This year we have added an additional nights stay to the tour to spend a little more time in two of our favorite parks, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon. This will make for a more leisurly experience as it also reduces the amount of travel required on days 8 and 9.
Our most popular tour since 1998, the tour provides an excellent opportunity to experience up close and personal seven National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon), plus Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon. The tour involves driving through 1,900 miles of beautiful mountains, deserts, and mountain valleys, and includes two of America’s most scenic highways.
This nine-night, nine-day tour includes 9 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners. The tour is loaded with activities that complement the beautiful national parks we visit. Key activities include Four-hour Narrow-Gauge Railroad ride from Durango to Silverton, Colorado; Navajo-led Monument Valley back-country tour; Navajo-led Antelope Canyon tour; and a float trip down a 10-mile section of the Colorado River. Our tour includes many more activities than most tours visiting Southern Utah.
Our groups are small with eight to ten passengers. We use comfortable modified raised roof vans designed to fit 15 passengers, plus luggage. Unlike other companies, we do not fill the vans to capacity as we want you to have a comfortable, uncrowded traveling experience.
We begin and end the tour in Las Vegas and visit the states of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. We pass through three Native American reservations as well. Our guides are the best in the area. They usually are natives of Southern Utah and have a lifetime of stories and insights to draw upon. There is no substitute for experience. They provide a comprehensive overview of the history, geology, plant life, and culture of the West.
We look forward to touring with you,
The SUST staff, experienced tour specialists
Arrival Day: Las Vegas, and St George. (This is the day before the tour start date.)
After you arrive in Las Vegas and collect your luggage, you will connect with a shuttle which will then transport you to St George, UT for your overnight stay. Get settled in, enjoy the beauty of the city of St George. There are several restaurants in the nearby area including an excellent one located at the hotel.
After breakfast, we depart St George for Zion National Park. Zion 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, Angel’s 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.
After checking into our hotel in nearby Springdale, there is a welcome and get-acquainted dinner for all to attend.
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. We like to stop at Checkerboard Mesa for pictures. From there, we depart for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
This drive is truly amazing. The North Rim is a thousand feet higher than the more popular South Rim, is less crowded and, for many of us, more beautiful.
Words cannot describe, and pictures cannot capture the impressive spectacle of this majestic site. The Grand Canyon has always been known as one of the seven wonders of the world, and we can’t agree more. We visit the most spectacular sites, pausing to get out, walk along the rim and enjoy the beauty of the place. A picnic lunch will be enjoyed at one of the sites overlooking the Canyon.
We visit the North Rim Lodge. One of our favorite things to do 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. A gift shop is located nearby for those who want to purchase souvenirs. From there, we continue to Page, Arizona, for dinner and lodging.
Day Three: Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Page, Arizona*
We usually begin the day with a 10 or so mile float trip down the Colorado River beginning near the Glen Canyon Dam. A description of the tour is as follows:
“All Colorado River Discovery river trips begin with an exciting ride down the two-mile long Glen Canyon Dam access tunnel. With the dam soaring 700 feet above you, you will board a motorized pontoon raft for your journey downstream, where you will experience one of the most dramatic stretches of river found in the western United States.
While underway, your experienced guide will tell the area’s story of soaring sandstone cliffs, crystal blue-green waters, abundant wildlife, former inhabitation by native cultures, exploration by Major John Wesley Powell, and the Colorado River’s current role in the Southwest’s water and power delivery system.
Your trip will also include a stop to view ancient petroglyphs left by Ancestral Puebloan people. (During the warm summer months, we start the boat tour early in the morning to escape the heat.)
That afternoon, we are taken to nearby Antelope Canyon for a guided tour by local Navajos. Indeed, this is one of the most beautiful slot canyons in all of America and a morning experience that our guests will be discussing for a very long time.
If time permits, we also take a tour of the Glen Canyon Dam, the dam on the Colorado River that created Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the United States.
Dinner and lodging are in Page, Arizona.
Day Four: Horseshoe Bend and Monument Valley
After breakfast, we like to walk out to Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado.
After we return to our vehicle, we drive to Kayenta, Arizona, and then enter Monument Valley, made famous in movies and commercials. Once we arrive, Navajo guides will escort us into this beautiful and historic valley in modified pickups. (The road is bumpy, and there is some jostling around, so those with bad backs or other physical restrictions, please let us know before participating 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.
We continue to Bluff, Utah, for dinner and lodging.
Day Five: Four Corners and Mesa Verde National Park
After breakfast, 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 our hands and feet in four different states at once. Local vendors selling many kinds of native handicrafts and jewelry are located nearby.
As we head into Colorado, we pass through the Ute Indian Reservation and soon find ourselves in Mesa Verde National Park the world famous Anasazi “Cliff Dwellings”. For those who are physically able, we tour Cliff Palace. This is one of the largest and best ruins in the park. We take a driving tour and see several of the best-preserved ruins.
We also stop at the museum, which has a wonderful array of ancient crafts, pottery, etc. of the Anasazi. Later that afternoon, we make our way to Durango, Colorado. After checking into our hotel, you are free to enjoy the many restaurants and shops located nearby.
Day Six: Colorado Rockies and the Durango and Silverton Railroad
After breakfast, we take the morning Durango and Silverton Railroad to Silverton, Colorado. Built-in 1895 to carry gold and passengers, this old-time steam engine and railroad experience offers a fun and scenic view of the San Juan Mountains, the Animas River, and is a tremendously enjoyable experience.
Once the train arrives in Silverton, we will have lunch in one of the local restaurants.
After lunch, we continue our 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 become very aware of the scary drop-offs located near the road. This highway is always in the top ten roads to see in the USA. Some call this part of Colorado “little Switzerland” as there are a number of 14,000-foot mountains in the area that offer some of the best mountain scenery in all of Colorado.
We stop in Ouray, a quaint old mining town, for ice cream. We then begin our drive to Moab, Utah, and check into our hotel in the late afternoon. The hotel is next to restaurants. Dinner is on your own.
Day Seven: Moab, Arches National Park, and Dead Horse Point
We begin the day in nearby Arches National Park where we walk to see some of the best large and small arches in one of Utah’s most famous national parks.
Later, we drive to Dead Horse Point State Park for a spectacular overlook of the Colorado River, one of our favorite places to visit in the whole Southwest. From there, we tour the “Island in the Sky” section of Canyonlands National Park. Then, return to Moab in the late afternoon.
Day Eight: Capital Reef National Park
Day Nine: Highway 12, Grand Staricase-Escalante National Monument and Bryce
*On dates prior to May 15 or after Oct 15 day 2 and 3 may be adjusted as the North Rim is closed between Oct 15 and May 15 of each year. On tours that travel during this time, Day 2 will travel to Page AZ for all of our activities in the Page area (Antelope Canyon, Float Trip, etc.). Day 3 we will travel south to Visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon overnight in Tusayan and then be back on schedule traveling to Monument Valley on Day 4.
In the spring (prior to May 5, the train ride on Day 6 will travel to Cascade Canyon instead of Silverton due to track closures for the winter season