a ride at one of the casino’s theme-parks. If you work up an appetite, tuck into an all you can eat buffet, and lunch American style. For something different, discover Las Vegas’ trademark art at the Neon Museum and for a look into this town’s atomic heyday in the 50s, visit the Atomic Testing Museum. If you just want to relax, position yourself poolside back at the hotel and soak up the Las Vegas sun. Tonight, get some pointers on Las Vegas’ hot spots from your Tour Manager and make the most of this towns’ 24/7 action with some of your new friends.
Leaving behind Las Vegas, we journey through the vast Mojave Desert, with its iconic Joshua trees, into Southern California. Our tour ends once we arrive in Los Angeles, where it’s time to say goodbye to your new friends.