Please get yourself to one of the pick up locations in downtown Los Angeles. They are listed towards the bottom of this page.
You will head east across Los Angeles, before picking up Interstate 15, and driving north across the San Bernardino mountains, and through the desert. As you drop down the hill into Vegas the casinos and mega hotels start coming into view. As you will notice from the itinerary, today's trip is unescorted. What this means is that there is no tour guide with you, only the bus driver.
Depending on where you are staying you will be dropped off either at your hotel, or the one immediately next door to it. You are on your own for the rest of the day. The most convenient way to get around Las Vegas is on the public bus system, which is extremely reasonably priced, and a great means of exploring the length of the Strip, and all the way to downtown.
All Las Vegas Strip hotels charge what they call a resort fee. This is basically a way of ripping off guests. Unfortunately there is nothing that anyone can do about it, and you will need to pay the resort fee on check in.
If you want to, you are welcome to extend your stay in Las Vegas by as many nights as you choose! This option can be ordered on check out. Please bear in mind that weekends, holidays and convention period nights are more expensive. The way that it works is that you would spend as many extra nights in Vegas as you want, and then continue the tour the following day.
The rest of the tour is generally a small group trip, with the vehicle we use having between nine and 14 seats. Our guides are skilled in the geology, customs, traditions, history and people of the areas through which you travel – feel free to ask all and any questions!
The tour route heads in a generally westerly direction, as we leave the bright lights of Sin City behind.
You may be surprised to learn that Las Vegas is actually in the middle of a desert, which we come to as soon as we depart town. After climbing up and down a small mountain and traveling through the desert, we arrive at the town of Pahrump, where brothels are legal! From there we carry on to Shoshone, which is located at the south east entrance of Death Valley.
Death Valley is the lowest, hottest and driest part of North America. We will be visiting Badwater, which is about 280 feet below sea level. On the way we will stop to take pictures, and may even check out some long abandoned buildings. At Furnace Creek we will detour to Zabriskie Point, to take in the beautiful rock formations, and after strolling up to the top we will drive back towards Furnace Creek, where the elevation once again drops to sea level and below.
We will stop at Furnace Creek for a while, at the Visitor Center and gift shop, to allow you to do some shopping and perhaps buy a snack. From there the tour makes for Stovepipe Wells Village, passing Devils Cornfields and an impressive cluster of sand dunes along the way.
The road out of Death Valley heading west climbs up enormously, and on most trips we will turn off the air conditioning in the vehicle, to help prevent the vehicle from over heating. Expect to be hot for half an hour or so! On the way up the mountain we pass signs every couple of miles, advising that radiator water is just up the hill!
The route to Mammoth Lakes is scenic and we will stop to take photographs and get refreshments along the way. After dropping down from the mountains surrounding Death Valley the road follows the Sierra Nevada mountains north, past Mount Whitney, at 14 505 feet (4 421 metres) high, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. We will spend the night at Mammoth Lakes, a quaint little town close to Mammoth Mountain Ski area.
There are times of the year when special events are held there, and if the town is full we will overnight in Bishop.
We hope to have an early start this morning, to enable you to get to San Francisco before it gets dark. The scenery is once again picturesque as we climb up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and to the east entrance of Yosemite, on the Tioga Pass. After being below sea level in Death Valley you are now at almost 10 000 feet (almost 3000 metres)! The change in temperature is very noticeable. There can be as much as a 75 degree (24 degrees Celsius) temperature difference between Death Valley and the eastern part of Yosemite!
It is only about an hour to the top of the Tioga Pass, and the rest of the time you see mentioned above is spent touring Yosemite.
Just as is the case with the Grand Canyon and Zion, the east entrance to Yosemite is only seen by a handful of the huge numbers of people who visit Yosemite. The scenery is spectacular, and we will take a leisurely drive down to the Yosemite Valley far below, stopping frequently to admire the views and take photographs.
For many the highlight of the trip is El Capitan, the towering rock mountain. If you look carefully you can often see climbers attached to the sheer granite walls. On the valley floor you will have the opportunity to see Yosemite Falls, the highest waterfall in North America, as well as get yourself a bite to eat and perhaps buy some souvenirs.
Please be aware that the Tioga Pass, which is the east entrance to Yosemite, is closed because of snow from winter through sometime in the spring. When this happens, the tour will spend a little less time in Death Valley and instead enter Yosemite at the south entrance. This route is a little longer.
Please also be aware that it is possible, but unlikely, that there will be snow restrictions on the road from the south entrance to Yosemite Valley. If that is the case, however, we will once again spend additional time in Death Valley, bypass Yosemite, and go from Death Valley to San Francisco. The night will probably be spent in the vicinity of Fresno.
You can extend your stay in Yosemite. Instead of leaving Yosemite now and continuing your tour, you can spend as many extra nights in the park as you like. When you order the tour, you will see an option to add extra time in Yosemite. Simply add as many additional nights as you want to stay there. Our preferred property is Yosemite Lodge. Please be aware that lodging here sometimes sells out more than a year ahead of time! If that is the case we may be able to offer you lodging elsewhere. We will always let you know what the situation is before processing your order.
You will be at liberty to explore Yosemite on your own for the extra time that you choose. Please note that there will not be a tour guide with you for the extra period. The extended stay is subject to lodging availability in the park. We will check this once the order has been placed.
The rest of the group will continue with the regular tour. If you extend, you will be picked up after your extended stay. The tour carries on as detailed below for those who are not spending a night or two in Yosemite.
We will leave Yosemite by the west entrance, driving through some more of the park on the way out.
In time the countryside gives way to urban sprawl, before San Francisco comes into view. You will get great views of the city and the ocean as we cross the Bay Bridge and go over Yuerba Buena Island, towards Fisherman's Wharf.
The days and dates this tour operates can be seen in the calendar at the top right of this page.
Prices are based on double occupancy. Single, triple and quad occupancy rates are also available, and will be seen at checkout. There are no taxes.
After ordering this tour please wait to receive a confirmation email from us before making any plans that are dependent on this tour.
The entry fees to both parks are included.
Two nights' lodging are included. In Vegas it will be a minimum three star hotel on the famous Strip. Please let us know if there is not at least one person 21 or older in each room as most Vegas hotels require this. At Mammoth Lakes it will be a minimum three star hotel. If there is a special event on at Mammoth we will stay at Bishop instead. If the night in Vegas falls over a weekend, convention or holiday period, a higher price may apply.
The price includes the services of a guide/driver and transportation.
The vehicle used is either a small mini bus, or an executive van, which is a van with individual, high back, reclining seats, except for the trip from LA to Vegas, which is almost always operated by a supplier in a large coach, and Yosemite to San Francisco, which is sometimes serviced by a supplier in a large coach.
No meals are included.
All times are approximate. We are not responsible for the consequences of any delays, and this itinerary may change without notice.
A minimum of two people may be required for a tour to depart. That is not two in your group, but a total of two.
Yosemite's east entrance only opens when the snow has been cleared. Until this happens, this tour will spend a little less time in Death Valley, overnight in Fresno, and enter Yosemite by the south entrance.
In the unlikely event of snow restrictions being in effect, in the winter, from Yosemite's south entrance, additional time will be spent in Death Valley. Yosemite will be bypassed, and the tour will go from Death Valley to San Francisco.
Tour departure details are: 7.20 a.m. Downtown Los Angeles: On the corner of 8th and Maple (with the entrance on the Maple side). 767 Maple Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90014
7.45 a.m. East Los Angeles: 5201 E Olympic Blvd (Futura Travel office). Los Angeles, CA 90022
There are actually three departures during the day. If you do not let us know in the comments section which one you want, we will assume it is the first. The other two are: 1:00pm Downtown Los Angeles, CA ; and 1:30pm East Los Angeles, CA
6:30pm Downtown Los Angeles, CA; and 7:00pm East Los Angeles, CA
Please note that on some Tuesdays and Wednesdays the earliest departure may not be available, and the 1 p.m. bus may be the first on those two days.
Please let us know if we can book a van service to downtown LA for you.
This tour drops off in the Fisherman's Wharf area as detailed above.
Portions of this tour may be contracted to other reputable vendors.
Be careful about making any arrangements for the date this tour returns. We are not responsible for the consequences of delays.
Payment And Cancellation Details: CANCELLATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED FOR THIS TOUR. Changes will also not be accepted, and refunds will not be given. Please consider purchasing trip insurance as our cancellation policy is strictly enforced. The payment schedule is as follows: Half of the total will be charged any time from when you make the booking. The other half will be charged 30 or fewer days from the tour date, at our discretion.