With a reputation almost as big as the fortunes many have made (and lost here), Las Vegas is a place like no other. Famed as the entertainment capital of the world, this oasis within a desert is home to dazzling casinos, all you can eat buffets and glitzy weddings officiated by nothing other than The King himself, and there’s no better way to kick off your trip than with a night in Sin City! Arriving today, settle into your hotel and meet up with your Travel Director this afternoon for a glimpse of what’s to come on your US national parks tour. The evening is all yours to explore the bright lights and fun-filled streets of Vegas, and you might like to take a walk down ‘The Strip’ to find the city’s top hotels and casinos, or head Downtown to discover the artistic Fremont East District.
Leaving Vegas a little lighter in the pocket but rich in memories, we have one question for you - are you ready to get your kicks on Route 66? If the answer's yes, today's the day to do it as you journey along this iconic highway in the direction of the Grand Canyon. One of the world's 7 natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site, we'll forgive you for being lost for words as you take your first look at this 2 billion year old marvel of nature. Want to make your visit extra special? Why not treat yourself to a once in a lifetime experience that could see you flying in a helicopter or aircraft over the North and South rims. Feeling quite awestruck, you'll then visit the Grand Canyon Village, before finishing up this evening in the Arizonan escape town of Flagstaff, a laid back outpost on historic Route 66.
Get a taste of Flagstaff's pioneering history at an Iconic Breakfast this morning, then it's on to visit a Hollywood great, Monument Valley. Immortalised as the setting for countless movies and TV shows, Monument Valley is a symbol of the wild west, with its rusty red spindles and buttes towering 36 meters into the air, overlooking the red sand valley below. Known as the ‘Valley Between the Rocks' by the Navajo people who have lived here for centuries, you'll feel quite amazed here as you learn about the geology and history of the region on an open-air vehicle tour led by your local Navajo guide. Tonight you'll spend the evening in Page, the gateway to sparkling Lake Powell, America's second largest man made reservoir.
Your first stop of the day this morning will be Zion National Park, where the towering red and white cliffs and sweeping canyons stand in stark contrast to the pretty wildflower meadows and hanging gardens that also live here, as a result of the park's lower elevation. Our final destination of the day will be Bryce Canyon, where we'll rest up this evening in anticipation for our adventures through this stunning national park tomorrow.
Venture into Bryce Canyon National Park this morning, where you'll likely stand in puzzlement in front of the multicoloured 'hoodoos' and large amphitheatres, whipped into shape by the harsh environment of this region. Take a walk along one of the many juniper lined trails to the viewpoints at the rim of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Next up, Salt Lake City awaits you today, Utah's small town feeling capital city. Arriving here you'll visit Temple Square, the city's most famous sight which boasts an impressive six-spired Temple. This evening why not head to the relaxed and friendly Downtown area where the city's spirit permeates through its coffee houses and laidback bars.
Travelling through the vast and rugged state of Wyoming this morning, enjoy the dramatic scenery as snow covered mountain ranges rise and fall before arriving into the city of Jackson. Take a stroll around Town Square and admire the famous elk antlers that serve as the gateway to George Washington Memorial Park, or perhaps visit the famous Million Dollar Cowboy bar, known for its western memorabilia and genuine saddles for bar stools.
Living up to its impressive sounding name, Grand Teton National Park boasts a series of 12 glacier carved summits that are sure to inspire. Home to bears, moose and elk, the hiking trails through the park are second to none as you go in search of alpine lakes surrounded by wildflowers. For something more relaxed, you could choose to float a 16 kilometer of Snake River, accompanied by an experienced guide who will share insights on the geology of the area and point out wildlife along the way. You'll also stop by Moran Lookout and glacially carved Jenny Lake today, before heading back to Jackson. Tonight why not grab your chance to join a real cowboy cookout, travelling by horse drawn wagon to beautiful Cache Creek Canyon, where you'll be treated to a delicious Dutch oven dinner.
Spot the snowy peaks of the Teton Range this morning as you follow the path of Snake River towards Yellowstone National Park. A place that needs little introduction, Yellowstone is home to a staggering 60% of the world's geysers that randomly erupt with boiling water and steam, much to the delight of crowds who travel from all over the world to watch the spectacle. Hot springs, bubbling mud pots, vast canyons and lush forests as far as the eye can see are all part of the Yellowstone landscape, while grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk all roam free here. Take your time exploring as you visit key sites including the biggest crowd pleaser of them all, Old Faithful, named for the fact that it loyally erupts every 44 to 125 minutes.
We couldn't leave without a second visit to Yellowstone National Park, and this morning will take you to Mammoth Hot Springs. Said by many to look like a cave turned inside out, the soft limestone of this area has resulted in the growth of travertine, creating a spectacular terraced effect which needs to be seen to be believed. We'll also stop by the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, a 32 kilometer long canyon of up to 1219 meters wide and 365 meters deep that bedazzles in colours of yellow, red, white and pink. You'll then head on to the frontier town of Cody, a lively place with rowdy saloons and nightly rodeos.
If you've ever wondered how Montana earned its nickname ‘Big Sky Country', you'll realise this morning that it's because everything here really is big. We're talking big mountains, big lakes and big stretches of uninterrupted skyline. Enjoying the view you'll then arrive at the moving Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the place of the 1876 battle between the US Army's 7th Cavalry and the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. Take your time learning about the history of the battle before continuing on to Sheridan, the launch pad resort for the many adventure activities that take place in the Big Horn mountains. Your evening is free to venture out and explore the city your way or rest up at your hotel in anticipation for tomorrow's journey into the beautiful Black Hills region.
The stunning Black Hills region is first up on our travels today, and it's sure to impress with its outstanding natural beauty that bridges the Wyoming and South Dakota border and lures visitors with its vast canyons and towering 2133 meters peaks. Getting its nickname from the dark ponderosa pines that cover the hillsides, be sure to enjoy the drive as you head towards the famous Crazy Horse monument, a structure that has been under construction for over 70 years (and still isn't finished). Standing at 172 metres, the monument will depict the great Oglala Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, astride his horse, and you can gain more of an understanding of Native American history by paying a visit to the nearby Indian Museum of North America.
Saving one of the biggest icons for last, today's visit to Mount Rushmore will be one you're unlikely to forget. As the largest statue-monument in the world, where else are you able to see the stony faces of four of America's most revered presidents carved 18 meters tall into the granite hillside? You'll also have the chance to take part in our Badlands National Park Excursion, learning more about the 99,000 hectares that make up the unique geology of this region. This evening why not enhance your visit to Mount Rushmore, learning more about the nation's history through the 20 minute film ‘Freedom: America's Lasting Legacy’.
As your tour of the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park - not to mention Las Vegas, Monument Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton and Mount Rushmore - comes to an end today, you'll no doubt be reflecting on the phenomenal sights and experiences you've had over the past 13 days. The trip promised spectacular canyons and national parks, and we’re sure you’ll agree we saw the best of it. Choose to take advantage of our complimentary transfer to Denver International Airport.