Canyons South Rim Itinerary
Our canyonlands adventure begins in the red rock country of St. George, Utah. This evening we meet for an informal welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Our Expedition Leader offers a brief orientation to the history, wildlife and ecology of the Colorado Plateau, which we'll explore in depth in the days to come.
Days 2 & 3: Bryce Canyon National Park—Scenic Helicopter Flight
Bryce Canyon’s magical landscape offers a portal to another world. Its pink pinnacles, limestone formations and natural amphitheaters capture the imagination with geological surprises. Red rock walls create deep channels while whimsical hoodoos—rock spires carved eons ago by erosion—rise hundreds of feet into the sky. With endless opportunities for photography, capture a stunning array of colors as the light reflects off the canyon’s stone shapes, natural bridges and sheer cliffs. Rising early to watch the sunrise or linger over a radiant sunset, experiencing the ever-changing grandeur of this astounding landscape. A special highlight is a 30-minute helicopter flightseeing excursion, offering a rare aerial perspective on the forest of pink sandstone hoodoos.
Days 4 & 5: Zion National Park
Early Mormon pioneers gave Zion its name—so striking was its beauty that it evoked images of the biblical Promised Land. The U.S. government agreed and made it a national park. Multi-hued sandstone monoliths rise above the valley floor where the Virgin River flows among the cottonwoods, carving a deep canyon over millennia. Trails along the river and rock walls lead to quiet recesses, where we may hear and see many birds unique to the American West. Listen for the haunting cry of canyon wrens, look to the skies overhead for golden eagles and prairie falcons, and find American dippers and phoebes in the willows along the riverbanks. Hike to thundering waterfalls, witnessing the tremendous power of water to sculpt this landscape.
Day 6: Vermillion Cliffs / Navajo Bridge / Grand Canyon National Park—South Rim
Departing Zion this morning, a scenic drive along a lesser-known route takes us east along Vermillion Cliffs National Monument to the historic Navajo Bridge spanning the Colorado River between Utah and Arizona, visible in Marble Canyon 470 feet below. The original bridge opened in 1929 to replace the water crossing over the river at Lees Ferry, at that time the highest steel arch bridge in the world. That bridge was replaced in 1995 by a wider, stronger span built alongside it, and the earlier structure has been preserved for pedestrians. We walk its length, offering spectacular vantage points for photos and perhaps a view of condors soaring overhead. Continuing south, traverse the western edge of the Navajo Nation. We stop at the historic Cameron Trading Post, purveying Native American arts and crafts since 1916. Admire the work of weavers, potters, silversmiths and more, with a chance to purchase authentic and antique pieces, should you wish.
This afternoon we reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Our lodge is located directly on the rim in the historic village area, and trails into the canyon’s shadowy depths are just steps away. No western adventurer should miss gazing into its mile-deep chasm in the ethereal light of sunset, and our Expedition Leader knows where to admire the view away from the heaviest crowds.
Day 7: Exploring the Grand Canyon's South Rim
Rising early to catch the best light, we spend a full day discovering the wonders of the Grand Canyon, absorbing the drama of one of Earth’s most spectacular natural landscapes. Our Expedition Leader knows the best trails and viewpoints for a more secluded encounter with this extraordinary geological phenomenon that has evolved over millennia. The canyon is also steeped in colorful human history, and you’ll be regaled by tales of those who have lived in harmony with this landscape and challenged its heights and depths as well. We’ll enjoy a special farewell dinner in the famous El Tovar Dining Room, the centerpiece of the grand hotel that opened its doors on the South Rim in 1905, courting visitors arriving via the Santa Fe Railway.
Day 8: Flagstaff / Depart
Our canyon country adventure concludes today with a drive to Flagstaff, Arizona, the southern gateway to the Grand Canyon. A transfer to the airport is included to meet departing flights this afternoon. If your schedule permits, you may wish to explore a bit of this walkable city on your own. Surrounded by pine forests at 7,000 feet in the northern Arizona high country, Flagstaff’s historic downtown is a lively mix of cafes, pubs, locavore dining, art galleries and funky boutiques.
Please note: This itinerary is subject to change, as departures may visit Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in a different order from what is outlined above. Your precise itinerary will be communicated to you once your trip dates are confirmed.