America's Awe-Inspiring National Parks
Vast canyons, bizarre rock formations, rugged arches and sky-scraping spires all feature on this adventure through the American West. Travelling from Colorado through the wide open landscapes of Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota, we’ll cover eight spectacular US national parks, including Yellowstone, Arches and Grand Canyon. We’re in the spiritual homelands of the Navajo and Cheyenne, so we’ll also gain an insight into Native American culture and tradition as our journey unfolds.
- Denver & Rocky Mountain National Park
- Mount Rushmore
- Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks
- Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce & Zion National Parks
- Grand Canyon National Park
Take your direct flight to Denver. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel for the next two nights.
Modern and vibrant, set against a stunning Rocky Mountain backdrop, Denver makes a grand introduction to the American West. A brief tour takes us to the gold-domed State Capitol building, one of the steps of which is exactly a mile above sea level, earning Denver its ‘Mile High City’ moniker. The remainder of the day is at leisure to relax or explore independently - perhaps learn more about Denver’s gold rush heritage at Larimer Square and the Historic Lower Downtown District, or wander around the shops on pedestrianised promenade, 16th Street Mall.
Denver - Rocky Mountain National Park - Cheyenne
Today we leave Denver behind in pursuit of our first American national park. North of Denver, the summer resort of Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, with its towering, snow-streaked peaks and still blue alpine lakes. Take a moment to absorb the magnificent scenery and peaceful atmosphere, before we continue to the capital of Wyoming, Cheyenne. The city is named for the Native American people once roamed the region.
Cheyenne - Fort Laramie - Rapid City
Today we visit the historical Fort Laramie, a site of exceptional historical significance - a 19th-century fur-trading station which was acquired by the US Army in 1849 to protect and supply western emigrants. It took on an increasingly important role in settling violent disputes between whites (often gold prospectors) and Native Americans, giving its name to two treaties, in 1851 and 1868. Following a visit, we leave Wyoming for South Dakota and Rapid City, the historic freight centre of the gold rush attractively situated at the foot of the Black Hills.
Crazy Horse Memorial & Mount Rushmore
The Crazy Horse Memorial towers over the Black Hills of South Dakota. In fact, this Native American sacred ground carved into the side of a mountain is even larger than the great pyramid. We’ll have some time to take it in and learn about the history of the Sioux tribes and the non-traditional ways of their leader. This evening we visit one of the great icons of the American West; Mount Rushmore. Carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, the 18m-tall faces of former presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln look serenely on.
Rapid City - Devils Tower - Sheridan
Our journey continues into Wyoming and Devils Tower, a bizarre igneous rock formation that protrudes dramatically out of the prairies that surround the Black Hills. You might recognise it as the site of the landing spaceship in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. Later on, we continue to Sheridan. This small town is authentically western thanks to its colourful history of trapping, ranching, mining and railroad building. On arrival, you might feel like you’ve stepped onto the movie set of your favourite ‘wild west’ film. We settle in to our hotel for the night and the remainder of your time is free to explore.
Sheridan - Cody - West Yellowstone
We continue westward to the town of Cody, named after William F Cody, better known as the pioneering ‘wild west’ showman Buffalo Bill. You’ll have some time to explore the museums at your own pace before we journey to Yellowstone National Park - known as the first US national park. Our hotel for the next two nights is perched on the west entrance to the park - perfect for exploring this remarkable region.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park’s high plateau straddles the border of three states and is packed with natural wonders. In fact, half of the world’s geothermal features (including the iconic ‘Old Faithful’ geyser) may be found here, along with hundreds of documented species of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. With our expert local guide, we’ll learn about the enchanting waterfalls and mountains, marvel at the volcanic ‘sideshows’ and try to shoot the perfect picture of the park’s ‘megafauna’. The characterful wildlife to look out for here includes grizzly bears, wolves and herds of mighty bison.
West Yellowstone - Grand Teton National Park - Jackson
Another memorable day of sightseeing awaits today, as we travel south through Grand Teton National Park, a 1,300km reserve renowned for the tranquil majesty of the snow-capped Teton Range, rising abruptly without foothills. We stay in Jackson tonight, a small city in Jackson Hole valley notable for its elk-antler arches at each corner of the park.
Jackson - Salt Lake City
Today we travel south, crossing the state line between Wyoming and Utah as we journey to Salt Lake City, perhaps best known as the headquarters of the Mormon Church. Mormon pioneers, fleeing persecution in Illinois, settled here more than 150 years ago and helped build an attractive city with much to offer the modern-day traveller. On arrival, we take a short tour to get our bearings before checking in at our hotel.
Salt Lake City - Arches National Park - Moab
Sit back and enjoy the scenery as we follow the mountains, passing beautiful canyons as we make our way to Arches National Park. Famed for its preservation of over 2,000 natural red sandstone arches spanning 73,000 acres of wilderness, it includes the beautiful Delicate Arch. We check into our hotel in Moab, a town with a great collection of restaurants and microbreweries lining the main street, offering a diverse culinary scene.
Canyonlands National Park
Today we visit Canyonlands National Park, another remarkable park which, as the name suggests, presents a richly coloured landscape of canyons, plateaux and buttes, carved by two mighty rivers - the Green and Colorado - and adorned with petroglyphs by the Ancestral Puebloan Indians.
Moab - Bryce Canyon National Park - Bryce City
We wend our way to Bryce Canyon National Park today, absorbing the scenery as we relax enroute. The park is a series of magnificent horseshoe-shaped natural amphitheatres with distinctive red rock pillars of stone carved into the pink cliffs of the majestic Paunsaugunt Plateau. The combination of mountain and desert climes create unique weather patterns, causing erosion that has creating thousands of subtly and beautifully coloured limestone spires, fins, arches and mazes - a sight to behold. We spend the night in Bryce.
Bryce City - Zion National Park - Springdale
Today we visit Zion National Park, renowned for its soaring monoliths and echoing canyons, its enchanting waterfalls and rock colours, and its prolific wildlife and Native American heritage. We spend some time in contemplation of its quiet grandeur and natural marvels including the ‘hanging gardens’ (rock walls bedecked in summer months with flowers).
Springdale - Flagstaff
We leave Utah for Arizona today as we make our journey to our overnight stop in Flagstaff.
Grand Canyon National Park
Our tour concludes at our final stop today but we have saved one of the best sights for last. Today is dedicated to an undoubted wonder of the natural world. The Grand Canyon, a colossal, steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River, now a tiny silver ribbon a mile below, truly inspires with panoramic views of outstanding beauty from the south rim. We visit the Grand Canyon visitor centre where there will be the option to watch a film in the incredible IMAX theatre, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can choose to take to the skies in an unforgettable helicopter ride that will allow you to see the canyon from a completely different perspective.
Flagstaff - Phoenix & Home
We transfer to the airport for our return flight to the UK.
- Professional tour manager for the duration of the trip
- Deluxe air-conditioned motor-coach
- Standard accommodation throughout
- 6 meals (6 breakfasts)
- International flights from London (please ask if regional airports are required)
- Sightseeing as specified
Various departure dates from May to September 2023 - call us for an up-to-date list.