Ultimate USA Trip Overview
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 eleven parks we’ll see on this action-packed 30-day adventure as we journey through the western USA on this ultimate teen adventure.
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 the red rock canyons in Utah, horseback ride in Wyoming, hike the narrows in Zion, float in the Grand Canyon and cross the iconic San Francisco bridge.
All of this and more on the American road trip of a lifetime!
During this program, you will…
- Visit 11 of North America’s most incredible National Parks
- Soak in some of North America’s best hot springs
- Go canyoneering and rock climbing* in Moab, Utah
- Watch Old Faithful erupt in Yellowstone
- Get your adrenaline pumping while white water rafting
- Spend the afternoon on in Jackson, trying your hand at paddleboarding!
- Bike San Francisco’s iconic streets
- Ferry to the legendary island Alcatraz prison
- Stand under the great redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument
- Explore the famous Going To The Sun Road in Glacier
- Float through the Grand Canyon
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN KALISPELL (FCA)
After meeting your TFT staff at the airport we will take the short 30 minute drive to our cozy accommodations at the “Crown of the Continent”, Glacier National Park. Have dinner with your new friends as we talk about all of the excitement that lies ahead.
DAYS 2-3: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
A showcase of melting glaciers, alpine meadows, carved valleys, and spectacular lakes, Glacier is a paradise for adventurous visitors seeking wilderness steeped in human history. We will start off our time in this surreal place with an optional fly fishing lesson and a trip up Going-to-the-Sun Road to check out the Highline Trail. You’ll walk across the incredible glacially carved valley without putting in hours of elevation gain! You will be sure to never forget the otherworldly nature of Glacier as we depart for our next stop.
DAY 4: GLACIER NATIONAL PARK > MISSOULA
Head out on the road for the first leg of our scenic road trip. Stop along the way for a swim in gorgeous Flathead lake and hike along the Berkley pit. Take a step back in time as we stay in Missoula, Montana and explore this charming western town.
DAY 5: MISSOULA > WEST YELLOWSTONE
The road headed south brings us to Wyoming, where Yellowstone National Park awaits. Continue our cultural dive into the old American west with with a horseback ride in the high mountains and a classic Rodeo night. Settle in to our cozy accommodation in West Yellowstone which will serve as the perfect jumping off point to explore this incredible park.
DAY 6: YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
A place so incredible that it was named Americas first national park, Yellowstone is a wildly unique place plentiful with hydrothermal and geologic features. Within Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres, visitors have unparalleled opportunities to observe wildlife in an intact ecosystem, explore geothermal areas that contain about half the world’s active geysers, and view geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
We will be sure to encounter all sorts of wild life including moose, bison, elk, pronghorn, and even bear! Bring your binoculars and be ready to have some up close experiences with some of the largest mammals in our country.
DAY 7: YELLOWSTONE > JACKSON
After breakfast depart Wyoming for our next stop Grand Teton National Park and Jackson, Wyoming! Spend the day making your way through Grand Teton and explore a lot of what this park has to offer.
Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands as a monument to the people who fought to protect it
DAYS 8-9: JACKSON
No trip to the west would be complete without a classic Western favorite- horseback riding! Saddle up your horse for a lesson and fun ride through the forest. No experience is necessary and your ride will be tailored to your skill level.
After your morning ride head to beautiful Coeur D’Alene. This charming city offers an idyllic landscape and a beautiful large turquoise lake. Spend your first night directly on the water watching the sky reflect its brilliant orange and pink hues across the lake on a sunset boat cruise.
The next day kick the adventure up a notch with an exciting zipline tour! Soar from tree to tree and experience the thrill of flying through the forest. After enjoying Coeur D’Alene from the air enjoy it from the ground with a beautiful lakeside hike to hit up some of the best viewpoints.
DAY 10: JACKSON > BEAR LAKE, IDAHO
Time to head to your next state, Idaho! Make our way through the rockies as we explore this hidden gem of a state. Home to the most natural hot springs in the country and numerous alpine lakes we will stop at Bear Lake to take a dip in the pristine waters and rest up before heading on our way.
DAY 11: BEAR LAKE > SALT LAKE CITY
We’ll continue our journey in the beautiful city surrounded by the Wasatch mountain range, Salt Lake City. Being the closest metropolitan area to a designated wilderness area in the United States, Salt Lake is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts seeking easy access to the mountains. Explore the world renowned mountain town, Park City, go for a hike 12,500 feet above sea level on Guardsman’s pass, and eat well at one of our favorite local restaurants. You will surely be impressed by this underrated city.
DAY 12: SALT LAKE CITY > MOAB
Head on the road to one of the most unique towns in all of the US: Moab. Positioned right between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park this is one of the premier outdoor adventure locations in the whole world.
DAYS 13-14: MOAB: ARCHES AND CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARKS
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, 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 at what was formerly plains and contemplate how nature shaped the canyon into what it is today.
DAY 15: MOAB > BRYCE CANYON
We will continue on with with the Utah portion of our trip today by heading to another of the incredible “Mighty 5” national parks of Utah, Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon is famous for its thousands of red-orange hoodoos that make up its iconic landscape. The panoramic views of this park are mind-boggling. Spires and sweeping sandstone rock give way to winding trails begging to be explored. Hike through one of the park’s many trails and experience being surrounded by these unique formations as they tower over you.
DAY 16: BRYCE CANYON > ZION NATIONAL PARK
After a morning in Bryce, hop in the van to make our way to the last stop in Utah. The awe-inspiring Zion National Park.
DAYS 17-18: ZION NATIONAL PARK
Wake up in a truly otherworldly place and get excited for some amazing views. Spend your morning hiking one of the park’s world renowned trails, the narrows. Hiking through an ancient slot canyon, keep your eyes glued to the sky as we ponder the mesmerizing force of erosion right over millions of years. Admire the sweeping views as the sun goes down and watch as the cliffs start to glow a bright orange before a starry night sky starts to take over. This area is home to some of the best stargazing in the country! You have to see it to believe it.
DAY 19: ZION NATIONAL PARK > GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Heading on to our next great state, Arizona, we will have our eyes on one of the natural seven wonders of the world, The Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 278 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. Located on the ancestral homeland of 11 Associated Tribes, Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world—unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers visitors on the rim.
Explore this incredible natural phenomenon as we hike along the rim and catch the sunset before we head to bed and get ready for a big day tomorrow.
DAY 20: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Today we experience the Grand Canyon like very few will ever be able to. We will head down into the canyon and set off on one epic float adventure down the Colorado river. Gaze up at the towering cliffs on all sides of you as you learn about the history and geology of this mighty river. Stop for lunch along the way at a swim spot and explore what it is like to be at the bottom of the greatest canyon in the world.
DAY 21: GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK > JOSHUA TREE
Heading further west, today we will make the trek to Joshua Tree national park. Along the way stop in Sedona and explore the quirky town and landscapes that makes it an international destination.
DAY 22: JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California.
Explore the highlights of this park as we rock climb, check out the “Cholla Cactus Garden”, and get deep into this seemingly never ending landscape.
DAY 23: JOSHUA TREE > DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Coming a long way from the 14,000 ft peaks of Montana, Wyoming, and Utah today we will go to the point of lowest elevation in the United States, Death Valley national park. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make it a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life thrives in Death Valley.
DAY 24: DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK > MAMMOTH LAKES
From the lowest point in the US to Mammoth Lakes, we will gain nearly 7,500 feet in elevation today on a wildly scenic drive. Pack your swim suit for a stop at an off-the-beaten path hot spring along the way!
DAY 25: MAMMOTH LAKES
Start our day early with a mountain biking adventure just minutes from our accommodation. As one of the premiere mountain biking destinations in the country, it is perfect for all levels to hit the trails, soak in the views, and get a taste of this thrilling hobby.
After mountain biking head up to hike Devil’s Postpile. The mountain and basalt columns Mammoth Lakes is known for. Pass immaculate waterfalls, scenic vistas, and secret swimming holes on our way to the top.
DAY 26: MAMMOTH LAKES > YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
As we say goodbye to Mammoth Lakes, we will head towards our final National Park, Yosemite. One of the most visited parks in the world for good reason.
DAY 27: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. A shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra, Yosemite is sure to not disappoint.
Take a sunset hike, explore countless waterfalls, and soak in our last full day in the great wilderness of the West.
DAY 28: YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK > SAN FRANCISCO
Pack up early for the last road trip portion of our trip! The coast in our sights as we drive to San Francisco.
DAY 29: 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 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.
Have a true night out on the town with a fancy final dinner! We’ll talk about all the adventures we had and look forward to lifelong friendships we have made.
DAY 30: RETURN HOME FROM SAN FRANCISCO
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.
"Thank you, Kevin! She was really hesitant to try something like this before the trip, so we are so happy she participated and delighted she managed it well. Thank you again for your leadership and for doing such a thoughtful and wholehearted job!"
"Totally blown away! From day 1 to day 11! Breisen and Kristina are two amazing people. I don’t know how else to express my complete gratitude to & for them. I am just blown away and have been since the beginning. The funny thing is, from the get go, I saw it in the pictures that were posted on Waldo. They were amazing, fabulous, wonderful pictures that really told a story (as far as I am concerned). What I saw was a group of strangers that truly appeared comfortable, respectful of each other and appeared to really get along with each other. Part of that is just the group itself but the main reason, I believe, is that these amazing people made that happen & ARE TRULY EXPERTS AND AMAZING IN DOING WHAT THEY DO! They nailed it! I had basically no fear throughout this trip and when I did have a concern, there was an explanation immediately. All I can say is that I would send my children on a trip, (almost) anywhere in the world, with Breisen and Kristina! Throughout the morning at the LAX airport they happily and enthusiastically got every child either safely on their flight or at the very least, safely to their gate destination. I saw it! That is a HUGE feat! I flew into LAX because I was just nervous about my daughter in LAX by herself but I TOTALLY didn’t need to do that. This is one happy momma!!"
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is unique about the USA Ultimate Adventure trip?
From a boutique hotel in the center of Moab under the Utah desert sky to a cabin resort in Wyoming, our choice of accommodation trumps any chain hotel. USA Ultimate Adventure 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 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.
What do students like most about the USA Ultimate Adventure trip?
Students love that they are able to explore so many national parks and beautiful destinations!
During your USA Ultimate Adventure, you will be able to hit eleven National Parks in 30 days without feeling rushed!
This adrenaline-filled trip has a great mix of different activities for every place! Dare to fill your summer with new and enriching experiences?
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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!
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, and Missoula. A counselor will always be nearby when participants have free time in each city.