By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
Caravan Tours has recently published their 2009 brochure. They are offering several tours that range from $995 to $1195 (per person/double occupancy) including Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone Costa Rica Natural Paradise, Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Mexico’s Ancient and Colonial Cities, Guatelmala with Tikal and Copy.
One of the Caravan tours, The Grand Canyon, would be ideal for the entire family. The vacation begins in Phoenix, Arizona where you’ll be met at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport by the hotel courtesy shuttle that will whisk you directly to your hotel. After a dinner on your own (and there’s a ready supply of quality restaurants from fast food to gourmet) you will join your Caravan tour director for an 8:00 p.m. Welcome Briefing.
Your day begins with an included breakfast at your hotel. You’ll board your comfortable motorcoach for a morning sightseeing drive which will include neighboring Scottsdale and a spectacular view of “Camelback” Mountain. Greeting you on your drive north will be the giant Saguuaro Cacti. Your first stop is at the site of the 12th and 13th century cliff dwellings, Montezuma Castle. After a tour (self-guided or narrated by a park ranger) you’ll reboard the coach and be on your way to charming Sedona surrounded by spectacular red rock formations.
A photo stop at the Bell Rock awaits you. A leisurely stop in Sedona has been scheduled which will allow you to visit Sedona’s outstanding art galleries, shops and restaurants. When I have visited Sedona, I usually board the trolley that makes frequent stops within the city as well as outside the downtown area to view fantastic rock formations like the “coffee pot.” Pink Jeep tours are also available for the adventuresome. Caravan has included dinner at one of many Sedona’s restaurants.
Leaving Sedona after your included breakfast, the coach will wind through picturesque Oak Creek Canyon en route to Flagstaff to visit the Indian Museum of Northern Arizona. From there it’s on to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon. Your lodging is in the Grand Canyon National Park, near the South Rim. Your afternoon is free for exploration. From your lodge you can take the shuttle to the South Rim and enjoy a leisurely stroll on the path along the rim stopping at the spectacular vistas for outstanding photo opportunities.
You can also visit the different centers to take advantage of the scheduled ranger talks about the Grand Canyon. If your visit to the Canyon will be in early spring or late fall, you’ll probably be able to avoid the monsoon season and be able to see some awesome sights of the night sky-the Milky Way, the man-made satellites as they whiz across the sky and the millions of tiny stars that fill the night sky-those sights that we in a large city are unable to view. Lunch and dinner are on your own. The different lodges have dining rooms. I recommend the restaurant in the Grand Canyon Lodge located on the rim as well as the dining room in the El Tovar Lodge.
After breakfast at the El Tovar Lodge you’ll be taken on a drive along the scenic East Rim to the famous Desert View Lookout. Next, you’ll proceed to a Navajo and Hopi Trading Post. Here, you’ll find a large selection of high quality Hopi and Kachina dolls and fine Native-American jewelry and handicrafts As you proceed to Lake Powell you’ll drive over the Glen Canyon Dam and view the magnificent Vermilion Mountain Range arriving at the Lake Powell Resort, formerly known as Wahweap Lodge,, on the shores of Lake Powell. That afternoon you’ll be enjoying the sights of Antelope Canyon as you cruise along Lake Powell. Your next two nights are at the Lake Powell Resort.
After breakfast the resort’s famous Rainbow Room with its 180 degree sweeping views of the lake you’ll be motoring through the Navajo Indian Nation on your way to Monument Valley, made famous by noted screen director John Ford and his movies starring the late actor John Wayne, “Stagecoach,” “The Searchers,” “ She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” and many others.
Lunch will be at the historic Gouldings Lodge and,, I hope, in the dining room that was built for a John Ford/John Wayne movie (Fort Apache) and was given by the director to the Gouldings. You’ll be invited on a guided jeep tour of the back country by a Navajo guide who will discuss the history of the Valley, the Navajos who presently live there, and share with you the names of the monoliths that dot the Valley. Look for the “Left Mitten”, the “Right Mitten”, the “Three Sisters” or the “King on the Throne.” That evening you’ll return to Lake Powell and the Lake Powell Resort.
After breakfast your journey will take you to Bryce Canyon (aprox 8000’) to see the “hoodoos,” those fantastic red, orange and pink limestone spirals. Your evening will be in Bryce Valley for an overnight stay at the rustic Bryce Valley Inn (6,200’) located just outside the Park. Lunch and Dinner are on your own. Day 7- Today you will board your motorcoach which will take you to Zion National Park where the sandstone cliffs are featured in stunning scenery. Zion is a real geological showpiece! Look for the East Temple, the Court of the Patriarchs and the Great White Throne. You’ll have a leisurely afternoon to take the valley floor shuttle or stroll along any of the scenic walking trails. At night your Tour Director hosts a farewell dinner.
On this final day Caravan will transport you from Zion National Park to Las Vegas. I hope that your coach will be motoring through the western town of Kanaab (Utah), St. George (Utah) and the town of Mesquite (NV) before arriving at the Las Vegas McCarran airport at 1:00 p.m. Why not arrange an overnight stay at one of your favorite Strip hotels for an extra day of fun before boarding your airplane home? Caravan has scheduled the first departure of the Grand Canyon Tour for April 11, 2009 and tours are scheduled every month until the final tour departs October 28, 2009.
For more information about departure dates and other Caravan tours consult your travel professional, our travel advertisers or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.