USA Rocky Mountain Adventure Overview
Important Note: Due to current border closures between the US and Canada the Canada portion of this trip is being replaced with an exciting new itinerary in Montana, Idaho, and Washington! You can find this new part of the itinerary here.
The USA and Canada both boast some of the most beautiful national parks in the world. In 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park and a trend of preserving the unique and incredible wonders of North America began. Yellowstone is just one of the eight parks you’ll see on this action-packed 22-day adventure. Our goal will be to experience each of these parks beyond the traditional sightseeing. Climb the red rock canyons of Utah, whitewater raft rivers in Wyoming, hike among wildflowers in Montana, glimpse the peaks of Colorado from a gondola, trek across glaciers in the stunning Banff and Jasper National Parks, and soak in natural hot springs.
Western Canada is a land like nowhere else in the world. From the pristine alpine lakes of Alberta to the towering peaks of British Columbia, this road trip stretches across two incredible Canadian provinces. Hike through lush forest, soak in hot springs, and trek across glaciers in stunning Banff National Park in Alberta. In beautiful British Columbia horseback ride through glacial carved valleys, mountain bike down the best trails in Canada at Whistler and zip-line through coastal mountain forests. There’s no end to the outdoor adventure from white water rafting the Kicking Horse River to riding the gondola on Blackcomb Glacier. Visit a wolf sanctuary to learn about conservation efforts!
All of this and more on the North American teen road trip of a lifetime!
During this program, you will…
- Visit seven of North America’s most incredible National Parks
- Go canyoneering and rock climbing* in Moab, Utah
- Hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
- Horseback ride below the Tetons in Wyoming
- Watch Old Faithful erupt in Yellowstone National Park
- Hike around alpine lakes in Banff National Park
- Walk on the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park
- Visit a wolf sanctuary and learn about wolf conservation efforts
- Ride horses through glacial carved valleys
- Ride the gondola from peak to peak on Blackcomb Glacier*
*This is an optional excursion
This program is the combination of our two popular but shorter USA Adventure and Canada Adventure programs. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, join us on our 33-day USA & Canada Ultimate Adventure program.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN DENVER (DEN)
DAY 2: THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS > GLENWOOD SPRINGS
Our adventure begins in the breathtaking state of Colorado. Enjoy a night out in the capital city of Denver before beginning the road trip of a lifetime. Our first day on the road we’ll head for the hills and hike to the stunning Hanging Lake, a turquoise alpine lake surrounded by waterfalls in the Rocky Mountains. In the evening, rest up in Glenwood Springs and soak in the largest hot spring pool in America.
DAYS 3-5: ARCHES > CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARKS > PARK CITY
Tucked on the border of Utah and Colorado, Moab is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise! We’ll rock climb, go canyoning, and even do an easy hike to a secret waterfall where you will be able to cool off and go for a swim! Of course, no trip to Moab would be complete without visiting the national parks. Delicate Arch is the most recognizable of its kind and a must do on our itinerary. In Canyonlands, we’ll check out the best viewpoint in the park at Grand View of Island in the Sky. From this (as the name suggests!) truly spectacular view, you can look out at what was formerly plains and contemplate how nature shaped the canyon into what it is today.
Heading north we’ll make a stop in Park City, Utah. The 2002 Winter Olympics were held here and in the summer you can still ride the gondola to the epic mountain coaster!
DAYS 6-8: YELLOWSTONE > GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS > JACKSON
The road headed north brings us to Wyoming, where Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks await. Our home base in charming Jackson is the perfect jump-off point. Get a taste for the old west on horseback beneath the striking Tetons, then cool off in the crystal clear waters of Jenny Lake. Within Yellowstone’s boundaries, it’ll feel like we’ve left planet Earth. Bubbling hot spring pools of vibrant color and spouting geysers provide a window to the super-volcanic activity below.
DAYS 9-10: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK > LAKE MCDONALD
Montana is not a state to be missed on this incredible journey. We will spend our time at the “Crown of the Continent,” in Glacier National Park where even more adventure and natural beauty await us. Test your balance with stand-up paddleboarding on Lake McDonald. Then, get your adrenaline pumping on the Highline Trail off the Going-to-the-Sun Road. You’ll walk across the incredible glacially carved valley without putting in hours of elevation gain! If that’s not enough of a rush, you’ll whitewater raft down the Flathead river through thrilling class IV rapids!
DAYS 11-12: CALGARY
Say hello to Calgary, Alberta, home of the 1988 Winter Olympics! We’ll have a relaxing time exploring the city and visiting Olympic Park. We will even have the opportunity to fly downhill on a luge! We will play games at Prince Island Park and enjoy our first introduction to Canada.
DAYS 13-15: BANFF
Home to two of Canada’s most popular National Parks, Alberta is the perfect place to kick off your Canadian adventure! Leave the bustling city of Calgary behind to spend the first full day in the charming town of Banff. Located within the boundaries of the National Park, this small township is surrounded by natural beauty. Begin your time here with a cruise on Lake Minnewanka. The peaks of the Canadian Rockies frame the scene from all directions and wildlife such as moose can sometimes be seen walking down Main Street! Deep inside the park you’ll find the famous teal waters of Lake Louise and the quaint Lake Agnes Tea house just a short hike up the hillside. At Moraine Lake, Hike or choose to canoe around the lake in the incredible Valley of the Ten Peaks. As you head north out of Banff towards Jasper, you’ll ride along the magnificent Icefields Parkway, rated as one of the best drives in the world! Make a pit stop at the bluest lake in the Rockies, Peyto Lake, before arriving at Athabasca Glacier for an afternoon glacier walk.
DAYS 16-17: GOLDEN
From Jasper we’ll head into British Columbia to the adventure haven of Golden. The Kicking Horse River runs through town, making it the perfect place to stay for the ultimate whitewater rafting experience! Even without the rapids, the river itself is a spectacle worth seeing. Bright blue water rushes through sturdy green forests where bear and deer can be spotted on the shores! If by now you haven’t satisfied your desire to see wildlife, we’ll head to a wolf conservation center to learn about these majestic animals and see them in their natural environment.
DAYS 18-20: ASHCROFT
As we make our way across the province of British Columbia, there’s no better place to stop than at our handpicked horse ranch in Ashcroft. Break up the drive by spending two nights at this at this traditional Canadian ranch. Ride one of 100 horses on the property, enjoy amazing views, and savor delicious home cooked meals.
New to riding or an experienced equestrian? All levels are welcome! If horses aren’t your thing, enjoy the heated pool, game room, or hiking trails around the undeniably beautiful property.
DAYS 20-21: WHISTLER
Upon arriving in Whistler you’ll dive right into the action. Take the gondola up the mountain to access some of the best downhill mountain biking trails in North America. You’ll get small group lessons from a trained professional catered to enhance pre-existing skills or start from scratch for beginners! Safety is a top priority and plenty of fun will be had on the back country trails. Biking is not mandatory and those who choose not to bike will have other hiking options instead.
While in Whistler we will also hike to Alexander Falls, zipline from peak to peak and even get the chance to summer ski or snowboard on Blackcomb Glacier!
DAY 11: DEPART FROM VANCOUVER (YVR)
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we are consistently awarded “Top Youth Travel Organization” year after year.
"My first TFT trip was incredible. I got to see the various types of beauty found along the pacific west cost from national parks to vibrant cities. Not only were the destinations wonderful but so were the TFT staff. They were immensely caring and fun people to be around. Some of my fondest favorite memories came from those friendships. One of my favorite aspects of this trip was that we were taught to be travelers, not tourists. Where we are encouraged to seek and explore all corners of the earth. I loved my TFT trip and I hope to never stop traveling."
"Many thanks for navigating the kids through this special adventure! Amanda and I spoke before she left about how a trip like this would be life-changing and that she'd return viewing the world a little differently. Amanda speaks very highly of both of you and had an amazing time! Thank you for making this trip a beautiful experience for the kids."
"Thank you again for a fabulously descriptive update - what an experience this had been! And the pictures have been amazing. It’s been such a treat for us to be able to follow along with you all on your adventures. This truly was a trip of a lifetime! Muchas gracias!!!!"
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 11th and approximately 14 to 17 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
All accommodations on this trip have been selected to ensure quality while still maintaining character of the places we are visiting.
In Denver, we’ll stay downtown to give us access to all the food and entertainment options available. In Glenwood Springs, our hotel will be walking distance from the largest hot spring in America. The accommodations in Moab are sure to satisfy the adventurous spirit in all. We’ll be staying in “glamping” style canvas tents equipped with cots, sheets, bathrooms, and more. In Jackson, we’ll stay in a lodge located close to downtown so we can take in everything the quaint city has to offer while still accessing the Grand Tetons. In Yellowstone, we’ll use the same glamping style canvas platform tents to get the rustic experience of visiting the National Parks without roughing it! Just west of Glacier National Park we’ll stay in an awesome cabin resort equipped with its own swimming pool and plethora of activities.
In Calgary, we’ll stay at a downtown location convenient to restaurants and the park. In Banff, we’ll stay close to downtown in a quaint lodge. In Golden, a unique hotel in historic downtown will be our home for two nights. Our accommodation in Ashcroft is the most unique of all. We’ll spend two nights on a family-owned ranch in the middle of British Columbia. In Whistler, we’ll stay at a beautiful resort right off the mountain.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most about this program?
Students love that they are able to explore seven National Parks in 22 days without feeling rushed! Mixed into the itinerary is a different activity for every place that will provide both new and enriching experiences for all types of interests.
What is unique about this program?
From a glamping style canvas tent under the incredible Utah desert sky to a cabin resort in Montana, our choice of accommodation beats any chain hotel. We pepper in activities that highlight the culture of each state we’re visiting. From rock climbing in Moab to horseback riding in Montana, you’ll truly feel like you’ve gotten to know each destination beyond the surface level.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, program related activities, program related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not included in cost (this not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; lunches; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place then through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
When you think “American food” you either think steaks and burgers or fast food! The latter will be avoided at all costs while on this road trip of a lifetime but if you’re a carnivore, there is truly no better place to indulge in beef than in the western ranch laden states!
In Denver, we’ll check out some of the hip new eateries that dot the city, taking advantage of the incredible foodie culture that’s taken Colorado’s capital city by storm. Feel free to try the infamous “Rocky Mountain Oysters” and see for yourself what they’re really made of! “Funeral potatoes” are known as Utah’s staple food! We’ll be sure to give them a try while we’re adventuring across the state.
Wyoming and Montana is where quality beef can’t be beat. If you like red meat there is no better place in the country to indulge than in such close proximity to cattle ranches.
Of course, you’ll try poutine, the famous fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds Canada is known for! As we move towards the coast, salmon and other seafood specialties will be offered in abundance!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
US citizens need a passport to visit Canada.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.