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Our trip begins this morning in Las Vegas, Nevada. We meet our guides at 7am at our host hotel and, following introductions and a brief orientation, begin the three-hour drive over the Utah border to Zion National Park. Arriving midday, Zion’s extraordinary beauty immediately reveals itself as we set out on a hike into the Virgin River Narrows. On this amphibious exploration, our trail is the Virgin River as it winds its way between the thousand-foot-high walls of the enormous slot canyon (a significant portion of the Narrows hike requires wading through ankle to thigh-deep river water). Hiking through the Narrows can feel like a dream as the ever-changing light reflects off the cliff walls, continually altering the color of rock and water. At hike’s end, we transfer to our campsite and pitch our tents before enjoying our first guide-prepared dinner together under a star-filled Southwestern sky. We spend the next two nights at a campground near Zion National Park. Lunch and dinner included.
5 miles (with a significant amount of river wading), Elevation gain/loss: 200'; Van transfer: 3 hours
We get an early jump on the day, heading out for our exhilarating hike to Scout Lookout. A short ride on the park shuttle transports us to our trailhead. The trail to Scout Lookout is cut into the canyon walls and follows Walter's Wiggles trail, a series of 21 switchbacks, leading to a stunning and lofty viewpoint overlooking the towering cliffs of Zion Canyon. After descending the trail, we continue our hike to Emerald Pools, a verdant oasis located in a side canyon laced with streams and tiered natural pools. This afternoon provides an opportunity for some relaxation time back at camp to soak up the sunshine. Tonight’s dinner is on our own, allowing us to try a restaurant of choice in the charming town of Springdale, just outside the park entrance. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 6.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,500’
NOTE: An optional hike to Angels Landing may be incorporated in lieu of Emerald Pools if permits can be acquired. These highly competitive permits cannot be guaranteed, but we will attempt to secure them if possible. Angels Landing hike: 5 miles, 1500'
Rugged and remote, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a vast wilderness playground filled with soaring cliffs, prehistoric ruin sites and labyrinthine slot canyons awaiting discovery. Our hike today leads us into one of these slots on a unique backcountry adventure and crash course in the geology of the Colorado Plateau. Following our guides, we make our way down over slickrock and sand to a series of narrow canyons, their pink and magenta striped walls less than an arm’s length apart. Squeezing our way through the narrowest passageways, we take advantage of the excellent photographic opportunities created by the light, shadow, color and rock textures converging in this geological masterpiece. After returning to the trailhead, we hop in the van and head to our private campground, just minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park. Tonight, we feast on appetizers and a delicious dinner before ending the day around the campfire’s warm glow. All meals included.
Hiking: 6.5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 450'; Van transfer: 4 hours (with multiple activity stops). Note: If rain is forecasted, we will substitute the slot canyon hike with the Lower Calf Creek trail. Hiking: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 866’
Visiting Bryce Canyon for the first time, it's hard not to feel an overwhelming sense of awe at the sheer number of towering sandstone pinnacles (hoodoos) that rise from the canyon floor, forming a jagged, colorful landscape unlike any other on the planet. We spend the morning exploring this otherworldly wilderness, hiking along some of the park’s most scenic trails. Descending below the canyon rim, it’s easy to become mesmerized by the orange-colored sandstone, stands of jade green pine trees, and thousands of hoodoos that make this national park so uniquely captivating. In the afternoon, we begin the drive south across the Arizona border towards another remarkable canyon, this one many times larger than Bryce. Our campsite for the next two nights is near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. All Meals Included.
Hiking: up to 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 600'; Van transfer: 4 hours
Providing the only maintained trail access to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim, the spectacular North Kaibab Trail is our hiking route of choice this morning. Although we won’t make it all the way to canyon bottom, we descend the trail to Redwall Bridge for great views of the inner canyon and its awesome river-carved landscapes. Portions of this hike are challenging, but our guides encourage and educate us along the way, keeping us engaged and energized. This evening after ascending back out of the canyon, we’ll enjoy a final celebration dinner at North Rim Lodge providing an opportunity to celebrate new friendships and reflect on the week’s adventures. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2,200'; Van transfer: up to 2 hours
This morning we enjoy a hearty guide prepared breakfast before breaking camp and setting out for our morning hike. Todays journey takes us along a beautiful forested trail to Cape Final, a stunning viewpoint overlooking the Grand Canyon. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect hike to end our adventure as our path combines all the memorable elements of a visit to the Grand Canyon, from the lovely smell of ponderosa pine, to unparalleled high desert panoramas. From Cape Final, we can make out some of the canyon’s iconic formations, including Vishnu Temple and Jupiter Temple, and distant views of the Vermillion Cliffs and Navajo Mountain. Once our final hike is complete, we board the van for the last leg of our journey, arriving back at our host hotel late this afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 4 miles, Elevation gain/loss: Minimal; Van transfer: 5 hours.