North America is truly one of the most beautiful continents 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 nine parks we’ll see on this action-packed 33-day adventure as we journey from the western USA, through Canada, and into the Pacific Northwest.
Our goal will be to experience each destination beyond the traditional sightseeing and hiking, so we will be including plenty of fun adventure activities to help you get the most out of each destination! Climb up and canyoneer red rocks in Utah, whitewater raft rivers in Montana, zipline through coastal mountain forests in Canada, Kayak across Lake Tahoe, and cross the iconic San Francisco bridge. All of this and more on the North American road trip of a lifetime!
During this program, you will…
- Visit ten of North America’s most incredible National Parks
- Soak in some of North America’s best hot springs
- Go canyoning and rock climbing in Moab, Utah
- Watch Old Faithful erupt in Yellowstone
- Get your adrenaline pumping while white water rafting
- Stand at the top of the famous Seattle Space Needle
- Bike San Francisco’s iconic streets
- Take the ferry to Alcatraz and imagine what it was like to be a prisoner there
- Stand under the great redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument
This program is the combination of our three popular but shorter USA Adventure, Canada Adventure, and USA: Pacific Northwest Explorer programs. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, join us on our 44-day USA & Canada North American Expedition 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. 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 22: VANCOUVER
Then we’re off to Vancouver, a city nestled between the mountains and the sea, and our final Canadian city to explore! We’ll check out Granville Market, shop on Robson Street, and enjoy the summer afternoon while biking in Stanley Park.
DAYS 23-24: SEATTLE
After a short flight from Vancouver to Seattle, we’ll continue our journey in the beautiful Emerald City. Seattle is a place full of character and endless entertainment for all ages. Ride the elevator to the top of the Seattle Space Needle and look for Mt. Rainier in the distance! Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in Pike Place Market, visit the quirky Fremont Troll and add your piece of gum to the infamous Gum Wall.
DAYS 25-26: PORTLAND > MT. HOOD NATIONAL PARK
Then our adventure will head south to the hip city of Portland, Oregon! We’ll take the coastal route to Cannon Beach to see the iconic beach where the Goonies was filmed. Admire the unique rock formations that dot the shore and take in the stunning beaches of the Pacific Coast.
Then it’s time to “Keep Portland Weird,” where quirky PNW culture is thriving in this West Coast city. Famous for having over 500 food carts celebrating a wide variety of cuisine, we’ll grab lunch from and then hit the town to discover all the fun, interesting things Portland has to offer!
In addition to enjoying Portland’s amazing cuisine we will experience all of the incredible outdoor activities on offer. Hike the Columbia River Gorge and try to photograph all of Multnomah Falls in one shot. Gaze at the reflection of Mt. Hood in Trillium Lake and even try your hand at summer skiing on the volcano itself!
DAY 27: BEND > CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Bend will be our jump-off point for Crater Lake National Park. Hike to stunning waterfalls hidden in lush forest, including an epic basalt column waterfall, before reaching the ultimate view: Crater Lake. You’ve never seen a lake quite like this! The result of a volcanic eruption almost 8,000 years ago, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the most pristine lakes in the world. As you gaze from the rim down at its splendor, you can imagine the 1,949 feet (594 meters) of crystal clear water that fills the caldera.
DAYS 28-29: LAKE TAHOE
The next state on this action-packed adventure is sure to not disappoint. Your first view of Lake Tahoe will leave you speechless. The massive pool of bright blue water beneath the peaks of the Sierras is unlike anything in the world. Kayak, hike to Eagle Falls, and take a sunset cruise around this magnificent landscape. We’ll even ride the Heavenly Gondola to get a bird’s eye view of the lake in all its splendor. By the time we leave Tahoe you will have experienced all of the action this area has to offer!
DAYS 30-32: SAN FRANCISCO
Leaving the adventure haven of Lake Tahoe behind is hard, but not when you’re headed for the greatest city in Northern California! Cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco and get ready to live it up like a local. Bike or walk through the famous neighborhoods and stop at sights like the Painted Ladies and Lombard Street. Go out for dinner in Chinatown and indulge in a chocolate sundae from Ghirardelli Square for dessert. Take the ferry to Alcatraz and imagine what it was like to be a prisoner on this island less than 60 years ago! Before leaving California, hike through the iconic mighty redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument.
DAY 33: DEPART FROM SAN FRANCISCO (SFO)
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in a TFT 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.
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. All hotels or dorms are guaranteed to be clean, safe, and equipped with 24 hour security.
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 in on a family owned ranch in the middle of British Columbia. In Whistler, we’ll stay at a beautiful resort right off the mountain.
In Seattle and Portland, we’ll stay in hotels in proximity to downtown in order to fully take advantage of the food and entertainment around. In Bend, we’ll opt for a unique lodging experiencing to feel closer to the outdoors. In Tahoe, we’ll stay in South Lake Tahoe in a boutique hotel designed to feel like you’re camping indoors in bunk style dorms. In San Francisco, quality is priority in this older city.
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 so many national parks and beautiful destinations! On this trip you’re able to hit eight National Parks in 33 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 trumps 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?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; 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.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
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.
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.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Most of our North American programs are designed specifically so that participants can combine them with other trips. If you are connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the trip and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – Delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
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.
Once we hit Canada you’ll have to try poutine, the famous fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds Canada is known for! At the ranch, you’ll be fed family style high quality home cooked meals. As we move towards the coast, salmon and other seafood specialties will be offered in abundance!
Seattle is famous for its seafood but plenty of options will be offered for those who aren’t a fan. Pike’s Place Market is a perfect spot to have lunch and for coffee lovers, there’s no better city for a cup of joe! Portland is known for its many food carts (over 500!) and the famous Voodoo Doughnuts, both of which we’ll indulge in. We’ll have seafood and food influenced by the neighboring continent of Asia while in California.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group nearly always. Every day we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. We do offer some free time to do some shopping, for example, in defined areas that we are very familiar with. If participants are ever shopping by themselves within these defined areas they go in groups and for no more than an hour. On this trip, for example, the group will have some free time to explore some of the safe pedestrian areas of Moab, Jackson, San Francisco, and Portland. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city.
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?
American citizens traveling with a US passport do not need a visa to enter Canada. If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.