Friday, 15 January 2010 12:00 AM
Gap year travel has become one of the most popular ways for young people to take time out – whether it be after university before the hunt for a job begins, or in between education to add all-important communication and people skills to their CV.
And for those looking for a great all-round experience which can help them sample the sights and sounds of many different cultures within the borders of one country, gap year travel across America is ideal.
From hip and trendy cities such as New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, to spectacular national parks including Yosemite and Yellowstone, travel across America is perfect for those eager to experience as much as possible in their gap year travel experience.
City slicking in the US
Cities such as New York offer the chance to get up close to iconic places such as the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty, and when those spending their gap year in the US are all tired out from tourist hotspots, they can relax in one of the thousands of interesting bars, intimate jazz clubs or lively nightclubs which the city boasts.
Further west in the US is Los Angeles, a city famed for its celebrity residents, high-end boutiques and one of the most famous districts in the world – Hollywood, the heart of the US film industry and home of the Kodak Theatre, from which the glittering Oscars are held.
Take a walk down Hollywood Boulevard and see the stars and handprints of everyone from screen siren Rita Hayworth to Hollywood bad boy Jack Nicholson.
Something a little different
However, many gap year travellers who choose the US could be more interested in thrill-seeking breaks which offer the chance to trek through the state of Utah or take a white-water rafting trip down one of the nation’s famous rivers.
Fans of beautiful views and outdoor activities should make time in their travel across America to go hiking in one of its many national parks.
Yellowstone National Park – which stretches across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – could be an ideal stop off on a gap year trip across the US and could give travellers the chance to get up close and personal with native animals such as grizzly bears, wolves and elk.
The park was established in 1872 and camera-happy gap year travellers may want to head to the North Entrance, where they can check out the Roosevelt Arch, the first stone of which was laid by president Theodore himself.
While in this neck of the woods, gap year travellers with a taste for adventure holidays could head to the state of Utah to take a mountain biking trip on one of the region’s many trails.
One of the most famous is the Slickrock Bike Trail, which attracts more than 100,000 mountain bike fanatics every single year.
First used as a riding track by motorcyclists back in 1969, the 12-mile long trail gets its name from the smooth rock which riders travel across and is located in the region of Moab.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is of course the most famous national park in the US and can offer gap year travellers the chance to take part in activities ranging from rafting to hiking to rock climbing.
At 277 miles long, the Grand Canyon is truly majestic and is a must-see attraction for anyone planning to travel across America on a gap year. According to government figures, some five million people head to the park every year.
Rock climbing fans will be thrilled by the 16-mile wide and one mile deep canyon, which offers some of the best views from a harness in the world.
To truly make the most out of a trip to the Grand Canyon, gap year travellers can book in for a few nights of back-to-basics camping in the national park – but they should be sure to get up early and catch a spectacular sunrise on their trip. A useful calendar on the park’s website can help people plan the best times and places in the Grand Canyon to watch the sun go up or down.
The best of both
Whichever part of the US gap year travellers choose to explore, they are sure to experience the best of all worlds – thrill-seeking adventure field days rafting down rivers, busy nights out and about in interesting cities and beautiful scenery and great vistas.