A chance to see an amazing variety of sights across 4 US states, and as many Canyons and scenic views as you can take!
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
There were many great moments - the places we visited were each quite unique, and the contrast between the grey and white granite of Yosemite and the red rocks of Zion and the other canyons, was amazing. Yosemite was beautiful, Zion was dramatic, Canyonlands was awe-inspiring, Bryce was fantastic and possibly my favourite, Arches was fascinating and the Grand Canyon, to use a phrase our leaders would have used, was 'Super Awesome'. A particular highlight was seeing 2 huge Elk near the campsite at the Grand Canyon. It was also good to see all the other wildlife including a bear in the distance in Yosemite, mule deer, squirrels, chipmunks, a fox and bright blue birds.
We took the optional extra of horse/mule riding into Bryce Canyon. I can recommend it - you don't have to be able to ride in order to do this, as it is all at a walk. I would also recommend the helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon if you can afford it as the views are spectacular. We also did the sunset hummer drive which was good fun.
Unfortunately due to there still being snow higher up in Yosemite, we could not do Half Dome, although we had great views of it; and in Zion due to snow melt we could not wade 'The Narrows'. However we climbed Angel's Landing in Zion which was great fun.
- What did you think of your group leader?
- Christian and Amanda were good leaders, they were flexible and tried to ensure that everyone's needs were met. Once they realised I was not only a vegetarian but quite fussy over what I ate, they gave me a free rein to select my own vegetarian items when we did the group shop.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
The trip notes do say that this is a full itinery and that there are early starts and long drives. This is true - I had not expected that these early starts would include several days at 4 and 5am, but having said that, after a few days of walking in the heat of midday, we all actually asked to get up an hour earlier than they suggested on the day of the Grand Canyon walk!
Be prepared to not only assist with camp chores like cleaning the van, helping to shop and washing up, but also to actually be reponsible for cooking some meals for everyone. Most of our trip had only expected to ASSIST with cooking, so it was a bit of a shock to be told we had to cook for 14 people! However after a discussion with the trip leaders, they were very flexible and we agreed to re-do the rota so those who wanted to cook could do so, and the others would take over the other chores.
The trip notes said bring a 4 season sleeping bag but when we went (start of June) - it was up to a 100 degrees in the day, and still very warm at night so we didn't really need it. Perhaps this would only be needed for early departures. We were warned it was midgy season- but only had a problem with them briefly in one particular area of Arches National Park. The mosquitos were around at dusk in yosemite, so don't forget your repellant.
I recommend visiting the 36th floor of the Hyatt in Union Square when you arrive in San Francisco as they have a bar with a great view over the city.
Do as much as you can, but don't be afraid to opt out of the odd walk if you are feeling a little tired or need some time to yourself - the itinery is very full and there is not much time to just sit in camp and relax.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Overall it was a very good trip, we fitted in absolutely loads and saw so much. It is tiring and some days you are in the van for 8-9 hours, but after a while you get used to it, you have frequent stops and at least it is air-conditioned! The places you visit make it worth the long drives - so don't be put off.