Embark on a breathtaking adventure through the mesmerizing landscapes of the United States on this immersive national parks tour. From towering mountains and cascading waterfalls to pristine lakes and diverse wildlife, this journey showcases the unparalleled natural beauty of the region.
The National Parks of the USA offer some of the most spectacular scenery you will encounter anywhere in the world – magnificent snow-capped mountain peaks, lush green valleys far below, deep and wide canyons carved out millions of years ago, rugged and dramatic landscapes – not forgetting the variety of wildlife and flora that inhabit the region. Majestic, awe-inspiring, supernatural, unforgettable – some of the words that best describe the vistas that await you.
Tour Highlights Include:
- Mt Rushmore
- Grand Tetons National Park with 9 peaks over 12,000ft high
- Jackson Wyoming, where the gunslingers “shootout” every evening in the town square
- Yellowstone National Park, a pristine wilderness and wildlife refuge
- Salt Lake City Utah, located on the salt plains and headquarters for the Mormon Church
- Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border with spectacular desert scenery as a backdrop
- Bryce & Zion Canyons, dramatic pinnacles and spires
- Grand Canyon, one of the wonders of the world
Saturday 14 September Auckland – Chicago (D)
We assemble at Auckland International Airport early this evening and join the direct flight to Chicago. Cross the International Dateline en route arriving into Chicago early afternoon of the same day. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 2 night stay. The remainder of the day is free to rest up and relax after the flight. Let’s enjoy dinner together at the hotel tonight.
Sunday 15 September Chicago (B)
After breakfast we enjoy a half day sightseeing tour of Chicago – an amazing city and one of only three US cities to welcome more than 50 million visitors annually. Iconic architecture, world-class cuisine and culture and recreation and relaxation along the 26 miles of lakefront – Chicago has it all. This afternoon we embark on a Chicago architecture cruise, before we visit Chicago 360, on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building.
Monday 16 September Chicago – Rapid City (B,D)
Today we have a leisurely start before heading back to the airport and flying to Rapid City. Our afternoon is free before we get together for dinner tonight at Paddy O’Neills the Irish Pub.
Tuesday 17 September Rapid City (B)
Badlands National Park in southwest South Dakota preserves 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest protected mixed grass prairie in America. The unique beauty of the Badlands landscape is like no other with its astounding beauty and the opportunity to peek into an ancient world. And no trip to the Badlands would be complete without a stop at the famous Wall Drug. An establishment which became known for offering free ice water to thirsty travelers in the 1930s is today one of the top roadside attractions in the country.
Wednesday 18 September Rapid City – Mt Rushmore – Deadwood (B)
After breakfast a true American wonder awaits as we visit Mount Rushmore to view the faces of former American presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln etched into the granite rock-face. Venture into the Black Hills of South Dakota as we head to the base of Crazy Horse Memorial. Admire the colossal carved face of the famed Lakota war chief and learn about preserving Native American Culture. We continue on and visit Little Bighorn, the battlefield where the ill-fated Custer led his men against a battalion of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.
Thursday 19 September Deadwood – Cody (B)
Leaving Deadwood today we visit Devils Tower. The Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills. It is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest crack climbing areas in North America. Devils Tower entices us to learn more, explore more and define our place in the natural and cultural world.
Friday 20 September Cody – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (B,D)
Cody is the hometown of “Buffalo Bill”. This morning we visit the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West Museum complex to gain a deeper understanding of the “Spirit of the American West. Later we cross the border into wild and rugged Wyoming for another tour highlight, a 2-night stay in Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park and a treasure-trove of wildlife, flora and spectacular scenery which draws visitors from all around the world.
Saturday 21 September Yellowstone National Park (B)
We spend the full day in Yellowstone, home to thousands of active thermal features including renowned “Old Faithful” geyser, spectacular falls, almost twice as high as Niagara Falls, pristine mountain range wilderness, an open refuge for wildlife including grizzly bear, elk, American Buffalo, moose, and wolves. It is a spectacular place.
Sunday 22 September Yellowstone – Jackson (B. D)
Leaving Yellowstone, we continue south through Wyoming with the towering peaks of the Grand Tetons watching over us. Our overnight stay is in the western town of Jackson, – look for the longest running “shoot-out” which happens most evenings in the town square; take a stroll downtown and look for swing-door saloons and boardwalks.
Monday 23 September Jackson (B)
Something different this morning, The Snake River Float Trip! This gentle 10-mile float trip runs entirely within Grand Teton National Park and covers the most scenic stretch of the Snake River in the Jackson Hole Valley. The Snake River is a lifeline to the park’s bison, elk, moose, beaver, pronghorn, deer, bear and 300 different species of birds, including osprey and eagles. Our experienced guide offers in-depth information on the geology of the Grand Tetons and the habitats of the animals you may see. Here we will have the best chance of spotting wildlife on the Snake River.
Tuesday 24 September Jackson – Salt Lake City (B.D)
Today’s journey travels alongside some of Wyoming’s most beautiful mountain ranges before crossing the border into Utah where we arrive in Salt Lake City for a 2 night stay. The city was founded by a group of Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young in 1847 and is spectacularly set at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains.
Wednesday 25 September Salt Lake City (B)
This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city which is the headquarters of the Mormon Church. See the beautiful residential areas, historic monuments including Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle, the Governors Mansion and the State Capitol. Later we drive up to Park City, nestled in the heart of the breathtaking Wasatch Mountains, Park City offers year-round recreation, stunning scenery, and a vibrant cultural scene. Find a place to sit and have lunch (own account) or just wander the streets and enjoy the views.
Thursday 26 September Salt Lake City – Bryce Canyon (B,D)
We continue our journey exploring Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s like entering another world filled with pink, orange and red sandstone spires of a great amphitheatre, a fantastic landscape of fairytale castles and cathedrals all carved by mother nature. Zion reveals a spectacular cliff-and-canyon landscape and wilderness where towering cliffs and massive canyon walls will take your breath away. Our overnight stay is at Bryce Canyon City, and dinner at Cowboys Buffet.
Friday 27 September Bryce Canyon – Page, Lake Powell (B,D)
Our day starts very early today for something very special – we will watch the sunrise from Sunrise Viewpoint in Bryce Canyon National Park. Nothing beats seeing the sunrise while throwing otherworldly pink and orange light off the hoodoos. We return to the hotel for breakfast before continuing our journey south through Utah with the painted desert as a backdrop to the Glen Canyon Dam spanning the Colorado River and backing up its waters to form magnificent Lake Powell. Its meandering shoreline dividing Utah and Colorado boasts incredibly deep blue waters filling thousands of tiny coves. Our overnight stay is in the Arizona city of Page located atop a mesa with dramatic views over the lake. This evening, we enjoy the unforgettable sunset dinner cruise.
Saturday 28 September Page, Lake Powell – Monument Valley (B)
A special day filled with fun and education. We head into Monument Valley for a guided Jeep Tour with a native Navajo guide.
Sunday 29 September Lake Powell – Grand Canyon (B,D)
Today we cross the ‘Painted Desert’ with its ever-changing colour and home to the Navajo Indians. We arrive at the world famous Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, 277 miles long, 10 miles wide. We enter the park and drive along the scenic drive with a stop at the lookout for spectacular views. Our overnight accommodation is located just a half mile from the rim of the canyon – witness the sunset as the canyon walls are painted in warm yellows, golds and reds.
Monday 30 September Grand Canyon – Scottsdale (B.D)
Leaving the Canyon today we continue our way south, travelling through Sedona, surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. We take time to visit Montezuma Castle, the third National Monument dedicated to preserving Native American culture. This 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a story of ingenuity, survival and ultimately, prosperity in an unforgiving desert landscape. We enjoy our final dinner together tonight at Frashers (private dining room).
Tuesday 01 October Scottsdale – Auckland (B)
The day is free until our late afternoon transfer to the airport where we join the short flight to LA before our overnight flight to Auckland, crossing the International Dateline en route.
Thursday 03 October Auckland
We arrive into Auckland early this morning.
Images Courtesy of Maher Tours
Maher – 2023