USA & Canada: North American Expedition Overview
Get ready for the ultimate North American expedition! Our tour will take us all the way from the western USA, through some of the most stunning parts of the Pacific Northwest and into Canada, west through British Columbia, into one of the most world renowned towns in Canada, Banff, and then finally we will finish in Calgary.
Along the way, we will visit nine of the best National Parks in North America where you will be treated to a variety of stunning landscapes. You’ll be inspired by each change in scenery, including red rocks, mountains, glaciers, alpine lakes, volcanoes, oceans, rivers, and forests.
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! Rock climbing, canyoning, white water rafting, horseback riding, zip lining, and mountain biking are just some of the many activities we will enjoy on this epic 40-day adventure!
Come join us this summer on the best adventure trip in North America!
During this program, you will…
- Go hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, swimming, and kayaking through 9 of the most incredible national parks North America has to offer
- Ride horses through glacial carved valleys
- Ride the gondola on Blackcomb Glacier
- Stand at the top of the famous Seattle Space Needle
- Stand in awe below the Redwood trees of Muir Woods
- Soak in beautiful hot springs
- Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
- Test your balance with some stand-up paddleboarding
- Take the ferry to Alcatraz and imagine what it was like to be a prisoner there
- Live out your childhood dream of visiting Disneyland*
- Hang ten on a surfboard, kayak secret caves, and look for sea lions in La Jolla
- Take in the wonder of the mighty Grand Canyon
- Hike to Delicate Arch
- Walk among the stars at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Boulevard
- Explore the eclectic neighborhoods of Portland
- Hike in the mountains over crystal blue lakes in Banff
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN SALT LAKE CITY (SLC)
DAY 2-4: MOAB
Tucked on the border of Utah and Colorado, Moab is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise! Whitewater raft, explore the parks, 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, Arches and Canyonlands. The hike to 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 and contemplate how nature shaped the canyons into what they are today.
DAYS 6-7: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
You can’t visit Arizona without visiting the Grand Canyon National Park! We will hike the famous rim trail looking down into the canyon and catch a world renowned sunset. After exploring the park we will see why the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World!
DAY 8: JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK > PALM SPRINGS
Head to the third state on our adventure, California – next stop, Joshua Tree National Park! Can you believe this national park is larger than Rhode Island?
Two distinct worlds in one, Joshua Tree is home to both the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. While we go from the higher elevations to lower, we’ll pass through forests of giant yuccas, aka Joshua trees, see massive rock formations, and fan palm oases!
We’ll spend the night in Palm Springs and see what this laid-back, Hollywood desert oasis is all about.
DAYS 9-11: SAN DIEGO
Our adventure begins in sunny San Diego. We’ll get our first taste of the laid back Southern California lifestyle as we explore the neighborhoods and coastline that make this city so well known! Wander through Balboa Park, watch the seals of La Jolla form a sea kayak, hang ten as you learn to surf in the Pacific, check out he largest Zoo in the country, and absorb the history of the charming Gaslamp district. You will surely fall in love with the unique culture of Southern California.
DAYS 12-14: LOS ANGELES
Tackle the second largest city in the US without feeling overwhelmed! Wander through “Tinseltown” to spot your favorite celebrity along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and check out the Chinese Theatre, explore vibrant Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier, window shop along Rodeo Drive, and hike through Runyon Canyon for incredible views from the Griffith Observatory. You will even have the chance to go on an optional day trip to one of America’s favorite theme parks: Disneyland!*
DAYS 15: MORRO BAY VIA HIGHWAY 1
Arguably the most beautiful coastal road in the world, we’ll spend a couple of days snaking our way up it, staying in Morro Bay and stopping at the postcard-perfect beaches of Santa Barbara, the stunning McWay Falls, funky Bixby Bridge, Santa Cruz, and the purple sand of Pfeiffer Beach.
DAYS 16-18: SAN FRANCISCO
Experience all the best of the City by the Bay in the cultural epicentre of NorCal. Ride the historical cable car and enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of the famous Pier 39. Sample incredible seafood while watching the lazy sea lions bask along the pier before enjoying a delicious sundae at Ghirardelli Square. Explore San Francisco’s diverse neighborhoods on a bike tour, including Haight Ashbury, SoMa, Embarcadero, and Chinatown.
Head north to Marin County, where you’ll cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and stroll through the quaint seaside town of Sausalito before hiking through the impressive redwoods of Muir Woods. Hop on a boat across the bay to tour the infamous prison, Alcatraz, also known as The Rock.
DAY 19-20: LAKE TAHOE
The next stop 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, 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!
DAY 21: KLAMATH FALLS
Head north into Oregon and experience deep wilderness and peaceful nature unique to the pacific northwest. Explore Klamath Falls for the day. Home to the highest concentration of bald eagles in North America, keep eyes peeled as we explore protected wilderness areas and catch dinner in this charming town.
DAY 22: CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Today we will check out Crater Lake National Park. Hike to stunning waterfalls hidden in a 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 America 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 23: BEND
See why this is one of the fastest growing mountain towns in the nation as we paddle-board and hike in Bend. Positioned just east of the cascade mountains, with the might Deschutes river flowing through it, Bend is a paradise for anyone seeking pristine nature and a small town feel.
DAY 24-25: PORTLAND
Next, our adventure heads south to the hip city of Portland, Oregon! It’s time to learn just exactly what “Keep Portland Weird” means–we’ll experience the quirky PNW culture 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. As we drive towards Bend, we will stop along the mighty Colombia River and see the beauty of Mt. Hood.
DAY 26-27: SEATTLE
Head off to the beautiful Emerald City. Seattle is a place full of character and endless entertainment for all ages. Take the elevator up the Seattle Space Needle to see the city below 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!
DAY 28-29: VANCOUVER
We will take our first steps into Canada by heading north to the bustling city of Vancouver, nestled in the corner of British Columbia and surrounded by dramatic mountains and the beautiful Pacific ocean. Take in the sites of this multicultural mecca as we explore Granville Island, Robson Street and Stanley Park.
DAYS 30-32: 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, hike and swim in Lost Lake, zipline from peak to peak and even take the gondola on Blackcomb Glacier! We will visit Whistler Olympic Park, where you can live your winter Olympic dreams, and Blackcomb Adventure Zone.
DAYS 33: KAMLOOPS
As we make our way across the province of British Columbia, there’s no better place to stop than in Kamloops! Beautiful lakes and rivers welcome us as well as the opportunity to ride horses through the stunning valleys of BC.
DAYS 34-35: GOLDEN > REVELSTOKE
From Jasper we’ll continue on 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 36-38: BANFF
Home to two of Canada’s most popular National Parks, Alberta is the perfect place to continue our Canadian adventure! Leave the British Columbia 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!
DAY 39: CALGARY
Our last stop on this incredible trip will be Calgary, Alberta, home to the 1988 Winter Olympics! We’ll stay downtown and walk to a formal final dinner as we reminisce on the last month we spent exploring this great continent.
DAY 40: RETURN HOME FROM CALGARY
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.
"I wanted to let you know how appreciative I am for being such an amazing guide and counselor for the Canada trip teens. Ella had an awesome experience and will always remember this solo trip she engaged in. There were so many things she enjoyed and more importantly learned."
"I can’t thank TFT enough! Hannah had an amazing time and she’s so happy. What a fabulous experience it was for her. As a parent, it made me so happy to see her that way. Larry and Sophie were great leaders and took such good care of the kids. Hannah is my first child to do a teen tour and this experience exceeded my expectations. I did not expect to receive the daily email updates and photos and I loved them. It gave me a lot of comfort knowing she was in good hands. Thank you so much for your hard work! We appreciate it so much!"
"Visiting the West Coast and Canada was one of the best decisions of my life hands down. The National Parks were incredible sights to see. Rock climbing in Utah was the scariest adventure of my life, but so rewarding. I loved white water rafting and Alcatraz had the best audio tour I’ve ever heard. Camping out underneath the stars in Utah and Colorado was beautiful and I cannot imagine having a better experience. I loved the friends I made on the trip and my trip leaders were well equipped for all situations we experienced and amazing people in general. I can’t wait to travel with TFT again!"
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can go on this program? What kind of teen typically goes on this program?
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. All hotels or dorms are guaranteed to be clean, safe, and equipped with 24 hour security.
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.
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.
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 the USA & Canada: North American Expedition trip?
Students love that they are able to explore so many national parks and beautiful destinations! On the USA & Canada: North American Expedition trip you’re able to hit ten National Parks in 40 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 the USA & Canada: North American Expedition trip?
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. USA & Canada: North American Expedition peppers 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 (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, lunches, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
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 13 and 24 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 within the calendar year 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.
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!
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!
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. In the Southwest, try the best Mexican food you’ve ever had!
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. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
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.