Nothing epitomises the great American outdoors more than its National Parks. Each one represents a unique landscape of incredible diverse natural beauty, ideal for hiking, biking, riding, rafting and camping. No trip to the western states of the US would be complete without visiting at least one of these magnificent areas with so many options. Take a look at our quick National Park guide:
Rocky Mountain, Colorado justifiably tagged the 'roof of the world' is just an hour and half drive from Denver. A must is the drive along the Trail Ridge Road one of the highest roads in America offering spectacular views of the alpine scenery, home to moose, bighorn sheep and elk.
Yellowstone, Wyoming is the world's first national park renowned for its 10,000 plus thermal features including mud pots, hot springs, fumaroles and of course geysers. Iconic Old Faithful is the most famous landmark but for us the magnificent V-shaped canyon holding Yellowstone Lake with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains is singularly majestic.
Death Valley National Park, the largest park outside of Alaska and known as one of the hottest and driest parts of America. Millions of acres encompass mountain size sand-dunes, salt flats, singing rocks and colourful sandstone canyons which can be explored on the scenic Artists Drive.
Arches, Zion and Bryce National Parks, Utah offering some of the world's most spectacular national parks. Nowhere will you find a greater array of natural canyons with sandstone arches, rock walls and hanging valleys caused by erosion from the Colorado and Green Rivers leaving in their wake a stunning desert landscape.
Sedona National Park, Arizona is a landscape built for adventure. Angular formations, high mesas and rocky cliffs define the multi-terraces skyline. Forests are carved by a network of trails and ringed by feisty streams perfect for hiking and mountain biking.
Grand Canyon, Arizona arguably the world's most famous national park. Grand Canyon Gorge measures up to a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide and presents a vast panorama as you stand on its edge, peering down into the mighty Colorado River as its carves its way through the rocks below. Most visitors stay on the South Rim but we highly recommend the hiking the flat paved Rim Trail or the more challenging classic 9 mile Bright Angel Trail. Alternatively hop-on board a boat and admire the canyon from bottom up where camping overnight under the starlight sky will be an experience you never forget.
‘At-a-Glance’ Illustrative Itinerary
DAY 1: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas! From its roots as a Western cowboy town, Las Vegas has transformed itself into one of the most exciting cities of the world where the entertainment never stops. Explore ‘The Strip’ and experience star–studded nightlife where there are no time limits, watch magical production shows such as one of the awesome Cirque du Soleil shows and gaze in amazement at all around you.
DAY 2: Day at leisure in Las Vegas. Each mega-resort is alive from morning until night and all parade extravagant exteriors asking to be explored inside. When you want a break from the 'Strip' have a look in the downtown area where you will find Fremont Street and the low-roller casinos, American restaurants, free entertainment and eclectic museums.
DAY 3: In less than 3 hours you can leave the crazy vibes of the Strip behind, drive through the lower parts of Death Valley for he colourful landscapes of Zion National Park.
The scenery at Zion’s is unique and so awe-inspiring that you will want to take photos of the pink and creamy sandstone cliffs range from towering monoliths to narrow canyons. On arrival you will park your car and take the free shuttle to the entrance during which time popular trails and vista points will be shared with you. Take a hike through the narrow and dramatic canyons and be 'wowed' at the beauty deposited over 200 million years!
DAY 4: You have the option to either overnight at Zion National Park or continue your journey on day 3 (1hr30mins) so that you wake up to the palette of natures most brilliant colours in Bryce Canyon.
We would highly recommend enjoying the full day here. Start by taking a hike to the one of the four main viewpoints which are all found within easy distance of the park entrance. Hiking trails explore the forests of the plateau connecting the rim and giving you closer look at the eroded spires of rock called 'hoodoos'. The most magical time is when the skies darken and thousands of stars appear high above the Earth's surface, Enjoy a sparkling moonlit guided hike or go stargazing with an expert and telescope.
DAY 5 - 6: Nothing compares to the Grand Canyon in Arizona for its immense size, the unique combinations of erosion forms, geological colours and the thundering Colorado River running over a mile below the rim, and it makes for a perfect finale to your time in red rock country.
Understandably the canyon is a hugely popular destination and rim accommodation is always sold out months in advance, so early planning is essential. There is so much to do! Spend the night near the south rim of the Canyon, where the broadest range of excursions depart from. A visit to the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West is worth while for those with a head for heights! The north rim is majestic, quieter and ideal for self-guiding trails whilst Grand Canyon East is lesser known despite the famous Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, a small canyon within the grand one, a photographers paradise accessed by boat.
DAY 7: On your final day you will return to the bright lights of Las Vegas, for some last minute shopping or theatrical performance. Celebrate your last night with walk down the strip and dinner in one of the many top–rated restaurants.
DAY 8 : Transfer to the airport for your next flight, whether this be within the US or returning home.