This itinerary starts with the glitz of Las Vegas, continuing through several of the smaller canyons and National Parks that together make up the area known as the Grand Circle. Quite apart from the immense scenery that this itinerary offers, for keen geographers and geologists, this area shows just how great an influence river systems have – the Grand Canyon is the result!
Day 1: Las Vegas
Direct flight from London to Las Vegas. Two nights here to relax after your flights, with the opportunity to experience the buzz of this crazy city.
Las Vegas 2 nights
Day 3: Zion National Park
Pick up your hire car and drive to Zion National Park – famed for its towering sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, seeping springs, waterfalls, scenic vistas and emerald pools. The hiking here is simply spectacular – with trails to suit all levels of fitness.
Zion National Park 2 nights
Day 5: Bryce Canyon National Park
Short but spectacular drive to Bryce Canyon; famous for its unique geology, consisting of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheatres carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. Eerie hoodoos are on display here – hiking and horseback trails wind through the maze of canyons.
Bryce Canyon 1 night
Day 6: Capitol Reef National Park
Drive along scenic Highway 12 which winds spectacularly through this part of Utah. With a diverse range of beautiful landscapes, there are dozens of photo opportunities along the way including Kodachrome Basin, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Anasazi Indian State Park. Overnight at Capitol Reef National Park, taking time to explore the canyons, domes, petroglyphs and orchards of this lesser known Park.
Capitol Reef 1 night
Day 7: Moab
And on to Moab, considered by many to be the adventure capital of the West; mountain biking, hiking, horse-riding and river trips through the red rock canyons are on offer here. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park, make this a wonderful destination.
Moab 2 nights
Day 9: Ouray
Into Colorado and an overnight stop in the quaint town of Ouray, in the heart of the Rockies – the mountains forming a beautiful and spectacular backdrop.
Ouray 1 night
Day 10: Mesa Verde National Park
Down through Silverton and Durango then on to the remarkable hidden gem that is Mesa Verde National Park. This world heritage site is an amazing place to explore: home to Ancestral Puebloans, many of the best preserved buildings were built high on the cliff walls, well protected from the elements.
Mesa Verde 2 nights
If time allows you may consider adding in a night at the magical Canyon de Chelly where the Navajo still farm and raise sheep on lands once populated by the Puebloans.
Day 12: Monument Valley
On to Monument Valley (stopping en route at the Four Corners National Monument where the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet). For a unique experience, join an overnight tour into the heart of the area, staying in a traditional Navajo Hogan dwelling. Your tour includes a sunset or sunrise jeep tour, a Navajo style dinner, entertainment around a camp fire with the opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of the Navajo people.
Monument Valley 1 night
Day 13: Lake Powell
Drive to Lake Powell, formed by the damming of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon – a place for relaxation and peace, as well as a centre for a multitude of adventure activities. Take a cruise into some of the Lake’s intriguing canyons, take a float trip down the Colorado River (to the start of the Grand Canyon), explore the weird and wonderful Antelope Canyon, a must for photographers…
Lake Powell 2 nights
Day 15: Grand Canyon
Drive to the Grand Canyon, making sure that you arrive in time to catch the view at sunset and sunrise when the light is at its best. Take a thrilling flight over the canyon by helicopter or fixed wing aircraft.
Grand Canyon 2 nights
Day 17: Vegas
Complete the circle with a drive along a section of historic Route 66 back to Vegas in preparation for your direct flights home.
Or why not consider adding a couple of nights in the lovely town of Sedona, a perfect place to relax at the end of your trip. Then down to Phoenix for your direct flights back to the UK.
Credit Salt Lake CVB
Credit Helen Wibley
Credit Peter Ellis
Credit Peter Ellis