Experience stunning scenery on this tour through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Visit some of the West’s spectacular national parks, including Arches National Park, with its 2,000 preserved sandstone arches; Canyonlands National Park, with its canyons, mesas, and buttes; Capitol Reef National Park, with one of the most amazing, yet unknown, scenic drives in the U.S.; Grand Staircase National Monument; Bryce Canyon National Park, where slow erosion over the ages has created fantastically sculpted rock formations resembling castle towers and cathedral spires; Zion National Park, a spectacle of massive stone formations; breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park, where you can wander along the canyon rim for stunning views; Monument Valley, where you will see the massive formations on a 4-wheel-drive tour; Mesa Verde National Park, where you will marvel at the ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years—from 600 AD to 1300 AD; and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, one of the newest national parks, with its spectacular narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths. Other tour highlights include a wine tasting in Colorado’s wine country and a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad through San Juan National Forest. Travel by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive that hugs steep canyon walls as it winds it ways through the canyon. 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. These are just a few of the many highlights of this amazing vacation. Be sure to pack your camera, so you can capture photos of this picturesque journey.
Day #1 Denver. Welcome to Denver, the “Mile High City,” capital of Colorado, and gateway to the Rocky Mountains. An attractive city with broad streets, a tree-lined pedestrian mall leads to the gold-domed State Capitol and Larimer Square in the city’s historic heart. Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day #2 Denver–Vail–Glenwood Canyon–Grand Junction. Travel west into the Rocky Mountains and stop in Vail, one of America’s most popular mountain resorts. Stroll through the pedestrian village and take advantage of the unique shopping opportunities. Your journey continues 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. Colorado wines are making a big splash, and the heart of the Colorado wine industry is right here. Visit the PLUM CREEK WINERY, where Chardonnay the chicken, a jaunty 7.5-foot-tall metal sculpture of a rooster made out of rusted farm tools, welcomes you to the vineyard. Here you will find beautifully landscaped grounds with waves of fragrant lavender intermingled with evergreens, aspen, and roses. (CB)
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 and monoliths and rust-tinted rock formations as tall as 450 feet. On to ARCHES NATIONAL PARK, with over 2,000 preserved natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, as well as many other unusual rock formations. Overnight in Moab, with time to stroll through the downtown shops for a great selection of Southwestern art and jewelry, souvenirs, and much more.
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.” While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration. 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.
Day #5 Moab–Capitol Reef National Park–Bryce Canyon National Park. Today’s route through CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK and Escalante is one of the most spectacular, yet unknown, scenic drives in the USA. Capitol Reef National Park is characterized by sandstone formations, cliffs, and canyons. Erosion has carved the rock here into marvelous shapes. 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.
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 on the shores of Lake Powell and CRUISE the waters of America’s second-largest man-made reservoir.
Day #7 Page–Flagstaff–Williams. First stop this morning is the WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT, one of several sites preserving pueblos (houses) of ancient peoples. Upon arrival, visit the visitor’s center and museum exhibits that feature the stories of people who have lived here through thousands of years. Take time to imagine the past before visiting one of the five largest prehistoric pueblos, the Wupatki Pueblo. An afternoon arrival in Flagstaff allows you time to explore an eclectic mixture of big-city culture and charming downtown atmosphere, beautiful natural surroundings, and rich cultural heritage. 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, lots of fun shops with Route 66 merchandise, and restaurants that have the character of the Route 66 heyday. (CB)
Day #8 Williams. Excursion Into Grand Canyon National Park. Today, experience one of the Natural Wonders of the World and see the beauty and splendor of the GRAND CANYON. The day is free to enjoy the park at your leisure. Wander along the canyon rim for breathtaking views. For a once-in-a-lifetime thrill, take an optional helicopter flightseeing trip over the Grand Canyon.
Day #9 Williams–Monument Valley–Kayenta. To experience the American West that’s been 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.
Day #10 Kayenta–Four Corners–Mesa Verde National Park–Durango. Today, continue through Utah to the famed “FOUR CORNERS” region, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico all converge, allowing you to 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, nestled in the Animas River Valley and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. Tonight, why not explore the historic downtown or stroll along the Animas River?
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. Our journey takes us north through the San Juan Mountains, stopping in Ouray, a small community nestled in some of the Rockies’ most rugged and towering peaks. Visit the UTE INDIAN MUSEUM in Montrose and explore one of the most complete collections of Ute Indian artifacts in the nation. This afternoon, visit one of America’s newest national parks: BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison’s 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.
Day #13 Gunnison–Buena Vista–Colorado Springs. Our journey continues through beautiful Buena Vista, a picture postcard 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. (CB)
Day #14 Colorado Springs–Pikes Peak Cog Railway–Denver. Conclude your journey with a fabulous train ride on the PIKE’S 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 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak. Return to Denver in the late afternoon for an evening at leisure. (CB)
Day #15 Denver. The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Denver International Airport are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore Denver further with a variety of exciting optional activities. (CB)