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National Parks of the Intermountain Region

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Colorado & Utah: Mesa Verde, Arches & Canyonlands



6 days from $2,598

The remote borderlands of Utah and Colorado conjure a wilderness of limitless sky and sculpted stone that defies imagination. Your trip into this region bridges ancient worlds created by man and nature. In Mesa Verde National Park’s hidden sky canyons, juniper and piñon forests conceal the well-preserved cliff dwellings of the 13th-century Pueblo people. Tour the park museum and follow winding trails to sweeping views, vivid petroglyphs, and archaeological treasures. At Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, you’ll explore prehistoric towers and underground kivas before heading into the desert, where a land of mammoth shapes and forms reveals itself. Raft through red-rock Colorado River canyons past signature formations like Fisher Towers and Castle Rock. Trek through Canyonlands National Park’s sheer-walled canyons to sandstone spires, jagged cliffs, and looming mesas. In Arches National Park, walks across red sands lead to natural stone bridges from sublime Delicate Arch to Landscape Arch, whose 290-foot span is the hemisphere’s largest—just one of many sights that must be seen to be believed.

Spruce Tree House,



    -Explore prehistoric towers and underground kivas at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

    -Raft along the Colorado River

    -Trek through Canyonlands National Park’s sheer-walled canyons to sandstone spires, cliffs and mesas

    -Walk across the red sands of Arches National Park to stone bridges and famous arch formations


Day 1 – Durango / Mesa Verde National Park
You meet in Durango and immediately transfer to Mesa Verde National Park, the first National Park set aside to protect manmade wonders. Today the park is home to more than 4,000 archaeological sites ranging from simple pithouses to complex cliff dwellings built in large alcoves in the steep sandstone canyons. Your explorations begin with a visit to the park’s museum and the Spruce Tree House, an impressive cliff dwelling sheltered by Douglas fir, juniper, and piñon trees. After a picnic lunch and a short welcome meeting, embark on a guided tour of the most famous and largest of the cliff dwellings, the Cliff Palace, during which you get an in-depth glimpse at how the Ancestral Puebloans lived during the 13th century.
This afternoon’s walk takes you on a three-mile loop lined with distinctive canyon vegetation—Douglas fir, Mormon tea, serviceberry, prickly pear cactus, and broadleaf yucca. The trail skirts a deep canyon and culminates at a panel containing the most well-known group of petroglyphs in Mesa Verde. A short climb to the mesa top provides sweeping views on the return leg. Tonight, gather for a welcome drink and dinner in the Metate Room, overlooking the surrounding mesas. Choose from local specialties such as cactus dip, grilled blue corn trout, stuffed quail with Anasazi beans, or roasted elk. Overnight Far View Lodge. (L, D)
Miles logged: Cliff Dwellings and Petroglyph Point: 4 miles, moderate

Day 2 – Sand Canyon
This morning you may wish to join the guides on an optional pre-breakfast walk and enjoy the view from Park Point Overlook. As the sun rises in the east, savor the peace and quiet at this tranquil time of day. After breakfast, drive approximately one hour outside the park to Sand Canyon, nestled in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. The walk begins at the Sand Canyon Pueblo. Although no standing walls are exposed, this ancient pueblo includes 420 rooms, 100 kivas (round buildings dug into the ground), and 14 towers. The walk follows the rim of Sand Canyon along a sandy trail. En route you pass several small, fragile cliff dwellings hidden in the shelter of natural alcoves. These sites were occupied by the Ancestral Puebloans during the 13th century. Dinner this evening is at the lodge, highlighted by views of Mesa Verde as the sun sets in the distance. Overnight Far View Lodge. (B, L, D)
Miles logged: optional sunrise walk: 1 mile, easy. Sand Canyon; 6.5 miles, moderate with challenging sections

Day 3 – Moab
This morning depart for Moab, Utah. Following lunch at a favorite local restaurant, stretch your legs on an easy walk en route to the next hotel. The trail skirts a clear canyon stream and follows a mixed route of flat, open trails of sandy ground and slickrock sandstone with its curious natural gripping effect. After 1.5 miles you leave the stream and follow a side canyon to Morning Glory Bridge, an impressive natural arch that measures 243 feet—the sixth longest natural rock span in the United States. Late this afternoon, check into your riverside lodgings and relax in the pool or Jacuzzi as you enjoy a dazzling sunset over red cliffs. Dinner this evening is alfresco (weather permitting) on the resort’s deck overlooking the Colorado River. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B, L, D)
Miles logged: Negro Bill Canyon: 4 miles, easy with moderate sections.

Day 4 – Colorado River Float Trip / Canyonlands National Park
Early this morning meet your rafting guides and embark on a half-day float trip on the Colorado River. You drift through red rock canyons and past famous rock formations including Fisher Towers, Castle Rock, and the Priest and Nuns, stopping for lunch on a river beach.
Later, drive to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, a wilderness area of sheer-walled canyons, sandstone spires, jagged cliffs, and high mesas. Once again, sweeping views accompany a walk to overlooks of the Green River snaking through the landscape in the distance. Dinner is on your own this evening in the small western town of Moab. Your guides are available to assist you in selecting a restaurant. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B, L, D)
Miles logged: Island in the Sky; 2-4 miles, easy

Day 5 – Arches National Park
Following an early breakfast, drive the short distance to Arches National Park, home to some of the region’s most extraordinary geologic sites. Begin the day with a morning walk at the Double Arch area of the park. This park contains the world’s greatest known concentration of natural stone arches—more than 2,000. The walk leads to a few of the most impressive arches including Landscape Arch, its 290-foot span makes it the longest in the park (and possibly the world).
Following a picnic lunch amidst the red rocks, you continue toward Delicate Arch, one of the most recognized arches in the park. The trailhead begins near Wolfe Ranch, a historic settlement dating back to 1880 and also the site of a fascinating panel of Ute rock art. The terrain along the trail leading to Delicate Arch is varied. It begins with rocky paths and switchbacks, then yields to portions of slickrock. Steps have been carved into the sandstone to make ascending some of the steeper sections easier. The final portion of the trail is exposed but wide, so even though it is flanked by sheer cliff drop-offs, the walking is safe and awe-inspiring. Pause to take it all in: sweeping red rock views and the rising La Sal Mountains on the horizon. Tonight the week is celebrated in style with a final dinner, sampling wines from the lodge’s own vineyard. Overnight Red Cliffs Lodge. (B, L, D)
Miles logged: Double Arch and Landscape Arch: 4.2 miles, moderate; Delicate Arch: 3 miles, moderate

Day 6 – Tour Conclusion
Early risers may wish to join the guides on a pre-breakfast walk in the hills behind the resort to enjoy a final sunrise in the lovely Southwest. After breakfast, drive to Durango where your tour comes to an end.
Miles logged: Optional sunrise walk: 1-2 miles, easy.


Mesa Verde National Park: Far View Lodge

Moab: Red Cliffs Lodge




Departure Date Twin Single Triple
May 12, 2013 $2598 add $550  
October 6, 2013 $2598 add $550  
October13, 2013 $2598 add $550  


Additional Information


Prices are land-only, per person.
Please bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience.
Activity Level: This guided walking adventures covers moderate terrain and some easy and challenging sections. Most days average 4-7 miles of walking with shorter and longer options available when possible and elevation gains and losses up to 700 feet. The ascents and descents are gradual as opposed to very sharp and steep and our pace is generally slow, approximately 1-2 miles per hour. The highest elevation during the trip is approximately 8,800 feet. The trails are a combination of dirt, sandy paths, and slickrock; some are wooded and others are quite open and exposed. Trails into the cliff dwellings use ladders to ease steep sections. The trails have a combination of flat sections, ascents, and descents. Proper sunscreen and head protection are essential! The high desert presents exhilarating walking and Native American history and culture.
Itinerary Changes