Geography Trips to West Coast USA

Create a trip of a lifetime for your geography students travelling to America's West Coast.  With mega urban conurbations and spectacular geological phenomenon, this area showcases the extremes of man's achievement and nature's power. From San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, built on the San Andreas fault, to Las Vegas, a neon oasis in the heart of the Nevada desert, the mega cities of West Coast America show how man has overcome the challenges of the environment. Contrast Yosemite's waterfalls, glacial peaks and ancient sequoias, with the dry, arid and spectacular canyons of Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and of course the awesome Grand Canyon.

This region offers spectacular scenery, canyons, deserts, glittering cities and man-made wonders to provide an unforgettable geography experience. 


Curriculum Topics Key Stage 4

  • Urban sustainability 
  • Water and Energy
  • Tectonic Hazards

Curriculum Topics Key Stage 5

  • Contemporary urban processes
  • Contemporary sustainability issues 
  • Tectonic Processes and Hazards

Prices start from£1499pp

Popular itinerary

Our sample itinerary provides you with an idea of the visits you can cover during your trip. We can tailor-make an itinerary to support your specific learning outcomes.

Morning Afternoon Evening
1 Check in to UK airport for flight to Las Vegas Arrive and transfer to your accommodation Time to explore The Strip, stay overnight in Las Vegas
2 Depart Las Vegas for tour of Zion National Park and on to Bryce Canyon Overnight in Bryce or similar
3 Depart Bryce for tour of Grand Canyon National Park, including South Rim
4 Early Hoover Dam Power Plant Tour & Visitors Centre Transfer to Las Vegas airport for return flight Overnight flight back to UK
5 Arrive UK Airport, onward return travel to school
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Morning Check in to UK airport for flight to Las Vegas
Afternoon Arrive and transfer to your accommodation
Evening Time to explore The Strip, stay overnight in Las Vegas
Morning Depart Las Vegas for tour of Zion National Park and on to Bryce Canyon
Afternoon
Evening Overnight in Bryce or similar
Morning Depart Bryce for tour of Grand Canyon National Park, including South Rim
Afternoon
Evening
Morning Early Hoover Dam Power Plant Tour & Visitors Centre
Afternoon Transfer to Las Vegas airport for return flight
Evening Overnight flight back to UK
Morning Arrive UK Airport, onward return travel to school
Afternoon
Evening

Price Shown includes

  • Return Air Travel
  • 8 nights Room Only Hostel Accommodation on a Bedshare basis
  • Specialist Group Travel Insurance
  • Bespoke itinerary planning service
  • Free Place Ratios
  • Live Trip Tracking
  • Online trip organiser & Travel App
  • 24/7 support whilst you are away

Places to Stay


Reasons to Visit

Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

Bryce Canyon National Park is named after just one of many canyons which form a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. Erosion has carved colorful Claron limestones into thousands of spires, fins, arches and mazes. Collectively called "hoodoos," these unique formations are whimsically arranged and tinted with colors too numerous and subtle to name. From late May through early September, the free Bryce Canyon Shuttle takes visitors to the park’s most popular viewpoints, trails and facilities. Using the shuttle is voluntary, but encouraged.

Zion Canyon (Utah)

Zion National Park is Utah's oldest and most visited national park receiving around three million visitors each year attracted by the immense canyons, beautifully sculptured rock formations, soaring cliffs and breathtaking landscapes. Zion canyon was formed over centuries of erosion caused by tributaries of the Virgin River which left behind the beautiful eroded canyon walls and monoliths. Originally inhabited by the Anasazi people; their abandoned cliff houses and rock art are scattered throughout the park, later by the Paiute Indians before the first Mormon settlers arrived in 1858 and gave it the name Zion Canyon.

Grand Canyon South Rim (Nevada)

A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon will overwhelm your senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service. Today Grand Canyon National Park receives close to five million visitors each year. The oldest human artifacts found are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. There has been continuous use and occupation of the park since that time.

Hoover Dam (Nevada)

Standing 725 feet above the Colorado River, Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon on the border between Arizona and Nevada. Beginning with a film about its construction, this tour then takes you down into the bowels of the dam through the tunnels used for its construction, admire the beautiful terrazzo floors installed in the 1930s and the massive generators. A walk along the sidewalks on top of the dam provides awe-inspiring views of the dam face, Lake Mead, the intake towers, the Colorado River, and other features around the dam site.

Nevada Test Site

You can’t get much further behind the scenes than this tour! Encompassing an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, the Nevada Test is one of the most restricted-access areas in the United States. Visitors to the site can see first-hand many relics remaining from nuclear weapons test, rocket experiments, and other energy-related programs.

California Academy of Sciences

Visit this stunning architectural achievement with hundreds of unique exhibits and nearly 40,000 live animals, a great place for students to learn about species from around the world. It is the only place on the planet with an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and a 4-story rainforest all under one roof.

Death Valley National Park (California)

Death Valley is the hottest, driest, and lowest National Park. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley. A programme of Park Ranger Tours exists to get the most from your visit.

Golden Gate Bridge & Park

Arguably the world's most beautiful bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco with Marin County and can be experienced from near countless angles. Drive, bike, or walk across the two-mile long suspension bridge. The 1,000-acre Golden Gate Park, larger than Central Park, is located in the western area of the city includes several great museums, a botanical garden, and an arboretum.

Hoover Dam (Nevada)

Standing 725 feet above the Colorado River, Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon on the border between Arizona and Nevada. Beginning with a film about its construction, this tour then takes you down into the bowels of the dam through the tunnels used for its construction, admire the beautiful terrazzo floors installed in the 1930s and the massive generators. A walk along the sidewalks on top of the dam provides awe-inspiring views of the dam face, Lake Mead, the intake towers, the Colorado River, and other features around the dam site.

Muir Woods Monument (San Francisco)

The Muir Woods National Monument is home to one of the world's last remaining coastal redwood forests, this protected nature reserve allows travelers to get amongst these giant Northern California trees for an incredible experience only minutes from the city. Raised boardwalks and hikes allow you to get among these ancient trees who cool their roots in the fresh water of Redwood Creek and lift their crowns to reach the sun and fog.

Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find glacier-carved valleys, grand meadows, alpine peaks, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

Hearst Castle

Nestled in the hills, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Hearst Castle is one of the largest historic house museums with one of the most sophisticated guided tour programmes in the country. The tour takes visitors back through time exploring the life of William Randolph Hearst and his family, the art of collection, architecture, gardens and history of the Castle.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,500 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and 3 blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others.

Venice Beach

Known for its bohemian spirit, Venice beach and famous boardwalk is where street entertainers and vendors create an unforgettable scence.  It is home to funky shops, street entertainers, vendors and colourful murals. The lively skate park and Muscle Beach outdoor gym are the place to be seen.   A great place to get the feel of the sunshine city at it’s best.

Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Park Observatory is a facility which allows Southern Californian’s access to the cosmos! Open and free to visitors where you can look through telescopes, explore exhibits and see live shows in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium.  It is also worth a visit to enjoy the spectacular views of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean.

Getty Center

The Getty Center in Los Angeles features pre‐20th‐century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th‐ and 20th‐century American, Asian, and European photographs. In addition, the Museum’s collection at the Center includes outdoor sculpture displayed on terraces and in gardens and the large Central Garden designed by Robert Irwin.

Las Vegas

Soak in the atmosphere of this amazing 24/7, buzzing city which also serves as the leading financial, commercial, and cultural center for Nevada.

Alcatraz Island

The formidable fortress in the middle of San Francisco Bay known as “The Rock” started out as a lighthouse station in 1854, but its isolated location made it an ideal spot for a penal colony. Infamous former inhabitants include Al Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly and Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. The audio cellhouse tour, narrated by former inmates and guards, offers accounts of life at the prison and escape attempts.

Fishermans Wharf

The best known neighbourhood in San Francisco is home to the city’s waterfront community where it'a rich seafaring history comes to life. Waterfront marketplaces and the Wharf's famous fishing fleet complete with sea lions basking in the sun, seafood stalls and steaming crab cauldrons; you know you’re in world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf. Souvenir shops and historic ships add to the atmosphere

Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Make your trip to San Francisco complete with a 1-hour Golden Gate Bay Cruise. You’ll depart Fisherman’s Wharf and cruise along the North Beach shoreline.

Coit Tower

The view from here is one of the most impressive in San Francisco, taking in the Bay, two bridges, and the Marin Headlands.

Cable Car Ride

A visit to San Francisco wouldn't be complete without a ride on San Francisco's most notable form of transportation. Hop aboard and you'll be treated to a unique 9 mph rolling tour of the city that includes views of Nob Hill, Fisherman's Wharf, the Bay and Alcatraz Island.

Cable Car Museum

At this entertaining museum you can find out how the cars work, as well as view the cable-winding machinery that actually powers them. You'll also learn about emergency procedures, bell-ringing competitions and the workmanship that goes into each car.

Chinatown

Home to the largest concentration of Chinese outside China, San Francisco’s Chinatown packages exotic shops, restaurants, produce markets, temples and more within nearly two dozen downtown blocks.

Levi Strauss Headquarters

The Vault, the lobby exhibition space, has displays focusing on the history of the company, including jeans that saw the gold rush, videos about Levi's marketing and textile restoration, and temporary displays such as the jeans made for celebs like Lady Gaga and Elton John. You can purchase Levi's and Dockers straight from the source at the cosy lobby boutique. The wonderful Filbert Steps to Coit Tower are across the street.

 

Wells Fargo Museum

Located at the site where Wells Fargo first opened for business in 1852, the museum tells the story of how Wells Fargo provided banking and express services to pioneers in Gold Rush San Francisco.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

The museum features exhibits chronicling the life and legacy of Walt Disney.

Sausalito

Step aboard the Sausalito Ferry for ride to this delightful community just across the Bay. The city of Sausalito offers the charm of a quaint Mediterranean seaside village tucked amongst the hills of Marin County. Meander the narrow streets, browse through art galleries and shops, and dine at some of the best restaurants in the Bay Area, all the while enjoying stunning views of San Francisco.

Farmers Market

Fort Mason Center transforms into a farmers’ market and its proximity to the Bay and view of the Golden Gate Bridge certainly makes it one of the most scenic markets. The market is packed with vendors, offering beautiful seasonal produce and prepared foods, and families.

Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House is a mansion in San Jose which was once the personal residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Wirt Winchester. The Victorian mansion is renowned for its size, its architectural curiosi?es, and its lack of any master building plan. It is a designated California historical landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Barbary Coast Trail

Barbary Coast Trail is a walking tour that connects the City’s most important historic sites marked by approximately 180 bronze medallions and arrows embedded in the sidewalk along the 3.8 mile route. The sites of the trail date from the California Gold Rush of 1849 to the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, a period when San Francisco grew from a small village to the busiest port on the West Coast.


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What you say

We investigated six companies and EST provided by far the best value for money with impressive organisation and support structure. Thank you very much for making this an outstanding trip for every member of our party. 

Beech Hall School

The visits were superb!  The students were amazed at the Grand Canyon and thoroughly enjoyed our trek through Zion National Park. 

University Academy Holbeach