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Grand American Family Adventure in Utah

A 2 week self-drive family holiday in Utah rafting, hiking and exploring some of the most amazing scenery on earth!

Tailor-made Classic 15 days

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Itinerary

Overview

  • Independent exploration of Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks
  • Guided Slot Canyoneering Day
  • Guided Hike in Arches National Park
  • Two day white water rafting trip on the Colorado River
This 2 week holiday begins in Las Vegas, the only place on earth where you can see the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty and a giant pink flamingo in one street. After recovering from your flight and the jet lag, you will leave the city behind you and head into the state of Utah. When the pioneers arrived in the 1850’s there were no roads through the state and many of the canyons were inaccessible, known only to the Native Americans who had lived there for centuries. It is now a popular tourist destination, for both domestic and international tourists. Many people explore predominantly by car, driving through the parks and taking photos from the scenic stops. In the first two stops of your trip, Zion & Bryce Canyons, we suggest that you explore independently. The walking trails are well marked and easily navigable. Zion offers soaring turkey vultures and deep canyon walls, Bryce is one of our favourites, with its unique rock formations and beautiful views.

Higher up in the mountains, on one of the world’s most beautiful drives, the tiny settlement of Boulder offers solitude and a break from the crowds. More hiking opportunities are to be found here, as well as the chance to spend the day rappelling through the region’s slot canyons. From here, you cross Capitol Reef National Park before arriving in Moab for the highlight of your holiday; a two day white water rafting trip along the Colorado River. Navigating rapids and floating through canyons, the worries of everyday life fall away as you relax in to river time.
From here you will start your journey to Denver airport but not before spending your last night en route in Glenwood Springs. Named as "Americas most fun town" there is plenty to see here including the famous natural hot springs pool, Hanging lake and Caverns adventure park.

Day-by-day

Itinerary in Brief


DAY 1: Arrive Las Vegas
DAY 2: Las Vegas
DAY 3 - 4: Zion National Park
DAY 5 - 6: Bryce Canyon National Park
DAY 7: Escalante - Guided Slot Canyoneering
DAY 8: Boulder
DAY 9: Drive to Moab
DAY 10: Moab - Fiery Furnace Guided Hike
DAY 11 - 12: Rafting on the Colorado River
DAY 13: Moab
DAY 14: Drive to Glenwood Springs
DAY 15: Fly Home

Extended Itinerary


DAY 1: ARRIVE LAS VEGAS
After arriving in Las Vegas, you will pick up your hire car and drive to your hotel where we suggest you take it easy and recover from your flight.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Platinum
Driving Time (where relevant): 15 minutes

DAY 2: LAS VEGAS
Las Vegas is full of sights and given the right attitude, is a fun place to explore. Children are allowed to walk through casinos, but are not permitted to gamble, or stop and watch gambling. Activities families may enjoy include visiting a water park, watching the circus acts at Circus Circus and visiting the Adventure Dome theme park.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Platinum
Driving Time (where relevant): n/a

DAY 3: ZION NATIONAL PARK
This morning you may as well take advantage of the early mornings that the jet lag is giving you and get an early start. Your destination is Springdale, the gateway village for Zion National Park. You may want to head into the park in the afternoon for a hike, there are plenty to choose from, or you could choose a more relaxing float trip down the river, watching the turkey vultures soaring high above you as you meander down-stream.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Majestic View
Driving Time (where relevant): 2 1/2 hours

DAY 4: ZION NATIONAL PARK
Today is spent exploring Zion, we suggest going for one of the many self-guided hikes on offer. The visitor centre has plenty of information about the various walks on offer. Cars are not permitted on most of the roads within the park, so you will need to catch a shuttle bus which will drop you off at the various trailheads. Popular choices include the Angels Landing Hike (not recommended for younger children) Emerald Pools or the Narrows hike, which is up a river. (You can hire water-proof shoes for this or wear sturdy water-proof sandals) In the height of summer, these are popular walks and it will be hot, so we recommend an early start and taking plenty of water and food with you.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Majestic View
Driving Time (where relevant): n/a

DAY 5: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
After a leisurely morning you will check out of your hotel to drive to Bryce. The scenic drive takes you through Zion, passing through some stunning landscapes; there will be plenty of opportunities for photo stops along the way.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: BW Bryce Canyon Grand
Driving Time (where relevant): 2 hours

DAY 6: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Today is free to explore Bryce Canyon. The stunning colours and unique ‘hoodoo’ rock formations are truly impressive. As ever with the popular national parks, an early start is highly recommended to beat the crowds. Most people explore by car and then go on one of the many hikes on offer. With a higher altitude than Zion and consequently slightly lower temperatures, this is a more comfortable place to hike. You may want to take a picnic and find a solitary spot from where you can take in the magnificent views.
In the evening, you might want to go to watch a rodeo at the entrance to the park. This is run mainly for tourists, but is still a fun activity for all the family.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Accommodation: BW Bryce Canyon Grand
Driving Time (where relevant): 2 hours

DAY 7: ESCALANTE - GUIDED SLOT CANYONEERING
Today we have a real treat in store for you. You will get up early and drive to the small and rarely visited town of Escalante to explore one of Utah’s geological phenomena; the slot canyon. The Escalante region has hundreds of slot canyons, many of which have not yet been visited, so you can guarantee that today will be a day away from other tourists and a chance to challenge yourselves whilst exploring the wilderness.
Your guide will assess your fitness and ability and you will then head off to the slot canyon that he feels is most appropriate for you. Travelling through landscape that was once inhabited by hundreds of dinosaurs (the area is of great interest to scientists and footprints and bones have been discovered here) you will finally arrive at your canyon. Your guide will teach you the basics of rappelling and canyoneering and you will then abseil down into your canyon. As you progress through the canyon, it will get deeper and narrower, requiring you to squeeze and slide through. After the hoards of tourists you will have encountered at Zion and Bryce, the silence of this place will be a welcome relief.
You will spend the best part of the day in the canyon and when you finally emerge, the wide-sweeping views and sense of accomplishment are quite over-whelming. You will hike back to the car and drive back to the base where you can enjoy a well-earned ice cream.
You can opt to stay in Escalante, but we recommend you get back in your car and drive 45 minutes to the tiny settlement of Boulder to enjoy a hearty dinner and then relax in this mountain lodge.
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
Accommodation: Boulder Mountain Lodge
Driving Time (where relevant): 1 hour Bryce to Escalante, 45 mins Escalante to Boulder

DAY 8: BOULDER
Today is a day at leisure. The lodge over-looks a nature reserve and has some lovely communal areas, so is the perfect place to sit back with a good book and enjoy the scenery. Volleyball, Frisbee and board games are on offer, or for the more sedentary, there is a hot tub. Each room has a TV & DVD player, with DVDs on loan from Reception, if the children want to relax in front of a movie. There are also some lovely local walks, including a hike to a waterfall . There are maps available at the lodge office.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Boulder Mountain Lodge
Driving Time (where relevant): n/a

DAY 9: DRIVE TO MOAB
Today you will drive along one of the area’s most scenic roads to reach the highway that will connect you to Moab. Driving through the mountains and then Capitol Reef National Park, the views are amazing. You might choose to stop off in Capitol Reef Park for a hike, or just detour to one of the many viewpoints along the way. There are some interesting petroglyphs to see which makes for a useful stop to stretch your legs. If you are not stopping off to hike, there is a great burger stop (try the chocolate milkshakes) in Hanksville. The drive from here to Moab becomes less interesting, but is fairly swift thanks to the highway that you will be joining. Once you reach Moab, you can have a swim at your hotel and then go for a meal in one of the many restaurants in the town.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Red cliffs lodge
Driving Time (where relevant): 3 1/2 hours

DAY 10: MOAB - FIERY FURNACE GUIDED HIKE
This morning you will get up early to go and meet your guide, who will take you for a guided hike in the fiery furnace in the spectacular Arches National Park. This hike is only available as a guided option and takes you away from the crowds of tourist to hidden arches and a unique landscape. Your experienced guide will explain the geology to you and walk you through this fascinating rocky labyrinth.
The rest of the afternoon, you may want to explore the park in more detail before going for your pre-rafting trip briefing. On the way back, you might want to stop off at the Moab Brewery for dinner and to pick up some beers to take rafting with you.
Meals Included: Lunch
Accommodation: Red cliffs lodge
Driving Time (where relevant): 15 minutes

DAY 11: WESTWATER CANYON WHITE WATER RAFTING
You will meet with your guide and leave your car before being driven two hours to Colorado to the launch site on the Colorado River. The boats will then be loaded up and you will head off down-stream. Today is a lazy day on the river as you adjust to the relaxed pace, floating through stark and dramatic desert landscapes. There will be opportunities to explore on foot when your guide will take you on a hike, as well as stopping for lunch where you'll create your own deli masterpiece.
You will reach camp by early evening and enjoy a generous, delicious dinner prepared fresh by your guides. Once you have pitched your tent, you will have time to relax, play games and watch the stars coming out.
Meals Included: Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Driving Time (where relevant): n/a

DAY 12: WESTWATER CANYON WHITE WATER RAFTING
You will wake with anticipation of the rapids downstream. After a healthy breakfast the guides take time to teach you how to enjoy the big rapids safely. Then the fun really begins. Here are the incredible rapids you have been waiting for: Little Hummer, Funnel Falls, Last Chance Rapid, and of course, the infamous Skull Rapid. Lunch is a fresh buffet on the riverbank.
There will be the chance to swim and enjoy the river as you float out of Westwater Canyon. The ride back to Moab will be filled with stories of the hole in 'Sock-It-To-Me' and the beautiful sunset the night before. The van returns you to Moab around 6-6:30 PM
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch
Accommodation: Red cliffs lodge
Driving Time (where relevant): n/a

DAY 13: MOAB
Today is a day at leisure in Moab. You may want to relax around the pool in your hotel, or take the time to explore downtown Moab. Later on, you could drive to Canyonlands National Park for some amazing views and gorgeous walking trails.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Red cliffs lodge
Driving Time (where relevant): n/a

DAY 14: DRIVE TO GLENWOOD SPRINGS
This morning sees you checking out of of your Moab hotel and driving to the small town of Glenwood Springs. Once you have arrived, you can either relax around the pool or head over to the Natural hot springs the town is famous for. If you're still feeling adventurous you could also take a cable car to visit the Caverns adventure park.
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: Best Western Antlers
Driving Time (where relevant): 3 hours

DAY 15: DEPART
Today is your departure day. You will need to drop your car off at the airport before catching your flight home
Meals Included: n/a
Accommodation: n/a
Driving Time (where relevant): 3 hours

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Excellent family choice
- Walking distance from the strip
- Sophisticated, smart and safe
- Roof terrace & pool

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Gorgeous views
- Tasteful decor
- Balcony / Patio for every room
- Pool
- Family friendly

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Convenient location
- Swimming pool & hot tub
- Breakfast included

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Tranquil lodge
- Stunning views
- Uncommercial
- Hot Tub

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Beautiful river views
- Spacious cabin accommodation
- Good sized pool

Our rating

6/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Family rooms
- Breakfast included
- Swimming pool and kids play area

Details

Getting there

This holiday begins in Las Vegas and ends in Denver. Please get in touch if you would like us to book your flights for you.

When is best?

Utah enjoys a four season climate, although experience more extremes than in the UK. Winters can be cold with plenty of snow. Summer temperatures can be high (reaching the high 30’s in places) and the humidity means that there can be thunderstorms, especially in July & August.

Is it for me?

This trip is suitable for families with children aged 10+ The age limit is mainly due to the white rafting trip. If you have younger children, please contact us so that we can offer an alternative river trip. There is a reasonable amount of driving in this holiday. We have road tested this trip ourselves with a 7 year old and found the distances manageable. The driving is fairly easy and often through scenic landscapes, but you will sometimes covering up to 5 hours in a day.

The slot canyoning does not require previous experience, but you do need to be up for a physical challenge and your children need to be able to listen to instructions. There is a hiking alternative that we can suggest if a less technical day is preferred.

If you like the sound of this itinerary, but would prefer something longer, please take a look at our alternatives for the region, or get in touch to customise.

Safety

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check www.gov.uk/travelaware

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 612 reviews

(4.94/5)

  • Here are 4 write ups on the White Water rafting trip we had in July 2013
    From my 14 year old boy:
    To put it simply I have never had so much fun in my life. For the first two days I enjoyed a break from the otherwise high tempo country of America. We saw animals that none of us had seen before, swam in waters in which all of us had a ball and lay in the perfect heat of the Utah sun. This incredible experience of food and rest was then followed by the grand finale of white water rafting! The anxiety and nervousness soon turned into a thrill so extraordinary that I have sworn to myself that I will feel that incredible thrill again. Looking back, it was probably the most perfect three days that I can remember. So I mean this genuinely when I say, you must go on this holiday!
    From my 12 year old girl:
    It was so much fun. We saw coyotes, bears, river otter and more. The people were so nice and the food was amazing . The first two days were calm, but then on the last day we hit the rapids! That was the most fun. We bounced up and down, up and down and got completely soaked. It was a moment I will never forget.
    From my 11 year old son:
    The scenery was absolutely fantastic, and the water was calm and slightly warm. This was to begin with but after that we got into fantastic rapids. I was scared to begin with but the sparkling feeling in my head and the butterflies in my tummy gave me a great sense of achievement when I had done it!
    From me:
    There were five of us and we had two boats and two brilliant instructors for three of the most incredible days. Calm waters as we either sat in the boats which carried all our food and equipment or we gently floated with our feet out in front of us as we past the million year old rocks of changing earthy colours. The tempo changes: the water becomes white, we all put helmets on and then the rapids begin and our stomachs reach the sky, it really was seriously scary, I looked around at my family and they were all having a ball. Time disappeared fast and we all felt so pleased with ourselves as we had completed the last rapid. I felt rather proud! We were fed like Kings and we all played our parts in making the three days incredible ones we will never forget. Tracking the stars, searching for scorpions and spotting bears all added to the whole experience.

    MissingCamilla Drinkall reviewing Grand American Family Adventure in Utah on 06 October 2014

  • Some highlights: I really enjoyed the rodeo - I had expected it to be touristy & tacky, but I actually thought it was great. Boulder - although we didn't do too much there, the drive up was amazing & we really liked the lodge & the peacefulness (apart from a huge storm!). The Burr Trail Grill next door was excellent - really lovely & friendly staff & the best apple pie ever. We went to Willis Creek, 12 miles south of Escalante - this was a slot canyon that you can walk through easily & choose to do as much or as little as you like (the slots are 100metres long, so it's easy to walk out or turn back when you've had enough). Particular highlight for everyone was the Fiery Furnace Walk - Mike was absolutely fantastic with Rory & Lucy. It was perfect for Rory as he loves rock scrambling, so Mike encouraged that. Lucy was very nervous, but he helped her overcome her fears. & he was a very interesting person to spend some time with - I think we finished near to midday! We really liked Red Cliffs in Moab & I liked Moab itself - nice to get some fresh fruit & veg after too many burgers!

    Some things we'd probably change: I know I said I didn't want to go to Vegas, but I didn't ask the children & I think they might have liked it! It would probably have saved the longer flight & connections from Seattle & it looks as if the drive from Vegas is similar in distance as from SLC.

    I think Beverley would have liked longer in some places - we're used to holidays where we stay in one place, so living out of a suitcase was a little different for us.

    I'm also in two minds about the rafting. We were not helped by the weather where we had storms & rain all night until around 9am. Lucy got very cold so didn't enjoy it after the first 2 rapids. Rory however, really enjoyed himself. Overall though, it just seemed that it was a 2 day trip that could have been condensed into 1 day. Again, I think if the weather was different, we would have enjoyed chilling out a little more, but as it was & for the price, it was a little disappointing. We met another family while rafting who had booked through you - they were from Hampshire.

    Overall, great adventure, good places to stay, amazing scenery, we met some interesting people, saw some amazing storms (hail the size of golf balls! We were told August is their 'monsoon season') & had a great time, so thank you for putting it together for us. Hopefully we'll be back some time for another adventure…I'm still sizing up Toubkal with Rory in a year or two.

    MissingBeverley Caston reviewing Grand American Family Adventure in Utah on 06 October 2014

  • Everything worked perfectly! We all found our trekking experience to be the best part of our adventures in Morocco. We were particularly pleased with our guide, Hussain; he did a brilliant job. He is thoughtful, knowledgable, and sweet. He represents you well.

    MissingJacob Moffat reviewing Atlas Valleys & Villages Comfort Treks on 09 March 2017

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

A 2 week adventurous road trip in America's South West, designed especially with the under 10's in mind.

Tailor-made Classic 15 days

Families from $1,151 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,280 per person economy class from London

A family road trip taking in some of Western USA's biggest hitters: The Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite & San Francisco.

Tailor-made Classic 2 weeks

Families from $1,343 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,357 per person economy class from London

Cycle the Golden Gate Bridge, raft the Colorado River, see the Grand Canyon & enjoy the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Tailor-made Classic 2 weeks

Families from $1,475 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,280 per person economy class from London

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