Canyons of the American Southwest
An Expertly Guided Journey into the Hidden Corners of Grand, Bryce and Zion Canyons
The landscape of the American Southwest has long captivated artists, writers and photographers who have sought to arrest its drama in image or word. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon’s 5,000-foot precipice, searching the depths below for a glimpse of the Colorado River’s
silver ribbon, you’ll soon realize that no work of art can compare. Remarkably diverse but no less moving are the marvels of neighboring Bryce and Zion. We explore all three on this classic Western adventure, enjoying stays in historic park lodges en route. And we travel in the quieter seasons of spring and fall, when visitors are fewer and the light is pure magic.
See the Corners, Colors and Characters that Casual Visitors Can’t!
While most people are familiar with the sweeping panoramas and fantastic formations of three of America’s most spectacular Southwest canyons—Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon—very few get to see the best of these iconic national treasures. Relegated to large bus tours and heavily traveled trails, most visitors miss the authentic “Nat Hab side” of the Southwest's magnificent monuments. Our small groups see secret places not revealed by the impersonal big-tour approach—and
you’ll experience far more with us than going it on your own. Here’s how we provide a far more meaningful experience:
- We Take the Hassle Out & Leave the Wonder In!
Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon are some of America’s most popular national parks. Most travelers have to book months out to get desirable accommodations, and often end up navigating the sights with hundreds, even thousands, of other visitors, trying to consult brochures, maps and guidebooks in an effort to catch the “highlights.” When you travel with us, we take care of it all—you’re assured of wonderful places to stay, outstanding intrepretation you’d never get on your own, and the hidden side of the parks only our “insider” perspective reveals.
- A Small Group Means More Intimate Nature Encounters
Our trip is limited to approximately 12 travelers who are accompanied by two NHA Expedition Leaders. This allows us to break into even smaller groups, traveling in small vehicles with access to roads and places that large motorcoaches simply can’t get to. And since wildlife is more comfortable with fewer people around, we are more likely to enjoy encounters with some of the creatures that call these rugged environs home.
- Stay on the Grand Canyon’s Quiet North Rim
Most visitors to the Grand Canyon concentrate on the South Rim, which is far more touristed, crowded and heavily paved than its counterpart across the chasm. More remote and less accessible, the North Rim still offers an experience of the Grand Canyon as it was decades ago, when the predominant sounds were of wind in the pines, and you could wander trails on the rim in relative solitude.
- Take Part in Both Classic and One-of-a-Kind Park Activities
You’ll get to participate in some highly popular activities such as riding a mule into the depths of the Grand Canyon or walking The Narrows in Zion. But we also add more unusual stops and sights, which often end up being the true highlights of the trip for many guests. Our Expedition Leaders, who are intimately familiar with this region, introduce you to the crannies, cultures and local “characters” that will bring these stony scenes and spires to life in a way you never could have imagined.
- Enjoy Personal Interactions with Colorful Local Residents
While the geology of the Southwest is perhaps the greatest draw of canyon country, its human history is also fascinating. From ancient Native Americans to Mormon pioneers, from cowboys to river runners, explorers and settlers of the canyons have inspired their fellow humans for eons. We make sure you meet some of the local people who have a history here— and a few stories to tell.
- We Take Advantage of the Best Light
Bright overhead sunlight is a dominant midday feature in the desert Southwest. But it doesn’t make for the best views of canyon country, let alone photos. That’s why we facilitate your opportunity to witness these wonders in the stunning light that sets them off best. Unlike bus tours that have to accommodate 40 or 50 people, we have the flexibility to move when the light is best. Some days we’ll rise early to see the first rays of sunlight reflected off of the rock formations, bathing them in a vermilion glow. As the sun climbs, natural bridges, cliffs, even waterfalls showcase an astounding palette of colors. Or we may linger over a radiant sunset, to quietly take in the grandeur of these astounding landscapes as the color gleam, deepen and begins to fade.
- Our Accommodations Are Peaceful and Proximate to the Parks
We select atmospheric inns and lodges for their ambience and outstanding locations. Flanigan’s Inn, located just outside the south entrance to Zion National Park, is the perfect spot for rejuvenating after an exhilarating day of exploring. We also stay at two classic properties inside the parks—Bryce Canyon Lodge and Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim—at a time of year when they are much mellower than the height of summer. A chance to enjoy stays at these elegant, rustic inns that are part of national park history adds a great deal to your Southwest canyons experience.
- Small Custom Tour Vehicles with Plenty of Room
While our group size is limited to roughly 12 travelers, you’ll ride with an even smaller group in our vehicles: we split the group into two vans with approximately six passengers each. Our vehicles have large side windows, and everyone gets a window seat. There’s plenty of room to spread out and access your gear.
- With Decades of Experience, Your Guide Knows Every Trail
With an average of 20 years’ experience in this area, our expert naturalist guides know where the best “paths less traveled” are located, for wildlife watching and breathtaking landscape views. They know how to completely avoid the swarms of tourists that off-load from big motor coaches—and how to inform you about every aspect of the region’s wildlife, geology, natural history and native cultures without ever making it seem like they’re “lecturing.” With lots of special stops and surprises up their sleeves, our Expedition Leaders share a side of the canyons with you that most visitors never get to see. See Expedition Leader bios with traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
- Travel During the Quieter Seasons of Spring and Fall
Our canyons trips are timed not just to avoid the crowds of summer, but to take advantage of those times of year when the seasons paint the landscapes with their most beautiful colors. Spring and fall also offer the best light and backdrops for stunning photographs.
- Our Quality Guarantee Ensures an Exceptional Canyons Experience
With Natural Habitat Adventures, you receive our exclusive guarantee that clearly states that we will meet the high expectations we set forth in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
- Feel Good About the Way You Travel
We all care about the planet, and you can travel with us knowing that the emissions from your trip are 100 percent carbon-offset. Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, a feature that is especially critical when considering that polar bears are under substantial threat from our planet’s warming temperatures.
- Natural Habitat Adventures Is World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Partner
Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our small-group nature adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world’s leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat its worldwide travel partner — a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!
Longitude Books has created a custom comprehensive listing of Canyons National Park adventure travel books
for this trip.