Intrepid Travel Launches New U.S. Adventures — From Ranch Stays in Zion to Cycling Through Maine

"We're designing this product to show Americans America," Intrepid's CEO told T+L of expanding their trips throughout the U.S.

Tour operator Intrepid Travel is aiming to showcase how awe-inspiring and breathtaking America can really be with a plethora of new U.S. tours.

From the vast expanse of Montana to the steep hills of San Francisco, the travel company tripled the number of tours it offered throughout the United States in 2022, Intrepid Travel's CEO James Thornton exclusively told Travel + Leisure. Intrepid added 38 new trips to its U.S. offerings, which cover 28 different states along with Washington, D.C.

"We're designing this product to show Americans America," Thornton said. "Naturally because Intrepid is a very global company... no doubt the trips will also appeal to customers from Australia [and] the U.K."

The new trips are a mix of outdoor active adventures that Thornton said are the backbone of Intrepid (think: walking and cycling) along with culinary and sightseeing-focused itineraries.

"Intrepid has always been known for active [trips]… cycling, getting under the skin of the destination," he said, adding many people have been cooped up for the better part of two years and are itching to get outdoors. "I think it's something we were seeing pre-COVID and it's been accentuated by COVID."

Intrepid travle
Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

The new trips, which launched in April 2022, include weeklong jaunts from Tennessee to Louisiana, tracing the country's music history from Elvis Presley's home at Graceland and Sun Studio in Memphis to a jazz-inspired walking tour in New Orleans. Or, revel in the sweeping landscapes of South Dakota and Montana on a parks explorer trip, complete with a visit to Yellowstone and Badlands National Park. Travelers can also explore national parks in Utah with a six-day ranch stay in Zion National Park.

When it comes to bookings, Thornton said reservations have started to reach 2019 levels in the U.S., which he called "a very encouraging sign that Americans are keen to get out and explore." But that doesn't mean travel habits haven't changed in the last couple of years.

"COVID has changed the way in which many of us are traveling," he said, adding that people are increasingly traveling domestically and "conscious around their carbon miles and carbon dollars."

Courtesy of Intrepid Travel

For 2023, Intrepid has also expanded its Premium range of tours, with 10 new sustainability-focused itineraries that feature upscale accommodations and exclusive experiences by local leaders.

“Trends show that passengers are willing to pay for premium trips that offer an exceptional experience at an excellent value,” Matt Berna, Intrepid Travel's president of North America said in a statement. “Like all Intrepid trips, these new itineraries are designed to minimize travelers’ environmental footprint and maximize their positive impact for local communities — this is what makes Intrepid Travel so special.”

The launch marks the first Intrepid Premium itinerary in the U.S., with the introduction of Premium Alaska — one of four new tours offered in the Americas including Premium Costa Rica and Premium Patagonia. On the 10-day Alaska adventure, travelers will take the Wilderness Express Deluxe Dome cars to Denali to view spectacular landscapes by train, tour the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, sample local beers on a private brewery tour, and visit the Alaska Native History Center to learn about Alaska’s Indigenous cultures.

Intepid Travel - Premium Costa Rica

In addition to new itineraries, the travel company offers more than 100 Indigenous experiences in the United States and beyond. Some of the new tours include a Utah national park hike with a Native American guide, a Mayan family farm visit and cooking class in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, and camping at Kenya’s Tepesua Village, where travelers will hear stories about Maasai warriors and learn about how community efforts are supporting women's access to education and healthcare. 

Intrepid Travel has been a longtime supporter of responsible travel. In 2019, the tour operator launched its first Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, which outlined how it would contribute to the country’s reconciliation efforts by supporting First Nations groups through tourism. It also helped launch the first-ever Indigenous Tourism Forum of the Americas in 2020, a meeting place for community, business, and government leaders to discuss the role that tourism plays in supporting Indigenous groups.

“Communities and people are at the heart of our trips,” Berna said in a statement. “We aim to get a better understanding of local views, support more community-based and First Nations experiences, and forge strong industry relationships. It’s critical to continue to elevate Indigenous culture through authentic experiences.”

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