Our most popular tour beginning in 1998, provides a great 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 eight-night, nine-day tour includes 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners. The tour is loaded with activities that compliment 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.
Lodging is in some of our favorite hotels and Lodges located in picturesque communities. Wherever possible in 3 star or better rated hotels. No need to worry about the quality of lodging as we do inspections on all of our hotels regularly to make sure they are up to our standards.
Our groups are small with eight to ten passengers. When there are more than 10 guests, we take a second guide and vehicle. 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
Day One: Las Vegas, St George, and Zion National Park
We meet you in Las Vegas at the Tuscany Suites Hotel for an 8:00 AM departure and then begin your Grand Circle National Park Adventure and go directly to Zion National Park, a short three-hour drive away.
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, 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 awesome 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 is served 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 on 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 modern 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. Truly, 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 prior to 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 on 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 her 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”. We will see Cliff Palace as well as other cliff dwellings as we tour the park. We will visit some of the mesa top sites 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 then begin our drive to Moab, Utah, passing through the quaint little town of Ouray. We 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, Famous Highway 12 and Bryce National Park
In the morning, we make our way to Capital Reef National Park, stopping briefly to see the Fremont Indian petroglyphs and then the Visitors’ Center. We soon start our drive over the famous Highway 12, recently named an “All American Highway” as one of the most scenic highways in America.
We arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park in mid-to late afternoon.
We will visit several of the key sites in Bryce Canyon and then check into the famous Ruby’s Inn. That evening, we are royally entertained at the nearby Ebenezer’s Barn and Grill with an “unforgettable evening of old fashioned country fun, music, and western food”. You will like it!!!!
Day Nine: Bryce Canyon and Las Vegas
For those who want to get up early and see the sunrise at Bryce, you are in for a real treat. The early morning sun lights up the pink cliffs and hoodoos and offers a stunning visual experience. For those physically capable, we take a two-hour walk down into the beautiful hoodoos from Sunrise to Sunset Point. Anyone else who doesn’t take the hike can walk along the rim from one point to the other. Some say this is the most beautiful walk they have ever taken.
From there, we start making our way towards Las Vegas. We take the scenic Cedar Mountain route, which offers a great view of Zion National Park from a distance, as well as several high alpine meadows. We will make a brief lunch stop along the way for lunch. From there we go on to Las Vegas, generally arriving around 5:00 pm.
*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