Canyonlands of the American West
They give you some of the most ethereal natural light shows, plunging depths and surreal land forms, out doing the bright lights of Vegas, ten to one. Welcome to Canyonlands, where Mother Nature put on her best sculptors apron and worked tirelessly for millenniums to bring you the best scenery. You'll begin this intriguing journey at the magnificent Grand Canyon which, at 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep in some places, is truly the granddaddy of natural wonders. You'll find the rock formations at Zion National Park and the "hoodoos" at Bryce Canyon National Park no less dramatic. You'll marvel at the dramatic natural architecture within Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Canyon de Chelly National Parks, and exploring the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, you'll understand the power of raging water to transform the earth. Approaching Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, you'll need to pull over to fully appreciate the spectacular rock formations that have names like Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. Enjoy it all, it's the only landscape like in the world.
PLEASE NOTE: If this tour is too long for you or alternatively, you have other stops in mind we can tailor a different length holiday or route to suit your requirements. Please call one of our friendly and experienced consultants on (01892) 779900 for more advice or email us with your itinerary and we will be happy to assist in helping to plan your trip.
Not looking to drive so far? Why not let us suggest some alternative routes with less mileage for you?
- Las Vegas
- Grand Canyon
- Lake Powell
- Zion National Park
- Bryce Canyon
- Canyonlands & Arches National Parks
- Monument Valley
- Canyon de Chelly
- Scottsdale and Phoenix
Welcome to Las Vegas, a city created to provide non-stop entertainment. Enjoy two days here, wandering The Strip, enjoying shows, taking in the Eiffel Tower or catching an adrenaline rush on the Stratosphere. For a break from the action, tour the world-famous Hoover Dam, or, for a preview of the natural wonders to come, go for a hike or scenic drive through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Museum lovers will enjoy the Imperial Auto Museum, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, and the Liberace Museum, to name just a few. Whatever you choose to do, remember that "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!"
The magnificent Grand Canyon awaits today. Take the free shuttle bus from the Canyon Plaza Visitor Center to some of the best viewpoints along the South Rim, or enjoy the 25-mile Desert View scenic self-drive. Visit the Yavapai Observation Station, the Tusayan Museum, and the Kolb Brothers Studio for more fabulous views and a perspective on the cultural heritage and history of the Grand Canyon. Treat yourself to a helicopter ride over the North and South Rims of the Canyon for thrilling bird's eye views of the Colorado River more than a mile below.
Lake Powell / Glen Canyon
Keep an eye out for spectacular Vermillion Cliffs on the left today as you head for Lake Powell. Viewing the 3,000-foot escarpment, you may be able discern distinct geologic formations contained within the cliffs. Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in the country, longer than the entire west coast of the continental United States. The lake lies within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, established to protect the Colorado Plateau. It's easiest to explore the area's 96 major canyons by watercraft or tour boat. There are also hiking and biking opportunities in the 1.2 million acres wilderness.
Zion National Park
On the way to Zion National Park today, plan to take a detour on the Kaibab to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Once you reach Zion, you'll recognize immediately, it is a true desert paradise. The beautiful Virgin River carved Zion Canyon, the park's centerpiece, more than 2,000 feet deep in places. Located along the edge of a region known as the Colorado Plateau, the park comprises one step of the Grand Staircase, a series of rock layers formed from different materials as the land slowly transformed. The bottom layer of Bryce Canyon is the top layer at Zion and the bottom layer at Zion is the top layer at the Grand Canyon.
Watch as the light plays on the sandstone, plateaus, and monoliths in an ever-changing array of color. Explore the park on the free Zion Park Shuttle which makes eight stops at major locations throughout the park. The Grotto and Weeping Rock can be reached by a quarter-mile hiking trail off the route. The Zion Human History Museum is well worth visiting for its exhibits on the park's rich geologic and human history.
Bryce Canyon National Park
You'll have time to explore more of Zion this morning before continuing on to Bryce Canyon National Park, just a short drive away. Some of the most bizarre and extraordinary natural architecture anywhere is found here. Slot canyons, windows, fins, and the famous spires called "hoodoos" have been created over millennia by the forces of nature. The colorful and whimsically arranged rocks form a landscape of mazes, offering some of the most exciting and memorable walks and hikes imaginable. Take a horse or mule tour deep into the canyon. For a spectacular view of the entire Park, as well as the Kaibab Plateau at the Grand Canyon, drive or take the free shuttle out to Rainbow Point at the southernmost end of the park.
Capitol Reef National Park
As water has eroded the sandstone layers, it has left basins known as "waterpockets." Named for the white domes of Navajo sandstone that resemble capitol buildings and for the rocky cliffs that act as barriers to travel, Capitol Reef is the most scenic part of the Waterpocket Fold. You can see for yourself on three scenic drives through the park. Travel the 10-mile Scenic Drive from the Visitor Center along the rugged western face of Capitol Reef. Explore the southern Waterpocket district on a 125-mile loop tour that includes side trips on spur roads and a number of hiking trails. The Cathedral Valley drive is a 60-mile loop that begins at the River Ford Visitors Center and includes Thousand Lake Mountain Road, known for its exceptional views of the surrounding painted desert. Along the way, keep an eye out for the myriad of wildlife that makes its home here; loons, hawks, falcons, boas, lizards and salamanders. A tour of Fruita, a 200-acre pioneer settlement that includes historic orchards and the old Fruita Schoolhouse, provides a glimpse of the park's human history.
Moab/Canyonlands & Arches National Park
Carved out of vast sedimentary rock deposits, Canyonlands National Park possesses remarkable natural features that are part of a unique desert ecosystem. The foundation of the park geology is visible everywhere in cliff profiles that reveal millions of years of deposit, erosion and other geologic events. Island in the Sky is the easiest and most accessible district to visit in a short period of time. (On a foggy day, you'll understand the reason for its name, as the rock appears to float above the clouds.) The area offers expansive views from many overlooks along the paved scenic drive. Plan to drive out to Grand View Point as well as other overlooks perched 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain. Several short trails, including Mesa Arch, Upheaval Dome and Aztec Butte, lead to interesting natural and cultural resources. If time permits, there are many other things to see and do in the Moab area, including some excellent museums, Rock Art sites, Dead Horse Point State Park and self-guided driving tours to the sites of some well-known movie scenes.
Before leaving the Moab area, visit Arches National Park, where incredible forces of nature have sculpted the greatest density of natural arches in the world. Two drives through the park take you to a number of exceptional viewpoints, including Delicate Arch Viewpoint from where you can see the park's most famous arch at a distance. Take a moment to get out of the car and walk under the two largest arches, North Window and Double Arch, for a truly up close and personal experience. If you prefer to hike, there are trails to the park's highlights that take from 1-1/2 hours to a half a day. We suggest that you do the longer hikes early or late in the day to avoid the mid-summer heat.
Before leaving the Moab area, visit Arches National Park, where incredible forces of nature have sculpted the greatest density of natural arches in the world. Two drives through the park take you to a number of exceptional viewpoints, including Delicate Arch Viewpoint from where you can see the park’s most famous arch at a distance. Take a moment to get out of the car and walk under the two largest arches, North Window and Double Arch, for a truly up close and personal experience. If you prefer to hike, there are trails to the park’s highlights that take from 1-1/2 hours to a half a day. We suggest that you do the longer hikes early or late in the day to avoid the mid-summer heat.
Continue to Moab – lying near the Colorado river in a green valley, enclosed by high sandstone cliffs. The town makes an ideal base for exploring Arches and Canyonland National Parks. Prehistoric Fremont and Anasazi Indians once lived and farmed in the bottoms of the canyons around Moab. Their rock art, granaries, and dwellings can still be seen in the area. In recent years Moab has become synonymous with Mountain Biking, river trips on the Colorado, horse back riding, four wheel jeep tours and hot air ballooning. The newest tourist attraction is a 12 minute tramway, which lifts you up 1,000 feet to the top of the redrock rims that flank the city, you can take a bike on the skyway and leisurely ride down, or take one of the many walking trails from the top.
Chinle/Canyon de Chelly
Unique among National Parks, Canyon de Chelly is comprised entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land, still home to Navajo communities. Well-preserved Anasazi ruins reveal the culture of the ancient peoples who were ancestors of the present day inhabitants.
While you may drive the Canyon rim on your own, you must have a Navajo guide to hike or drive inside the Canyon. Thunderbird Tours, the National Park Service official guide service at Canyon de Chelly, offers a variety of guided tours that are worth taking for the information, access, and unique perspective the guide provides. Ancient and living history, extensive rock art and distinctive architecture make Canyon de Chelly one of the most intriguing stops on your journey.
On your way to Sedona today, stop to explore the ruins of ancient civilizations at Montezuma's Castle and the Palatkai Ruins. These early inhabitants were gathering around the healing springs and gardens at Sedona long before Europeans arrived. As you travel past striking red rock formations with names like Coffee Pot, Cathedral Rock, Thunder Mountain, and Bell Rock, make use of the frequent pull-offs that enable awe-struck drivers to safely take in the views!
In keeping with the theme of this trip, we recommend that you visit Oak Creek Canyon, world renowned for its spectacular beauty. Colorful rocks and unusual scenery accompany you down a series of switchbacks into the canyon, where you'll be met by crimson cliffs and crystal pools. You can experience the canyon entirely by car, or you can get out and hike, picnic, stand in awe, or cool off in a watering hole along the way.
The rest of your time in this mystical place can be filled with activity, visiting Slide Rock and Red Rock State Parks and hiking through the spectacular landscape, or with complete relaxation in an incredibly serene environment. Spend an afternoon wandering through the Tlaqupaque Arts & Crafts Village, a Sedona landmark and a unique shopping experience.
Arriving into the Phoenix area today, you’ll instantly be captivated by the Valley of the Sun. This multi-cultural, historical and rapidly growing metropolitan area, which began as a small town in the middle of the desert, gets 360 days of sunshine a year, and has heritage, entertainment and recreation to spare.
Experience the splendour of the Victorian era at Historic Heritage Park, view one of the finest displays of Native American art at the renowned Heard Museum, and wander through the specialty plants and flowers at the Desert Botanical Garden. You’ll find fabulous shopping in nearby Scottsdale. Enjoy two days in this unique area, throughout which you’ll see the architectural influence of Frank Lloyd Wright complementing the striking landscape of the Sonoran Desert.
Phoenix and Home
Enjoy another leisurely day in Scottsdale or Phoenix before you depart later today. As you leave for home, know that you’ve experienced the trip of a lifetime in the Canyonlands of the American West.
- Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
- 15 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
- Fully insured compact car hire
- A detailed travel pack with driving instructions and maps
Daily Departures Year Round (subject to seasonal road closures).
We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.