Grand Circle Tour

Tour Highlights:

 
  • 7 National Parks
  • 4 National Monuments & Rec Areas
  • 2 Indian Reservations
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Smoothwater Float Trip
  • Navajo Heritage Center
  • Monument Valley Backcountry Tour
  • Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Train Ride
  • Ancestral Puebloan or Anasazi Cliff Dwelling Tour

Tour Itinerary:

Day One:  Zion National Park

Your Grand Circle Adventure starts as we pick you up at your hotel and depart for Zion National Park.  Zion National Park is one of nature’s greatest wonders.  Gigantic red and white rock monoliths tower around you like a skyscraper city of stone, concealing pockets of abundant flora and fauna. 

See the Great White Throne, Angels Landing, the Court of the Patriarchs, and the Narrows where the Virgin River has carved out a narrow canyon with 2,000 foot cliffs on each side.  For the more adventuresome crowd, hiking up the Narrows is a great way to experience Zion.  For others, visits to the Weeping Wall, Emerald Pools, and the East Canyon Overlook are excellent choices.

For those interested, you can enjoy the giant screen production “Treasure of the Gods." When we are finished for the day we will retire to one of Springdale’s finest hotels for a welcome dinner and a relaxing evening watching the sunset paint the canyon with its last rays of light.

Day Two:  Grand Canyon

 After breakfast, we drive from the depths of the canyon up the switchbacks and climb 3,000 feet in just three miles to the Zion Tunnel.  Once through this mile-long tunnel, we emerge into a fascinating world of rock and sand formations that extend on each side of us. From there we depart for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  This drive is truly amazing.  We descend and ascend through 5 different rock formations between Zion and the Entrance to the Grand Canyon.  This is a portion of the Grand Staircase.  We will stop at a viewpoint along the way. 

As we enter the park you will notice some unique differences between the North Rim and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim is a thousand feet higher than the more popular South Rim, is less crowded and, for many of us, more beautiful.  The Grand Canyon has always been known as one of the eight wonders of the world.  On our journey through this wonder we will visit Point Imperial, Cape Royal, and finally the North Rim Lodge and Visitor Center.  A delicious picnic lunch is served at one of the sites overlooking the Canyon.  One of our favorite things to do in the afternoon is to sit back on one of the rocking chairs in the Lodge’s indoor and outdoor sun porches and take in the grandeur of all that surrounds us. 

Late in the afternoon we will depart the North Rim and travel through an equally beautiful place, the Vermilion Cliffs.  We traverse along the base of these cliffs until we reach the Navajo Bridge and begin our ascent to Page, AZ where we will enjoy a relaxing dinner and lodging for the night. 

Day Three:  Lake Powell And Page, Arizona

This morning we will be provided with another unique experience as we descend to the base of Glen Canyon Dam and begin a 14-mile smooth water float trip down the Colorado River.  We will enjoy this 700 ft to 1500 ft deep sandstone canyon that the Colorado River has carved over a few million years.  There will be a brief stop halfway through the trip to view some petroglyphs.  For those not interested in the float trip, we can provide you with a 2-hour boat tour of Lake Powell called "Canyon Adventure." Once you arrive back into Page and have eaten lunch, you have the afternoon to relax.

Later in the evening we will go the Navajo Village Heritage Center and enjoy dinner and an evening performance. Here, Navajos tell us of their culture and history, sing and dance in their native regalia, and demonstrate how they make their beautiful rugs and jewelry. We will lodge again for the night in Page.

Day Four:  Antelope Slot Canyon And Monument Valley

After breakfast and an easy morning packing up we will travel the short distance to Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon for a guided tour by local Navajos.  Truly, this is one of the most beautiful and easily accessible slot canyons in all of America.  You will not soon forget the power of water in carving these sandstone rocks into the unique formations you will find within these canyons.  After the tour is complete, we drive to Kayenta, Arizona for a late lunch before entering Monument Valley.

Once we arrive, Navajo guides will escort us into this beautiful and historic valley in the backs of their pickups.  (The road is bumpy and there is some jostling around, so those with bad backs or other physical restrictions, please let us know if you are unable to participate in this activity.) The guides will show us many of the more famous landmarks as well as where John Ford and John Wayne made many of their well-known movies like “Stagecoach” and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon." They also take us into the seldom-visited backcountry for a look at some fantastic rock formations such as the Sun's Eye and the Big Hogan.  Afterwards, we will return back to the visitor center for a delicious dinner overlooking the valley in the View Restaurant.  When we have enjoyed a scrumptious meal and the beautiful view, we will continue on to our lodging for the night in Bluff, UT. 

Day Five:  Four Corners And Mesa Verde National Park

After breakfast at one of the local coffee shops (you will love the food), we continue our drive through the Navajo Indian Reservation, stopping briefly at the famous “Four Corners” landmark.  Here, four states (Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico) come together in one place (no similar situation exists anywhere else in the USA).  At this site, one can literally put her hands and feet in four different states at once.  Local vendors selling many kinds of native handicrafts and jewelry are located nearby. In the distance we will be able to see Shiprock, one of the many unique monoliths found on the Navajo Reservation.

As we head into Colorado, we pass through the Ute Indian Reservation and soon find ourselves in Mesa Verde National Park. For those who are physically able, we tour Cliff House, Balcony House, or Long House.  These ruins are some of the best examples of the famous cliff houses within the park.  Afterwards, we will drive along the mesa top and stop at some of the many dwelling sites and viewpoints located there. We also stop at the Spruce Treehouse Museum, which has a wonderful array of ancient crafts, pottery, etc. of the Anasazi.  Late in the afternoon, we will enter the San Juan Mountains as we make our way to Durango, Colorado.  This frontier town has plenty to offer everyone.  After checking into our hotel, you are free to enjoy the many restaurants and shops located nearby.

Day Six: The Durango And Silverton Railroad & Million Dollar Highway

After breakfast you will enjoy the unique experience of riding the famous Durango and Silverton Railroad to Silverton, Colorado.  Built in 1981 to carry gold, silver, freight, and passengers, this old-time steam engine and railroad experience offers a fun and scenic view of the majestic San Juan Mountains and the Animas River Valley as is descends through the canyon.  This is a route and experience you can only get with the train. Once the train arrives in Silverton, we generally have lunch at the “Shady Lady” restaurant, one of many former bordellos located in that part of town. We will have some time to explore this famous town before departing.

After Silverton we continue our day's adventure by driving over one of the most beautiful mountain highways in America, the “Million Dollar Highway." You will love the stunning views that are offered and will become very aware of the scary drop-offs located near the road.  This highway is always listed as one of the top ten roads to see in the USA.  As we descend from Red Mountain Pass, we will enter what some call “Little Switzerland” as there are a number of 14,000’ plus mountains in the area and at the base of the mountain pass is the quaint hamlet of Ouray.  This quaint old mining town is where we will stretch our legs, get some ice cream and do a little shopping before we begin our final leg of the drive to Moab.  As we drive to Moab we will pass through the famous San Miguel River Gorge and also Paradox Valley.  Once we arrive in Moab, we will check into our hotel for the evening.  You then can stretch your legs and enjoy the night life available in Moab.

Day Seven:  Arches National Park And Dead Horse Point

This morning we will enter Arches National Park.  For those physically able, we will hike up to Delicate Arch, the most famous of all arches in the park.  For others, we will walk to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint.  Afterwards we will go to Landscape Arch and the windows section.  We will visit "Devils Garden" and Courthouse Towers viewpoints.  Arches holds over 2,000 arches; we hope to be able to see 50 of them with you. Once we are finished we will return to Moab for lunch and a relaxing afternoon.  You can take a Jeep/Hummer/atv ride, float down a portion of the Colorado River, or just relax and take a nap at the hotel.  We will enjoy an early dinner at one of the local breweries and then travel up into Canyonlands National Park for a beautiful sunset overlooking the park.  We will return to Moab to lodge again for the night.

Day Eight:  Capitol Reef National Park, Famous Highway 12 And Bryce National Park

After a lazy morning, we will embark on another beautiful drive through Central Utah.  We will pass the Green River then traverse the San Rafael Swell on our way to Capitol Reef National Park.  As we enter the gorge cut by the Fremont River, we will see stunning sandstone formations such as the Capitol Dome and the Water pocket Fold.  We have the time for a brief hike to Hickman Bridge before stopping at the petroglyphs, orchards, old school house, and the visitor center.

As we depart Capitol Reef we will begin our traverse of Highway 12, recently named an “All-American Highway."  We will enjoy grand vistas of the canyons of Utah as we travel up to 9,600 ft on Boulder Mountain and back down to 5,000 ft in Boulder Utah where we will enjoy a late lunch at one of the local cafes. We will then continue across the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument and overlook Calf Creek and its majestic canyon.  We will then enter into Bryce Canyon National Park.  Depending on how we are feeling at this time, we can visit some of the beautiful vistas, hike to Mossy Cave and the little waterfall near it, or relax for the evening at our lodging for the night. There is a rodeo in the summer months.  We will have a farewell dinner at the Bryce Canyon Lodge dinning room.  Their executive chef is one of my favorites.

Day Nine: Bryce, Kolob, Las Vegas

One of my favorite experiences to share is an early morning walk from Sunrise to Sunset points in Bryce Canyon. The early morning sun lights up the pink cliffs and hoodoos and offers a stunning visual experience.  in my opinion, these unique limestone formations almost glow as the sun hits them at the first light of day.  There is a 2-hour walk through Queen's Garden and the Navajo Loop for those physically capable.  For those interested in a more leisury stroll, we take a short walk from point to point along the rim.  Afterward we return to the Bryce Canyon Lodge for a delicious breakfast.  We return to the hotel and pack up for our final leg of our journey.

Once we depart Bryce Canyon, we traverse across Highway 14 and its beautiful aspen groves, lava fields and beautiful views looking down onto Zion National Park. We will make a short stop at the best viewpoint in the Kolob Fingers section of Zion National Park.  Afterwards, we will enjoy a wonderful lunch at one of the best local restaurants in St. George.  There are a few shops to visit and then we depart for Las Vegas, generally arriving between 3:00 and 4:00 pm Pacific Time.

Tour Includes:

  • Tour Guide
  • Comfortable Transportation
  • 8 Nights Lodging in 2.5 to 3 Star Hotels
  • 8 Breakfasts
  • 4 Lunches
  • 4 Dinners
  • Antelope Canyon Tour (Upper or Lower)
  • Colorado River Smoothwater Float Trip or Lake Powell 1 or 2 hour cruise
  • Navajo Village Heritage Center Presentation
  • Monument Valley Tour
  • Mesa Verde Cliffhouse Tour
  • Durango Silverton Railroad Train Ride
  • Park Entrance Fees
  • Taxes, Fees, and Gratuity associated with all activities, excluding Tour Guide tips
  • Bottled Water & Snacks