The incomparable beauty of the American Southwest is encapsulated in this 16 day/15 night self-drive tour through the national parks and stunning scenery of Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada – known as our Grand Circle Adventure. We have combined the highest concentration of national parks in America into a leisurely tour beginning and ending in Las Vegas and operating from May to September.
Day 1. Arrive Las Vegas. Day 2. Las Vegas. Day 3. Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon National Park (approx. 276 miles). Day 4. Grand Canyon to Lake Powell (approx. 150 miles). Day 5. Lake Powell. Day 6. Lake Powell to Monument Valley (approx. 124 miles). Day 7. Monument Valley to Durango. (approx. 188 miles). Day 8. Durango. Day 9. Durango to Moab (approx. 180 miles). Days 10 & 11. Moab. Day 12. Moab Via Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon (approx. 280 miles) Day 13. Bryce Canyon National Park. Day 14. Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (approx. 80 miles) Day 15. Zion. Day 16 Zion to Las Vegas (approx. 150 miles).
Day 1. Arrive Las Vegas. Upon arrival at Las Vegas McCarran Airport, make your own way to your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day exploring the famous Las Vegas nightlife from your hotel on the Strip. Overnight: Excalibur Hotel & Casino (Standard) or Signature @ MGM (Superior).
Day 2. Las Vegas. Relax and enjoy the facilities of your hotel, stroll along the Strip and marvel at the hotels and casinos, take an excursion to the Hoover Dam, a raft ride on the Colorado River (float – not white-water), or cool off poolside at your hotel. Take a Big Bus Tours hop-on/hop-off tour of the strip and view all of the stunning hotels from the top deck. In the evening take in a show, or try your luck in the casinos. Overnight: Excalibur Hotel & Casino (Standard) or Signature @ MGM (Superior).
Day 3. Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon National Park (approx. 276 miles). Collect your rental car this morning and set off on the first leg of your driving tour. The journey today takes you past the Hoover Dam and across the Mohave Desert to the Grand Canyon’s south rim. On the journey today you have the option of driving along part of historic Route 66 (additional mileage) or taking the quicker Interstate 40 and arriving at the Grand Canyon a little earlier. Either way make sure you don’t miss the sunset at Grand Canyon. Overnight: Maswik Lodge (Standard) or Yavapai East Lodge (Superior).
Day 4. Grand Canyon to Lake Powell (approx. 150 miles). Linger at the Grand Canyon this morning – take a helicopter or aeroplane ride over the Canyon and enjoy a thrilling scenic flight, or take a stroll along the west rim of the Canyon and experience the tranquility and beauty of sunrise over the Grand Canyon. The short drive to Lake Powell takes you along the east rim of the Canyon, through Cameron and across the Kaibab Plateau to Lake Powell. Overnight: Courtyard By Marriott (Standard) or Lake Powell Resort, Marina view room (Superior).
Day 5. Lake Powell. Lake Powell is the second largest man-made lake in North America, stretching over 190 miles and with a shoreline longer than the west coast of the United States it is a huge lake created by the Glen Canyon Dam across the Colorado River. There is much to do and see at Lake Powell. We particularly recommend that you enjoy a cruise to Rainbow Bridge a 300-foot high natural stone arch believed by the native Navajo to be a rainbow turned to stone by the gods. The cruise on the lake provides an ideal introduction to the area and you will learn a lot about the history of the region. A half-day float trip on a raft from the base of the Glen Canyon Dam is also a ‘must’. The raft gently floats down stream from the dam on the Colorado River through narrow gorges with towering cliffs, past Indian sites and wildlife to the end point of your cruise – the historic Lees Ferry. We stress that this is a float trip – not a white-water raft experience. Overnight: Courtyard By Marriott (Standard) or Lake Powell Resort, Marina view room (Superior).
Day 6. Lake Powell to Monument Valley (approx. 124 miles). Arrive at Monument Valley – one of the most spectacular locations on your tour. Monument Valley’s red sandstone buttes and towering columns have formed a dramatic backdrop to countless western movies including John Wayne’s ‘Stage Coach’. We recommend that you pre-book a guided tour of the Valley with a native guide. Many of the roads are unpaved and so cannot be accessed with a rental car, and the valley is vast and many of the best features are hidden from the casual visitor. With a Navajo guide and a suitable vehicle you will see and learn a lot more than a do-it-yourself tour. Overnight: Gouldings Lodge (Standard & Superior).
Day 7. Monument Valley to Durango. (approx. 188 miles). The scenery changes as you cross the Four Corners area – the only point in the United States where four states meet – and journey via the towns of Cortez and Mancos to Durango. We recommend that you visit Mesa Verde National Park before arriving in Durango. Mesa Verde has one of the larges and best-preserved examples of Anasazi cliff dwellings. In fact archaeology has revealed that the area was inhabited thousands of years ago, long before the impressive cliff dwellings were constructed. The views over the surrounding area from the top of Mesa Verde are spectacular and the park is a ‘must see’ in our opinion. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the western town of Durango. Overnight: Durango Downtown Inn (Standard) or The Strater Hotel (Superior).
Day 8. Durango. You have the opportunity to take an optional excursion on the famous Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (reservations recommended). Other daytime Durango activities include, hiking, mountain biking, rafting, jeep excursions and hot-air ballooning. In the evening explore the old-west atmosphere of Durango’s saloons, shops and restaurants. Overnight: Durango Downtown Inn (Standard) or The Strater Hotel (Superior).
Day 9. Durango to Moab (approx. 180 miles). Another leisurely journey today allows you time to stop and explore the towns and sites on route to Moab. You may wish to visit Canyonlands National Park which you will pass just before arriving in Moab. Overnight: Aarchway Inn (Standard & Superior).
Days 10 & 11. Moab. The town is privileged to have two stunning national parks – one at each end of town – plus Dead Horse Point State Park. As if these were not enough, the La Sal Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to the town and parks. We recommend that you pre-book a day long combination tour – a jet-boat ride on the Colorado River through Canyonlands followed by a 4-wheel drive escorted excursion through Canyonlands in the afternoon. Much of Canyonlands cannot be accessed by rental car, as many of the roads are unpaved, so travelling with an expert guide in a suitable vehicle is the best way to see the park. Arches National Park can be accessed with a rental car and there are lots of gentle, short hiking trails making viewing of the park very easy. Dead Horse Point at sunset offers dramatic views of the Colorado River. Other Moab activities include mountain-biking, white-water rafting, horse-riding, hiking and scenic flightseeing. Overnight: Aarchway Inn (Standard & Superior).
Day 12. Moab Via Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon (approx. 280 miles). The journey today takes you across the San Rafael Desert to Capitol Reef National Park where you can enjoy the park and have lunch before continuing to Bryce Canyon. Overnight: Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn (Standard) or Bryce Lodge (Superior).
Day 13. Bryce Canyon National Park. A full day to discover beautiful Bryce Canyon. The colourful spires and hoodoos of Bryce, the lovely views over the Grand Staircase National Monument and the clean pine-scented air will make it difficult to leave this beautiful park. Take a horseback ride down into Bryce Canyon or stroll along the rim and enjoy the scenic overlooks. Overnight: Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn (Standard) or Bryce Lodge (Superior).
Day 14. Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (approx. 80 miles). From Bryce a short drive brings you to Zion National Park, your 7th national park on this tour, and certainly one of the best. Overnight: Majestic View Lodge (Standard) or Zion Lodge (Superior).
Day 15. Zion. Enjoy a full day exploring the incredible beauty of Zion National Park. There are numerous hiking trails ranging from the gentle stroll to the serious hike. Take a ranger- guided tour in the park, ride the free Canyon shuttle through the park, explore the nearby ghost town of Grafton and enjoy the lovely restaurants of Springdale in the evening. Overnight: Majestic View Lodge (Standard) or Zion Lodge (Superior).
Day 16 Zion to Las Vegas (approx.150 miles). Depart Las Vegas. Return your rental car and check in for your return flight to the UK.
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* 15 nights hotel accommodation including hotel taxes.
* Maps, guides and itinerary.
Not included: Flights, car rental, national park admissions, meals, optional excursions, petrol, travel insurance and personal expenses.
Location No.nights Standard Hotels Superior Hotels Las Vegas 2 Excalibur Hotel & Casino Signature @ MGM Grand Canyon Natl. Park 1 Maswik Lodge Yavapai East Lodge Lake Powell 2 Courtyard by Marriott (Page) Lake Powell Resort (Marina view room) Monument Valley 1 Gouldings Lodge Gouldings Lodge Durango 2 Durango Downtown Inn The Strater Hotel Moab 3 Aarchway Inn (Inc. Cont.bkfst) Aarchway Inn (Inc.Cont.bkfst) Bryce Canyon 2 Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn Bryce Canyon National Park Lodge Zion 2 Majestic View Lodge Zion National Park Lodge
Hotels/Lodges are subject to availability at the time of booking.
Tour prices:The prices shown in the price panels are for the accommodation elements only, they do not include flights or car rental (unless indicated). This enables you to choose the airline and car of your choice and add them to the accommodation package to create your holiday. Our reservations staff will be pleased to help you with flight availability, to suggest which is the best airline for your itinerary and to advise you of any special offers the airlines may have introduced.
Hotels:Hotels featured in our self-drive and independent tours are chosen for their location, value for money and facilities. Whenever possible we offer a choice of Standard or Superior hotels. There is no recognised 'star' system throughout North America for classifying hotels, motels and resorts. The hotel ratings for our tours are subjective and are provided to give you an understanding as to the level of facility. They are either the hotel's official categorisation as per the Official Hotel & Resort Guide, or Just America's. Standards vary from location to location, therefore ratings in the remote areas can differ from those in the cities. Standard hotels would be those classified as Moderate, and Superior hotels would be First Class, in the Official Hotel and Resort Guide. National Park accommodations are more rustic and are chosen almost entirely because of their location. It should not be assumed that because an hotel is listed as Superior that it has certain amenities. Often a hotel is classified as Superior due to its position, views or room standard, it does not always follow that a superior hotel will have a swimming pool, hair-dryers, golf course, room service etc. We will try to provide information on individual hotels on request although the internet is usually the quickest and most accurate source of information. Hotel rooms in North America usually have one or two double beds. Triple and Quad rooms have two double beds. Very few hotels in North America have three or four beds. It is sometimes possible to have a rollaway bed which can be requested, but cannot be guaranteed. Occasionally hotels are chosen purely for their location - i.e. half-way between two points of interest - and may be included as a one night stop to break up an otherwise long journey. Such hotels may not have the full facilities normally associated with a Standard or Superior hotel, but sometimes we don't have any other choice. Where possible hotels providing free car parking have been included, however in some locations, such as city centres, the hotels may make a charge.
Note:Hotels are not usually ready to accept guests until after 3 or 4 pm, so please try not to check in before mid-afternoon. Check out time is usually before 11 am or 12 noon. It is sometimes possible to arrange late check out, or the storage of luggage, but this is at the discretion of the hotel.
Tour notes and itineraries:On several of our tours the tour notes and itineraries are provided at the first hotel. On other tours this information is forwarded with the travel documents approximately 14 days prior to departure. We will endeavour to provide the best information we can to help you, but it is not our policy to provide mile by mile detailed route guides, the frequent changes to local road conditions, layouts etc., makes this impossible. We do provide maps, guides to the major attractions en route, and directions to hotels whenever possible. These are independent self-drive holidays and you will be required to read a map and locate attractions and hotels. Sat.Nav. is available from the car rental companies - at a charge - and you may find this useful, however all technology is prone to failure so we always recommend that you keep the maps handy.
Tailor-made holidays:We will be pleased to discuss your own ideas and itineraries and help you plan your holiday. If you would like to email, fax or mail an outline of your tour with dates, number of people, ages of children etc., to us we will be happy to advise you. We request that you include your daytime telephone number on all correspondence. Where you have chosen the route and we have designed a tailor-made holiday for you, it may not be possible to provide you with a detailed tour itinerary. We suggest that you read up about the area you are planning to visit well in advance, preferably before you book the holiday. Insight Guides cover almost every region of North America and are about the best on the market. Just America can also provide a some tourist information subject to availability, but we do not have detailed route information to cover every area of the Continent. You might find the internet to be the best source of free, up-to-date information.
National Park Passes:Both the US and Canada charge entrance fees for their national parks, and if you are visiting a number of parks, this cost can add up to a significant amount. We recommend that you purchase a Parks Pass at the first national park you visit. For the US the pass currently costs $80 for up to four adults (children under 16 are free). In Canada a family pass currently costs $136.40. Both passes provide unlimited visits to that country's parks for 12 months. The passes can only be used in the country of purchase. Full details available at www.nps.gov (for USA) and www.pc.gc.ca/index_e.asp
Important note: This tour can easily be adapted to start and end in Phoenix.
Just America specialises in tailor-making holidays and we will be pleased to design this or any of our tours to your specifications.
We can provide details, prices and make reservations for optional sightseeing excursions mentioned in the itinerary.
ATOL & ABTA protected.
All mileages are approximate. Hotels/Lodges are subject to availability at the time of booking.