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Sample Full 9-Day Southwest National Parks Grand Circle Tour of America's Canyonlands


All our itineraries are custom designed for your specific tour needs. This is just a sample itinerary. Your tour can start and end in almost any location.

This sample tour itinerary visits the following major sites:

sample Itinerary

Day 1 ~ Relax in Las Vegas

Use your convenient hotel shuttle service for a transfer from the airport to your accommodations

Day 2 ~ Find Breathtaking Sanctuary in Zion National Park

As Utah's oldest and most visited national park, Zion’s topography is an exquisite spectacle of canyon–mesa country. Encompassing one of the most scenic cliff-and-canyon landscapes in the USA, Zion’s 229 square miles (593 km) are internationally known for their dramatic canyons, towering rock faces, overhanging cliffs, sparkling waterfalls, hanging valleys, high plateaus, rock formations, dripping springs, shaded pools, and particularly for the Virgin River Narrows – one of the premier hikes on the Colorado Plateau. The word Zion is ancient Hebrew meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary, and Zion National Park is just that – an exquisite respite from the surrounding world.

Day 3 ~ See the Color Kaleidoscope of Bryce Canyon National Park

Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is a geologic masterpiece considered by many to be the most colorful of all the National Parks. Sometimes referred to as a forest of stone, Bryce is unique due to its thousands of delicately carved spires, called hoodoos, which rise in brilliant color from the canyon floor. Centuries of wind, water, and geologic mayhem have etched what was once mere sedimentary rock into towering rock pinnacles and immense amphitheaters. These superb formations stretch for miles along the eastern edge of the 9000 foot high (2743 meters) Paunsaugunt Plateau. Evening and early morning light brings the brilliant hues of these formations to life, giving them a lustrous transparent glow.

Day 4 ~ Remote Homestead Locations in Spectacular Scenery at Capitol Reef National Park

Travel past soaring cliffs and plateaus overlooking open plains as you journey across the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Visit the Calf Creek Recreation Area before following the “Hogback” stretch of Scenic Highway 12, which takes you on the top of a high stone ridge as the land falls away on both sides of the road.

Known to the ancient Indians as the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow, Capitol Reef National Park is a symphony in stone with mammoth domes, multihued cliffs, soaring spires, austere monoliths, twisting canyons, graceful arches, jagged ridges, and yawning gorges. This intriguing area is incredibly rugged and isolated, yet early Mormon settlers chose this awe-inspiring environment in which to build their flourishing pioneer community of Fruita.  You will have an opportunity to view original homestead locations and orchards now preserved within the park.

Day 5 ~ Walk as Ants in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

Adorning the landscape of eastern Utah’s high desert, Arches National Park is host to the greatest density of natural arches in the world. It is a striking environment of contrasting colors, landforms and textures. Over 2,000 arches exist here, ranging in size from a three-foot opening (the minimum size considered to be an arch); to the world’s most famous arch, Delicate Arch, seen on Utah’s license plate; to the world’s largest natural arch, Landscape Arch, measuring 290 feet from base to base. Other extraordinary features of the park such as towering spires, pillars, fins, columns, balanced rocks, and pinnacles paint an ethereal backdrop to this remarkable landscape.

As Utah’s largest national park, Canyonlands is a spectacular showcase of geologic formation whose diversity staggers the imagination. Its vivid landscape has been eroded into thousands of canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado and Green Rivers, which divide the park into four distinct districts, each unbelievably scenic, each with a character all its own.

A lone promontory surmounting sheer sandstone cliffs, Dead Horse Point State Park is one of Utah’s most dramatic parks. Connected to the mainland by only a slender ribbon of rock, this mesa affords an incomparable panoramic view of the Colorado River winding its way through the scenic canyon country of southeastern Utah some 2,000 feet (609 meters) below. Crystal clear desert skies offer incredible visibility - from 80 to 100 miles (129 to 161 Km) on average.

Day 6 & 7 ~ Mesa Verde National Park, An Archaeological Treasure

As the nations leading archeological sanctuary, Mesa Verde National Park’s 81 square miles (209 km2) enclose the greatest concentration of ancient archaeological sites that the United States has to offer. The soft sandstone and shale of this section of the Colorado Plateau has been dissected into a convoluted succession of canyons and mesas, which in turn shelter over 4,000 Ancestral Puebloan sites, including well-preserved cliff dwellings, pit houses, mesa-top pueblos, and kivas (rooms used for religious rituals).

Day 8 ~ The "Four Corners" & "Mingle with Monuments of Nature"

The "Four Corners" is the only plane in the United States where four states (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah) touch in one place.  It is best known for it's protected areas, including Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park and Monument Valley. Mountain Ranges in the Four Corners include Sleeping Ute Mountains, Abajo Mountains and the Chuska Mountains.

Monument Valley is instantly recognizable as the sweeping backdrop of the classic Southwest. A striking panorama of windswept desert punctuated by immense sandstone monoliths ascending some 1,000 feet (304 meters) above the earth, this desolate countryside evokes a timelessness that few others can. Monument Valley has been chosen for the setting of over 16 major motion pictures, including the unforgettable John Wayne films Stagecoach and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, as well as countless commercials, making it easily one of the most recognizable, beautiful, and legendary landscapes in the world.

Day 9 ~ Variety in Stone & Water at Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon

In route to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, we will travel through the Navajo Nation Indian Lands past Antelope Canyon, Glen Canyon, and Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encloses one of nature's most inspirational settings, underscored by an epically ambitious human achievement, the colossal Glen Canyon Dam. Behind the dam, the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries are backed up into the ravines and gorges of Glen Canyon, forming Lake Powell. With nearly 2,000 miles (3,218K) of stunning red-rock shoreline, Lake Powell is not only one of the largest man-made lakes in the USA, but also one of the most scenic. This contrasting assortment of captivating, water-filled canyons has become one of America's premier destinations for outdoor water sports.

Encompassing the entirety of northeastern Arizona, plus portions of New Mexico and Utah, the Navajo Nation features 27,000 square miles (69,929 Km2) of incomparable beauty and immense contrast. Pristine canyons, unspoiled wilderness, mountain meadows, national monuments, historical sites, tribal parks, ancient ruins, and lush valleys all combine to form the diversity of beauty and solitude that are the Navajo Lands.

Casual tourists often overlook Antelope Canyon because it is not a national or state park. However, Antelope Canyon is instantly recognizable as one of the most-photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest. Its narrow passages, intricately carved sandstone, gently undulating curves and hollows varying from 3 to 9 feet (1 to 3 meters) wide, and occasional shafts of radiating sunlight piercing through the soft colors and shadows are unsurpassed in breathtaking tranquility.

Other areas traveled through include Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the Arizona Strip, and a release area for the California condor.

Enjoy an evening sunset over the Grand Canyon's less crowded North Rim.

Day 10 ~ The Compelling Grand Canyon North Rim

Worthy of its rank as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon overwhelms the senses and captivates the imagination with its spectacular combination of incredible scale, dramatic views, awe-inspiring rock formations, and untamed beauty. Over a mile deep (1.6 Km) at its deepest point, 18 miles (29 Km) across at its widest, and 277 river miles (446 Km) long, the Grand Canyon is often deemed to be one of the world’s most visually commanding landscapes, an immensely majestic gorge with temple-like bluffs; plummeting depths; fiery chestnut cliffs, towering plateaus; and vibrant, labyrinthine topography dappled with deserts, plains, forests, mesas, lava flows, cinder cones, streams, waterfalls, and one of America’s premier whitewater rivers.

Of the five million annual visitors to Grand Canyon National Park, only 10% get to experience the rugged solitude of the North Rim. More than 1,000 feet (305 meters) higher than the South Rim, here the Canyon reveals its perfect balance of serenity and power, peace and intensity. Here one can absorb the breathtaking enormity of the Grand Canyon, unmatched in majesty and magnificence, and appreciate the subtleties of one of the most studied geologic landscapes in the world.

Day 11 ~ Departure Day