National Parks of the Golden West Tour
Tour Starts: Las Vegas, NV
Tour Ends: Las Vegas, NV
(Tuesday) - Las Vegas
Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas! The night is yours to enjoy this city of plentiful entertainment. Guests who book their air through YMT will be greeted by a YMT representative and transferred to their hotel.
Hotel: Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino*
(Wednesday) - Grand Canyon
As a befitting start of the tour today the grandest of all parks in the West awaits— the Grand Canyon! Your route takes you via the I-40, crossing the historic Route 66 in Kingman before you see the spectacular Grand Canyon. You will stop at the first viewpoints driving into the park before we end the day by the South Rim, where we will stay for the night inside the park. The night and the sunset is yours to enjoy. There are ample dining opportunities inside the park and a convenient shuttle bus takes you to them. Perhaps visit the famous El Tovar were several presidents have dined and rustic elegance awaits. This overnight location will afford early risers to witness the sunrise by the rim. A once in a lifetime experience that should not be missed!
Hotel: Yavapai Lodge West*
(Thursday) - Page/Lake Powell via Monument Valley
Rise early to see a spectacular sunrise over the canyon. Then head to Monument Valley, boasting natural sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. This sacred valley is a National Park of sorts, however not federally managed, as it is owned and operated by the Navajo Nation. After an opportunity for a guided ground tour here, we will continue to Page/Lake Powell or Kanab for an overnight stay.
Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott Lake Powell*
(Friday) - Bryce Canyon via Zion National Park
This morning head west to Zion National Park. Carved by the Virgin River 225 million years ago, the park boasts steep color-splashed walls, waterfalls, geologic formations, domes, and rock needles that assume the shape of cathedrals, statues, and monuments. The half-mile deep park floor is lush with foliage, as well as mule deer, wild turkeys, gray foxes and the occasional porcupine. After lunch, continue to Bryce Canyon. Despite its name, Bryce is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters. Its distinctive geological structures, called hoodoos, are formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. Standing at the rim, you are offered spectacular views in red, orange and white that will be spellbinding. We overnight just outside the park.
Hotel: Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn*
Day 5 & 6
(Saturday and Sunday) - Arches & Canyonlands
Traveling northeast you will first pass through Capitol Reef National Park, which was named for a line of white domes and cliffs, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building. Then head to Moab, the ideal gateway for a visit to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. For the past 150 million years, the more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches of Arches National Park have been sculpted by the natural erosion of wind, water, sun, and frost — creating an unmistakably unique landscape. You look with wonder at the red rock canyons, balancing rocks and unusual formations including Landscape Arch, Park Avenue Corridor, the Three Gossips, and elegant Delicate Arch. In the afternoon, we explore Canyonlands National Park, an outdoor wonderland of enchanting vistas carved by the Colorado and Green rivers. See spires, arches, canyons and Native American ruins. Learn the history and geology of this mystical region at the park Visitors Center.
Hotel: Fairfield Inn & Suites*
(Monday) - Salt Lake City
A day of leisurely driving through beautiful mountain ranges awaits on your way to Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital and home of the spectacular Temple and Mormon Tabernacle. Upon arrival you continue to the state capitol and tour the city in a panoramic city tour. See Temple Square, the historic Bee Hive House, the State Capitol building and much more.
Hotel: Red Lion downtown*
(Tuesday) - Wendover
As you exit the city westbound you will stop at the Great Salt Lake, the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere though its size can vary dramatically by several thousand square miles year on year based on weather conditions. The entire area of the Great Basin was formerly Lake Bonneville and that is now composed of the Bonneville Flats and the Great Salt Lake which gave Utah’s Capitol its name. The Salt Flats were formed when prehistoric Lake Bonneville dried up. It was vast, filling much of the Great Basin but overtime shrank below its outlet and as a result its water became salty. As water continued to evaporate, salt deposits were left in many areas. Today you see a vast flat land where you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest of life forms can exist. Further west, you will see evidence in Bonneville Salt Flats. Famous as a site for land speed records this barren white area is fascinating especially when considering that it also was once a lake.
Hotel: Montego Bay Resort*
Day 9 & 10
(Wednesday and Thursday) - Lake Tahoe Area
This morning enter Humboldt County. You will stop in Winnemucca, a Cowboy Country town that also has a rich Basque heritage, then continue to Reno. Thursday morning we drive up into the mountains to visit majestic Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in the USA, with 72 miles of pristine shoreline. Explore some of the serene hiking trails, the quaint shops or perhaps try your luck in one of the casinos. In the afternoon we visit historic Virginia City, a town that appeared almost overnight with the discovery of silver at the Comstock Lodge in 1859. Hosting one of the country’s largest historical districts there is much to explore — Stroll along the authentic board sidewalks to visit the 19th century homes, museums and of course the ‘Bucket of Blood Saloon.
Hotel: John Ascuaga’s Nugget*
(Friday) - Yosemite National Park
Entering California, you will spend most of the day visiting what is considered one of the crown jewels in the National Park system: Yosemite. You will be in awe seeing the rock formations and waterfalls! Enjoy the day marveling at the magnificent scenery as you learn about the history of the park. This diverse land, with elevations ranging from 2,000 to over 13,000 feet, abounds with spectacular granite cliffs, giant waterfalls, towering trees, clear running streams and wildlife including mule deer, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, the great gray owl and coyotes. See Yosemite Falls (at 2425 feet, the tallest in North America) and famed Half Dome and other internationally recognized landmarks such as El Capitan where you will likely be able to observe mountain climbers trying their luck in an ascend.
Hotel: Radisson Hotel Fresno downtown*
(Saturday) - Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Enjoy the panoramic vistas as you take the short drive south to explore the jointly managed sister parks of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park. See the ancient giant Sequoia redwood trees, the largest trees in the world — with heights above 300 feet and diameters of more than 20 feet! Overnight in Bakersfield.
Hotel: Hampton Inn Bakersfield*
Day 13 & 14
(Sunday and Monday) - Las Vegas via Death Valley/Depart Home
Heading back to Nevada you will drive through ever changing landscapes from farmlands of central California to desert landscapes of Nevada. If the temperature permits, your tour will head through Death Valley, the lowest point of elevation in North America and home to fantastic rock formations, a befitting end to the truly great collection of National Parks visited on this tour. On Monday it is time to bid farewell to newfound friends and depart for home.
*or similar accommodations