Explore the spectacular national parks of the USA's canyon country
- Get behind the wheel to discover some of America's most striking national parks
- Take in the unique geology of Zion, Bryce Canyon, Sedona and Monument Valley
- Explore landscapes of dramatic sandstone crags, plunging river gorges and delicate desert arches
- Look out to Grand-Canyon views from its spectacular southern rim
- Revel in the glitz and glamour of a five-star stay in Las Vegas
- 2 Nights Las Vegas
- 2 Nights Zion National Park
- 1 Night Bryce Canyon
- 1 Night Capitol Reef National Park
- 2 Nights Arches National Park
- 1 Night Mesa Verde National Park
- 1 Night Monument Valley
- 1 Night Grand Canyon
- 1 Night Sedona
- 1 Night Scottsdale
Activity adventure | Bucket-list holidays | City | Desert | March holidays | May holidays | Natural world | Self-drive
The high-altitude deserts of south-west USA - some are as high as 9,000ft above sea level – are home to some of the most incredible landscapes on earth. A geological wonderland of twisted rocks, gravity-defying arches, towering spires and plunging canyons characterise its unique and unforgiving terrain. This epic road trip visits some of the region's most spectacular national parks and protected areas as you swap the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip for Zion's cliff-framed meadows and hanging gardens, Bryce Canyon, with its cavernous amphitheatres and the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley – the famous backdrop to countless Hollywood Westerns. Finally, drop back south to the Grand Canyon's dizzying precipices and the sacred gorges of Sedona.
Day by day itinerary
Begin your trip in style with included airport lounge access before your flight to Las Vegas. This truly remarkable city rises from the desert like a neon oasis, its world-famous casinos and clubs, flamboyant hotels, top-class restaurants and big-name shows making it one of the world's truly great party towns. It's big, brash, boisterous and an utterly stark contrast to the natural beauty, tranquillity and relative isolation that awaits on the remainder of the holiday. Looking for a bucket-list experience? Take a helicopter flight over the Strip.
Stay: Bellagio, Las Vegas (Deluxe)
Zion National Park
Collect your hire car this morning, driving northeast through the desert to Utah's Zion National Park. Your hotel is ideally situated right on the edge of the national park, just a stone's throw from its jutting sandstone monoliths and surprisingly verdant valley floors. It's also at the confluence of several hiking trails that wind their way up into the canyon. You'll also well placed for rides on the shuttle bus, which stops at eight major locations throughout the national park. Then, in the evenings, you'll return to homely dining, a heated pool and a spa with views of the Virgin River.
Stay: Cable Mountain Lodge, Zion National Park (Superior)
Bryce Canyon National Park
Famous for its unique geology, Bryce Canyon is made up of a series of spectacular horseshoe-shaped amphitheatres, carved out of the red rock by centuries of weather erosion. The colourful limestone has been transformed into all manner of bizarre shapes, from slots, canyons and hoodoos to dramatic fins and spires. To make exploring easy, the park's shuttle bus picks up in town for a four-hour circuit of the park. If you prefer to explore on foot, a network of gravity-defying trails descend through fragrant juniper bushes to arrive in the grand amphitheatres below.
Stay: Bryce Canyon Lodge, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (Standard)
Torrey/Capitol Reef National Park
Once called the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow by the region's Native-American tribes, Capitol Reef National Park is certainly one of the most unusual places you'll visit, even among the incredible geological anomalies and landscapes displayed on this journey so far. The park's defining feature, the 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold, rises above the semi-arid plateau. A seemingly impenetrable cliff, its most scenic portion is Capitol Reef itself, named for its resemblance to Washington's capitol buildings. Take it all in on ambling hikes and dusty 4x4 trails before spending the night in the small town of Torrey, 11 miles west of the park entrance.
Stay: Capitol Reef Resort (Superior)
Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park
It's hard to comprehend the forces of nature that sculpted Arches National Park. Over 2,000 structures, from towering spires to precariously balanced rocks, complement the eponymous arches themselves, all creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively compact area. You'll spend two nights in the town of Moab, from where you can access both the Arches and Canyonland National Parks. At Canyonlands, the scenic drive to the Island in the Sky mesa provides the best views, with overlooks perched 1,000 feet about the surrounding terrain. Your accommodation for the night will be at Red Cliffs Lodge, but for something special, consider an upgrade to Sorrel River Lodge, where spa treatments and rooms complete with handcrafted furnishings look out to views of the Colorado River.
Stay: Red Cliffs Lodge (Superior)
Mesa Verde National Park
While Mesa Verde does indeed have some dramatic landscapes, its standout highlight is the ancient homes of the Anasazi, cliff dwellers built into the rocky hillsides more than 1,600 years ago. Since the most popular sites – Cliff Palace, Balcony House, Spruce Tree House and Long House – can only be toured with a guide, it's best to get tickets for these tours as soon as you arrive at the Park. Alternatively, the six-mile Mesa Top Loop takes you on a scenic drive past many of the park's lesser sites, all accompanied by dramatic views, of course.
Stay: Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park (Standard)
Monument Valley Tribal Park
Having featured in such film classics as Easy Rider and Forrest Gump, the towering buttes and mesas of Monument Valley form one of the USA's most familiar landscapes, and one of its most spectacular. It's also a region steeped in Native-American history, once as the home of the Ancestral Puebloans and later the Navajo, who called this site the 'Valley Between the Rocks'. Take the 17-mile Valley Drive, which brings you through unending desert landscape to eleven marked stops, each one showcasing fine views of the park's iconic sandstone towers.
Stay: Goulding's Lodge, Utah (Standard)
At 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep, the Grand Canyon, a World Heritage site and natural wonder of the world, is a truly remarkable place. Taking the Desert View Drive – a 25-mile route along the canyon's south rim – you'll pause at a series of viewpoints to enjoy magnificent views across the layers of multi-coloured rock, some dating back millions of years, that form the canyon's sheer rock walls. Please note, El Tovar may be closed for renovations in late 2019 or early 2020. During this time, accommodation will be at Maswik North, comprised of cosy cabins and historic lodge buildings just moments from the canyon’s edge.
Stay: El Tovar, Grand Canyon (Deluxe)
Many say they can feel the special spirits in Sedona, others say it's just the pristine beauty of red rock that makes this such as special place to visit. The town itself is set so far down among the rock formations that as you drive around its quiet streets, red-rock cliffs seem to tower above at almost every angle. Catch the Sedona Trolley for tours of the region and for a complete introduction to this spectacular corner of Arizona desert. Enjoy a stay among the spectacular canyon views of the Orchards Inn, or for an upgrade, opt for the deluxe Amara Resort & Spa.
Stay: Orchards Inn (Superior)
Catch your breath in spa-strewn Scottsdale, just a short hop from Phoenix. With its superb collection of restaurants and shops, along with a seemingly endless supply of perfectly manicured golf courses, it's the ideal spot to relax and prepare for your journey home.
Stay: JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa (Deluxe)
Depart for UK
Return your hire car to Phoenix airport and board your return flight to the UK.
Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.
from £2,740 pp. incl. flights
from £3,835 pp. incl. flights
- Complimentary UK airport lounge access
- Return International flights from London to Las Vegas and from Phoenix to London
- 13 nights accommodation in typically 4* (Superior) hotels on a room-only basis
- 14 days Compact hire car
- Personalised driving pack
High season: June-September
Terms & Conditions
Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.
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