- Fly from London to Salt Lake City and transfer to our hotel.
- Accommodation: Salt Lake City, 1-night.
- We meet our guide in the afternoon, and set off driving south along a rugged chain of mountains known as the Wasatch Front, then turn east into Red Rock Country. Our first glimpse of this terrain is at Fremont Indian State Park where we stretch our legs on a one-mile-long loop trail amidst impressive panels of rock art, made by early native people of the region. Capitol Reef is located along the Fremont River. Its massive colourful monoliths rise boldly against blue skies – a stunning place to explore.
- Accommodation: near Capitol Reef National Park, 2-nights on full board basis.
- The park’s rock formations vary in colour and texture, weaving a tale of geological history reaching back millions of years. Away from the river, the landscape is arid, allowing for unbroken views of the vibrant rock. There are natural bridges and arches, black volcanic boulders washed down from neighbouring plateaux, and cliffs called the Fluted Wall. As we walk trails, we marvel at some of the survival adaptations that the local plants have adopted. We plan two walks of up to three miles, spend time at viewpoints and another petroglyph panel, and in the beautiful soft light at the day’s end we drive along the park’s scenic road, stopping to enjoy the views and take photography.
- Today’s journey offers expansive views as we drive up and over Boulder Mountain, where the first signs of the colours of fall are starting to emerge. We stop at the small town of Boulder where massive dunes of the Navajo Formation are etched with grooves and patterns – nature’s artwork on a canvas bisected by dramatic canyons.
- At Calf Creek we enjoy a picnic, then hike for a few hours. Avid walkers may reach the waterfalls at the end, while naturalists will enjoy finding songbirds in the willows, framing scenic photos, and possibly seeing the fledged young of the canyon’s nesting peregrines. After our walk, we continue to Bryce, arriving in time to watch sunset over a panorama of rock features that have no equal. Bryce’s rock formations contain every colour of the rainbow and are utterly different in character to either the Grand Canyon or Zion. As this national park is higher in elevation, we can explore a variety of forests with a mixture of birds and mammals.
- Accommodation: Bryce National Park, 2-nights on full board basis.
- Bryce Canyon National Park, established in 1905 by Theodore Roosevelt, is often our groups’ favourite of all the region’s parks, as it is small, intimate, and presents a real playground of light. Multi-hued rocks and thousands of colourful spires rise and join together in a panorama like no other.
- You may opt to start the day with a short walk to see the beauty of sunrise from the canyon rim. After breakfast, enjoy a great hike that follows a loop down through Bryce’s fanciful features. Experience first-hand the myriad, wonderful creations in siltstone, sandstone, limestone, and dolomite. We return in time for lunch, then take a scenic drive along the rim for varied views of this wonderland of rock.
- This morning we depart Bryce National Park heading west through colourful Red Canyon and along the Sevier River. Our drive today takes us from an altitude of 8,000 feet down to 4,000 feet, passing through the historic small Mormon communities of Hatch, Long Valley and Orderville. We go to Kanab for lunch in a restaurant, then drive to meet our Navajo guides for an afternoon visit to Antelope Canyon. This narrow slot canyon, rich in texture and colour has become a favourite place of landscape photographers. With or without cameras it is a fabulous place to visit. Finally reach our accommodation on the edge of Lake Powell in time for dinner
- Accommodation: Lake Powell, 1-night on full board basis.
- We embark on a scenic five-hour boat trip to Forbidding Canyon and Rainbow Bridge, which includes a walk to the bridge and time to explore this extraordinary place. The Navajos called this sacred site the “rainbow of stone”, and it truly is one of the wonders of the natural world.
- We return to Page for lunch, and then continue to one of the key destinations for our tour -- the Grand Canyon, a treasured World Heritage Site. Entering the park, we stop at several viewpoints, including Desert View, where you can see the canyon in all its splendour. We arrive at our accommodation in the late afternoon – a perfect time to watch for California condors as they come in to roost. We walk along the rim while watching for them, on a trail with displays that portray a geological timeline of the canyon’s billion-plus years of natural history.
- Accommodation: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), 2-nights on full board basis.
- We have the full day to explore various viewpoints and vistas of the Grand Canyon. Among the birds we may find are Townsend’s solitaire, juniper titmouse, western bluebird and mountain chickadee. The canyon is a realm of rock, and the main attraction here is the play of light and rock and sky. Throughout the day the colours of the canyon change. A convenient shuttle-bus system allows us to get around from place to place, giving us plenty of time for photography, to wander and take in this famous World Heritage site.
- We encourage you to get up for sunrise over the canyon, a time when few are out, as the feeling of serenity is personal and abundant. After breakfast, we continue to another of the Southwest’s treasured national parks, Zion, which is quite different in character from the Grand Canyon. Zion National Park is a fantastic realm of steep canyon walls, great domes and towers rising above the Virgin River. We have lunch en route, and arrive in time to explore.
- After settling into our accommodation in the artisan town of Springdale, we the convenient shuttle bus system to see the park, with an opportunity to walk short trails to viewpoints. Local highlights are the Narrows of the Virgin River, the Emerald Pools, and the Weeping Wall. The deep chasm of Zion Canyon displays a palette of reds, oranges, deep salmon, pink, yellow, and cream. Along the trails you may find black-throated grey and yellow-rumped warblers, black-headed grosbeak, a secretive ring-tailed Cat or other local wildlife.
- Accommodation: Springdale, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today we explore the Virgin River corridor which provides easy passage for migrants and a breeding home for colourful species such as the western tanager. In the afternoon, we explore a more remote section of Zion National Park, venturing higher in elevation to lush Ponderosa Pine forests near a small reservoir. The scenery is just stunning and with luck we find higher elevation birds such as Steller’s jay, pygmy nuthatch, raptors and possibly California condor.Tonight we dine together at a great local restaurant in Springdale, celebrating our grand journey through the parks of the American Southwest.
- Today we pack up after an early breakfast for the return to Salt Lake City, arriving in time to check in for the flight back to London.
Day 12 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Most meals
- Guided activities
We stay in rustic lodges in the parks or hotels, or motels, as described in the itinerary, with all rooms en suite.
Most meals are included.
We encounter fascinating residents and migrants on our tour through the mountains and red rock canyons, keeping a special eye out for Californian condors.
- Mountain chickadees
- Western bluebirds
- Stellers jays
- Greater roadrunner
Amongst the stunning scenery and mixed habitats we find a mix of animal life.
- Utah prarie dogs
- Mule deer
- Ring-tailed cat
Our tour takes us through some of the most astounding landscapes in the USA, as we visit renowned red rock canyons and terrain rich in scenic and geological wonders.
Our tour includes a scenic five-hour boat trip on Lake Powell to Forbidding Canyon and Rainbow Bridge.
Opportunities for wildlife and landscape photography are excellent.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Salt Lake City – London.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.