Sun-kissed Phoenix kickstarts your journey through America’s stunning Southwest. You’ll have the day on your own to recover from your travels, then meet your Travel Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception later this evening.
Your first stop today is in the artists' enclave of Sedona – surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. You’ll travel through Oak Creek Canyon next, with its rocky red cliffs, then venture to the UNESCO-listed Grand Canyon National Park, where a Local Specialist will share the canyon’s many geological marvels. Tonight, you’ll have an opportunity to overnight at one of the lodges inside the park.
Rise early for an optional flightseeing over the Grand Canyon. Later, begin today’s sightseeing following the scenic South Rim of the Grand Canyon along Desert View Drive. See the historic Watchtower built by Mary Colter in the Puebloan style and trace the Colorado River and Painted Desert extending towards Navajo and Hopi Indian lands. Stop at Cameron Trading Post—founded in 1911 for Navajo and Hopi trading—to browse native handicrafts and perhaps sample traditional fry bread. This afternoon’s walk takes you to the rim of Glen Canyon to Horseshoe Bend Lookout point where the Colorado River has carved a horseshoe on the sandstone canyon walls. This evening, those seeking a view from atop one of the desert Southwest’s most fascinating features can opt for a helicopter ride to the top of Tower Butte. You’ll head eastward with views of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, and incredible Horseshoe Bend before ascending Tower Butte. At 5,000 feet above sea level, this panoramic views of Glen Canyon, Lake Powell, Padre Bay, the Grand Staircase Escalante, and the LeChee Rock is a can’t miss!
This morning, you’ll Connect with Locals and enjoy an in-depth look adventure to Navajo Tribal Lands in Monument Valley’s Navajo Tribal Park. With over 17 million acres of land between Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, it’s the largest reservation in the United States and a site you may recognize as the backdrop of many old western movies. Explore the spectacular scenery from a different angle, climbing aboard a 4x4 vehicle and navigating the iconic red valley landscape guided by a member of the Navajo nation and Local Specialist as they share their history, language, and culture. Today’s lunch and Dive Into Culture experience combines history and food: a special outdoor barbeque and traditional skillet fry bread cookout prepared by a Navajo member in their sacred land. Take the scenic route to Moab soaking in views of the San Juan River, Mexican Hat, Bluff, and the Abajo "Blue Mountain" and La Sal Mountains. The gateway city to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National park, and the Colorado River, Moab extends a warm welcome with a Be My Guest Dinner at Canyon Steak and Waffle where you’ll Connect With Locals and enjoy local diner fare hosted by Moab resident and restaurateur Shawn Welsh.
This morning, discover how the forces of wind and rain have shaped the enchanting landscape of Arches National Park. Later, enjoy visiting Canyonlands National Park in the afternoon.
We arrive in the UNESCO-listed Mesa Verde National Park to delve into the history and culture of the Ancestral Puebloan people. Explore their beautifully preserved sandstone dwellings and admire the massive Cliff Dwellings. This evening, in Durango, your Stays With Stories is the historic Strater Hotel.
Enjoy free time in Durango today. Perhaps, enjoy a truly unforgettable step back in time, on an optional ride aboard the coal-fired, steam-powered narrow-gauge train. The train chugs along rails that were originally laid at the end of the 19th century, winding through a spectacular wilderness which would be inaccessible by car. If you're feeling more adventurous, opt for a white water rafting trip on the Animas River.
This morning’s drive takes you through the towns of Pagosa Springs and Chama before arriving in Taos, where there will be time at Taos Plaza, a Historical Landmark. Meet your local Taos Pueblo member resident guide and explore the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The journey continues along the High Road, the Taos – Santa Fe Scenic Byway, rich in history, art and culture. Arrive at the hotel, ideally located two short blocks from Santa Fe’s Historic Plaza.
Join your Local Specialist this morning on a guided tour of Santa Fe. Experience this city where Spanish, Native American and Old West influences all combine to form a city with its own exclusive culture and character. See many of the city’s major sights before the rest of the day is yours to pursue your own interests. Perhaps venture down the artistic hub of Canyon Road lined with galleries, visit some of the city’s top museums, or shop for Native American art and handicraft. This evening Connect With Locals and enjoy music, dancing and great food during your Be My Guest Dinner with Stephanie Ramirez at the El Flamenco Cabaret. Next visit your MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, Stephanie runs a Non-profit organization Entre Flamencos that teaches the art of Flamenco to disadvantaged children in her community.
Leave Santa Fe bound for White Sands National Park, driving along with scenic drives that capture the spirit of this Land of Enchantment. This is Billy the Kid country, where legends play against a spectacular backdrop of snowy peaks, rolling rivers, orchards, and ranchlands. Stop at White Sands National Park Monument - like no other place on earth, the great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand form the world’s largest gypsum dune field. Walk these dreamy parabolic dunes barefoot, which unlike conventional sand stays cool to the touch. Next is Las Cruces on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. Dive Into Culture as you learn about the production of New Mexico’s renowned spicy chili. Dinner is at a local restaurant in town this evening.
Blazing a trail across the Southwest, continue to Tombstone, a trip back in time to the days of the old Wild West and experience a private tour of the town. Here in “The Town Too Tough To Die,” hear the tales from this legendary frontier mining camp, make a stop by the OK Corral and hear about the infamous shootout, which some have called the world’s most famous 30-second gunfight. See the place and hear the stories of Wyatt Ear's gunfight with friend Doc Holiday. Arrive at the resort with amazing desert and mountain views in the Southwest.
Start the morning with a visit to Saguaro National Park East, home to 1.6 million of the nation's largest cacti - the giant saguaro. As you enter the park you’ll see large stands of gigantic saguaro cacti creating a breathtaking saguaro forest in the middle of a desert environment. Drive along the Cactus Forest Loop before heading to Downtown Tucson to Dive Into Culture and become a Tucson Foodie. Sample dishes from various restaurants and you’ll understand why Tucson was named the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the USA. Tonight enjoy a Farewell Dinner with new friends at the Hacienda Del Sol Grill. After dinner, go on a date with the stars. Tucson is recognized as Dark Sky City by the International Dark Sky Association and Local Specialist Ben Loker and his team of astronomers will reveal the secrets of the universe with their customized, transportable computerized telescopes.
Your journey through the American Southwest comes to an end as you are taken aboard a coach to Phoenix International Airport, where you will arrive around 11 am.