Arrive at any time. There are no planned activities so check in and enjoy the city. In the late afternoon, meet the tour leader and fellow group members to go over the details of the trip.
Transfer to Zion National Park with its variety of trails for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. We spend the next 2 days on various day hikes through the Park. From the expansive valley floors to the creamy sandstone of towering cliffs rising 2,000 ft (600 m), Zion is a wonderland of visual imagery. The monolithic stone sculptures, lush forests and roaring rivers are breathtaking, and the first-time visitor will be amazed by the diverse array of colors including magenta, azure, vermilion, and cyan. Hike: Riverside Walk (Temple of Sinawava): Easy. Minor drop-offs. Paved trail follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon. Hanging gardens of wildflowers in spring and summer. Trailside exhibits. 2 miles, 1 to 1 ½ hour, 57 ft elevation gain. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours Approximate Distance: 155 miles (250 km)
We spend the day exploring the great outdoors hiking the Zion Canyon area. Depending on group condition and interest, the guide will propose different hikes. Comprising more than 147,000 acres (59,500 hectares), the park covers a wide range of elevations from 3,700 ft (1,130 m) to 8,726 ft (2,630 m) above sea level. The terrain runs from desert to forest, with a dramatic river canyon known as the Narrows. The weather and temperature in the area is just as diverse, reaching over 100 F (38 C) in the summer, while the higher elevations are often snow-capped during the winter months. Hike Middle Emerald Pool: 2 miles, 2 hours, 150 ft elevation gain. Moderate with steep drop-offs. Loop trail to lower and middle pools. Swimming, wading, or bathing is prohibited in all pools in order to protect the aquatic wildlife and preserve this fragile area. Watchman Trail: 2 miles, 2 hours, 368 ft elevation gain. Moderate with minor drop-offs. Ends at viewpoint of lower Zion Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, and town of Springdale. Angles Landing: 5 miles, 4 hours, 1488 ft elevation gain. Strenuous with steep drop-offs and narrow trail. Not for anyone fearful of heights. Ends at summit high above Zion Canyon. Last 0.5 mi (0.8 km) follows a steep, narrow ridge; chains have been added.
Transfer to Bryce Canyon where we hike past the fascinating hoodoos and learn about the captivating history of the area. Bryce Canyon National Park does not contain one main canyon, but rather a dozen smaller ravines eroded into the east side of a ridge at the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southwest Utah. This erosion has resulted in thousands of bizarre and fragile rock formations in many subtle shades of pink, white, yellow and red. The Park is named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon farmer who was the first modern-day settler in the region. The park is located about 270 miles (435 km) northeast of Las Vegas. The main ridge forms part of the Pink Cliffs, which are the highest and most geologically recent of a series of escarpments known as the Grand Staircase stretching across south Utah, formed by erosion and uplift of differently colored sandstone rock layers. The cliffs are named according to the dominant rock color: Chocolate (running northwards, from the Grand Canyon), Vermilion (visible most spectacularly around Lees Ferry, AZ), White (which surround Zion Canyon), Gray and Pink. Most of the Grand Staircase is now contained within the new Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument. Water was initially responsible for creating the rock shapes in Bryce. Rain and melting snow flowing down the Pink Cliffs towards the Paria River formed ridges, or fins, which subsequently eroded into the spires, pinnacles and other shapes (collectively known as 'Hoodoos') which are left standing. In time these too will erode, and the whole process will move westwards as more of the cliff is gradually worn away. Hike Queens Garden: 1.8 miles round trip. This is the least difficult trail into the canyon. Using your imagination you may even see Queen Victoria at the end of a short spur trail. Rim Trail: 0 to11 miles round trip. Outstanding views of hoodoos from above. Trail is paved and fairly level between Sunset and Sunrise Points. Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours Approximate Distance: 87 miles (140 km)
Day on the road traveling through the scenic Escalante Staircase area arriving in Canyonlands later in the afternoon. This park contain countless canyons, arches, spires, buttes and a myriad of other spectacular rock formations. The Grand Canyon may be deeper and more dramatic, but Canyonlands has more variety, both in the geological formations and the possibilities to explore them. It certainly offers greater solitude and isolation. We enjoy the sunset at Dead Horse Point. On the road, stop by Capitol Reef National Park created to protect a grand and colorful geologic feature, as well as the unique natural and cultural history found in the area. Hike Goosenecks: less than 1 mile, 50 ft elevation gain, views of Sulphur Creek Canyon; panoramas and / or Sunset Point: less than 1 mile, 50 ft elevation gain, panoramic views of cliffs & domes; dramatic lighting at day’s end Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours Approximate Distance: 280 miles (450 km)
Today we spend the day in Arches National Park, hiking to the base of the stupendous Delicate Arch as well as other viewpoints like Double Arch or Sand Dune Arch. Arches National Park is of course famous for the red sandstone arches that occur there in great profusion. There are over 1000 of them ranging in size. The Windows Section contains a major concentration of arches and other formations, which have self-explanatory names such as Double Arch, Cove Arch and Balanced Rock. We return back to our hotel in Moab for the night. Hike Delicate Arch Viewpoint: less than 1 mile, 10 to 15 minutes, In addition to the short accessible trail, another (moderately strenuous) hiking trail climbs one-half mile toward Delicate Arch and ends at the rim of a steep canyon that separates the viewpoint from the arch. Double Arch: 0.5 mile round trip, 15 to 30 minutes, a relatively flat, sandy trail leads to the base of two giant arch spans which are joined at one end. Sand Dune Arch: 0.4 mile round trip, 15 to 30 minutes, trail leads through deep sand to a secluded arch among sandstone fins. Estimated Travel Time: 1 hours Approximate Distance: 32 miles (50 km)
We take a scenic trip to Mesa Verde National Park which contains the largest and most important archeological preserve of Native American culture in the USA. The Ancestral Pueblo peoples populated this area from 500 AD to 1300 AD. They originally occupied the tops of the mesas, which provided some natural protection from their enemies. As their culture developed, they learned to build elaborate fortified communal dwellings on sheltered niches in the cliffs. The ruins of many such ancient cliff-side cities are preserved at Mesa Verde National Park. These ancient cities were abandoned around 1300 AD when a prolonged drought devastated the area. It is believed that the Pueblo and Hopi tribes presently living in Arizona and New Mexico are descendants of this culture. We will enjoy short hikes in this park, taking in fantastic viewpoints. Hike Spruce Canyon Trail: 2.4 miles, round-trip, easy. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours Approximate Distance: 140 miles (225 km)
This morning, we join a ranger-guided tour which will elaborate the rich history found in Mesa Verde area. In the afternoon, we take the road to Monument Valley where we explore in 4X4 vehicles with a local Navajo guide, one of the most beautiful parks in the Southwest, famous for its sandstone buttes. Monument Valley lies entirely within the Navajo Reservation on the Utah/Arizona border near the southeastern corner of Utah. The state line passes through the most famous landmarks, which are concentrated near the small town of Goulding. The Monument Valley area and the Navajo reservation provide some excellent opportunities to explore Native American culture and to learn about the Navajo peoples. We can even observe some traditional Navajo craftsmanship and purchase hand-made items. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 168 miles (270 km)
Today we visit the Navajo National Monument and depending on group physical condition we will either take a park ranger guided hike of the Betatakin (Bitát'ahkin in Navajo) cliff dwellings or an easy 20-minute walk to a viewpoint with great panorama of the cliff dwellings. The Navajo National Monument preserves three of the most intact cliff dwellings of the Ancient Pueblo peoples. The monument is high on the Shonto plateau, overlooking the Tsegi Canyon system in the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. If the group chooses the short hike, we propose to stop on the road to te Grand Canyon around Page to see the great Horseshoe Bend viewpoint. This is another of Mother Nature's little tricks in a whole world of sandstone and slick rock, tricks that result in some of the most interesting formations in the West. It is also possible in the same area to participate in an optional Antelope Canyon tour. Antelope Canyon is one of the most breathtaking and tranquil places on earth. Gently carved from the Navajo sandstone over the course of countless millenniums, the slot canyons are majestic and narrow passages, with just enough space for a small group to walk the sandy floor with occasional shafts of sunlight shining down from above. Later in the day we visit the south rim of the canyon for a first impression. The Grand Canyon stretches before us to the further rim, and as far as we can see on either side. The land at our feet drops almost straight down for over 3,280 ft (1,000 m) and then several thousand feet more into the serpentine canyons below. This vast gorge is filled with rocky buttes, sheer limestone cliffs, and deep canyons all arrayed in a rainbow of colors. Words cannot describe it, it is one of the most magnificent sights on earth. Hike Betatkin: It is a strenuous 5-mile round-trip hike takes 3 to 5 hours. Begins at 7,300 ft. elevation; loses and regains 700 ft. Participants need to be in good shape to enjoy this hike. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 168 miles (270 km)
Today we take a spectacular hike to the heart of the canyon at Indian Garden and the Plateau Point trail. Optional activities, such as a helicopter flight or Imax Grand Canyon experience are also available. Most visitors only see the canyon from lookout points on the South Rim, but to really experience its natural beauty, we need to descend into it. Hike Bright Angel Trail: to Indian Garden (4.6 miles one way) or Plateau Point (6.1 miles one way). This hike is difficult because of elevation, sun and heat. It is always possible to turn back. Estimated Travel Time: 1 hour Approximate Distance: 44 miles (70 km)
Early morning free time in Grand Canyon before transferring to the city of lights, Las Vegas. Enjoy free time in the afternoon to explore this one of a kind city, take in a show or we can try our hand at the casino. Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours Approximate Distance: 299 miles (480 km)