Day 1 International’s outbound flight
Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Santa Fe. Make your way from Santa Fe airport to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax or begin exploring this historic Spanish colonial city.
Day 2 Santa Fe
Enjoy a day in Santa Fe, home to a number of magnificent 16th and 17th century Spanish buildings, including the Palace of the Governors and the central Plaza. You may also wish to take one of the many hiking trails into the Santa Fe Forest or visit one of the city's renowned art museums.
Day 3 Mesa Verde National Park
Today your five hour drive takes you through the heart of New Mexico and into southern Colorado and the magnificent scenery of Mesa Verde National Park. Along the way you pass hills covered in Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Engleman spruce and juniper trees. Leaving the town of Tierra Amarilla, you enter the San Juan National Forest area, with its lush tree-covered mountains and 'yellow bark' Ponderosa pine. Pagosa Springs makes a good place to stop for refreshments before you continue along the forest edge to the town of Durango. Arriving at the national park, settle into your hotel for the evening.
Day 4 Mesa Verde National Park
Spend the day exploring Mesa Verde National Park. The park is home to ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings expertly carved into the rock face. A remarkable reminder of an earlier culture, you can visit some of them with a guide and learn more about the Puebloan way of life.
Day 5 Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Depart Mesa Verde today and travel through the Ute Mountain Indian Reserve, which is also home to cliff dwellings, including the 80-room Lion House and the Eagle's Nest Cliff, perched in a cavernous natural alcove. You then cross the border into Navajo (Native American) territory and the otherworldly landscape of Monument Valley. The journey takes around four hours (not including stops).
Day 6 Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Spend your day exploring the fascinating scenery and Navajo culture in Monument Valley, perhaps visiting more cliff dwellings including the exceptionally preserved Betatakin site, a 135-room dwelling carved halfway up a steep cliff face. We recommend taking a sunset tour of the park to avoid the midday heat and to marvel at the beauty of the valley as the light fades.
Day 7 Page
Depart Monument Valley at your leisure and make your way to the calm waters of Lake Powell around two hours away. Close to the town of Page, the lake's sandy beach is a great place to relax. Alternatively, fuel an adrenaline rush with one of the many water sports on offer on the lake, including scuba diving, snorkelling and water skiing.
Day 8 Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim
Today you depart Page and drive for three hours through the arid desert lands of northern Arizona before passing Marble Canyon and entering the Kaibab National Forest. Continue onwards through the forest to the remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon. With far fewer visitors than the South Rim, you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the canyon.
Day 9 Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim
Spend a day at the Grand Canyon. There are some spectacular views from the North Rim, as well as many scenic walking trails where you can spot deer and watch eagles soar overhead. Visit Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at over 2,500 m (8,800 ft) and Cape Royal, both of which can be reached via a winding scenic drive. For more information, the North Rim Visitor Center is a great place to get advice on ranger-led activities. We also recommend heading to the edge of the canyon to watch the sunset.
Day 10 Zion National Park
Drive for two and a half hours from the Grand Canyon's North Rim to the red rock formations of Zion National Park, passing through the stark landscape of the Kaibab Plateau before entering the state of Utah. The afternoon is free to take a walking tour through the park's magnificent mountain scenery.
Day 11 Zion National Park
Spend the day exploring Zion National Park, where the rugged canyons, tumbling rivers and spectacular rock formations provide a breathtaking backdrop in which to enjoy walking, canyoning and climbing.
Day 12 Las Vegas
The final big drive of your trip takes you three hours from the peaceful beauty of Zion to the glittering lights of Las Vegas. As you approach the city, its distinctive skyline rises up out of the Nevada Desert like a mirage. Once checked in, you can enjoy your hotel's facilities, try your luck in the casinos or take a wander down the vibrant Strip.
Day 13 Las Vegas
Spend a full day in Las Vegas. You could have a day of relaxation by the pool, indulge in some shopping or visit one of the city's many attractions, from the Titanic Museum in the Luxor Hotel to the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Hotel. In the evening, take in a world-class show or visit the city's bars and restaurants.
Day 14 International return flight
Today you may have time to do some last-minute shopping or sightseeing before dropping your car off at the depot and heading to the airport in time for your flight home.
Day 16 International return flight
Arrive home today to complete your journey.
Cultures & Canyons of Western USA Self-Drive Tour
- Visit four national parks, including the more remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
- Marvel at the distinct rock formations in Monument Valley and the ancient Pueblo dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park.
- View giant cacti in Saguaro National Park.
- Hike the scenic trails in Zion National Park.
- Experience the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas.