Southwestern Tour & Balloon Fiesta (Regular Pattern)
Tour Starts: Phoenix, AZ
Tour Ends: Phoenix, AZ
(Tuesday) – Arrive Phoenix, AZ:
(Wednesday) – Sedona and Flagstaff:
(Thursday) – Grand Canyon National Park:
(Friday) – Petrified Forest, Painted Desert & Gallup to Albuquerque:
(Saturday) - Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta & Local Sightseeing:
Day 6 - 7
(Sunday - Monday) – Los Alamos and Santa Fe:
We will depart Albuquerque in the morning and make our way leisurely to Santa Fe. We will traverse the Santa Fe National Forest and continue to Bandelier National Monument. Bandelier protects Ancestral Pueblo archeological sites within a wild and beautiful landscape and connects the modern Pueblo people to their past in a monument covering 33,000+ acres and over 70 miles of trail. We continue north to the foothills of the Jemez Mountains, and Los Alamos, a small town and site of the famous Manhattan Project for a brief stop, before we enter Santa Fe. On Day 7 enjoy a leisurely morning in Santa Fe, by doing some sightseeing on your own: Visit the 18th century Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and/or explore Santa Fe Plaza, a National Historic Landmark, with museums, galleries. Don’t miss out on seeing the famous miracle staircase in the Loretto Chapel! Examine the silver and turquoise wares of the Native American artisans who sell their handicrafts along the open-air square.
Hotel: Doubletree Hotel Santa Fe*
Day 8 - 9
(Tuesday - Wednesday) – Roswell & Carlsbad Caverns:
Today we travel along the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway, then through the wide-open spaces and big skies to southwestern New Mexico. We arrive in Roswell and visit the Roswell Museum and Art Center. Established during the depression to support public art, today the museum houses historical artifacts and a fine art collection, including works by New Mexico artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Later, as a nod to Roswell’s pop culture fame, best known for the alleged Roswell UFO sightings, we will pay a short visit to the International UFO Museum Research Center, with its eclectic collection of space objects and dioramas depicting the story of the purported 1947 UFO crash just outside town. On Day 9 drive south through the Chihuahuan Desert, filled with prickly pears, chollas and agaves to visit incredible Carlsbad Caverns National Park, with 100 of the largest caves in the world. These limestone caverns were formed 250 million years ago - the stalagmite and stalactites that abound in this subterranean world are truly a wonder to explore. We will stay around until dusk to see nature’s incredible show of the Carlsbad cavern bats, that leave the cave in thousands at the same time. At night we will return to Roswell once more.
Hotel: Holiday Inn Express*
(Thursday) – Ruidoso and Alamogordo:
This morning the tales of outlaws and Buffalo Soldiers seem to come to life as we travel west along the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway. We stop in Lincoln, with its infamous courthouse jail, and in Capitan to learn about the story of ‘Smokey the Bear.” Next we travel south through Lincoln National Forest to Alamogordo.
Hotel: Best Western Desert Aire*
(Friday) – White Sands National Park & Las Cruces:
Today another highlight of the New Mexico landscape awaits: The unusual and beautiful White Sands National Monument! After an orientation at the Visitors Center, we drive through wave-like dunes of gypsum sand – brilliant snow-white dunes whose color changes with the sun and topography. We will stay in Las Cruces for the night.
Hotel: Drury Inn Las Cruces*
(Saturday) – Tombstone & Tucson:
Continuing east, we will cross into southern Arizona. Travel through ranches and towns that claim a colorful history of Apache raids, outlaws and gunfights, stopping in the most famous of them all – Tombstone! Walk the same historic streets as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday, preserved with their original 1880’s buildings. See the famed OK Corral, the Tombstone Epitaph newspaper office, Crystal Palace and the Boothill Graveyard – the last home to the famous and infamous. We continue through the Sonoran Desert to Tucson.
Hotel: Best Western Inn Suites Tucson*
Day 13 - 14
(Sunday - Monday) – Phoenix:
On Day 13, as we depart Tucson, we will tour this “Sunshine City of the Southwest”. Visit the San Xavier del Bac Mission, “the White Dove of the Desert,” considered one of the finest examples of mission architecture in the USA. Continue through downtown, including the Barrio Historico and the University of Arizona. Then we will depart for the Phoenix area, where you will be able to enjoy some RR for two nights at a beautiful desert resort. En route, we stop to explore the ancient Native American ruins at Casa Grande National Monument, our nation’s first archaeological preserve. On Day 14 a finishing highlight awaits: An optional Sunrise Balloon Flight! Glide in a balloon over the beautifully quiet and just awaking flora and fauna at sunrise, just like you admired it during the Festival in Albuquerque. Here is your chance to experience this amazing way of flying yourself! Otherwise, perhaps partake in an optional visit to Old Town Scottsdale with some opportunities for shopping and browsing the art galleries and a visit to Phoenix’s famed Desert Botanical Garden which showcases the beauty of the desert’s Flora and Fauna. The rest of the evening is at leisure, but you may choose to join your group for a rustic cowboy style farewell dinner (optional).
Hotel: Radisson Fort McDowell*
(Tuesday) – Depart Phoenix for Home:
Depart for home with fond memories of new friends and visions of unsurpassed scenery seen on this unique tour.
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