National Parks of the Golden West Tour
Tour Starts: Las Vegas, NV
Tour Ends: Las Vegas, NV
(Friday) – Fly to Las Vegas, NV
Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas! If you have purchased your airline tickets through YMT Vacations, you will be welcomed by a YMT representative and transferred to your hotel as part of your package. (Guests who have made their own air arrangements, need to proceed independently to the hotel). The night is yours to enjoy in this city with plentiful entertainment and lights!
Hotel: Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino*
(Saturday) – Death Valley and Bakersfield, CA
Say goodbye to Las Vegas for now as you start your adventure through the Great National Parks of the Golden West today, beginning with a relaxing trip on your luxurious coach as we travel through the ever-changing desert landscape of Nevada to the farmlands of central California. If temperatures permit, our tour will lead through the Death Valley, the lowest point of elevation in North America. You will be able to see the badlands and stop at Furnace Creek Ranch in the center of the park. If the expected temperature in the Death Valley rises above 115F, we will unfortunately not be able to include this visit for the safety and well being of our guests. In this case an alternate route will be traveled through the Mojave Desert.
Hotel: Best Western Hill House*
(Sunday) – Kings Canyon National Park and Fresno
Enjoy the panoramic vistas as we travel northeast to Kings Canyon National Park. The park is home to the General Grant Grove of giant sequoias depicted in many photographs by Ansel Adams. The landscape of this park and its jointly managed sister park, Sequoia National Park, is a testament to the beauty, size and diversity of nature. See the Giant Sequoia redwood trees, the largest trees in the world – with heights over 300 feet and trunks more than 40 feet wide!
Hotel: Holiday Inn Fresno Downtown*
(Monday) – Yosemite National Park and Reno/Lake Tahoe Region
Today you will visit the crown jewel of California’s National Parks: 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 ascent. In the late afternoon we will continue to the Lake Tahoe region.
Hotel: John Ascuaga’s Nugget*
(Tuesday) – Reno/Lake Tahoe Local Sightseeing
This 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 Lode 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*
(Wednesday) – Wendover, NV
Today our tour takes us east as we will enter Humboldt County. We will stop in Winnemucca, a Cowboy Country town that also has a rich Basque heritage. A high desert hub for pioneers and miners, you can still see wagon wheel ruts near the Humboldt River, and vanishing ghost towns tucked into the hills. Then we travel further east through northern Nevada. Our day ends in Wendover, Utah.
Hotel: Montego Bay Resort*
(Thursday) – Salt Lake City
As we leave Wendover we enter the area that 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 the prehistoric Lake Bonneville dried up. It was vast, filling much of the Great Basin but over time 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 life forms can exist.
The Bonneville Flats in particular became known for the Bonneville Speedway, where many famous land speed records were set and it was most famously depicted in the movie “The World’s fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins. We will have a brief photo stop in the area before moving towards the Great Salt Lake.
The Great Salt Lake, is the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the fourth-largest terminal lake in the world. Because it is so shallow, the lake’s size fluctuates substantially throughout the years, depending on temperatures and rainfall through the seasons. In an average year the lake covers an area of around 1,700 square miles. For instance, in 1963 it reached its lowest recorded level at 950 square miles but in 1988 the surface area was at the historic high of 3,300 square miles. Today the lake is a popular recreational area for Utah residents and tourists alike, offering opportunities for all kinds of water sports and hiking on its shores. 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: Shilo Inn Salt Lake City*
(Friday) – Moab, UT
Surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges we will drive southeast from Salt Lake City. Admire the natural wonders that surround you, as we spend the day on a leisurely drive. Gaze upon the red-rock formations, high desert plains and valleys, and ancient landscapes that were the home to the dinosaurs millions of years ago. We arrive in Moab, our home for the next two nights.
Hotel: Super 8*
(Saturday) – Sightseeing at 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. Tonight you will have the opportunity to join your fellow travelers for an incredible “Canyonlands By Night” boat tour and light show.
Hotel: Super 8*
(Sunday) – Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks
We are leaving Moab for another spectacular day surrounded by colorful rock formations. En route to Bryce Canyon, we will stop in Capitol Reef National Park. The area was named for a line of white domes and cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, each of which looks somewhat like the United States Capitol building, hence the name Capitol Reef. We will stop at the visitor center and view Petroglyphs before venturing through the Fruita area, where remnants of orchards still exist that were planted by early settlers. Then we head further south through the Dixie National Forest on to Bryce Canyon, with its spectacularly beautiful red rock sandstone formations. We will stay just outside the park for the night.
Hotel: Best Western Ruby’s Inn*
(Monday) – Grand Canyon National Park
Today you are in for a visit to the grandest of all Parks in the West: The Grand Canyon! Our route takes us via the US 89 through Page and offers us views of the Glen Canyon Dam before we enter the Kaibab National Forest and finally see the spectacular Grand Canyon. You will stop at some viewpoints driving into the park before ending the day by the South Rim, where we will overnight in a National Park Lodge. The night and the sunset is yours to enjoy! There are ample of dining opportunities inside the park and a convenient shuttle bus takes you to them. Perhaps visit the famous El Tovar where several presidents have dined and rustic elegance awaits. This overnight location will afford early risers to witness the sunrise over the rim in the morning. A once in a lifetime experience that should not be missed!
Hotel: Yavapai Lodge West*
(Tuesday) – Las Vegas, NV
(Wednesday) – Day Excursion to Zion National Park
(Thursday) – Depart For Home
It is time to bid farewell to newfound friends and fellow travelers and to return home. If you have made your flight arrangements with YMT Vacations, you will be transferred to the Las Vegas Mc Carran Airport as part of your package inclusions. Guests, who have booked their flights independently will have to make their own way to the airport.
Note: Some of the sightseeing and visits included in this tour require walking and some periods of standing. Steps, stairs and uneven ground will also be encountered occasionally. This should not pose a challenge to most guests, but please consider this when booking this tour.
*or similar accommodations