Contiki’s Northern Adventure

Over the next few weeks I plan to go through my Contiki tour in great detail, but in the meantime I wanted to give an overall review of Contiki’s Northern Adventure.  This tour starts in Chicago and is the second half of the Grand Northern tour offered by Contiki.

The tour is a 14 day tour of the Northwestern United States, here is the rough itinerary:
Chicago to Madison
Madison to Sioux Falls
Sioux Falls to Mt Rushmore
Mt Rushmore
Mt Rushmore to Cody
Cody to Yellowstone
Yellowstone to Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole to Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City to Kanab via Bryce Canyon
Grand Canyon
Kanab to Las Vegas via Zion
Las Vegas
Las Vegas
Las Vegas to Los Angeles

The first few days of the tour are heavy bus days, with the occasional stop at a Wal Mart, rest stop or a tourist trap.  After that we split our time with shorter bus days, and more time hiking in National Parks, a good mix of relaxing and seeing the sites.

As for the tourist traps, think Spam Museum, Corn Palace and Wall Drug.  It’s not as bad as it sound, but it is a slow start to the tour. 

Nightlife at the start of the tour wasn’t terribly exciting either – Hooters, Karaoke at a local bar, more local bars, hotel pools, and the hotel parking lot…  Then we hit Las Vegas where most people went clubbing every night.  Overall though it was a mix, some stuff was better then other stuff.  If you wanted a quiet night you could have had one almost any night and if you wanted to stay out late and party, you could do that. 

As for the under 21 year olds, they fared a bit better then I expected.  They did manage to get served at several bars and even got into a club or two in Las Vegas.  I still don’t suggest US tours for those who are under 21, you basically had to rely on luck that the person checking your ID wasn’t really paying attention when they looked at your ID. 

That National Parks we visited were really nice; Yellowstone was my favorite.  We had a few hours at each of them, enough for at least one decent hike, sometimes with multiple stops. 

One disapointement is that we didn’t have much time in the cities.  The only thing I saw in Madison was a buffet and a Hooters.  However, in Salt Lake City we did have a few hours to see the city.  But more often we only saw a restaurant and a bar in the cities we visited.

I enjoyed this tour with Contiki, as with every vacation I have taken there is never enough time to do and see everything I want to.  But the pace of this tour was pretty good, after the first few bus days the bus days were shorter and broken up more with different activities and sites to see.  I would recommend it as a good tour for those who are interested in seeing the National Parks and making new 18-35 year old friends.

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