Adventure Travel in the Southwest: Desert Dreams

Excellent road winding through Death Valley in the USA. The desert and mountains of California.
February 16 – 21, 2025
LOCATION: California and Nevada, USA
PRICE: $3,195

Desert Dreams Soft Adventure Tour in California and Nevada

We love the desert – and we’ll explore in many of them. The desert offers rare gifts such as health-giving sunshine, a sky studded with diamonds, a breeze that bears no poison, and a landscape of pastel colors such as no artist can duplicate. We will enjoy beautiful Palm Springs, an oasis in the desert; explore the stark beauty of Death Valley National Park with its colorful and rugged terrain and play in the glitter and timelessness of Las Vegas. Mt San Jacinto in Palm Springs welcomes us with a whole different climate as we ride up the tram and walk out at almost 3000 feet of elevation gain. We’ve experienced snow at times – fun! We’ll stay right in Death Valley National Park with spring fed pools, cushy rooms, and great dining. And, Oh! the dark skies call us as we hop in our van after dinner and find a cozy spot away from the lights to appreciate this Dark Sky Park. Our last night in Las Vegas will be amazing with our helicopter ride over the Strip, followed by a delicious dinner at Emeril’s! Come join us on this ‘softer’ adventure. A more relaxed pace with more comfort built in and with all the fun filled activities that make this a great vacation!

Desert Dreams Activities at a Glance

  • Walking Tour of Downtown Palm Springs

  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

  • Hike Mt. San Jacinto National Monument

  • Stay in Furnace Creek, Death Valley

  • Swim in Spring Fed Pools

  • Hike Gold Canyon

  • International Dark Sky Park

  • Helicopter over Las Vegas Strip

Desert Dreams Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Las Vegas by 12noon, and be met by your Canyon Calling Trip Leader. We’ll have a four hour transfer from Las Vegas to Palm Springs through the Mojave National Preserve. We’ll enjoy stops along the way and the funky Joshua Trees too. Check into our boutique hotel in Palm Springs for two nights. Dinner tonight is at a Palm Springs classic supper club, where “it’s hip to be hungry”. We’ll get acquainted with our road sisters as we enjoy a delicious Welcome Dinner. Overnight Palm Springs.

Day 2

After breakfast, we’ll drive through downtown Palm Springs to the world famous Aerial Tramway, largest in the world and the only one of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere. We’ll enjoy the tram ascent of two and one half miles with slow cabin floor rotations for amazing views. We’ll arrive at the Mountain Station, Mt. San Jacinto State Park, to a pristine wilderness and hike the 1.5 mile Desert View Trail with a number of scenic overlooks and forest views. We’ll enjoy lunch ‘at the top’ and there’s time for some exploring before traveling back down to the Valley Station, and back to our hotel. We’ll have some time to relax by the pool before departing for our downtown walking tour of the Palm Springs stars of yesteryear. Perhaps a treat and some shopping in the trendy boutiques before we’re off to a divine dinner. Overnight Palm Springs.

Excellent trip, perfect size group, very good activity selections, excellent accommodations -esp in Death Valley- The Ranch. Perfect meals. Janet- bundle of energy, truly cares about her company and the guests travelling with her. I would highly recommend this trip and this company.
— Deb D.

Day 3

After breakfast, we’ll depart for Death Valley National Park, with its deep floor reaching 282 feet below sea level. It’s a spectacular land of shimmering mountains, immense vistas of ever changing light and color, and more than one odd surprise. With a stop for lunch at a cool Greek place, we continue our trek north and east to Furnace Creek where we’ll check in at The Ranch for two nights. This newly renovated resort truly is the Oasis at Death Valley. Enjoy a swim in spring-fed thermal waters, wander the grounds, check out the horse stables. We’ll dine tonight at the Last Kind Words Saloon on property. There are fire pit circles to view the sunset after dinner as the desert cools down. Death Valley is designated an International Dark Sky Park so we’ll go to a no light pollution location to observe the night skies in awe. The constellations and shooting stars will have you mesmerized. Look up and see the universe the way everyone could 100 years ago. Overnight Death Valley.

Day 4

After breakfast, we’re off on a full day exploration of Death Valley. We’ll hike Golden Canyon, 3 to 5 miles depending on what we feel like, a very scenically dramatic hike. Then a stop at Harmony Borax Works, with remains of the borax processing plant and remnants of the 20 Mule Team cart. Borax was discovered in the valley in 1873, but mining didn’t begin until the 1880’s. Borax doesn’t have the glamour of gold, but more than $30MM worth of the white powder had been produced from the Death Valley region by 1927. We’ll explore Mustard Canyon, and stop at the Visitor Center along with a stop at Salt Creek for the Nature Trail walk and hopefully we’ll see pupfish, the only fish to survive the evaporation of Lake Manly. 20,000 years ago fish thrived in great fresh water lakes in this part of the southwest. Today, nine types of pupfish live in and near Death Valley and a tenth has apparently become extinct. Next it’s off to Stovepipe Wells, past the sand dunes of Death Valley, and over to the Saloon for lunch. This afternoon, we continue north to Ubehebe Crater. Only a few thousand years ago great explosive eruptions blasted out this half-mile wide, 600-foot deep, dramatic crater. We’ll hike a bit around here then return to the Ranch. We should be back late afternoon so you have some free time to enjoy the resort, shop, maybe opt for a sunset horse ride (at guest’s expense) or just chill at the spring-fed pool. We’ll meet back up for dinner. Overnight Death Valley.

Loved this opportunity to get away, enjoy immensely beautiful places/views and great company. It was such a pleasure traveling with this group of ladies, especially without having to be the one to worry about the driving, and the planning, and all of the minutia usually involved in a “vacation”. Thank you, Canyon Calling and crazy, funny, beautiful Janet!
— Rachel P.

Day 5

After breakfast, we’ll drive south to tour Death Valley, stopping at Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level and look up to Telescope Peak, towering at 11,049 feet. We’ll visit Devil’s Golf Course, with jagged blocks of tiny salt crystals. Our next stop is Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette to enjoy the colorful sedimentary and volcanic rocks looking like it was splashed across the hillsides with a giant artist’s paintbrush. We’ll stop at Zabriske Point for stunning views, then say farewell to Death Valley. Our two-hour transfer back to Las Vegas includes a stop for lunch at a funky local diner. We’ll arrive Las Vegas and check into our hotel to get cleaned up. It’s over to the helipad for a sunset helicopter tour with champagne over the glittering Las Vegas strip! We’ll buzz the Stratosphere, one of the tallest buildings in the US, and enjoy iconic views of the street and Fremont Street from far above. After that thrilling activity, we’ll head over to the MGM Grand to enjoy our Farewell Dinner at the world-famous Emeril’s. After dinner, feel free to explore The Strip on your own.. maybe a show? Overnight Las Vegas.

Day 6

After breakfast enjoy the hotel amenities until it’s time to transfer to the Las Vegas airport for flights home, or choose to extend on your own and play in Sin City!

What’s Included:

  • 5 days/5 nights fully guided tour by a Canyon Calling Trip Leader
  • All land transportation as outlined in this itinerary
  • Hotel accommodations, double occupancy
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 6
  • All activities and excursions
  • All entrance fees and permits

What’s Not Included:

  • Transportation to and from Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Alcoholic beverages and items of a personal nature
  • Optional gratuity to your Trip Leader at the end of the week


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