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Great Parks of the Southwest featuring the Grand Canyon

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Discover the scenic Southwestern U.S on this guided tour of a lifetime exploring five National Parks.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: GPS24

About the tour

Discover the natural wonders and rugged wilderness of the Southwest on this scenic rail tour through Canyon Country. This tour has it all: amazing national parks, classic train journeys, and spectacular sightseeing and excursions.

Your adventure begins in Chicago with a classic rail journey aboard the legendary California Zephyr to Grand Junction. Canyon Country lies across the Colorado-Utah border in Moab and is where our Southwestern expedition begins. Whet your appetite for adventure in Arches National Park and enjoy a thrill as we jetboat down the Colorado River. Next, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park reveal their breathtaking scenery one excursion at a time. Before arriving at one of the world's most impressive natural wonders, the Grand Canyon, enjoy the panoramas and desert scenes of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and beautiful Desert View Drive. A two-night stay at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon allows ample time to explore the national park's magnificent scenery. The trip wraps up with a ride aboard the iconic Grand Canyon Railway. Picture-perfect panoramas meet unique experiences in the Southwest's most picturesque destinations on this adventure to remember.

Unforgettable Experiences

Arches National Park
Arches National Park
There is nothing quite like the soaring sandstone arches and vast desert landscapes of Arches National Park, and exploring them on a guided tour and while cruising the Colorado River by jetboat are experiences you will surely treasure.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Explore Navajo sandstone structures, ancestral Pueblo petroglyphs, and spectacular desert scenes from excellent viewpoints while touring Capitol Reef National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Marvel at naturally carved sandstone hoodoos and spires while touring the red and pink landscapes of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Cross through the Mount Carmel Tunnel to Utah’s first national park, Zion, where a guide introduces the region’s impressive geology and history on a tram tour.
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
See why the Grand Canyon is considered one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders as you drive along the South Rim on Desert View Drive.
Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Railway
Depart the Grand Canyon for Williams, AZ, aboard the historic Grand Canyon Railway, a line that has been traversing Ponderosa pine forests and high desert landscapes for over 120 years.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart Chicago on the California Zephyr

Arrive at Chicago Union Station and board the California Zephyr. Settle into your onboard accommodations and prepare for your overnight rail journey. Travelers may elect to travel from San Francisco or points in-between and meet your Tour Manager on Day 2. As your journey gets underway, admire scenes of America's Heartland as the train heads west toward Iowa and Nebraska. Overnight train.

Day 2 - Travel to Moab, UT

Awake to magnificent views of the Rocky Mountains. The best place to see this stunning scenery is from the train's Sightseer Lounge with its swivel seats and floor-to-ceiling windows. We arrive in Grand Junction, CO, late this afternoon, where we continue our journey toward Moab, UT, by deluxe motorcoach. Enjoy dinner with the group before settling in for the evening. Overnight Moab, UT.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 3 - Arches National Park/Colorado River Jetboat Ride

Today begins with a tour of Arches National Park. This rugged area contains the largest concentration of sandstone arches, fins, spires, and balancing rocks worldwide. Your guide is an expert on the landscape and its features and unveils one spectacular arch and natural formation after another. After a delicious lunch, we will board our Jetboat to travel down the calm water section of the Colorado River (subject to river water levels). Moab is one of the few places where you can access the Colorado River along its 1,450-mile route to the sea. Marvel at the beauty of the wilderness as we float leisurely down the red rock cliffs that mark the southern boundary of Arches National Park. We return to our hotel this evening. Overnight Moab, UT.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 - Capitol Reef National Park

After breakfast at the lodge this morning, we depart Moab by motorcoach for Torrey, UT, in the state's center. A lesser-known yet highly impressive protected parkland awaits your discovery here as we visit Capitol Reef National Park. This remote and little-visited area of Utah is a pristine wilderness famous for its Navajo Sandstone formations. The dome-like structures have been shaped by the elements and resemble our nation's capital. We will stop at the park Visitor Center first and then make two stops at spectacular viewpoints for pictures and to see some of the park's ancient ancestral Pueblo petroglyphs. Overnight Torrey, UT.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5 - Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument/Bryce Canyon National Park

Even more of Utah's unique landscapes lie ahead today as the journey continues toward Kanab near the Arizona border. Windswept sandstone formations and towering cliffs offer lovely surroundings during the drive. Our first stop of the day comes as we arrive at one of the newest monuments in the parks system, Grand Staircase-Escalante. This region consists of 1.9 million acres of wilderness cut by the Paria and Escalante Rivers. Our visit includes a stop at the Ranger Station to learn about the establishment of this area and photo opportunities of the panoramic views.

Next, we head toward Bryce Canyon National Park. The sediments of an ancient lake formed the pink rocks of Bryce Canyon. The hoodoos and spires of the canyon seem to stand erect as if mimicking people frozen in time. There is time for lunch on your own ahead of our guided park tour. After our explorations, we drive down Long Valley to Kanab. This town is known as "Little Hollywood" due to its history as a filming location for many western movies and television series, including Stagecoach, The Lone Ranger, and Gunsmoke. Overnight Kanab, UT.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Zion National Park

We explore Utah's first national park today as we visit Zion. We enter Zion National Park via the Mount Carmel Tunnel, built in 1931, and have free time to explore or have lunch on your own at Zion Lodge before this afternoon's guided tram tour. Look over some of the most stunning aspects of the park as your guide introduces the region's geological history. There are several stops along the way for pictures and short walks. After touring the park, continue exploring on your own before departing from the east gate. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep along the sandstone slopes! Overnight Kanab, UT.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Glen Canyon/ Desert View Drive

We depart Kanab this morning for one of the nation's most beloved national parks: Grand Canyon National Park. But the day is not just about the destination; instead, the journey is just as impressive. Begin by traveling toward Lake Powell, UT, to visit Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This 1.25-million-acre preserve is brimming with the beauty only high desert landscapes can provide. Marvel at the contrast of the orange cliffs against Lake Powell and the Colorado River. We continue to Page, AZ, after our visit for a delicious lunch with views of Lake Powell. 

The drive presses forth from here, taking us closer to Grand Canyon National Park. We arrive at our lodge in Grand Canyon Village, the rustic Maswik Lodge. After checking in, another adventure beckons as we set out on the ever-scenic Desert View Drive. This picturesque byway was constructed in 1931 and hugs the South Rim while presenting your first views of this natural wonder. Overnight Grand Canyon, AZ. 
Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 - Grand Canyon at Leisure

Enjoy a day at leisure to discover the Grand Canyon. The park's complimentary shuttle buses offer pick-up outside our lodge and take you on tours around the park. Hop on and off at those stops you want to explore at greater length. You can join a Ranger Talk or trail walk along the South Rim or take the shuttle west to Hermit's Rest viewpoint. Your Tour Manager can assist you with suggestions. Overnight Grand Canyon, AZ.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 - Grand Canyon National Park/Grand Canyon Railway

Take the morning to continue experiencing the natural glories of Grand Canyon National Park. Making the short walk up to Mather Point rewards you with spectacular sunrise views, and myriad other trails cater to hikers of all skill levels. Enjoy lunch on your own at one of the South Rim's eateries, then join the group in riding the Grand Canyon Railway. The 90-minute ride takes you from the South Rim to historic Williams, AZ, via Ponderosa pine forests, prairies, and high desert landscapes. Our motorcoach is waiting in Williams to finish our day's travels, which conclude in Flagstaff. Gather with your fellow travelers tonight for a Farewell Dinner. Overnight Flagstaff, AZ.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 - Tour Conclusion

Your tour through the great national parks of the Southwest concludes this morning after breakfast. A group transfer to Flagstaff Airport is available for flights departing after 10:00 a.m. and to Phoenix Airport for flights departing after 1:00 p.m.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff

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Maswik Lodge - Grand Canyon Lodges, Grand Canyon National Park

Maswik Lodge - Grand Canyon Lodges, Grand Canyon National Park

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Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kanab

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kanab

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SpringHill Suites Moab

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Capitol Reef Resort, Torrey

Capitol Reef Resort, Torrey

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Trains

Amtrak's California Zephyr
Grand Canyon Railway

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Reviews

4.7 stars4.7 / 5 · 85 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (59)
  2. 4 stars
    (25)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (1)

WALTER BELL

5 stars

Submitted 18/May

It was a wonderful tour and our guide Sheryl was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

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James Fisher

5 stars

Submitted 18/May

Cheryl was excellent!!!

Collected by Trustpilot

JAMES HEATH

4 stars

Submitted 08 Oct 2023

Very nice. The Amtrak portion was disappointing.

Collected by Trustpilot

PATRICIA CHANDLER

5 stars

Submitted 08 Oct 2023

The trip was awesome; great tour guide… very knowledgeable. The Amtrak train trip was horrible. Thankfully it didn’t mar the actual tour.

Collected by Trustpilot

STEVEN GRIMSHAW

5 stars

Submitted 04 Oct 2023

Best way to visit the National Parks! Sean (tour guide) was awesome! Very informative and professional. Mauricio (bus driver) was also excellent! I would reccomend both for any future trips.

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DAVID OSENGA

5 stars

Submitted 02 Oct 2023

We enjoyed this tour very much. Our tour guide and bus driver were top notch. They were informative, prepared, helpful, enjoyable, and made us feel special as they took great care of us. We could have spent a lot more time in place, but that is for another time. Taking this tour allowed us to see and experience the sights and wonders of the parks. If we drove, we would have missed so much.

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