For the past three weeks I have been sharing with you the wonderful experiences I had visiting Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell and Canyon de Chelly. This week I’m pleased to share with you some of the various companies that offer escorted tours to many, but not all, of the parks I’ve mentioned in previous Travel Tips of the Week columns and on my blog site (Jeanne’s Entertainment & Travel Tips).
Tauck World Discovery Tours – In 2012 Tauck invites you to experience the 8-Day/7-Night “Red Rocks And Painted Canyons” tour. Highlights include a flightseeing adventure over Rainbow Bridge and Lake Powell; a four-wheel drive adventure, mysterious slot canyon trip or cruise on Lake Powell; a trail ride with a cowboy in Bryce Canyon National Park; a Colorado River raft trip through Glen Canyon; visits to Old West towns like Kanab, Utah to see where some favorite western movies were made; a sunrise hike along the Grand Canyon; hiking through Zion’s narrow pink-colored gorges and dramatic canyons; and a stop in Sedona to view the red rock formations.
The tour begins in Scottsdale and ends in Las Vegas. Hotels include the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale, Kachina Lodge, Zion Lodge and the Four Seasons Las Vegas. Tauck offers an optional Monument Valley excursion. A Navajo guide will meet your flight and take you through an incredible landscape of red mesas, buttes, monoliths and spires. Tauck also offers an “America’s Canyonlands” tour, which is similar to “Red Rocks And Painted Canyons.” But, there are some differences. One difference is a guided walking tour in Sedona; another is dining in the elegant restaurant at the historic El Tovar Hotel or the Arizona Room in the Kachina Lodge Hotel. While in the Canyon you’ll have a lecture from a local geologist who will share his insights on its history and ecology.
At night there will be ranger talks around a campfire or a guided walk while he points out the constellations and planets in the night sky. You might be lucky enough to catch the sight of a shooting star. In the night sky it will be easy to find the Milky Way or see one of the manmade satellites whiz across. On this excursion, Tauck guests will enjoy a private Lake Powell dinner cruise aboard the sleek doubledecked yacht Canyon Princess, in addition to an adventure of traversing one of the slot canyons. Another inspiring moment is viewing the sunrise at Bryce Canyon, watching as dawn’s light spread out over the hoodoos. You might want to take one of the renowned hiking trails to observe and photograph the beautiful scenery or capture some of the park’s wildlife species with your camera. There’s more than one chipmunk who just loves to pose in exchange for a little tidbit. One note of caution is the elevation of Bryce — at 8-9,000’ above sea level, so walk slowly and don’t become dehydrated. Visiting Monument Valley is a paid optional excursion. If you tour is in July and August, you’ll find yourself in the middle of Arizona’s “monsoon” season, during which you’ll awaken to brilliant sunrises and may have to open up your umbrella in the evenings.
Collette Vacations offers a 9 Day/8 Night “Canyon Country Adventure.” Again your vacation will begin in Scottsdale and include the destinations Sedona, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks before ending in Las Vegas. On your Collette excursion you’ll have a chat with a local Native American tribe member and learn about the different tribes in the area. Following this presentation, a local guide will introduce you to Scottsdale and Phoenix. Later you’ll visit a local shop in Old Scottsdale and learn about the history of different Native American styles of jewelry. In the evening you’ll be able to explore Old Town Scottsdale or just relax by the pool at your hotel. On the third day you will visit Sedona and perhaps shop in the marketplace or the shops along State Highway 89. If there is time, take the Trolley Tour of Sedona.
The driver will point out the different rock formations. Another stop you’ll make on your “Canyon Country Adventure” is the Cameron Trading Post, a haven for travelers, traders and explorers for nearly a century. Your journey will then take you past the Vermilion Cliffs to the Lake Powell Resort. From Lake Powell you’ll head to Monument Valley for a tour that includes a stop at a hogan with your expert Navajo guide. In the evening you’ll return to Lake Powell Resort for an evening of leisure. Leaving Lake Powell you’ll board your motorcoach and enjoy the scenery while heading for Bryce and its “hoodoos” in a vast amphitheater carved by snow, wind and rain.
The final destination for the day will be Zion National Park for an overnight stay at the Zion Park Inn. In Zion, climb aboard one of the open-air trams for a view of spectacular scenery as you travel along side the Virgin River through the 2,400 foot deep, half-mile wide Zion Canyon. Your last stop is “Sin City,” Las Vegas, for a two-night stay at the Tropicana Hotel. Your last day is a day to use on your own — visit Mandalay Bay’s Shark Aquarium, ooh and aah at the Mirage volcano, tour the Area 51 Museum, or watch the pirates battle at Treasure Island.
You could test the laws of probability at one of the strip’s casinos, or take a cab or bus ride to downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Experience. Collette offers the option of a pre-stay in Scottsdale or a post-tour stay at the Tropicana starting at $80. From only $1899 per person Trafalgar’s 8-Day/7-Night “Pioneer Adventures Of The Old West” offers these sightseeing highlights: – Visit Montezuma’s Castle, the site of an ancient Sinagua Indian Cliff Dwelling. – Explore Sedona’s Dry Creek Basin on an exciting jeep adventure. – Overnight in historic Williams at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, then take the Grand Canyon Railway steam locomotive to the Grand Canyon. – Learn about the Navajo Code Talkers at the exhibit in Kayenta. – Bounce along the floor of Monument Valley in an open-air vehicle. – Watch and listen to an expert on the geology and desert wildlife of the Canyonlands while dining on pizza at the Lake Powell Resort. – A choice of a free day at Lake Powell or one of many optional activities, including a cruise on Lake Powell to Rainbow Bridge, a float trip down the Colorado River, or a day at the beach at the Lake Powell Marina – A day at Zion National Park before driving along the Mount Carmel Highway, watching for spectacular formations like the Great Arch of Zion and the distinctive Checkerboard Mesa. – Walking along the rim of a great amphitheater, admiring the hoodoos and the other formations carved out by Mother Nature. – Watch cowboys competing in the Bryce Canyon Country Rodeo (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) after a Cowboy Farewell Dinner. – Spend your final day driving from Bryce to Las Vegas through Kanab, St. George (UT), Mesquite (NEV). Your tour director has also planned at least one surprise Hidden Treasure. Hotels include the Hilton Garden Inn (Scottsdale), Grand Canyon Railway Hotel (Williams), National Park Lodges (Grand Canyon), Lake Powell Resort (Lake Powell), and Ruby’s Inn (Bryce). From $1799 per person, double occupancy. I hope that I have whetted your appetite for visiting the canyons, lakes and national parks in northern Arizona. For more information about these tours you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.