USA: Ultimate Adventure
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 through the western USA and into the Pacific Northwest 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, whitewater raft rivers in Wyoming, explore hot springs in Idaho, Kayak across Lake Tahoe, 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 ten 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
- Stay at an adventure lodge in Idaho
- Get your adrenaline pumping while white water rafting
- Spend the afternoon on Lake Tahoe, trying your hand at sports fishing!*
- Stand at the top of the famous Seattle Space Needle
- Bike San Francisco’s iconic streets
- Test your balance with some stand-up paddleboarding*
- Ferry to the legendary island Alcatraz prison
- Stand under the great redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN DENVER (DEN)
DAY 2-3: 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 we’ll stop at the famous natural music venue Red Rocks Amphitheater before making our way into the Colorado Rockies en route to Utah! 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 6-9: 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 9-11: 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 11-14: WHITEFISH, MONTANA
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains and the gateway to Glacier National Park, Whitefish Montana is every adventure lover’s dream! Get your adrenaline pumping on a mountain biking adventure (all skill levels welcome!) and ride the stunning trails carved into the mountains. Take the gondola to the top of the mountain and spot mountain meadows covered in wildflowers, pine forests, and local wildlife. At the top of the mountain hop on the alpine slide and feel the rush of zipping down the mountain while enjoying the beautiful views! After a day on the mountain head to charming Missoula for the rest of the evening.
DAYS 14-16: IDAHO ADVENTURE LODGE
After breakfast depart Montana for your next state, Idaho! Stop at a local primitive hot spring and soak in the natural healing mineral water while enjoying the peacefulness of the national forest. After a quick soak head to an exciting adventure lodge for the next few nights.
The lodge is situated on the banks of the Clearwater River and surrounded by forest. You couldn’t ask for a more serene setting! Spot plenty of wildlife directly from your cabin, you may even get lucky enough to see a moose wander by.
Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is 1.3 million acres of protected Idaho landscape and the lodge is the perfect jump-off point to experience it! Enjoy a hike with expert local guides who will bring the wildlife, plants, and history alive while keeping your eyes peeled for elk, black bears, and moose! Spend a day on the river floating on rafts and kayaks while enjoying the stunning scenery, splashing around with your friends, and jumping in for a swim.
Spend your evenings playing group games, soaking in the hot tub (each cabin has its own private tub!), and admiring a starlit sky beneath the glow of a campfire while swapping stories.
DAYS 16-18: COEUR D'ALENE
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.
DAYS 18-20: MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
Time to head to your next state, Washington! Stop at some hidden gems along the way including a visit to the Gingko Petrified Forest State Park, home to a rare and vast petrified forest. The abundance of tree species discovered here makes it one of the most diverse petrified forests in North America.
No trip to Washington State is complete without a trip to Mount Rainier National Park! Mt. Rainier is an active volcano that proudly stands 14,410 ft above sea level. Wildflower-filled meadows, lush forest, and roaring waterfalls surround the volcano and make it the perfect natural playground to explore! Hike through some of the most scenic trails in the park to see sparkling glaciers, stunning waterfalls, and alpine meadows splashed with colorful flowers. There are endless trails to explore and your expert TFT guides will take you to the best spots!
DAYS 20-22: 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 22-24: 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.
DAY 24-26: 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 26-29: 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 29-32: 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)
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 were awarded top youth travel organization in 2017.
"Ethan’s having an amazing time. He doesn’t have experience traveling so long and far from home, but he’s so immersed in the trip he is definitely not looking back. He’s enjoying the counselors, the kids, the experiences, the bus driver... Please keep up whatever you’re doing!"
"This is fabulous!!! Thank you for the update. The trip sounds magical. We so appreciate your leadership. Ethan has told us his counselors are "very cool and nice." He sounds so happy."
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.
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.
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.