Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah
Picture of Exploring the National Parks of Utah

Exploring the National Parks of Utah

Destination: National Parks in Utah

Southern Utah is home to four of the most well known National Parks, each with its own special magic and unique attractions. Zion National Park is famous for its soaring red Navajo Sandstone cliffs. Nearby Bryce Canyon is a testimonial to the erosive power of ice and rainwater, carving its colorful limestone into windows, fins, and soaring spires called hoodoos. Capitol Reef is a monument to the amazing power of uplift. Goblin Valley State Park demonstrates just how bizarre rocks shaped by erosion can get and also the magic of slot canyons. And Arches National Park lives up to its name with over two thousand sandstone arches of all shapes and sizes. While we need to drive between parks (on some of the most scenic highways you will ever have the pleasure to drive on), this is not primarily a driving trip. We will hike between 2 and 4 hours every day and see each park as only hikers can. On this trip we extend a special invitation to anyone who prefers an option for leisurely shorter hikes with more time for other activities. Maximum group size: 10

Highlights

  • Exploring the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park
  • Walking among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Slithering through the slot canyons of Little Wild Horse
  • Hiking to some of the many arches in Arches National Park
  • Enjoying the remoteness and solitude of Capitol Reef

Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights of double occupancy accommodation
  • All meals from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last day
  • Transportation during the trip
  • National Park entry fees

Not included: Airfare to Las Vegas or from Grand Junction, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and trip insurance

Departures

Accommodations

NOTE: There is limited availability on single supplements and we cannot confirm availability at time of booking.

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We have rated this trip as a 2 and a 3 because of the choice of a longer and shorter hike on most days. Any healthy, active woman can be comfortable on the shorter hikes; women who want to do the longer hikes should exercise regularly prior to the trip. If you chose to do that longer hikes, a rating of 3 requires aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. If you are looking for a trip in this area with longer hikes, look at Hiking the Grand Staircase or Hiking Utah's National Parks Rating: 1 2  3 4 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the unique geology of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the different geologic processes that formed each Park than to explore them on foot. Because we offer choices of hikes each day, it is an excellent trip for novice and intermediate hikers who like hikes of intermediate or shorter length. The town of Moab at the end of the trip is an ideal spot for those who like to browse shops or bookstores, or sample excellent coffee and local beer and wine.

We stay at a variety of accommodations on this trip, starting with one night at a Las Vegas hotel. We then stay at lodges that are located right inside the parks, one night at Zion Park Lodge and two nights at Bryce Canyon Lodge, a very short walk from the rim. Then there is one night at a motel in Hanksville, before finishing the trip with two nights in Moab in beautiful new condos, each with three bedrooms and a private hot tub. One bedroom has a private bathroom and the other two (one bedroom has a queen, the other has twins) share a bathroom. Women who have paid for a single get the mistress bedroom and otherwise the rooms are assigned randomly.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Our trip starts today in Las Vegas where you can arrive anytime before 4 pm. Catch a shuttle to our hotel, in time to meet everyone at 5:00 pm. We'll start getting to know each other and review our plans for the trip, before sharing our first dinner. The evening is free for you to get to bed early or wander the strip: watching the dancing fountains at Bellagio is always a treat.
DAY 2
The drive to our first destination, Zion National Park, is about 3 hours. Our first stop is our picnic area where you can explore the area or take a break while your guides prepare lunch. After the first of many delicious picnic lunches and some instruction on how to hike happily and safely for the week, we'll explore the Emerald Pools Trail System. The 3 mile hike (we take about 2.5 hours) to the Upper Pool passes through pinyon-juniper habitat as we visit the lush environment of the lower pool and gaze at the soaring canyon walls of the upper pool. Along the way we'll talk about how Zion Canyon was formed and see evidence that it is a process that is still quite active. Our lodging tonight is right in the bottom of Zion Canyon, in one of the most beautiful and peaceful settings in the entire park system. Overnight Zion National Park.
DAY 3
Today we'll head back towards the Visitor's Center to hike the Watchman Trail, another Zion classic. The trail is about 2 miles round trip with 500 feet elevation gain through a desert environment. Along the trail we'll see many of Zion's landmarks: Beehives, Towers of the Virgin, West Temple, and the Altar of Sacrifice. The trail ends up at a viewpoint that oversees much of the lower canyon as well as the Watchman, a red spire rising to an elevation of 6545 feet. We'll then visit the Zion Human History Museum, or possibly join one of the Zion rangers for what are always informative walks. In late afternoon we'll drive to Bryce Canyon. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is a dramatic feat of engineering, taking us through a very different looking part of the Park. We'll arrive in Bryce in time for dinner. Our lodging tonight is about a 5 minute walk from the rim. Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park.
DAY 4
Another park, more classic hikes: the Peekaboo Loop. In contrast to yesterday where we climbed out of Zion Canyon, today we'll start by descending into Bryce Canyon. This 6 mile trail, which follows an up and down loop around a major formation with constantly changing views, provides an excellent opportunity to see hoodoos from the bottom up. For those wanting a bit shorter hike, the Navajo - Queen's Garden loop is an excellent 3 mile alternative. That evening we'll have the chance to watch the sun's rays light up some amazing geology. And after dinner, Bryce is known for having one of the most glorious nighttime skies of anyplace in the U.S. - if stargazing appeals to you, this is the perfect place to do it. Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park
DAY 5
Our three hour drive this morning to Capitol Reef National Park is one of the most scenic of the entire trip as we drive though Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, crossing over vast stretches of slickrock before climbing up and over the Boulder Mountains. Capitol Reef is a small section of the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust comprised of colorful canyons, buttes, mesas, and monoliths. We'll visit the Visitor Center and then have a picnic in an area where Mormon settlers once farmed. We explore only a small portion as we hike through Cohab Canyon to its exit on the other side. This hike offers more solitude and wilderness than any other on the trip, with options for a couple of side hikes up to higher points in the Canyon. We'll finish our visit to Capitol Reef with a visit to petroglyphs along the road. We stay overnight at a motel in Hanksville, a small Utah town that is home to the world famous Blondie's (at least it is in a Chinese guidebook so it must be world famous) where we'll have a great breakfast the next morning. Overnight Hanksville, UT
DAY 6
Today we start with a hike into Little Wild Horse Canyon. This is a slot canyon that can be as high as 250 feet and as narrow as 2.5 feet, and we'll do it as an out and back, going as far as we choose. Hiking in slot canyons is always dependent on weather but this is one of the most accessible in Utah. After lunch a short drive takes us to Goblin Valley State Park, one of those state parks that is so spectacular, it would be a National Park in any other area. Goblin Valley gets its name from the thousands of mushroom-shaped pinnacles that have been carved by wind and water over the centuries.

After finishing our hike we continue on to our condos in Moab. Moab is one of the most charming small towns in Utah, known for its great shops and limitless outdoor opportunities. If you want a chance to explore the many restaurant options in Moab, this is the night. Alternatively the guides will get some take out pizza and salad and if you want to just kick back at the condos after the day, you are welcome to join them. Overnight Moab.
DAY 7
Due to Arches National Park's unique geology, this park contains the largest concentration of arches of anyplace in the US. We'll start with Delicate Arch trail, a classic Arches hike and not to be missed. We'll take the short spur trail to a Ute Indian Petroglyph and then walk up gradually sloping slickrock to a small valley surrounded by red rocks on the way to the arch. Just when you think you must have taken a wrong turn, the arch suddenly appears and you immediately understand why it is the most photographed arch in Utah. There are several other short hikes to different arches so some of us may decide to continue with more hiking while others will want time in Moab, the most fun place to shop in Utah. Tonight we celebrate our week of hiking with a final farewell dinner at our condos. Overnight Moab.
DAY 8
This morning we share a final breakfast, pack up, and say our goodbyes to Utah. We will plan to leave Moab for Grand Junction, Colorado (GJT) about 8:00 am for the 2 hour drive and you can plan to fly out anytime after 11:00 am (it's a small airport and an hour is plenty of time to check in).

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on our trips. We take reviews very seriously and are constantly tweaking itineraries. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Wow!!! Fabulous trip!! Fabulous guides!! Each park was at least as awesome as the one the day before. Very well organized. The guides made everything so easy and relaxing and fun!!

Exploring the National Parks of Utah 4/28/2019-5/5/2019


Scenery, hikes, leaders, organization of the trip, flexibility of leaders, pre-trip information, food, accommodations. Chris took me on the Peek a Boo hike in Bryce Canyon when I was the only hiker. Having two guides offered some flexibility regarding options for hikes and other activities. For example, Chris took some of us in one van to an area for more hiking, while the others returned to the condo in Moab. I like the idea of changing up roommates. Lots of stops for the bathroom.

Exploring the National Parks of Utah 4/28/2019-5/5/2019


The Parks and hikes were a highlight. The leaders were excellent. The accommodations were generally quite nice. And the group was surprisingly pleasant and compatible!

Exploring the National Parks of Utah 4/28/2019-5/5/2019


  1. Where do we eat?
    Most breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu or a buffet. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch or occasionally lunch will be picnic style. The guides will cook the final dinner at the condos.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?
    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?
    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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