USA & Canada National Parks Road Trip (33 Days)
$9,495 + $140 Intra Trip Flight + Airfare
Jun 29 – Jul 31
9, 10, 11
|Places we visit:||
Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Optional group flight there:||
New York – JFK to Denver, CO
|Optional group flight back:||
San Francisco, CA to New York-JFK
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 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!
On this trip you will:
- Visit ten of North America’s most incredible National Parks
- Hike to Hanging Lake, a pristine alpine lake surrounded by waterfalls
- Soak in some of North America’s best hot springs
- Go canyoning and rock climbing in Moab, Utah
- Hike to a secret waterfalls for a refreshing swim
- Contemplate how nature formed the canyons found at Canyonlands National Park
- Hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
- Watch Old Faithful erupt and check out Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone
- Get your adrenaline pumping while white water rafting
- Hike the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
- Stand-up paddleboard, kayak or boat on alpine lakes
- Try your hand at fly fishing in Montana**
- See Peyto Lake, the bluest of its kind in the Canadian Rockies
- 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*
- Admire Emerald Lake in Yoho
- Mountain bike down North America’s best downhill trails*
- Zipline through coastal mountain forest
- Ski on a glacier and a volcano**
- Explore the majestic Crater Lake
- Hike to a stunning basalt column waterfall hidden in the forest
- Kayak and enjoy a sunset cruise around Lake Tahoe
- Stand at the top of the famous Seattle Space Needle and ride The Great Wheel
- Cross the Golden Gate Bridge
- 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
*An alternative option will be available for those who choose not to bike or go horseback riding.
**This is an optional excursion.
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM NEW YORK-JFK
DAYS 1-2: COLORADO–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: UTAH–ARCHES & 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. 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: WYOMING–YELLOWSTONE & GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS
The road headed north brings us to Wyoming, where Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks await. Our homebase 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: MONTANA–GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
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, ALBERTA
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, ALBERTA
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, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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 20-22: WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
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!
DAYS 23-25: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
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 Great Wheel on the shores of the Pacific and look for Mt. Rainier in the distance! In the evening, take the elevator up the Seattle Space Needle to see the glow of the city below. 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, OREGON–MT. HOOD NATIONAL FOREST
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 enjoy your first swim in the Pacific!
Portland is also known for having over 500 food carts celebrating a wide variety of cuisine. While we won’t be able to sample every single one, we will try to tackle as many as we can!
Still craving more tasty treats? The famous Voodoo Doughnuts are not to be missed! They come in all sorts of unique varieties- maple bacon or Froot Loops flavored donuts anyone?
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!
DAYS 26-27: BEND, OREGON–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 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 water that fills the caldera.
DAYS 28-29: LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA
The third 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 30-33: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
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: RETURN FLIGHT HOME FROM SAN FRANCISCO
Who can go on this trip? What kind of teen typically goes on this trip?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new.
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 by themselves?
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 are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you 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 BFFs on another TFT trip the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students generally like most on 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?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, trip related activities, trip related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not included (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, lunches, beverages other than tap water, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not trip related such as movies, clubs and the like, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the trip description such as damage to hotels, excess baggage fees and the like, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances such as transportation strikes, natural disasters and the like, personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this trip’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the trip starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on trips that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
Who are the counselors on the trip?
The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
All of our staff members attend a week long training session every May to prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
What is the average group size?
At Travel for Teens, we like to keep our group sizes small to allow for a more personalized program. Our average group size is between 14-21 students, which provides an authentic travel experience without any student feeling like “just a number” You would never be able to have the same experience with a group of 40-50 students!
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 trip?
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.
Do I need any vaccinations for this trip?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/.
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.
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.