202x Southwest US
Yes, I know that I said NO MORE CHEAPMOS(t). But ...
MEALS: As now known about Cheapestmos(t), it is basically a bus-and-beds tour. Almost no food is included. In this case, only 4 continental breakfasts. So plan for lots of extra $$ expenses. At least they do stop at a suggested feeding trough, or a shopping area with some choices. However the evenings can be a problem. It’s just a MAJOR nuisance. At least, this time I know about all this mess in advance.
Mother Nature has loaded the West with stunning scenery, and on this National Parks tour, you’ll witness some of nature’s finest. From red-rock formations and breathtaking canyons to free-flowing rivers and alpine landscapes, you’ll marvel at magnificent scenery throughout this tour.
This National Parks tour features Colorado National Monument, with its towering monoliths and canyons; Arches National Park, with its 2,000 preserved sandstone arches; Canyonlands National Park, with its canyons, mesas, and buttes; Dead Horse Point State Park, where massive vertical cliffs intersect with canyons carved by ice and water; Capitol Reef National Park, with one of the most scenic drives in the U.S.; Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, with its spectacular cliffs and terraces; Bryce Canyon National Park, where slow erosion over the ages has created fantastically sculpted rock formations; Zion National Park, a spectacle of massive stone formations; breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park; Monument Valley, where you’ll see the massive formations on a 4-wheel-drive tour; and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, with its spectacular narrow opening and sheer walls.
Step back in time as you visit Wupatki National Monument, where the pueblos (villages) that existed 900 years ago have been preserved, and Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you’ll see the cliff dwellings that Ancestral Puebloans called home from 600 to 1300 AD. Just imagine what life was like living there! Other tour highlights include a scenic ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad through San Juan National Forest and a cruise on Lake Powell. Also, ride the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad. Amazing views await you at the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak.
Sightseeing: Lake Powell cruise, 4-wheel-drive tour in Monument Valley, Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad, and Pike’s Peak Cog Railway.
Scenic Highlights: Vail, Glenwood Canyon, Colorado National Monument, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano, Route 66, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Four Corners, Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and Garden of the Gods.
DAY 1 DENVER
Welcome to Denver! Just maybe, the hotel offers complimentary airport transfers. Your Tour Director is on hand late this afternoon to answer a few questions. DENVER Holiday Inn Cherry Creek (F)
DAY 2 DENVER–VAIL–GLENWOOD CANYON–GRAND JUNCTION
Travel west into the Rockies and stop in Vail, one of America’s most popular mountain resorts. Continue through the massive 1,800-foot-high walls of Glenwood Canyon before reaching the awe-inspiring natural beauty and dramatic red-rock landscape of Grand Junction. GRAND JUNCTION Grand Vista Hotel (F)
DAY 3 GRAND JUNCTION–COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT–ARCHES NATIONAL PARK–MOAB
This morning, visit COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT with its canyons that drop as much as 500 feet deep. On to ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, with more than 2,000 preserved natural sandstone arches. Once inside the national park, get a glimpse at the world-famous Delicate Arch, known as “The Chaps,” from the designated viewpoint. Overnight in Moab, with time to stroll through the downtown. MOAB Big Horn Lodge (TC) 2 nights
DAY 4 MOAB. EXCURSION TO CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK & DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK
The day begins with magnificent CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK, a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado and Green Rivers. The remote Maze, the rugged Needles, and our destination today, the “Island in the Sky.” Continue on to DEAD HORSE POINT STATE PARK, where your Tour Director tells you the legend behind the name. Stroll along the Rim Walk, towering 2,000 feet directly above the Colorado River. Dead Horse Point Mesa provides breathtaking views of southeastern Utah’s canyon country and the pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park. Return to Moab, where the afternoon is free for independent activities.
DAY 5 MOAB–CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK–ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT–BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Today’s route past Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante is one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the USA. The majesty of Capitol Reef will intrigue you with its twisting canyons, massive domes, monoliths, and spires of sandstone. Next, travel along Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, where slow erosion over the ages has created fantastically sculpted rock formations resembling castle towers and cathedral spires. The natural amphitheaters and canyons glow with different lights throughout the day. BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn (ST)
DAY 6 BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK–ZION NATIONAL PARK–PAGE
Today, descend into half-mile-deep ZION NATIONAL PARK. “Zion” means a place of peace and refuge. Enjoy the colorful sandstone walls that rise thousands of feet above the lush greenery of the canyon floor. Afterward, head east into Page and CRUISE the waters of America’s second-largest man-made reservoir. PAGE Quality Inn Lake Powell (ST)
DAY 7 PAGE–WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT–WILLIAMS
*** Continental Breakfast. First stop this morning is the WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT, one of several sites preserving pueblos of ancient peoples. Take time to imagine the past before visiting one of the five largest prehistoric pueblos, the Wupatki Pueblo. Afterward, SUNSET CRATER VOLCANO NATIONAL MONUMENT! Roughly 900 years ago, the eruption of this volcano reshaped the surrounding landscape, forever changing the lives of people, plants, and animals. Our journey continues to Williams, a picturesque mountain town with Route 66 as the Main Street and the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Enjoy one of the best preserved stretches of the Mother Road in America. Walk Main Street and you’ll find vintage neon on buildings that are preserved to their original character, and restaurants that have the character of the Route 66 heyday. WILLIAMS La Quinta Inn and Suites-Grand Canyon Area (MF) 2 nights
DAY 8 WILLIAMS. EXCURSION INTO GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
*** Continental Breakfast. Today experience one of the Natural Wonders of the World and see the beauty and splendor of GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK. The day is free to enjoy the park at your leisure. Wander along the canyon rim for breathtaking views.
DAY 9 WILLIAMS–MONUMENT VALLEY–KAYENTA
*** Continental Breakfast. To experience the American West immortalized on the silver screen, journey across the Navajo Nation to MONUMENT VALLEY. Situated on the Arizona/Utah border, the valley’s scenic desert vistas and iconic buttes have appeared in countless classic Western films. See the massive formations on a memorable 4-WHEEL-DRIVE TOUR. Then, on to Kayenta, or join the optional Navajo cookout for dinner, surrounded by red-rock canyons. This is the only listed interesting option. KAYENTA Kayenta Monument Valley Inn (MF)
DAY 10 KAYENTA–FOUR CORNERS–MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK–DURANGO
Continue through Utah to the “FOUR CORNERS” region, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico converge, and you can stand in four states at the same time. Next, wondrous MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you walk in the footsteps of Ancestral Puebloans and see their mysterious, centuries-old cliff dwellings. Afterward, head to Durango in the Animas River Valley, surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. Tonight, maybe explore the historic downtown. DURANGO Durango Downtown Inn (ST) 2 nights
DAY 11 DURANGO. EXCURSION ON THE DURANGO & SILVERTON NARROW-GAUGE RAILROAD
Board the DURANGO & SILVERTON NARROW-GAUGE RAILROAD this morning for a scenic ride through San Juan National Forest. Experience the adventure of traveling by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive on the same tracks that miners, cowboys, and settlers of the Old West took more than a century ago. This historic train has been in continuous operation for more than 125 years, and the locomotives used to pull today’s train are 1923-1925 vintage. The train hugs steep canyon walls as it winds its way through the Rio de las Animas Canyon, with vistas of snowcapped peaks. Free time in Silverton, once a major mining town that owes its name to the bragging statement by an early miner, “We have no gold, but silver by the ton!”
DAY 12 DURANGO–OURAY–MONTROSE–BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK–GUNNISON
Travel north through the San Juan Mountains, stopping in Ouray, a small community nestled in some of the Rockies’ most rugged and towering peaks. This afternoon, visit one of America’s newest national parks: BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK. The unique and spectacular landscape was formed slowly by the action of water and rock scouring. No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths that you will see here. GUNNISON Comfort Inn Gunnison (ST)
DAY 13 GUNNISON–BUENA VISTA–COLORADO SPRINGS
*** Continental Breakfast. Our journey continues through beautiful Buena Vista, a picture-perfect town that has retained a Wild West charm and is nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Continue to Colorado Springs, where the view from the top of nearby Pikes Peak inspired Katharine Lee Bates to compose America the Beautiful more than 100 years ago. Visit the GARDEN OF THE GODS, a city park that is a garden of towering red-rock formations. COLORADO SPRINGS The Academy Hotel (F)
DAY 14 COLORADO SPRINGS–PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY-Ho-Hum–DENVER
Conclude your journey with a fabulous train ride on the PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY, the world’s highest cog railroad. Travel along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon, then over Four Mile Switch for your first glimpse of Pikes Peak. At about the 5-mile point, the grade gets steep as you climb above the timberline and reach the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak. Return to Denver in the late afternoon for an evening at leisure. DENVER Holiday Inn Cherry Creek (F)
DAY 15 DENVER
The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Denver International Airport are included.
1,14: DENVER Holiday Inn Cherry Creek (F)
2: GRAND JUNCTION Grand Vista Hotel (F)
3,4: MOAB Big Horn Lodge (TC)
5: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn (ST)
6: PAGE Quality Inn Lake Powell (ST)
7,8: WILLIAMS La Quinta Inn and Suites-Grand Canyon Area (MF)
9: KAYENTA Kayenta Monument Valley Inn (MF)
10,11: DURANGO Durango Downtown Inn (ST)
12: GUNNISON Comfort Inn Gunnison (ST)
13: COLORADO SPRINGS The Academy Hotel (F)