This tour runs every Thursday and Saturday from 16th May through 19th September.
Pick ups take place from the Las Vegas Strip at about 6.15 a.m. If there are enough people in the downtown area, we will also pick up at one central downtown location. Should you have to take a taxi or bus to meet us, we will reimburse you a maximum of $10 against the receipt.
Like all of our tours this is a small group trip. The average number of people last year was only four. Please remember that our guides are very knowledgeable about the areas you travel through, as well as the geology, traditions and customs of the local people. Feel free to ask any and all questions!
The route to the Grand Canyon takes us past Lake Mead and over Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam is a man made marvel, and we will stop there to take photographs and admire the views. Please note that national security concerns may sometimes prevent us from going over the dam wall, and, if that is the case, we will need to take an alternate route.
Leaving Hoover Dam we travel through the desert, before arriving in the small Arizona town of Kingman, where we pick up the freeway towards the Grand Canyon. At Williams, Arizona, we head north for about 50 miles (80 kilometres), towards the South Rim.
A tiny town called Tusayan borders the Grand Canyon, and the small local airport is just to the south of Tusayan. We will stop there to allow those of you who want to take an optional helicopter tour to do so.
Day 1 - Grand Canyon airport - Flight time is 25 to 30 minutes
Although expensive, a helicopter is really the best way to see as much of the Grand Canyon as possible in a short period of time. The tour being offered is the North Canyon helicopter tour. You fly over the deepest and widest parts of the Grand Canyon, through the Dragon Corridor, and on to the North Rim, where you can view the geological differences between the two rims. On the way back to the South Rim you will take in breathtaking views of temples, shrines and other rock formations. The tour is about half an hour long, and it must be ordered ahead of time, preferably when you order the main tour itself.
If you choose not to do the helicopter tour your guide will take you into the Grand Canyon earlier.
At the Grand Canyon we will take you to several of the main viewpoints, including Mather Point and Bright Angel, as well as the Visitor Center. Your skilled guide will give you an overview of the layout of the South Rim, and then leave you on your own to explore for a while.
You can stroll around the Canyon, take pictures, admire the views, buy souvenirs, or get something to eat.
The route we take out of the Grand Canyon travels along the seldom seen east part of the South Rim. On the way we will stop at the Desert Watchtower, a unique building designed by the legendary architect, Mary Colter, using rocks brought up from the bottom of the Canyon. The inside of the tower is full of artwork by Hopi (Indian) artists.
We will start dropping down from the South Rim, to the desert that is Navajo Nation land below. On the way we pass the Cameron Trading Post, one of the best purveyors of southwestern souvenirs and native American art and jewelry. If there is time we will stop here briefly.
Climbing up to a plateau once again, we start to approach Page, on the shores of Lake Powell. The first order of business is to check in at your hotel, which is the Quality Inn (www.qualityinnpage.com). After check in we invite you to join our guide for a hike to Horseshoe Bend.
Horseshoe Bend is a spectacular Colorado River overlook, viewed through the canyon walls far below, and the trailhead is a short distance outside town. Please bring a good pair of walking shoes with you.
The hike is a little less than half a mile or .65 of a kilometre. There is a fairly steep uphill section over loose sand to start the hike, and on the way back you have to go up the other side of the hill to return to the vehicle. We provide bottles of water so please grab one or two as it is almost always hot.
After the hike you are on your own for dinner, and the night is spent at the Quality Inn.
Day 2 - Breakfast and options for the morning - Half day
A free, hot breakfast buffet is available at your hotel this morning, after which you have the option of going on a flat water float trip. Please book this as early as possible, preferably at the same time as you book the tour itself.
If you do not take the float trip you can possibly go for a cruise on Lake Powell, an air tour of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell or Monument Valley from the small airport, just stroll around town, or swim at the hotel's pool.
The Colorado River flows from Lake Powell out of Glen Canyon Dam, towards Lee's Ferry, the official starting point of raft trips through the Grand Canyon. Today you'll be taking a float trip down the river. The adventure begins with an unusual ride down the two mile long Glen Canyon Dam access tunnel. At river level, with the dam soaring almost 600 feet above you, you will board a comfortable, motorized pontoon raft for your journey downstream.
For the next fifteen miles, you will experience one of the most dramatic stretches of river in the western United States. Your experienced guide will tell the story of the area’s soaring sandstone cliffs, crystal blue-green waters, abundant wildlife, exploration by Major John Wesley Powell (after whom Lake Powell is named) and others, and the river's modern role in the Southwest’s water and power delivery system.
A stop to view an impressive set of ancient petroglyphs will offer you a chance to stretch your legs while bearing witness to the area’s former inhabitance by ancient native cultures. If you choose, you may also refresh yourself by wading in the cold, clear river.
The river portion of your trip ends at historic Lees Ferry, gateway to the Grand Canyon, from where you will be taken back to Page.
Up next is a 1 1/2 to 2 hour tour of Monument Valley, conducted by a Navajo guide. Visitors love to see the buttes, mesas and other sandstone formations that are so prevalent in the Monument Valley area. Monument Valley is actually not really a valley at all, but a relatively flat plain surrounded by red cliffs, with the buttes, as well as the remnants of ancient volcanoes, towering from the earth.
For fans of old western movies, Monument Valley is the epicenter of the west, with many great cowboys and Indians films having been shot in the area. The familiar rock shapes can be seen from many miles away, with the really great scenery to be seen on the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which straddles the Utah/Arizona border.
Amongst the sites that your tour will likely take in are Anasazi ruins, petroglyphs, movie locations, 1000 foot monoliths, rug weaving and Indian hogans. The famous monuments are visited.
There is an early start this morning, as there is so much to do! After breakfast the first activity is an off road tour to Antelope Canyon, one of the most striking slot canyons known to man. A slot canyon is a narrow canyon sliced through a mesa by the forces of nature. Some canyons measure less than a yard across at the top, but drop a hundred feet or more from the rim to the bottom. Slots are cut and scoured by water and wind, with the striations of the sandstone becoming almost incandescent.
From within you will see a palette of colors transmuted by light filtering down from above and bouncing from wall to wall. Antelope Canyon can only be visited using the services of an authorized Navajo Nation guide, and we use Carolene Ekis' Antelope Canyon Tours.
Leaving Page we will drive over the Glen Canyon Dam Wall. A short distance up the road is a little known dirt trail which leads to spectacular views over Lake Powell. If the road is in reasonable condition we will drive up there to take a very brief look at the spectacular golden canyons partially submerged under the blue waters of Lake Powell.
The road to the small town of Kanab leads past Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Kanab itself has been the setting for many western movies.
From Kanab we will travel along a picturesque Utah back road, through some tiny towns, before arriving at Bryce Canyon.
At Bryce you have a choice of spending additional time in the park, going for a horseback ride, or heading out for an ATV (all terrain vehicle) ride. There is only time to do one of the three. Both of the rides take about an hour.
If you choose an ATV ride, you will first get a few pointers from an experienced guide, and then hop onto your ATV, to go chasing over 14 miles (22 kilometres) of dirt road through the Dixie National Forest surrounding Bryce Canyon. Please note that you will get dusty!
The horseback riding is more sedate, but also a lot of fun. You will visit an area of Bryce Canyon viewed only by this horseback ride. The trail follows a 3 1/2 mile loop through the Dixie National Forest to the rim of Bryce Canyon. From the rim you will view the hidden Water Canyon Amphitheater, before returning.
Please be aware that both itineraries may change, and that one or both activities may be unavailable at certain times of the year due to weather or lack of daylight or time. Both of the rides need to be booked ahead of time, preferably when you book the tour itself. The prices can be seen elsewhere on this page.
At Bryce you will hop into one of our other vehicles, and head for Salt Lake City, where you will stay at the downtown Crystal Inn (http://www.crystalinnsaltlake.com/). Tomorrow we will pick you up again and continue your adventure to Yellowstone.
Please enjoy the hot breakfast buffet before we pick you up at about 7 a.m., and head off for West Yellowstone, Montana. The initial route out of Salt Lake touches on the Great Salt Lake, at Willard Bay, before crossing over into Idaho. There is some great scenery along the way, especially as you climb up into the skies, through the Targhee National Forest into Montana. There will be opportunities for you to stop, admire the view, stretch your legs and buy a bite to eat.
When we get to West Yellowstone we will stop at our Cafe to pick up sack lunches before heading into the park.
The roads that run through Yellowstone make a massive figure of eight, and we will start to explore the circle that makes up the lower loop of the park.
From West Yellowstone we will head east, and follow the Madison River, past a nest with a pair of breeding Bald Eagles, towards Madison Junction. Depending on the time of the year, there is often a lot of wildlife in this area. At the Junction we will turn right, or south.
The first major area at which we will stop is the Lower Geyser Basin, home to Fountain Paint Pots. There is a boardwalk system running around and through the basin, and it is a great place to go for a stroll, if the bison haven't got there first! Apart from the paint pots, there is also a selection of other thermal features in the area, including a number of geysers, one or other of which is inevitably erupting.
From there we will travel a short distance to the Midway Geyser Basin. Midway is home to one of the largest hot springs to be found anywhere in the world, as well as Excelsior Geyser, now dormant, but discharging thousands of gallons of water every minute. Grand Prismatic Spring is an amazing sight, with its incredible array of colors.
Day 4 - High meadows outside West Yellowstone - About three hours
It is now time to return to West Yellowstone and prepare to go horseback riding. Those of you who prefer not to do so will be dropped off at your motel, Al's Westward Ho(http://www.yellowstonelodging.biz/west_yellowstone_motel.htm), and you can get a jump on exploring the town. Al's is the closest motel to Yellowstone, with the park being literally right across the road!
The horse ranch is located in a beautiful high mountain valley (or hole, as old timers called it) just outside West Yellowstone.
Depending on what the group decides, there are a variety of trail options. You can take a steep, high trail through the rugged mountain terrain, traversing the streams that flow down from the nearby Continental Divide, or you can stay lower down in the wide, expansive meadows.
In the summer, cattle are often moved from one area to another, and you may have the opportunity to play cowboy!
Please note that if this day happens to fall on a Sunday it may be necessary to do the horseback riding at a different time.
Your guide will pick up box breakfasts for you from our Cafe, and then you will return to the park to explore the upper loop.
This will be a full and fun day! The route we take will depend on possible road closures in the park, but it will be something like the following.
There is going to be a lot to see and do. We'll head out of West Yellowstone towards Madison Junction, where the Madison, Gibbon and Firehole Rivers meet. Turning left (north) we'll make for Norris Geyser Basin. Along the way we'll stop briefly at Gibbon Falls.
Although not as well known as the other geyser basins, Norris is the most thermally active part of Yellowstone. It is divided into two separate areas: Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. You will have the opportunity to stroll around both, enjoying the pristine beauty. Back Basin is home to Steamboat Geyser, the highest geyser in the world.
The next stop is Mammoth Hot Springs, headquarters of the park, and home to a fascinating array of weird rock shapes, bright colors and sizzling hot springs. Elk are generally plentiful in this area, wandering around the old park buildings, and, if you're lucky, you might even see a whole herd.
You can stroll down the ever changing terraces at Mammoth, admiring the travertine creations and hot springs. Your guide will be waiting at the bottom with a sack lunch.
Everyone wants to see a bear in the wild at Yellowstone, and the trip from Mammoth to Tower Falls is one of the best places to do so. The spring can be a great time to go looking for bears, as you have the opportunity of seeing mothers with their new born cubs. Tower Falls is an impressive water fall.
There is much wildlife to be found in the Lamar Valley, which follows the road from Tower Junction to the north east entrance of the park. This is where the keen wolf watchers are to be found, and we will drive past their spotting locations and ask what they may have seen recently. Grizzly bears also frequent the Lamar area.
Assuming that it is open, the road from Tower Falls to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone towers up into the sky as it crosses the Dunraven Pass at almost 9000 feet. We then drop down to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone River has carved an impressive canyon through the rocks, over which two falls drop. The Lower Falls is over twice the size of Niagara Falls! It is in this area that you can catch a glimpse of the yellowish tinge to the rocks, from which the Yellowstone River got its name, but at a different location. We'll check out the canyon and falls from a number of different locations. You get so close to the Upper Falls that you almost feel like you can reach out and touch the thundering water. Don't!
After a long, fun-filled day, it is time to return to West Yellowstone.
Day 6 - West Yellowstone to Jackson, through Yellowstone and Grand Teton - 140 mi / 225.26 km - Half day
Box breakfasts are once again provided today, as are sack lunches. Leaving West Yellowstone we will be traveling over the lower loop once again, on our way to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole. The Upper Geyser Basin, home to the legendary Old Faithful, is our first major stop, and we will visit there, and wait for the world's most famous geyser to erupt. There will also be time to check out Old Faithful Inn, and maybe even some of the other geysers in the area.
Depending on how long we had to wait for Old Faithful to erupt, there may possibly be an opportunity for a short walk around the Upper Geyser Basin. Apart from Old Faithful, there are a host of other geysers and springs there, like Riverside Geyser and Morning Glory Pool.
The road from Old Faithful to West Thumb, the next geyser basin, crosses over the Continental Divide twice, as it climbs through the forests. West Thumb is located along the shore of the incredibly blue Yellowstone Lake. This stop is a brief one, to enable you to admire the view over the lake.
From West Thumb it's time to drop south through the bottom part of Yellowstone, over the Rockefeller Parkway, and directly into Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton does not have the amazing spectacles that Yellowstone does, but it is a beautiful area, and we'll take a leisurely drive through the park, stopping several times to take photographs and admire the views.
The western, touristy town of Jackson is right outside Grand Teton National Park, and we will stop briefly there for you to take a quick look at the town, and eat the sack lunch that we provide today.
There is now the option of going white water rafting. The Snake River has some great rafting waters, and you'll be tackling an eight mile stretch, with the put in just outside Jackson. This section of the river offers some exciting white water, under the watchful eye of an experienced guide. If you prefer not to go rafting you can spend more time exploring Jackson.
This tour is subject to a $1.00 per person fuel surcharge.
The entry fees to all parks are included.
The off road tours at Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon are included.
The following lodging is included: Two nights' at the Page Quality Inn (www.qualityinnpage.com) at Lake Powell, one night at the Salt Lake City Crystal Inn (http://www.crystalinnsaltlake.com/), and two nights at Al's Westward Ho (http://www.yellowstonelodging.biz/west_yellowstone_motel.htm) in West Yellowstone.
Prices are based on double occupancy.
A single surcharge of $220 is applicable, or we can try and match singles. If you want to have three or four to a room, you will get a lower price.
The price includes the services of a guide/driver and transportation.
Vehicles are mini buses or executive vans, which are vans with individual, high back, reclining seats.
The following meals are included: Continental breakfasts on days two, three and four. Box breakfasts on days five and six. Sack lunches on days four, five and six.
The tour itinerary may change at our discretion without notice. Factors that may cause a change include, but are not limited to, the weather, vendors and road conditions.
Portions of this tour may be subcontracted to other reputable vendors. This will in no way affect your comfort or safety.
A minimum of two people may be required for a tour to depart. That is not two in your group, but a total of two. You may also need to book several weeks out to ensure availability.
This tour runs every Thursday and Saturday from 16th May through 19th September.
This tour picks up and drops off on the Strip. If there are sufficient people staying downtown, we will pick up at a central downtown location as well. If you are staying elsewhere please keep your taxi or bus receipt. We will reimburse you a maximum of $10 towards the cost of your taxi or bus.
Please check with us to ensure this tour is still available prior to making lodging or air bookings.
Be careful about making any show or air bookings for the date this tour returns. We are not responsible for delays getting back into Salt Lake.
This tour drops off in the downtown Salt Lake area.
White water rafting may take place on day five instead of day six.
If there are fewer than six people on the tour, or fewer than six wanting to go rafting in Yellowstone, it may be omitted. Please contact us prior to booking if this is important to you.
If there are fewer than six people on the Yellowstone part of this tour we may use the services of a shuttle company to take you part of the way to and from Yellowstone. Our vehicle will take you the rest of the way.
Payment Details: While we would rather you not make a booking until you are sure you want to go, you are welcome to cancel the booking any time up until 45 days prior to the start of the tour, and you will get a full refund. After that time, we will not accept a cancellation and you will have to pay for the tour in full. Trip insurance is available. Half the cost of the tour will be charged to your card any time from 45 days prior to the start of the tour, and the balance will be charged any time from 10 days prior to the start of the tour.