Discover the highlights of Utah and southwestern Colorado's National Parks and Monuments on this eight-day itinerary. Perfectly combining natural landscapes with cultural histories, you will hike and drive from Mesa Verde to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon, ending in Zion National Park.
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The US experiences all four Northern Hemisphere seasons, but the country's geographical range means you can find sunshine at any time of year. In the dead of winter, you can find beachgoers sunning themselves in San Diego, snowboarders zig-zagging down the slopes of world-class resorts, and hikers enjoying local trails all the way down to the Mexican border.
Summer months (June-August) are ideal in nearly every corner of the country, especially in areas where snow tends to last well into spring, like the Rocky Mountains, the Northeast, and states along the Canadian border. An exception can be made for the low-lying deserts of the West and Southwest—areas like California's Death Valley and Joshua Tree are brutally hot outside of winter and spring. Spring and fall can be stunningly beautiful in mountain regions throughout the country, with wildflowers and fall foliage in abundance, though weather can be less predictable and regionally specific.
Where should you go?
It's said that the US national parks system is "America's best idea," and you wouldn't be wrong to base your itinerary on that assumption. Yellowstone National Park is globally known for its natural wonders: waterfalls, geysers, and hot springs abound, and wildlife like bison, grizzly bears, and elk roam throughout. See the otherworldly rock formations of Arches National Park in Utah, visit the world's tallest trees in Redwoods National Park in California—the list goes on and on.
How many days do you need?
You'll want to spend at least a week in the US to do it justice—and with 7 days, you'll still want to focus on one region. Stick to California, for instance, and take a coastal drive up world-famous Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with stops in charming Santa Barbara and dramatic Big Sur. Or, spend your whole week exploring Yosemite's trails, waterfalls, and vistas. Add another week and combine two regions: add a train trip through Colorado to a Yellowstone excursion, or cycle through Utah before making stops in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
Start in Rocky Mountain National Park to see alpine lakes and towering peaks, then continue to Colorado National Monument to see red rock canyons and the ancestral land of the Ute people. Stop in Gunnison National Park to see the 2,000 ft deep sheer walls of the Black Canyon, then head to Great Sand Dunes National Park to climb 700+ ft tall sand dunes.
Explore the diverse sights of Death Valley National Park in the company of an expert guide with this active and educational week in the desert. In addition to visiting the park's canyons and viewpoints, you’ll learn about the area's geology and remarkably hardy flora and fauna. After each day’s exploration, take advantage of Death Valley's designation as an "International Dark Sky Park" with some of the world's best conditions for stargazing.
Enjoy two of the many sides of Alaska on this eight-day wilderness itinerary. You will explore the forests, rivers, and snow-capped mountains of Denali National Park and the fjords of Kenai Peninsula. Spot wildlife, kayak amid ancient glaciers, and trek into the heart of the Denali wilds.
Nature lovers will enjoy this wintery seven-day itinerary exploring Yellowstone's National Park. Start in Bozeman, Montana and work your way through Yellowstone, stopping to explore its natural wonders and wildlife. You will hike, snowshoe, relax in hot springs, and marvel at nature's snow-covered allure.
Hike and bike your way through southern Utah's national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Snow Canyon. You'll cycle through barren landscapes, past unique multi-hued rock formations, switching gears to experience the scenery up close by foot.
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