Experience the best of the USA’s natural wonders on this 6-week American adventure. Starting in the lush forests of the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll spend a few days glamping and hiking through hills before flying to Colorado to take on the Rockies. You can explore at your leisure in your campervan, hitting Yellowstone National Park or the hoodoos of Utah during your two-week road trip.
Next, you’ll stop in to visit the wild coastline and snowy peaks of the Pacific Northwest before landing in Hawaii, where volcanic beaches, green canyons and sunshine awaits. You’ll finish your trip in the relaxed atmosphere of northern California, where you can sip local wine in the Napa Valley and soak up the scenery in Yosemite National Park, one of the most beautiful spots in the USA.
This USA and Hawaii multi-centre holiday can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport. On arrival in Knoxville, you’ll pick up your hire car at the airport and drive to your glamping site, where you’ll check in for three nights.
Your time in the Great Smoky Mountains will be based at Under Canvas, a luxury glamping property with access to 800 square miles of lush forests and mountain views. Set in misty woodlands, it has brilliant public areas for grilling, dining and roasting marshmallows around the firepit.
You’ll be staying in the Stargazer Tent, with a proper bed and a woodstove to keep you cosy at night. It even has its own viewing window above the bed for you to watch the stars at night. The bathrooms are shared but beautiful and come with organic bath products.
When you can tear yourself away from your cute little tent, you’ll have the whole the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at your doorstep. Tucked into the Appalachians and shared by Tennessee and South Carolina, this beautiful national park is a wonder to explore. In spring and summer, the hills are alive with wildflowers, while autumn brings gold and red leaves in almost every tree, meaning there is not a bad time to visit!
Hike between waterfalls, go for a swim in Fontana Lake, walk a section of the Appalachian Trail, stop in tiny mountain villages – the list goes on and on! The only advice we have is to take it slow. Enjoy the scenic drives, linger at lookouts over the trees and breathe in the beauty of this region.
Your glamping adventure may be over, but your trip is only just beginning! You’ll drive back to Knoxville and return your hire car to the airport before catching your flight to Denver. On arrival, you’ll make your own way to the campervan depot and pick up your van.
Why not spend tonight near Denver and stock up at the supermarket before heading off on your road trip first thing tomorrow?
From Denver, there are few different routes you can take. We would recommend driving in a loop, either north or south.
Northern loop: Driving north from Denver, you’ll immediately hit Boulder, a cool mountain city with pretty streets and a great food scene. Why not stock up with fresh local ingredients before setting off on a long drive through Wyoming, into South Dakota? Arriving in Rapid City, you’ll be well-placed to visit the legendary faces of Mount Rushmore and vast landscapes of Badlands National Park. Next, you can drive back into Wyoming to look for aliens at the iconic Devil’s Tower, made famous when it appeared in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Soon, you’ll arrive in the Rockies to spend a few days enjoying the geothermal wonderlands of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Salt Lake City sits directly south, so why not stop to explore its enormous Mormon Temple before driving back into Colorado? On the way, you can see the ancient footprints at Dinosaur National Monument. The ski resort of Vail is just as lively when it’s not snowing, so enjoy some rafting or kayaking before arriving back in Denver.
Southern loop: Heading east from Denver, you’ll pass through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. On the way, you can stop in Aspen, a ski resort that turns into a lovely alpine hub over the summer. While you're here, try hopping between the vineyards around Grand Junction and tasting the local wines. Passing into Utah, Moab is an excellent base for exploring the red rock landscape of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, before driving past the iconic rocks in Monument Valley. From here, you can gaze at the pink waves of Antelope Canyon in Page and the bizarre-looking hoodoos at Bryce Canyon on your way to Las Vegas.
After a couple of hedonistic days enjoying The Strip, drive east to the Grand Canyon before exploring New Mexico, home to bustling Albuquerque, pretty Santa Fe and the ancient pueblos of Taos. Returning to Colorado, you can visit Great Sand Dunes National Park and Colorado Springs before arriving back in Denver.
Returning your campervan in Denver, you’ll head back to the airport and fly to the Pacific Northwest. On arrival in Seattle, you will make your own way to the hotel where you will check in for two nights.
Wander along the waterfront where you can enjoy views across the Elliott Bay to the Olympic Mountains on bright days before touring the Seattle Aquarium, where you can learn about the marine life in this region. Make sure you explore Pike Place Market as you start getting hungry – you can visit the first Starbucks before grabbing a coffee in one of the neighbouring independent cafes.
The market is full of artisan food stalls – you can try bowls of garlicky mussels, dig into a catfish sandwich and finish off with a sweet cinnamon roll. In the late afternoon take a ride to the top of the Space Needle to watch the sunset over the water.
This morning you’ll pick up your hire car and drive to Mount Rainier National Park, a two-hour drive to the south. On arrival at your hotel, you will check in for two nights.
Spend the day exploring this stunning national park where you can hike to the Grove of the Patriarchs, where some of the oldest trees in the Washington Cascades have lived for over a thousand years, or along the Snow Lake Trail, with spectacular views over the blue-green water. The best time to visit this park is August when the subalpine meadows of Paradise Valley are carpeted in wildflowers, and the snow has retreated to the mountain tops.
This morning, you’ll drive onwards to Portland, a city with a small-town feel, full of restaurants, breweries and cycling. On arrival, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
Portland is a city that loves to eat, so the best way to spend your time here is hopping between cafes, breweries and restaurants, tasting the delicious fare on offer. Portland champions ‘farm-to-fork’ food, grown in the lush farmland of Oregon and served up beautifully in restaurants like Clyde Common. Why not enjoy lunch before taking a walk through the Hoyt Arboretum and stopping in at Portland Zoo?
Later, grab a snack from Voodoo Doughnuts before heading to one of the many craft breweries to enjoy an evening tasting and learning about beer! If you’re more of a wine aficionado, there are many vineyards in the hills surrounding the city, so you can either drive over to wander through the vines or settle into one of Portland’s slick wine bars!
You can spend the morning in Portland before driving over to Cannon Beach, one of the loveliest stretches of the Oregon coastline. On arrival, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights.
You can spend your day here enjoying this beautiful beach, made famous by an iconic scene in the Goonies movie. At low tide, you can walk right out to Haystack Rock, where pink and purple starfish cling to the sides, usually hidden under the water. You can also stroll through this tiny beach town before taking a picnic to the beach and watch the sunset into the sea.
Your road trip through the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. Today, you can take one last walk along the beach before driving back to Seattle Airport, where you’ll return your car hire and catch your flight to Hawaii.
Aloha and welcome to Hawaii! On arrival in Oahu, you’ll enjoy a flower lei greeting at the airport before being transferred to your hotel in Waikiki Beach.
Today, you’ll set off on a tour of Pearl Harbour, where the Japanese attack in 1941 prompted the USA to enter World War II. Visiting the Arizona Memorial is a sombre but important moment that will give you an understanding of Hawaii’s recent history. You’ll also spend time at the Punchbowl National Cemetery, where many of the “unknown” graves from Pearl Harbour can be found.
Later you’ll enjoy a city tour of Honolulu, taking in the Kawaiahao Church, the Iolani Palace and the statue of King Kamehameha who founded the Kingdom of Hawaii. After the tour, you’ll have the rest of the day at leisure.
In the morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight from Honolulu to Kauai. On arrival in Kauai, you’ll pick up your car hire from the airport and drive to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure
Today, you’re at leisure to explore the island, and there’s nowhere better to start than the Waimea Canyon, known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. The deep gorge is carved right down the middle of the north-west corner of the island and coloured a deep red, orange and green. You can cruise along Waimea Canyon Drive and hike away from the road before driving a loop around the island to northern beaches where you can relax on Lumahai Beach, Tunnels Beach or Wainiha Beach – each more beautiful than the last!
On your second free day in Kauai, why not hike a section of the Na Pali coastline? The stunning mountains and valleys of this area are created by Mount Wai’ale’ale which sits in the centre of Kauai and is one of the rainiest spots on earth. The water run-off from this mountain has carved deep grooves into the island, and the hike down the coastal path is one of the most scenic walks on the island.
We can you book you a guided trek along part of the train, a 6-hour round trip to Hanakapiaai Beach that will give you a glimpse into Kauai’s natural beauty. If you don’t fancy the hike, then we’d recommend a helicopter tour, which will provide you with a bird’s eye view of the mountains, including the “Wall of Tears” where hundreds of narrow waterfalls cascade down the lush green hillside.
In the morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight from Kauai to the Big Island. On arrival on the Big Island, you’ll pick up your car hire from the airport and drive to your hotel in Kona. The rest of the day is at leisure, so why not settle into the hotel and have dinner on one of the fabulous beaches on the western shore.
Today is a free day to enjoy the island. We recommend you drive over to the Volcanoes National Park to witness the lava flows and views of the caldera from the main centre of the park. Once you have explored the museum and the Crater Rim Drive, check with Volcano Observatory where the best area to see the glowing lava as it bubbles out of the earth.
This afternoon you could drive from the volcanoes to the Kapoho Tide Pools, where the spring-fed pools are full of fish that will happily swim right up to you. After enjoying the pools, drive back towards Kona, stopping at one of the observatories at the summit of Mauna Kea. This is the highest point of Hawaii and is known worldwide as a stargazing spot!
After a busy day exploring yesterday, why not relax today and head to the beach? Head north, and you’ll hit Hapuna Beach, where the turquoise water is so beautiful you’ll want to lie down on the white sand and watch it crash against the shore. A more remote option but equally stunning is Makalawena Beach, only accessible by a 25-minute walk from the road.
Go south, and you’ll come across Kealakekua Bay, where green turtles relax in the warm water, and the snorkelling is arguably the best on the island. Parrotfish, Tang, Triggerfish and Surgeonfish all dance through the water in a colourful cloud but if you’re after the bigger marine life you should try snorkelling with Manta Rays, which are best seen at night when they begin to feed on the plankton that lives off the shore of the Big Island. Swimming with these gentle giants is a wonderful experience, speak to your consultant about booking a tour.
After a week exploring the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, you’ll now drive back to the airport in time for your flight to San Francisco. On arrival in San Francisco, you'll make your own way into the city and check into your hotel for one night. Depending on what time your flight arrives you could get out and explore, so why not head to the harbour for a bowl of clam chowder as the sun goes down – the perfect start to a Californian adventure!
Enjoy a day in San Francisco. Make sure you take the cable car down to visit the sea-lions at Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf before jumping on a boat over to Alcatraz Island where you can learn about the prison’s history. Spend the afternoon uncovering the rest of the city - why not browse City Lights Bookstore for a glimpse into Beat Poetry history before strolling into Chinatown for some dumplings. Explore the Mission District with its colourful murals and famous burritos before renting a bike and cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge for iconic views back over the city.
After spending the day enjoying San Francisco, you’ll pick up your hire car and drive to Napa Valley, just an hour out of the city where you will check into your hotel for two nights.
With a day to enjoy Napa Valley, you need to get stuck right into the wonderful food and wine of the region. Hop between vineyards tasting the different wines – Cabernet Sauvignon is the speciality here, but there are lots of others to choose from including Merlot, Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. With world-class wine comes top-notch food – The French Laundry Restaurant has been voted best in the world many times, and while you’ll struggle to get a table here without booking months ahead, there are plenty of other excellent eateries.
After a quiet morning in Napa recovering from a day of indulgence yesterday, you’ll drive north into the Sierra Nevada Mountains where you’ll find Lake Tahoe, a blue gem high up in the mountains. In the winter this is California’s most popular ski resort, but in the summer it is a great place to enjoy the lake.
A mass of shimmering blue-green water, Lake Tahoe is a highlight of any trip to Northern California. Why not spend your day here kayaking on the water? You can explore Emerald Bay, a beautiful section of the southern shore before having lunch at a beach bar and taking the cable car up the mountain for stunning views over the lake. It’s also a great spot to do some fishing or hiking – although a lot of visitors end up relaxing on the tiny beaches that hug the shoreline. Whatever you end up doing, we know you’ll love your time in Lake Tahoe.
This morning you’ll drive south to Yosemite National Park. You’ll probably approach from the east – driving past the bizarre Mono Lake, a soda lake full of strange salt formations. You’ll turn into the park and drive through to the western edge where you’ll check into your hotel for three nights.
Yosemite National Park is enormous so, with two days to explore, you’re never going to see all of it. This means you need to plan wisely. First stop will be the valley, where the visitor centre and a couple of hotels sit in the imposing shadow of El Capitan, a favourite of rock climbers from all over the world. Hike up to Nevada Falls and, for the best views of Half Dome, drive to Glacier Point.
On your second day, you’ll have time to venture further away from the crowds. Wander through the Tuolumne Meadows, hike a section of the Cloud’s Rest Trail, take a swim in Tenaya Lake or drive north to Hetch Hetchy Valley. Your time here will fly by, and by the time you leave, you’ll most likely be planning your next trip!
Today you’ll say goodbye to Yosemite National Park and drive back to San Francisco Airport where you’ll drop off your rental car in time to catch your flight home.
The best time, weather-wise, to enjoy this trip is from April to October. We’d probably recommend that you avoid the midsummer of July and August as it can get busy in these spots. On the other hand, the weather would be glorious. September also brings beautiful coloured leaves to many of these spots.
If you'd like to get a feel for this trip, read our blog post Incredible places to visit on a Rocky Mountains Colorado road trip written by one of our consultants who has been there.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.