G Adventures: Coast to Coast Eastbound – Death Valley to Grand Canyon

Bishop and Death Valley

After heading out of Yosemite, we camped at Bishop for the night. A lot of stops on this trip are to break up the drive times – we done no nighttime driving and always stayed somewhere which meant we were always somewhat rested for the days ahead.

Driving through Death Valley is something that wasn’t on my bucket list before but is something I would add to anyone’s. It was around 45ºc when we went which our tour guide remarked “wasn’t even that bad” as they had driven through when it was 55ºc a few weeks before. We stopped and explored for around half an hour but any longer and I think we would have gained a few empty seats in the van…

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For real, though.

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We walked to see the sand mountains and if you do the same:

PLEASE TAKE WATER.

I almost fainted around this part and it was not fun. Good thing we had Vegas coming up…

Las Vegas

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So it all got a bit messy in Vegas as expected and this is one of my few surviving photographs. Dancing on beds in the clubs, getting married outside the Little White Chapel, making some money on the stripper poles in the party van and most importantly for me, getting a new pair of glasses in one hour for £180, some good food, a bed actually inside a hotel rather than a campsite and seeing a good ol’ show (a few of us saw Zumanity but there was heaps to see and at least two people going to each show from the group), Vegas very much delivered.

Grand Canyon

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No time to focus when you’re terrified really.

Since I went to Florida as a 13 year old, Route 66 has been a dream of mine which got thrown into reality on this trip. You’re only on it for a bit, but it’s enough. We went to the local favourite of Snow Cap Burgers, which is eccentric to say the least.DSC00288

We drove onto Grand Canyon and done a quick walk of the rim before eating some pizza (a rare treat) back at camp.

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Nope.

The next day was a more intense hike for most of the group – they completed the Bright Angel trail which takes you 12 miles into the bottom of the Canyon. I’m not an experienced hiker, or exerciser really, so rather than passing out I thought I’d play it safe. I wasn’t alone, three other ladies joined me although one of their reasons was because they cut open their knee running up escalators the wrong way in Vegas. No comment as to whether I was behind her, following her lead. DSC00369 DSC00428

Continued in Monument Valley to Carlsbad Caverns!

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7 thoughts on “G Adventures: Coast to Coast Eastbound – Death Valley to Grand Canyon

    1. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for most of us! There’s so much information to find out. We also done a helicopter ride that if you’ve got the budget to do it, I would highly recommend – it makes you realise the sheer vastness of it. And the Bright Angel trail is something that I hope I can do at another time maybe, so if you’re physically able, look into it! Hope you enjoy it!

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  1. I read your whole blog on your trip across America and it sounds amazing! Me and my boyfriend are doing this trip in August and we are so excited after reading this! There’s a few questions I have…

    1. What age/kind of people are on the tour? – me and my boyfriend don’t want to be the only couple!

    2. How much would you recommend for us to take for spends?

    3. On the days where food is included, what kind of food was there?

    4. Is there chance to wash clothes since we probably will be packing for 2 weeks worth of clothes.

    Sorry for all the questions! SO SO excited!

    Jess

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    1. Thanks so much for reading! I wrote it with the hope to help someone get a taste of what it was as I couldn’t find anything before I booked! August is such a good time to go, honestly, it’ll be hot most of the way which makes camping quite nice. It might be VERY hot, Vegas to New Orleans though so come prepared for that. So to answer your questions…

      1. We ranged from 18 to 30. Majority were 20-25 though. I gelled with most people regardless of age but there was a slight divide of people that wanted to sleep and people that wanted to party – on a big trip like this though, I found it to be quite natural. It’d be hard to even describe the mix of people because we were all so different but most people enjoyed what we were doing so you share a mutual bond that way. We were apparently quite a.. erm.. rowdy bunch, we liked going out and staying up drinking under the stars and our guides made it clear that not all groups are like this. But saying this, it was like 65% of us that were like that so if I was knackered and wanted to sleep, that was fine too.
      There was a German couple on our trip, they were lovely and we even sent each other Christmas presents after! Everyone loved them and it definitely wasn’t like ‘urgh, the couple’ if that’s what you’re worried about! There were also sisters, best friends and then a bunch of solo travellers. Our guides had a rule that we had to sit next to someone different every day on the coach which meant that people that came together had to (even though you probably would by your own accord) get to know other people – I loved this though as it meant you’d get to know people on a seven hour drive that you might not have thought you’d have a lot in common with.

      2. I can’t even begin to answer this question. I never calculated exactly how much I spent because I’m a big in denial baby. I went hard though so I’m maybe not the best example. I’ll run through your basic daily costs though.
      Food – I’ll go into this more but most meals are included so it’s snacks, any particular food you want that’s not in the group budget and occasional restaurants/lunches in cities. This is where I messed up. I’d buy a load of food at Walmart that I didn’t even have enough time to eat and then I’d buy loads of crap at gas stations. If I could do it again or went on another trip, I would have a set amount each day for gas station stops and wake up early to pack snacks that I bought in bulk rather than paying gas station prices. Food IS cheap in America, but not when you’re buying double of it! Honestly, when you get off your bus for the first time in five hours, nothing seems better than $10 of junk food but that’s $300 right there over the trip, minimum. Add $30-40 at Walmart every few days and you’ve got a big hole in your budget. This is where most of my unexpected money went.
      Extra stuff that not everyone thinks about: laundry, pay-for showers, tipping, a few cabs, clothes if you find yourself unprepared, a lot of bottled water if you don’t like the taste of American tap water (a lot of people didn’t).

      Activities – mostly included, all your camping and most excursions are included just the extras as they say, I can’t think of any ‘hidden costs’ that weren’t explained beforehand – helicopter rides, an overnight stay at Monument Valley and a few nights out. I somehow only spent $200 in Vegas (for others they went mental ha) but I planned for that. We went out at night in Vegas, New Orleans, San Antonio, Memphis and Nashville. Some days when you’re camping/hiking they’ll be no extra costs and then others you’ll want to do everything – these days were more at the end of my trip (Washington, Memphis, New York etc).
      Accommodation – I spent 3 days in San Fran at the beginning and 6 days in New York at the end so this ate my budget away also. I’d spend 3 days in New York if I could do it again but I still loved it.
      I spent a lot on souvenirs but I love them so it’s okay!
      If I had to make an estimate…. Uhhh! I’d say I spent maybe £1500-2000. I think £1000 is the minimum you could spent whilst doing everything you want. You’ll probably spend less as a couple as well because I had no-one checking what I was buying!

      3. So with food – you normally get breakfast and lunch included most days. These are quite basic – for breakfast, bagels, toast, spreads, cereal, if you wake up early enough you could make yourself something hot. Then for lunch, sandwiches, lunch meat, packet of crisps, some veg, hummus/dip (stuff like that). Most days you’re hiking or doing some sort of activity so we’d just find a quiet spot and eat! I did love this as it meant you didn’t have to stop to go eat somewhere, you could eat on the side of a mountain/on a beach/in the bus.
      If you want stuff like fruit, nice American snacks, alcohol, certain stuff, we stopped off every few days and done a shop at Walmart. Most dinners are also included so we had a range of stuff – camp made burritos, chilli, healthy pastas and stir frys which you all help cook. For restaurants, we went to authentic Mexican diners in Texas, southern joints in Memphis, some amazing place in New Orleans – the guides usually tried to pair up where we were with the local cuisine. I definitely expected more meals to be restaurants but especially at the beginning of the trip at Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde, there is nowhere to eat! It’s lovely though, getting back from the day and cooking together then chilling around your fire.

      4. Yes! Honest to God, I wasn’t even ready for how much I loved camping out there. There was a, let’s say varied, level of comfort at all our campsites but the majority had hot showers and laundry services so you’ve got a chance every few days. Some of them were downright luxurious. There was a place we camped in Durango which was a stop through – if you go there, charge all your shit, enjoy a long hot shower (you’ll be there after Monument and please trust me, you will need that shower), put your laundry on and grab a beer. To be honest, laundry was what brought a lot of us closer! Sitting outside the shower/laundry hub at Grand Canyon for an hour or two was where a lot of us had one of our first big group chats, trying to save money by throwing your stuff together, trying to get back to your tent in the dark because you left your phone and haven’t got a torch so you’re trying to follow the sounds of singing..

      Sorry if the answers are a bit lengthy but I hope they help. Honestly, feel free to ask any more!

      It was so amazing, I’m still in contact with a few people from the trip and a few have booked more trips together. There were a few ups and downs just from where people get cranky from doing a lot of activities then sleeping on the ground, some things didn’t go to plan but I find this to be part of travelling so expected that not every day was going to be the absolutely best day of my whole life – but the trip all together was part of them.

      I’d love to know what you think your favourite part is going to be!

      Billi xx

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      1. Wow! Thank you so much this is all very useful info which we will definitely take on board!
        I’m DREADING the heat! My uncle lives in Vegas and works for cirque du solei so he’s managed to bag us some free tickets to a show out there! I’m guessing it’s ok to stray from the group at times to do our own thing?
        Little worried about being the only couple, there’s so much we want to get out of this experience together but we don’t want to separate outselves from everyone! And of course… We love to party….we are graduating this year so we love to drink as much as the next student!
        You say the camping is varied…. How so? And are the ‘beds’ comfy? I’ve get bad back aches if I’m sat around too long- which worries me with the long drives, I see that there’s like 7 hours sometimes of driving?!
        We are hoping to save around £1000/1500 each just to make sure we do everything we want to! In regards to tipping, does that take away a lot of money (I don’t want to piss someone off by not tipping enough!)
        I’m having a nightmare deciding what clothes to take… I want to pack for every occasion (shorts, t shirts, skirts, dresses, bikinis etc) is there anything you would say is a necessity? AND what shoes to take?! I was thinking of taking an old pair of Nikes for trekking, sandals and jelly shoes??
        Oh and we have brought 2 holdall bags for our luggage, I read your blog on packing for the trip and you took a back pack? I don’t want to turn up like a princess while everyone’s rough and ready to go!

        We are staying in San Fran for 2 days before and in New York 2 days after which will be q nice extension to our trip! Having never done this before I’m super excited but really nervous too!

        Thank you so much for this!

        Jess X

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  2. It’s fine! I mean, the heat in Vegas was a bit unbearable and camping in Texas was slightly difficult but other than that, I think most of us somewhat got used to it. Of course! We had about five separate groups go see different shows in Vegas and being used to solo-ish travel myself I done quite a few things alone along the way.

    Don’t worry about it – I’m sure they’ll be like at least best friends or siblings. As long as you’re going in with the right mentality of getting stuck in, I’m sure no one will bat an eyelid. We all loved our couple to pieces, together and separately!
    Hmm… The word ‘beds’ there worries me – we slept on inflatable sleeping pads, quite standard issue (not the cheapest, not the most expensive) and then with sleeping bags on top. I sleep okay in situations like this but every few nights I’d feel a bit rough for a few hours if I slept on a bump in the ground or something. If you think this might be an issue for you, I would possibly look into other options, like bringing your own pad that you’re comfortable on? If you do a few days and realise you might need something more, don’t fret though – there’s always Walmarts and stuff along the way to grab extra things you may have forgotten.

    The drives – there’s only a few massives ones between states, like three or four that are 5+ hours. I think Texas was the longest at maybe 8 hours. You stop every hour or two for bathroom and snack breaks so we’d just hop out, stretch on the side of the roads, wander around for 5-10 minutes and get back in. They ALWAYS made breaks so don’t worry about feeling too cramped. Most of us picked up pillows, quilts etc along the way for the coach so it’s literally whatever will make you more comfortable.

    Packing – as you have seen I went quite minimal! Generally speaking this is what I took:
    3-4 day to day hiking/bus clothes – shorts, sweat wicking t-shirts so I didn’t stink ha, tracksuit bottoms
    4 mix/match city exploring clothes – smarter than the above, four/five tshirts, pair of jeans, casual dress x2
    2 going out outfits – a nice dress for Vegas and I think a shirt/shirt combo for New Orleans (these got reworn for the other nights out)
    Honestly, rewearing is your best friend. I got to the point where I didn’t even care what I was wearing most days. There’s no mirrors anywhere so you kinda forget about fashion. The trip isn’t so varied that I would worry about fancy dinners vs hardcore hiking or extreme weather changes – so anything too technical or too nice can be left for sure. The one thing I almost didn’t take and I am SO glad I did was a pair of thin tracksuit bottoms. Just enough for the bus when the AC worked, comfy for the long drivers, pyjamas when it was slightly colder at night. Leggings or something similar would work but please don’t underestimate the power of your comfy clothes on this trip. Oh and flip flops – take a pair for the showers and campsites.

    Shoes. Oh, shoes. I struggled so hard. I took a pair of old Nikes, a pair of Vans and tan brogues.
    Here’s my review on my own choices hah!
    The Nikes – I took Free Run 5s. I work in a shoe shop and I should have known better. These shoes had nowhere – nowhere – near enough grip for the type of hiking we were doing. If I done a similar trip, I would buy some decent trail running shoes or a very light walking shoe (never ever boots though, the hiking isn’t hardcore enough for boots unless you want to do different trails). My shoes actually held me back from doing certain trails. They are comfy as hell for general walking but for hiking, no.
    Think about whether your old Nikes will be able to handle gravel trails and uneven surfaces, climbing up slippery rocks and over tree trunks. If you can go ‘yeah, they’ll be fine’, take them but if not maybe pop into Sports Direct or somewhere and see how you feel in a trail running shoe.
    Vans – I love a pair of Vans so no regrets here.
    Brogues – they were perfect and I got compliments the whole way through the trip. They were smart enough for Vegas nightclubs but casual enough for dinners in Santa Fe. Would your sandals get you into a club in Vegas? Are your jelly shoes comfy enough to walk around cities in them for 10 hours if you get sick of your trainers? Practicality and multiple uses is your key here.

    Don’t worry at all about that – I was by FAR the lightest packed. Maybe 10 people had proper, big arse suitcases. A few had backpacks I’ve seen friends take for a year of travelling. As long as it’s not a struggle for you to pick off a truck or your tour guide to throw in the trailer, you’re good to go. I think half way through the trip, one of our guides said to me “wait, Billi, this is YOUR bag?! It’s so light, how do you have clothes!” so there was a wide variation between everyone’s packing styles.
    I took an extra cheat bag though because we had to take sleeping bags (mine was in a really odd shaped bag which made it hard to carry) which was a wheelie holdall – I got rid of the bag at the end and used this for my shopping and souvenirs. You have a trailer attached to your bus so everything is stored on there – tents, mats, everyone’s luggage – so the day to day carrying of your stuff is minimal.

    That’s a perfect amount of time for both places, honestly. Enough time to get a feel for the place but not too long that you get a bit bored.

    I’m so excited for you! I hope this had made your expectations a bit clearer – I totally understand how it feels to just kinda book it not knowing what it’s really like! They’ll definitely be a few surprises along the way but hopefully you’ll be a bit more prepared for them!

    Thank you for all your comments 🙂

    Billi x

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