- Arrive in San Francisco, CA
- Day: 1
- 0 miles | 0 Km*
Arrive at the airport, pick-up your rental car and proceed to the hotel. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the US. It’s a compact and approachable place, where downtown streets rise on impossible gradients to reveal stunning views of the city, the bay and beyond. San Francisco is culturally vibrant and ethnically diverse; as a result, it has evolved into the urban jewel of California’s coast. Very typical for this city are the cable cars and rows of elaborate redwood Victorian-Style houses. Curiously, it contains the biggest China Town outside China. This evening, explore Chinatown, along its streets, exotic ingredients are sold, silks and jade are tendered, and wonderful native food can be found at the many restaurants.
(STD) Best Western Americania or similar (2 nights) or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Pickwick Hotel or similar (2 nights)
- San Francisco, CA
- Day: 2
- 0 miles | 0 Km*
Visit the dramatic curves of Lombard Street, one of San Francisco’s most photographed sites. The beautifully landscaped, one-block descent from Hyde Street to Leavenworth Street, has given Lombard the title of “crookedest street in the world.” At the intersection of Hyde and Lombard, a cable car route provides spectacular views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, Coit Tower, Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge. Stop by the Wharf which offers unobstructed views of infamous Alcatraz Island and consists of a long, coast-side row of seafood restaurants, street vendors and entertainers, souvenir stores, and beautiful ocean scenery. Spend some time in Golden Gate Park; it offers dozens of fun things to do. Top sights are the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden. Don’t miss the local resident buffalo herd. This evening dine in one of San Francisco’s many distinctive neighborhoods; from Chinatown to the very Italian flavored North Beach, each offers its own distinctive culture and cuisine.
- San Francisco – Sacramento – South Lake Tahoe, CA
- Day: 3
- 188 miles | 302.492 Km*
Depart San Francisco this morning and head to South Lake Tahoe. Along the way make a stop in Sacramento which stands as the capital of the state of California. Originally established as a supply town for gold miners, modern-day Sacramento is the hub of commerce for the central valley area. Guided tours of the California State Capitol and Museum are available. This museum highlights regional and state political history in the very building that has served as the seat of the government since 1869. Consider a visit the Governor’s Mansion. From 1903 to 1967, this lovely Victorian mansion was home to thirteen governors. Guided tours lead visitors through well appointed rooms with lavish decorations. Railroad excursions are also available. This popular attraction takes visitors on a 40-minute train ride along the Sacramento River. Enjoy cruising along in open-air gondolas and vintage coaches pulled by real steam locomotives while marveling at the scenery. Continue to South Lake Tahoe for an overnight stay. Shared by the states of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is found nestled between the Sierra Nevada and the Carson Range of mountains.
Accommodations: (STD & SUP) Zephyr Cove* or similar (1 night)
*Due to the uniqueness of this area, both categories will enjoy the same accommodations.
- South Lake Tahoe – Elko, NV
- Day: 4
- 349 miles | 561.541 Km*
Enjoy all that Lake Tahoe has to offer today. The lake”s clear blue waters are a scenic magnet and are complimented by the crisp air and forested vistas. The lake is the world’s tenth-deepest and the shoreline is dotted with towns, each unique; the most prominent is Incline Village, a community of expensive homes, intriguing shops, and leisure activities. Here you will find Lakeshore Drive’s two miles of multi-million-dollar real estate. Truckee, northwest of the lake, is more local, and the former lumber mill town”s historic downtown has a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops. South Lake Tahoe has many resorts and casinos offering a variety of entertainment choices. For a preview of heaven, take a ride on the Heavenly Valley Ski Resort gondola. The gondola consists of state-of-the-art “cars” that whisk you from South Shore”s downtown area up the mountain to Heavenly Resort’s 14,000-square-foot observation deck. Each car holds up to eight people. The 2 1/2-mile ride rises to an elevation of 9,123 feet, offering spectacular shore-to-shore views. Continue to the town Elko where you will spend the night.
(STD) Shilo Inn Suites Elko or similar (1 night)
(SUP)Red Lion Hotel or similar (1 night)
- Elko – Bonneville Salt Flats – Salt Lake City, UT
- Day: 5
- 268 miles | 431.212 Km*
Depart Elko this morning and travel to Bonneville Salt Flats State Park. These remnants of the ancient Lake Bonneville of glacial times, the salt flats are now public land. It is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. The area is extremely flat and nearly aligned perfectly with the shape of Earth, allowing visitors to see the curvature of the planet. The Salt Flat’s potential for racing was first recognized in 1896 by W.D. Rishel who was scouting a bicycle race course from New York to San Francisco. Rishel returned and convinced daredevil Teddy Tezlaff to attempt an automobile speed record on the flats. By 1949, the raceway on the Bonneville Salt Flats was the standard course for world land speed records. On this natural straightaway, the 300, 400, 500, and 600 mile per hour land speed barriers were broken. Since the first speed record attempts in 1914, hundreds of records have been set and broken in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes. Continue to Salt Lake City for an overnight stay.
Accommodations: (STD) Red Lion Salt Lake City or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Peery Hotel or similar (1 night)
- Salt Lake City – Jackson, WY
- Day: 6
- 303 miles | 487.527 Km*
Today is yours to explore all of Salt Lake City and its famous Mormon Temple Square. The city was founded in 1847 by a group of Mormon Pioneers led by their prophet, Brigham Young, who fled hostility and violence in the Midwest. Free tours are offered of Temple Square where you will see the Tabernacle and other historic Mormon sites. Salt Lake City is the capital and most inhabited city in Utah. The first transcontinental railroad brought the city much economic growth and lead to the nickname “Crossroads of the West.” Today, the mining industry is booming and the city is known world-wide for having hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. You can visit the vast local copper mines or see Olympic Park. You might also want to visit the Great Salt Lake. A remnant of the massive ancient Lake Bonneville, the lake is now landlocked and its waters are salty. It is the largest lake between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean, and is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. Continue to Jackson for an overnight stay. Cowboys come to life in this town that was once a fur trading post. Saloons dot the corners and authentic artwork of the west can be found in the many galleries. Visit a local ranch for a delicious cookout and Wild West Show. Guided tours of the area are available by horseback or even hot air balloon!
(STD) Painted Buffalo Inn or similar (1 night)
(SUP) The Wart Hotel or similar (1 night)
- Jackson – Grand Teton National Park – Yellowstone, WY
- Day: 7
- 126 miles | 202.734 Km*
Depart Jackson and drive along the majestic Teton Mountains. The Teton Range is forty miles long and experiences an average snowfall of 191 inches per year. Grand Teton, at 13,770 feet (4,197m) is the tallest peak in this range. The views of the often snow-capped mountains are spectacular. Stop at one of the many vistas or lakes for an excellent photograph. Continue West Yellowstone where a two-night stay has been arranged. Yellowstone was the first National Park in the world, the example on which parks everywhere are modeled. One of the most famous features at this Park is Old Faithful. This famous geyser got its name because of its punctuality and predictability. Eruptions at Old Faithful last anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes, and spray water and steam up to 184 ft vertically. Yellowstone also has freely roaming herds of buffalo. It also includes the nation’s largest wildlife preserve, an enormous lake, the Continental Divide, some 10,000 hydrothermal features, and over 1,000 miles of trails. Its diversity of attractions is a match for any location on the planet.
(STD & SUP) Yellowstone Lodging* or similar (2 nights)
(* 2 night in-park accommodations are offered on a first-come, first served basis depending on availability.
Early booking is essential; otherwise, similar accommodations near the park will be provided)
- Yellowstone National Park
- Day: 8
- 0 miles | 0 Km*
Today is yours to explore the many interesting Park locations and the hydrothermal features by strolling the boardwalks built over top them. Yellowstone’s wildlife is as spectacular as the hydrothermal features. Because of the park’s remote location, and because of its large size, animals roam freely and are able to live in a natural way much as their kind has lived for centuries. Moose, elk and buffalo are among the most populous of inhabitants. Consider stopping at one of the many lodges or visitor centers for interpretive information and shopping for unique gifts. Keep your eyes on the lookout for bear and moose, a special viewing treat within the park. One of the most impressive areas of the park is the deep canyon of the Yellowstone River, featuring the upper and lower portions of Yellowstone Falls. The picture below shows the canyon and Yellowstone Falls from Artist’s Point on the south rim. There are many historic buildings in Yellowstone, befitting its long time as a national park. The most famous is Old Faithful Inn. The Inn was originally constructed in 1903-1904, and enlarged in both 1913 and 1928. The Inn area also includes restaurants, shops and other facilities.
- West Yellowstone – Missoula, MT
- Day: 9
- 282 miles | 453.738 Km*
Travel today to Missoula, Montana. Along the way, you’ll drive on little-traveled roads into a mountainous area. Continue on passed Georgetown Lake, a popular tourist destination in both summer and winter. Finally, Arrive in Missoula for an overnight stay. While here, consider a visit to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Wildlife Visitor Center. See the educational displays, a wildlife art gallery and a gift shop. The Historic Museum at Fort Missoula is another top attraction. It features over 22,000 objects 13 historic structures. It offers a rare opportunity to see how pioneers lived in western Montana.
Accommodations: (STD) Best Western Plus Grant Creek Inn or similar (1 night)
(SUP) DoubleTree Missoula or similar (1 night)
- Missoula – Kalispell, MT
- Day: 10
- 117 miles | 188.253 Km*
Depart Missoula this morning and drive toward Kalispell. Kalispell sits near the head of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Glacier National Park, with its majestic snowcapped peaks can be seen from the downtown area where a well-established main street circles Kalispell’s Courthouse at one end. This small, thriving city is home to the Conrad Mansion, a 19th century Norman-style mansion with 26 originally furnished rooms; Tiffany glass and eight fireplaces. An overnight stay has been arranged here.
(STD) Red Lion Hotel Kalispell or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Grouse Mountain Lodge or similar (1 night)
- Kalispell – Calgary – Canmore – Banff, AB
- Day: 11
- 340 miles | 547.06 Km*
Today you will cross the border into neighboring Canada for a visit to some of best-known cities. First stop in in Calgary. This city was born when in the summer of 1875 a small portion of the Northwest Mounted Police came to the meeting place of the Bow and Elbow Rivers; they built a log fort that attracted several hundred settlers by the year’s end. With an economic history centered on cattle and oil, the city has develop an impressive towering skyline. The many parks and outdoor recreational activities give Calgary small-town charm. In 1988, Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics. For this it constructed the Olympic Park and a host of other facilities that remained as attractions. Continue driving toward Banff, but make a brief stop in Canmore. This city was founded in the 1880s as the center hub for the coal mines that fueled the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s transcontinental trains as they climbed up over the Rockies; the Canmore Museum tells the complete story. The old downtown area is on an island in the Bow River. Three street blocks are lined with shops, brewpubs, restaurants, and boutiques. Continue to the town of Banff, located inside Banff National Park, for a two-night stay.
(STD) Inns of Banff or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Charleston Cedar Court or similar (2 nights)
- Banff National Park, AB
- Day: 12
- 0 miles | 0 Km*
Founded in 1885 following the discovery of the Cave and Basin Hot Springs, Banff is Canada’s oldest and most famous National Park. It includes a variety of outstanding geological and ecological features, including rugged mountains, glaciers, icefields, alpine meadows, lakes, mineral hot springs, deep canyons and hoodoos. Its diverse wildlife features 53 species of mammals, including elk, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bear, wolf, coyote, caribou, and mountain lion. The Castleguard Caves in the remote northwest corner of the park form Canada”s longest cave system. The Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff commemorates the establishment, growth, and development of Canada’s national parks through interactive displays and exhibits. But with its roaring waterfalls and ice-blue glaciers, meadows full of wildflowers and breathtaking panoramic vistas, this is one park that is best appreciated on foot. Luckily, several turnouts along the Icefields and Bow Valley Parkways allow you to get a closer look without investing too much time or energy. A plethora of companies offer guided one-day and multi-day park tours via bus, bike, snowshoe, ski and hiking boot.
- Banff – Glacier & Mount Revelstoke National Parks – Kelowna, BC
- Day: 13
- 298 miles | 479.482 Km*
Depart Banff this morning and drive to Kelowna. On your way, you will pass through Mount Revelstoke & Glacier National Park. Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks encompass the natural beauty and history of the Columbia Mountains. Rogers Pass National Historic Site, located in the heart of Glacier National Park, commemorates the story of Rogers Pass and its role as the most significant mountain pass in Canadian history. The Columbia Mountains are steep and the valleys narrow, allowing for only a few easy hikes and a good number of challenging ones. These parks are home to a great diversity of wildlife and plants. Visit the Rogers Pass Information Center for insightful Park guides. Continue to Kelowna, one of the fastest-growing areas in Canada. Situated next to the enormous Okanagan Lake, this town is the center of a vast fruit, wine, and vegetable growing area. Known for its sunny weather and active pursuits, Kelowna is a popular resort for golfers and those that enjoy water sports. Downtown you will find a retail area that has a number of shops, galleries, and cafes. The pride and joy of Kelowna is lovely City Park, which has over a half mile of wide sandy beach. At the north edge is a marina where you can rent boats and recreational equipment, or sign up to learn to water-ski and parasail. You can also board a boat for a guided tour of the lake. An overnight stay has been arranged here.
Accommodations: (STD & SUP) Accent Inn Kelowna or similar (1 night)
- Kelowna – Vancouver, BC
- Day: 14
- 241 miles | 387.769 Km*
Leave Kelowna behind and travel to the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver. Once there, make sure to visit Stanley Park. One of the largest urban parks in the world, Stanley Park is nothing short of amazing. Sample the highlights on a delightful 1-hour carriage ride that winds through the forest, along Burrard Inlet, past cricket fields, Rose gardens, and the park’s superlative collection of First Nations totem poles. While you’re there consider a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium. This aquarium features the climate and habitats of animals, birds and vegetation from around the world. The Amazon Gallery includes tropical birds, piranhas and jungle plants. The enormous pools feature orcas, beluga whales and sea otters. Specimens from British Columbia and Canada”s arctic underwater coast are also featured. This evening enjoy the dining splendor of Vancouver. Fresh seafood and hundreds of restaurants will leave your palette satisfied. A two night stay has been arranged in Vancouver.
(STD) Best Western Plus Uptown or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Renaissance Vancouver or similar (2 nights)
- Vancouver, BC
- Day: 15
- 0 miles | 0 Km*
Take the time to wander the West End today. The-shopping strip known as Robson Street is here where fashion rules. Each side street holds a corner café or an interesting shop just waiting to be discovered. Another must see is the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Regional Park. The original bridge was built in 1889. Standing 230 feet above the Capilano River, the plank and cable bridge stretches 450 feet from one side to the other. Other attractions at the park include the world’s largest privately owned collection of totem poles, totem carving demonstrations, hiking trails, two restaurants and a gift shop. Another worthwhile stop is the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden. It was constructed in an authentic Ming Dynasty-style. The garden is renowned as being the first of its type built since the late 15th century. It was built with only carefully arranged rocks, wood, plants and water, all without using screws, nails or power tools. The principles of yin & yang opposites, such as light & dark and rough & smooth, are a strong element in this garden’s design.
- Vancouver – Victoria, BC
- Day: 16
- 40 miles | 64.36 Km*
Today you will depart Vancouver for a short drive to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia. This beautiful city sits on the south tip of Vancouver lsland off the west coast of British Columbia. It is a city of 300,000 with a breathtaking Inner Harbor area. Leading US travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler has voted it one of the world’s top-ten cities to visit, and world number one for ambience and environment. And it’s not named after a queen and an era for nothing. Victoria is replete with Victoriana, tearooms, Union Jacks, bagpipers, and pubs confront you at every turn. Also, much of the waterfront area has an undeniably quaint and likeable English feel. Much of the downtown area has been restored to original façades. There’s so much to do and see here; it’s just a matter of choosing. Take a stroll along the causeway in the Inner Harbour, enjoy a whale watching adventure, indulge in the distinct West Coast cuisine, or take in a local theatre production, it’s up to you.
(STD) Accent Inn Victoria or similar (1 night)
(SUP) Abigail’s Hotel or similar (1 night)
- Victoria – Port Angeles, WA
- Day: 17
- 0 miles | 0 Km*
Today you will travel by Ferry across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to Port Angeles, a city that sits on the northern edge of Olympic National Park in Washington. Often referred to as “three parks in one”, Olympic National Park encompasses three distinctly different ecosystems, rugged glacier capped mountains, over 60 miles of wild Pacific coast and magnificent stands of old-growth and temperate rain forest. Take a scenic drive to Hurricane Ridge. Spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains can be found here. Stop at the visitor center and take one of the popular day hikes. The city of Port Angeles also features a public pool and a recreation center for days when outdoor activities are precluded by weather. It is not uncommon for concerts to be staged on the pier in Port Angeles, offering a unique venue to see some live entertainment. For a chronology of the people and culture in Port Angeles and area, visit the Museum of the Clallam Historical Society.
(STD & SUP) Lake Crescent Lodge or similar (1 night)
- Port Angeles – Quinault, WA
- Day: 18
- 124 miles | 199.516 Km*
Leave Port Angeles and take a scenic drive south, toward Quinault to continue your exploration of Olympic National Park. The town of Quinault is located at the edge of Lake Quinault, on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington and although it has a life of its own – shops, restaurants, museums, etc. – it is mainly used for lodging purposes for those visiting Lake Quinault and the south side of the Park. Popular activities in the Lake Quinault area include hiking, biking, boating, fishing tours, and interpretive tours or simply relaxing at the Lodge.
Accommodations: (STD & SUP) Lake Quinault Lodge or similar (1 night)
- Quinault – Seattle, WA
- Day: 19
- 153 miles | 246.177 Km*
Return to Seattle today for the two final days of your tour. Seattle is known as the “Emerald City” due to the gem-green waters that surround it. Situated between the jagged Olympic Mountains to the west and the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range to the east, the city sits on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound and 18-mile-long lake Washington. Much of modern Seattle began in 1962 with the World’s Fair. It helped spark the creation of the Space Needle, the Seattle Center, the Coliseum, and other local landmarks. The fair prompted the further development of parks, roads, and transportation systems. One of the city’s major attractions is the Waterfront. Here you will find shops, restaurants and the Seattle Aquarium, Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center, and Ye Olde Curiosity. For another unique experience, visit the Museum of Glass. A soaring 90-foot steel cone forms the building’s core and many exhibitions showcase contemporary works of glass. Visit the Hot Shop Amphitheater, a working glass studio where you can see the process of glassmaking. Don’t miss the Bridge of Glass, the conceived by famous glass artist Dale Chihuly.
Accommodations: (STD) Quality Inn & Suites or similar (2 nights)
(SUP) Deca Hotel or similar (2 nights)
- Seattle, WA
- Day: 20
- 20 miles | 32.18 Km*
Today, enjoy all the sights and sounds of Seattle. Take an elevator ride 520 feet above ground level and visit the observation deck of the Space Needle. Here you will find superb city views. High-powered telescopes allow you to zoom into the distance. For a twist on the traditional museum experience, visit the Experience Music Project. Created by Paul Allen and designed by architect Frank Gehry, this rock ‘n’ roll museum is a multicolored spectacle. Originally planned as a memorial to Seattle native Jimi Hendrix, the museum grew to encompass not only Hendrix but all of the Northwest rock and the history of American mainstream music. There are many interactive rooms where you can play guitars, drums and other instruments. Another exhibit focuses on the history of guitars and includes some of the first electric guitars, which date from the early 1930s. Take the time to visit Pike Place Market. The Market, which opened August 17, 1907, is one of the oldest continually-operated public farmer’s markets in the country. It is a place of business for many small farmers, craftspeople and merchants. Make sure to see the fishmongers tossing their catch from person to person. Have a coffee at the first Starbucks, which was opened at Pike Place Market in 1971. After a long day of walking, relax on a tour boat and enjoy the views of the city from the waters of Puget Sound.
Today’s Optional Experience
* Mileage is approximate.
** Prices subject to change without notice. For up to date pricing, please submit a quote request.
Explore the Northwest as you visit the major cities and National Parks. Starting with the very cosmopolitan San Francisco, you will travel through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana before crossing the border into neighboring Canada. The tour comes to an end in the “Emerald City”, Seattle.
BS and FF Australia –
We will be visiting from Australia late in September and through October this year and are interested in doing two of your tours. We did a tour last year (Gems of the Northwest) and were very happy with your service and flexibility.