Mardi Gras - 8 Days (One Way) or 13 Days (Round Trip).
Enjoy the adventure on the way to New Orleans and get ready for America's biggest party in the Big Easy! Part one of our Southern Road Trip, this one-way trip from San Francisco highlights some of the best stops along the way including Joshua Tree, Las Vegas, Big Bend, and Grand Canyon National Park.
Day 1 - Joshua Tree National Park / Las Vegas:
Our first overnight drive leads to a morning arrival in Joshua Tree National Park. Trek this otherworldly landscape and test your rock-hopping skills while keeping an eye out for the whimsical trees for which the park was named. Later we travel north on Historic Route 66 across the Mojave Desert to watch a very different kind of wildlife with a night out in glitzy Las Vegas!
Day 2 - Grand Canyon National Park:
At Arizona's awe-inspiring park, stroll along the Rim Trail and behold the canyon's wonder from the many overlooks, or go for the gusto and descend into the canyon on one of the routes on Bright Angel or South Kaibab trails. Whichever you choose, enjoy the mind-blowing panorama.
Day 3 - Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument:
Absorb the nature of this rustic desert terrain of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument on a tour of the natural caves -- inhabited more than 700 years ago by ancestral Pueblo people. Reflect on ancient times while soaking in a natural hot springs under the starry skies of a cool desert night.
Day 4 - White Sands National Monument:
Traverse the largest gypsum sand dunes in the world and try to capture photos of African Onyx, or just roll around in the sparkling White Sands National Monument for your own playful photographic opportunities. Round-em up, we'll head out toward the "Lone Star State" after a desert sunset.
Days 5 & 6 - Big Bend National Park:
Our journey continues through Texas and magical Big Bend National Park. Hike wild Chisos Basin, a perfect window to this giant desert park. Get close to this wild and diverse land and keep watch for the Mule Ears as we head to Santa Elena Canyon for a hike along the Rio Grande. Next, we bid good-bye to the West at one of our favorite watering holes, then head for the hills!
Day 7 - Austin:
Hit the big city with your friends and jam to a concert in Austin, take a plunge in the 1,000-foot long natural spring-fed pool at Barton Springs, or explore the trendy cafes of the South Congress district. Later share your stories onboard the bus as we roll into the deep south.
Days 8, 9 & 10 - New Orleans:
It's time for Mardi Gras! For the next four days, let this world-famous festival take you on a ride of sensory overload as bead-adorned bodies and voodoo magic fill the parades that float by. Feast on Cajun food while listening to the sweet sounds of sidewalk Zydeco, Dixieland jazz, or soft Delta blues that beat from every corner!
Days 11,12 & 13 - Return to San Francisco:
Stretch out, relax and recuperate after the festival as we make our way back to San Francisco. Enjoy a dinner out in San Antonio, Texas, then take a stroll along the river before snuggling into your pajamas and bedding down for a night drive.
Morning finds us in one of the most extensive caving areas in the world - Carlsbad Caverns! Journey into the depths of the Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico and take a self-guided tour of the underground world; marvel at the incredible variety of ancient formations and keep your eyes peeled for cave pearls, popcorn and a glimpse of the local bats who live here (but don't worry, they only eat insects).
We'll follow the setting sun west and on our last day we'll soak up the view along California's dramatic Big Sur Coastline. An excellent photo opportunity awaits near San Simeon where the elephant seal colonies swim thousands of miles to reach in order to give birth, molt and breed. They only visit for a few select months during the year, so keep your cameras handy! Later that day, we'll be saying our final goodbyes as we arrive in the evening in San Francisco.
Hostel accommodations now available through us for the nights in New Orleans :
Hostel accommodations available with booking this trip. Limited availability, please confirm and reserve at time of booking to secure hostel stay nights. Or call our office to add the hostel nights onto your reservation if you booked online.
Flexible Itinerary means that we may alter an itinerary depending on weather, local events, etc. Although we make every attempt to run our trips as advertised, please be aware that the itinerary may change to give you the best trip possible.
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