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Geography Trips for Schools to South West USA

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Buckle up for an adventure that’s as big as the Grand Canyon! Dramatic scenery meets diverse geographical opportunities in the South West, making it the ultimate geographer’s playground. Voyage through the states of Nevada, Arizona, California and Utah and take in the vast deserts, mighty rivers, rocky gorges and deep canyons. The sheer scale and size of the landscape and its features is simply mind blowing.

Your students will have the chance to view and study spectacular natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon, Colorado River and Meteor Crater, as well as feats of engineering like the Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Trust us when we say ‘you’ll feel part of the landscape’. In contrast to its backdrop of red rock and fiery sandstone, your trip will start or finish in Las Vegas – a city that’s every bit as outrageous as the landscapes that surround it. But the question remains, is it sustainable?

Why South West USA?

It’s an exciting long haul destination for the geography teacher who is looking for something different. Andy Smith from Bradford Grammar School said of his Geography Trip to the area, “simply put – it was a fantastic experience that they never will forget. Highlights? What to pick when there were so many!”

Did you know?

The Grand Canyon measures 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and a mile deep.

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Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.

South West USA Fact File

Perfect for:
All ages and stages of secondary education

Transport Options:

Nearest Airport:
McCarran International Airport

Flight duration from UK:
Approx. 10 hours 30 minutes

Best time to visit:
All year round

South West USA Fact File:

Changing Places
Climate Change
Drylands/Hot Desert Environments
Ecosystems & Biodiversity
Globalisation & Global Systems
Natural Hazards
Plate Tectonics
Resources & Their Management
River Systems & Landscapes
Urban Environment
Water Cycle
Weather & Climate

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Recommended Visits

USA Geography Recommended Visits

USA’s diverse geographical landscapes make it the ideal destination to enhance your students’ understanding of a range of topics on the geography syllabus. Here you can discover just some of the geographical excursions we can build into your bespoke school trip itinerary.

Colorado River & The Hoover Dam The Grand Canyon National Park Colorado River: Horseshoe Bend Craters: Meteoric And Volcanic Glen Canyon And Lake Powell Lake Powell: Glen Canyon Dam Lake Powell: Slot Canyons Bryce Canyon National Park Las Vegas: Sustainable City Leisure Excursion: Colorado Float Trip Leisure Excursion: Alan Bible Visitors’ Centre San Francisco Death Valley Yosemite National Park
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Study Resources

Bespoke Geography Trip Student and Teacher Resources

The South West USA Study Handbook helps take the theory taught inside the classroom across the Atlantic for a once-in-a-lifetime set of geographical learning experiences. The latest edition to our Geography Trips Study Handbook range, the South West USA Study Handbook will be available for use on tours departing from January 2014 onwards.

South West USA Study Resource
Geographical Association Scottish Association of Geography Teachers

How does it work?

Our Study Handbooks comprise a Student Handbook and its corresponding Teacher Guide made up of destination-specific Study Units, all of which are in full colour and contain a mixture of maps, diagrams and text. The Student Handbook offers a variety of pre- and post-visit activities/information as well as interactive on-site tasks. Tailored to suit your individual itinerary, the Study Handbook will comprise a selection of the following Study Units:

Study Units available:

  • Las Vegas: Sustainable City?
  • Colorado River & Hoover Dam: River Basin Management
  • Grand Canyon: Landscape and Management
  • Craters: Meteoric and Volcanic
  • Colorado River: Horseshoe Bend
  • Lake Powell: Geological Wonders
  • Lake Powell: Slot Canyons
  • Lake Powell: Glen Canyon Dam: Dam It or Blast It?
  • Bryce Canyon: Amongst the Hoodoos
  • Climate of Page
Sample Pages
South West USA Handbook Sample Page 1 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 2 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 3 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 4 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 5 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 6 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 7 South West USA Handbook Sample Page 8
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South West USA Sample Itineraries

Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated school School Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group. But just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itineraries created one two of our clients below.

South West USA: Las Vegas

13 days,
12 nights

Dates: 8th – 20th March 

Passengers: 33

Circus Circus Hotel, Las Vegas
Shilo Inn Oakhurst, California: 2 nights’ Bed and Breakfast
Adante Hotel, San Francisco: 2 nights’ Bed and Breakfast
Kawada Hotel, Los Angeles

Overview of visits: Limo Tour of Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon.

Day 1:

The group boarded their plane at 11.20am full of excitement for the adventures that lay ahead of them on their tour of South West USA. With an 8 hour time difference and around an 11 hour flight, the group stepped off the plane at 2pm in to the sunny land of Las Vegas. After a short transfer, the group arrived at the tremendous Circus Circus Hotel,where they checked in and unpacked their belongings. Once settled in, the group met to enjoy a well-deserved dinner and a little time to unwind in this spectacular hotel which holds a theme park, amusement arcade and even its own circus acts on the ground floor! The group could not contain their excitement!

The group re-joined some time later for a 2 hour limo tour of Las Vegas! The journey was truly exhilarating; with a real buzz amongst the group! The group returned to the hotel for 10.30pm and went straight to bed to get some well needed rest for the following day.

View the full day-by-day itinerary

Day 2:

It was an early start as the group set off for Hoover Dam where they were embarking on a rafting experience. Here they admired a bird’s eye view of the new bypass bridge which spans the Black Canyon, 900ft above the Colorado River. The group spent 3 hours exploring 12 miles of history and geography that weaved through the canyon walls. They experienced waterfalls and hot springs, Desert Big Horn Sheep and Great Blue Heron; to name but a few extraordinary sights. They had time to enjoy a packed lunch and stop along the way at a beach where they could swim and play in the cool, clear water of the Colorado River.

The afternoon was spent back in Las Vegas and amidst the entertainment of the famous Strip. Some students chose to visit the Adventure dome theme park within the hotel, others viewed the pirate show at the Treasure Island Hotel. The group were spoilt for choice with activities! At 6.45pm the group had booked a dinner at the famous Rainforest Café; an incredible restaurant which replicates the setting of a tropical rainforest!

Day 3:

Another early start as they departed the hotel at 6.45am to travel to the Grand Canyon for a bus tour. Here they ventured through Kingman to Williams, which is home to the Grand Canyon Railway. The group stopped here for lunch and a spot of relaxing whilst they gazed out over the scenic views. Next they arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park where they experienced the Mather Point, the deepest part of the Canyon! Yavapai Point was also spotted which is the widest point, as well as Bright Angel Point which beholds the most panoramic views. This was an unforgettable visit for the group and one which would be truly inspirational!

At 8pm the group arrived at Circus Circus hotel for an evening meal and once again enjoyed the remainder of the day exploring the hotel’s many attractions.

Day 4:

At 8.30am the group checked out of the hotel and departed for Oakhurst. The scenery en route was spectacular and the group had opportunities to step out of the coach and take photographs.

After a day on the road, the group arrived at Shilo Inn Suites, their second hotel. Following this they walked to the nearby Todd’s BBQ Buffet where they ate to their heart’s content. Here they enjoyed the jubilant atmosphere and chatted about their experiences so far. At 9.30pm the group returned to the hotel where they settled in for the night.

Day 5:

The group enjoyed their breakfast at the hotel, still feeling slightly full from the night before. They set off for Yosemite National Park arriving at about 10.30am. They saw the panoramic landscape of El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and the Half Dome. On this trip the group found a lot of respect for the impressive power of nature. The group also had the opportunity to stop for lunch and refreshments in the Village area of The National Park, where many enjoyed ice creams in the sunny weather.

Day 6:

After a day in Yosemite National Park, the group’s next destination was the city of San Francisco. They arrived at 1.30pm and checked into the Adante Hotel where they spent the afternoon settling in and exploring the area.

The group joined together for an evening meal at the Hard Rock Café, in great spirits after a very rewarding trip that was only half way through!

Day 7:

The group woke up for breakfast at 8am and departed for a guided sightseeing tour of San Francisco. To their delight they saw the Civic Centre, the famous Opera House and the Pacific Ocean to name but a few! Later, they stepped off the coach to explore the town of Sausalito on foot. From here the photo opportunities were rife; Twin Peaks, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate Bridge and the view of Alcatraz Island from the Vista Point North. This day was full of astounding panoramic views and famous landmarks. As well as this, the group enjoyed a ferry ride around The Island of Alcatraz which is famous for its use as a prison!

At 6pm, the group returned to the hotel again and made the most of the facilities for the remainder of the evening as well as eating at a nearby restaurant.

Day 8:

This day was devoted to travelling from San Francisco to Los Angeles The group were fairly tired after their long journey and chose to spend the remainder of the day resting for the next big day ahead.

Day 9:

The group set off to see all the famous sights of Los Angeles on a guided sightseeing tour. They toured Hollywood and made sure to take photos of the Hollywood Sign for their friends back home! The group were fascinated by seeing so many of the landmarks in real life that they are so-used to seeing on the television! The group had plenty of time to get off the coach, too, venturing onto the streets of Beverly Hills, visiting Mann’s Chinese Theatre and shopping on Rodeo Drive.

Day 10:

Another day was spent exploring Los Angeles, this time it was the beautiful beaches including Venice Beach and Long Beach. The evening meal was taken at Bubba Gump’s Restaurant.

Day 11:

Today the group travelled back to Las Vegas. Once back in the entertainment capital, the group went to the Stratosphere Hotel where the highlight was a rollercoaster on the roof! The coach remained with the group to take them back to Circus Circus for the final night of their epic tour.

Day 12:

Unfortunately, the group’s final day had arrived and, after packing their belongings and checking out of Circus Circus, they took some time to pick up their last few souvenirs and goodies before heading back to the airport at 2pm. Their flight departed at just after 5.30pm landing back in the UK at 10.30 the following day. What a fantastic tour!

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South West USA Accommodation

To maximise your time in the region, your group will stay at a number of accommodation centres as you travel around. Here are just a few of the options:

Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

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Centrally located and buzzing with activity, this unique hotel is perfect for groups. Spread over 68 acres, the resort features several comfortable room options (or ‘towers’) for groups to relax in after a day of sightseeing. And you’re never short of things to do. Home to eye-catching restaurants and shops, exciting Midway games, outdoor pools, the world’s greatest circus acts and The Adventuredome – America’s largest indoor theme park – this hotel has it all!

Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
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Comfort Inn, San Francisco

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Based in a great location, Comfort Inn is close a number of popular attractions and not far from San Francisco’s world-famous cable cars. This high-rise hotel features excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline, offering comfortable rooms with a free deluxe continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi and other amenities for a relaxing stay. Nearby, groups can enjoy Ghirardelli Square and a variety of surrounding restaurants.

Comfort Inn, San Francisco
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Red Feather Lodge, Tusayan

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Just 10 minutes from the Grand Canyon South Rim entrance, Red Feather Lodge is the perfect place to explore the rugged landscape of Arizona. Offering contemporary lodging, a seasonal heated outdoor pool, free Wi-Fi and on-site laundry facilities, you’re sure to have a comfortable stay. Teamed with a wide array of outdoor activities nearby and a selection of restaurants, there’s plenty to keep the action going.

Red Feather Lodge, Tusayan
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Rosedale, Bakersfield

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This superior, Spanish-style hotel is ideal for groups, offering lush courtyard surroundings and spacious rooms with a mini fridge, microwave, TV and free Wi-Fi. As well as number of facilities, including a beautiful pool and spa, fitness centre, BBQ area, playground and conference rooms, guests can enjoy its complimentary continental breakfast.

Rosedale, Bakersfield
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