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Natural Highlights of California
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9 days

from $0 AUD

trip_detail module icon Journeys trip_detail hint icon

Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

Casual trip_detail hint icon

Casual trips offer immersive travel experiences at an unbeatable value with free time and plenty of choices built into the itineraries. Accommodations are comfortable, well-located, and modest. Trips are led by dynamic local guides, some meals and activities are included, and transportation is provided for included excursions.

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Expedition Overview

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Trip Details
EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Examine Sequoia National Park’s giant trees with a naturalist, and then stargaze with an astronomy expert after the sun goes down.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Monterey Aquarium and learn about the facility’s National Geographic-sponsored research.
  • Discover the breathtaking landscapes of Yosemite National Park.
Itinerary

See a side (or two or three) of California that many travellers never uncover on this nine-day quest through some of the state’s greatest national parks. Go from one kind of sensory-overload to another as you venture from the glitz of Las Vegas on to the glorious sights of Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and the world-famous Yosemite National Park. You’ll do so much more than just take in the sights, with ample time to explore the other-worldly landscapes of Death Valley and Yosemite, as well as the chance to gaze upon the stars in Sequoia — the very thing that made the first full-time editor of National Geographic realize the importance of preserving national parks. The conclusion of your adventure will find you taking in iconic sights and sounds of the urban variety in San Francisco.

Day 1: Las Vegas

Arrive at any time.

Day 2: Las Vegas/Death Valley National Park

Leave the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas behind and travel to Death Valley National Park — the lowest, hottest, and driest place in North America. Marvel at the extremes of this landscape as you pass mountains, valleys, badlands, salt flats, dunes, and more.

Day 3: Death Valley National Park/Sequoia National Park

Before leaving the park, make a final stop at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Father Crowley Vista Point. Walk along the trail to see Rainbow Canyon to one side, Panamint Valley to the other, and if we're lucky, fighter jets practicing between the cliffs. Continue around the Sierra Nevadas to Sequoia National Park.

Day 4: Sequoia National Park

Enjoy a full day to explore. Walk through California’s Sequoia National Park and learn about these impressive giant trees on the trail alongside a naturalist. Drive to Big Tree Trail for an afternoon hike and learn about how National Geographic deeded tracts of giant trees in the heart of the park to the National Parks Service for safekeeping. This evening, we return to the park for an evening of stargazing with an expert from the Sequoia Parks Conservancy (SPC).

Day 5: Sequoia National Park/Kings Canyon National Park

Take a spectacular drive through the park with stops along the way from Grant Grove through Kings Canyon to Cedar Grove. Watch as the scenery changes from sequoias to one of the deepest canyons in the USA. Carved out over hundreds of thousands of year ago by glaciers and continuing to deepen with the help of the Kings River. Keep a keen eye out for the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, and the incredible wildlife that calls this place home.

Day 6: Kings Canyon National Park/Yosemite National Park

Travel north through the Sierras to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park stopping at the trailhead to Sentinel Dome. Climb the trail for breathtaking 360-degree views of the park and a picnic lunch. Feel on top of the world with views of Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and the Valley floor below. Continue to Glacier Point for an even closer view of one of the most iconic sites in the park. Later watch Free Solo, a National Geographic film based on Alex Honnold and his quest to climb El Capitan without ropes or a safety net.

Day 7: Yosemite National Park

Join a Yosemite Conservancy naturalist-guide for a half day in Yosemite National Park. Learn about the human, natural, and geological history of the region from a local expert. Hike through the heart of Yosemite while highlighting flora, fauna, and discovering the historical significance of the park. Take in the iconic views and the hidden wonders made of granite and carved by glaciers. Enjoy the rest of the day on your own and choose to explore the majestic waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, lush green meadows, and walk among pristine groves in Yosemite. Keep an eye out for glacial erratics, rock climbers, and the diverse wildlife within the park. Opt to visit the Ansel Adams Studio or relax by the river with Half Dome as the backdrop.

Day 8: Yosemite National Park/San Francisco

Drive through the Central Valley of California, stopping at a local farm stand to sample some of the region's best produce. Travel over the Bay Bridge on the way into one of America's most popular cities. Settle into the hotel before heading along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf for an optional sunset sail in the San Francisco Bay, past Alcatraz and underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

Day 9: San Francisco

Depart at any time.

ABOUT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEYS

Offered in partnership with G Adventures, our National Geographic Journeys line blends fun, hands-on exploration, meaningful encounters with people and cultures, and more free time and choices—with the structure and security of traveling in a small group.

Age Requirement:12+

All travelers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.