Off-Road and Hiking Southwest National Parks, USA

Tour Code:
P132
A$6,293.00
Current Stock:
15 Days | 14 Nights  
Countries to be visited: USA
Departure & Return Locations: Las Vegas, Nevada
 
Tour Type: Hiking – Off Road Adventure
Languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
Minimum group size: 4 Participants
Maximum group size: 15 Participants
Minimum Age: 16 years
 
Highlights:
  • Zion
  • North Rim Grand Canyon wilderness camp
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • 2 day Navajo Guided Trek in Canyon de Chelly
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Park wilderness camp
  • Arches National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Grand Staircase National Park
  • Hidden Slot Canyons

A staggering 46 percent the American West is public land. This area contains not only famous national parks but also vast stretches of wilderness encompassing regions of equal wonder and appeal. Most of these areas are accessible only by 4x4 vehicles, as the roads leading to them are not paved, but still easy to drive remote tracks maintained by local road crews. On this extraordinary adventure we use heavy-duty 4x4 trucks to access these areas for incredible hiking, off-roading, and exploration as your tour leader guides you down remote tracks to sights rarely seen by tourists.

Follow us on this tour to see the famous national parks and experience the most amazing desert scenery far away from the crowds and noise if civilization. We will show you the Southwest from an insider’s perspective, driving and hiking to secret spots only known by those that have spent decades exploring. At night, for comfort, we stay in small desert towns sprinkled throughout the region, but truly the highlight of this trip is the 3 nights of camping in the most remarkable locations: the Rim of the Grand Canyon, the twisted rocks of Vermillion Cliffs, and a night with the Navajo Natives in magical Canyon de Chelly. If you are after solitude, adventure, and the thrill of off-roading through one of the world’s last remaining wild spaces, come with us.

Disclaimer: Many dirt roads become impassable when wet. We travel in the normally “dry season”. Be prepared for program changes should the dirt roads become wet.

B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner

Day 1. Arrival in Las Vegas
Arrival in Las Vegas, individual transfer from airport to hotel, La Quinta or similar (3-star), 1 night

Day 2. Snow Creek and Kanarra Creek, B, L
8 AM: Your guide will welcome you at the hotel. We pick up our vehicles in Las Vegas and head out through the Mohave Desert to the Colorado Plateau, spending the afternoon hiking over petrified sand dunes, past lava tubes, and over moqui marbles. Then there is a chance to wade in the remote Narrows of Kanarra Creek (water shoes and poles required). Ramada St. George (3-star) or similar 3-star, 1 night.

Drive time: 200mi / 320 km or 3 hrs
Snow Creek: 2-3 hrs, ca. 3 mi / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-200 m
Kanarra Creek: 1-2 hrs, ca. 1-3 mi /2- 5 km, elevation difference: +/50 m – water shoes / wading shoes and poles required

Day 3. Zion Canyon, B, L
One of the West’s most iconic hikes is Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, which is famous for its sheer, dark red sandstone towers carved by the Virgin River. Today we climb up Walter’s Wiggle to the Saddle, where you may choose to continue on the Via Ferrata and to the top of Angel’s Landing (this section is self guided). Then, we will drive a remote desert track through Zion’s wilderness to the small Mormon settlement of Kanab. Parry Lodge or similar (3-star), 1 night.

Drive time: 100 mi / 160 km or 2 hrs
Angel’s Landing: 4-5 hrs, ca. 5 mi / 8 km, elevation difference: +/-450 m

Day 4. Rainbow Rim along Grand Canyon North Rim, B, L, D
Desert roads lead us through changing vegetation from the desert sagebrush up to beautiful ponderosas of the high plateau along the Grand Canyon North Rim. Maybe we spot the endemic Kaibab Squirrel, isolated by the surrounding desert, or encounter deer, elk or even bear. Suddenly the land opens up into the immensity of Grand Canyon. A sparsely used trail is today’s hike – the Rainbow Rim Trail. We are granted ever changing sweeping views over the Grand Canyon as we hike along its rim. Tonight, we camp near Timp Point in utter solitude and silence with the most amazing stargazing. We provide the equipment, the food, and the water for this unforgettable night. Wilderness camp, 1 night.

Drive time: 40-50 mi / 60-80 km or 2 hrs
Rainbow Rim Trail: 3-4 hrs, ca. 6 mi / 10 km, elevation difference: +/-150 m

Day 5. The Buckskin Gulch and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, B, L, D
We start our day with a beautiful sunrise over the Grand Canyon. There is a chance to take a shower at a local campground (approx. $5 pp). Back in the desert we leave the pavement behind to find the longest slot canyon in North America: The Buckskin Gulch. Here you have the opportunity to hike the canyon (self-guided). 12 miles of 500-foot deep, dark Narrows beckon (the Narrows requires proper footwear / poles due to mud). On to our next highlight: Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. This is a rarely visited park due to the lack of infrastructure or roads. The park is famous for its amazing rock formation, “The Wave”. While “The Wave” is accessible by permit only, many areas are open for visitation without permits. Follow your guide along the 4x4 desert tracks for a second night of camping in amazing wilderness. Expect amazing photography as we explore this trail-less rock splendor in the soft evening light. Tonight is spent camping in
the wilds. 1 night.

Buckskin Canyon: up to 3-4 hours of hiking (self-guided due to permit regulations)
White Pocket: 1-2 hours of cross-country explorations
Drive time: 100 mi / 160 km or 2-3 hrs

Day 6. The Back Road to Bryce Canyon National Park, B, L
Maybe you want to enjoy the soft morning light before we break camp. Our adventure continues through the immense space of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. A remote desert road takes us north towards Bryce Canyon. The afternoon is spent at Bryce Canyon, one of the most beautiful national parks of the Southwest. Enjoy an amazing hike through the multi colored stone towers of Bryce. Bryce View Lodge or similar (3-star), 1 night.

Drive time: 70 mi / 100 km – 2-3 hours
Queens Garden & Navajo Loop: 3 hrs, ca. 3 mi / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m
Queens Garden & Peekaboo Loop: 5 hrs, ca. 8 mi / 12 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m Panorama Trail: 4 hrs, ca. 6 mi / 10 km, elevation difference: +/-200 m
Slot Canyon: 1-2 hrs, ca. 1 mi / 2 km, elevation difference: +/-100 m

Day 7. Slot Canyons of Grand Staircase, B, L
Sunrise is not to be missed and those wanting to get up early should head out to Bryce Point. Our next destination is Kodachrome State Park where we hike far away from the crowds. Returning to the great desert wilderness of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument we head down the Hole in the Rock Road, a historic track carved out by Mormon settlers traveling by covered wagon. Here we can enjoy a great scramble through a fun, narrow, and twisted Slot Canyon. Our hotel is in the small town of Escalante in the midst of splendid desert country. Prospector Inn
or similar 3-star, 1 night.

Drive time: 100 mi / 160 km – 2-3 hrs

Day 8. Slot Canyon Loop of San Rafael Reef, B, L
Today, another great adventure awaits – the remote Burr Trail. A dirt track cuts through Capitol Reef to the secluded Notom Bottom Road. We enjoy expansive views over the Henry Mountains and the monocline. North of here we explore and hike a rarely visited slot
canyons in the San Rafael Reef. Our hotel is in the sleepy town of Green River. American Best Value Inn, (3-star) or similar, 1 night.

Drive time: 200 mi / 320 km or 4-5 hrs                                                                             
San Rafael Reef Slot Canyons Loop: 4-5 hrs, 7 mi /11 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m

Day 9. Arches & Canyonlands National Park, B, L
A quick drive brings us to Arches National Park. Here sandstone is layered above thick salt deposits. This leads to instability in the rock, which in turn leads to cracks and erosion. Arches National Park has the world’s largest collection of rock arches with over 2000 currently recorded. We will explore Park Avenue, The Windows, and then hike to the famous Delicate Arch, truly an unforgettable sight. The afternoon finds us at nearby Canyonlands National Park. A short scramble leads to Mesa Arch, before we drive the amazing one- lane desert track of the Shafer Trail into the canyon of the Colorado River. We are rewarded with breathtaking views. Our hotel is in the small farming town of Monticello. Inn of the Canyons (3-star) or similar, 1 night.

Drive time: 180 mi / 300 km or 4-5 hrs
Delicate Arch: 2 hrs, ca. 3 mi / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-200 m
Mesa Arch: 30 minutes, ca. 1 mi / 1.5 km, elevation difference: +/-30 m

Day 10. Natural Bridges & Monument Valley, B, L
We head south towards our next destination: Natural Bridges National Monument. This canyon is home to 3 massive stone bridges. First, we will follow a steep slick rock trail descending to Sipapu Bridge. Walking in the canyon we soon reach massive Kachina Bridge covered in rock art. A dirt track leads down the Moqui Dugway to Monument Valley. You have a chance to take a jeep
tour (optional, starting at $75 pp) or drive the scenic road yourself. Tonight we stay in the historic
Thunderbird Lodge at Chinle, an old trading post built in 1896. Thunderbird Lodge (3-star) or similar, 1 night.

Drive time: 230 mi / 370 km or 4 hrs
Sipapu to Kachina: 3 hrs, ca. 5 mi / 8 km, elevation difference: +/-500 m

Day 11. Navajo Trek in Canyon de Chelly, B, L, D
We embark on a fantastic 2-day trek through Canyon de Chelly. The canyon is holy to the Navajo, with several families still living here today. In every alcove and on nearly every wall we find the ruins and rock art representing over 5000 years of inhabitance.

To enter the canyon we descend an old stock trail into the twisted Canyon del Muerto. Trekking along the sandy wash we walk past Navajo farms and orchards scattered amongst beautiful 800-year-old Anasazi ruins and numerous rock art panels. There is no need to carry more than you daypack, as the local Navajo crew will bring our camping gear into the farm where we will
spend the night. There is a chance to climb the ancient slick rock trails surrounding our camp tonight. Camp 1 night.

Drive time: 20 mi / 30 km or 30 minutes
Twin Trail to Bare Trail: 5-6 hrs, ca. 6-7 mi, 12 km, elevation difference: -300m

Day 12. Trekking in Canyon de Chelly, B, L
After a hearty camp breakfast we continue our trek. We soon reach the confluence with Canyon de Chelly and head up canyon to the iconic White House Ruin. Here we say goodbye to our local  guides as our last highlight awaits: the Grand Canyon. Red Feather (3- star), or similar, 2 nights

Drive time: 200 mi / 320 km or 3 hrs
Bare Trail to White House: 3-4 hrs, ca. 4-5 mi, 8 km, elevation difference: +200m

Day 13. Into the Grand Canyon, B, L
The Grand Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world, at 450km long, 1600 m deep, and 16 km wide. The Colorado River has carved the canyon through layers of red sandstone, some of them 2 billion years old. The views from the south rim are spectacular. We have all day to spend at this amazing sight with a choice of hikes, from easy to hard (hikes in Grand Canyon National Park are self-guided due to permit regulations).

Kaibab Ridge: 3-4 hrs, ca. 3 mi / 5 km, elevation difference: +/-300 m
Plateau Point: 8-12 hrs, ca. 12 mi / 20 km, elevation difference: +/-1150 m
Hike along the rim: up to 4 hrs, up to 8 mi / 13 km, elevation difference: +/-50 m

Day 14. Las Vegas, B, L
The morning is at your leisure with the option to take a helicopter flight and enjoy the Grand Canyon from the air (optional starting at $225). In the afternoon we head back to Las Vegas via Route 66 with a stop at Seligman for some last-minute souvenir shopping. We return our vehicles. Our hotel is near the strip, La Quinta or similar (3-star), 1 night.

Drive time: 270mi / 430 km or 4-5 hrs

Day 15. Departure, B
It is time to say goodbye. The hotel offers a free shuttle to the airport.

VERY IMPORTANT: The first vehicle is driven by our tour director. Once the group reaches 4-5 participants a second vehicle will be added. Vehicle seating capacity is 5-6 participants. Additional vehicles are driven by local, English speaking drivers (but not tour directors). All participants must rotate between vehicles.

Participants interested in driving must notify us at the time of booking. They must book a private vehicle. All vehicles are fully insured and carry a zero deductible. ATW will cover all expenses such as insurance, deductible, gas/diesel, national park entry fees etc. Drivers must bring a valid driver’s license and passport.

Communication between the vehicles is via walkie-talkies. Cell phones do not work in these remote areas. We will also carry a satellite emergency communication device. We will carry emergency back up equipment, water and food. Should we have a mechanical problem on these remote roads, be prepared for longer delays and program changes. Much flexibility is needed for this kind of travel with possible delays and adversity. All vehicles must stay together. No refunds are offered due to mechanical problems while traveling.

Vehicles are only allowed on county, state or national park maintained roads. Vehicles are 4x4 and high clearance trucks suitable for these roads. Technical driving is not required. The tour director will lead all vehicles and if needed stop to evaluate road conditions, creek crossings, or obstacles. Only roads authorized by the tour director are allowed to be driven. As conditions change weekly, the tour director will make the decision to change the route on site. Limited information is available on these roads therefore flexibility is needed to deal with conditions in real time.

Jeep trails, cross country driving, or technical 4x4 driving is not allowed as it is not covered by insurance. During adverse weather conditions roads become impassable. In this case all drivers MUST follow the guidance and advice of the guide or they will be removed from the tour. Many roads become extremely dangerous when wet. In case of impassable roads (mud, rain, rock slides, ice, snow.... etc) most detours will be on pavement as other roads will be unsafe as well. We cannot guarantee that we are able to drive all roads mentioned. Flexibility and team spirit is a requirement to participate in this tour. If camping is part of your tour, passengers are expected to pitch their own tents and help a little in the kitchen preparing hearty, easy meals (on a rotation basis). Campsites are wilderness camps with no infrastructure: we use portable tables, and will bring water. There are no showers. Some camps require us to bring our own wilderness toilet system.

 

TOUR PRICE
  • Price shown is for a person based on double occupancy (select option at the top to view single occupancy price) 
  • All prices displayed are subject to availability and can be withdrawn or varied without notice. 
  • Prices are guranteed once booking is confirmed by us and paid in full by the due date. 
  • Depending on your needs and group size (individual, couple, family, group, etc.) we will provide the final pricing for your tour.

Price Includes

✔ All tours are guided by our expertly trained, multi-lingual tour directors. Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. 
✔ All hikes are guided, except one-way hikes or hikes mentioned below. 
✔ Transport in 5-6 passenger 4x4 pick up trucks (like Ford F-250, Chevy 2500 or similar), the first 4 passengers drive with the tour director, for every 5-6 passengers an additional truck is added
✔ All vehicle insurance, roadside assistance and fuel is included 
✔ Emergency communication devices included
✔ Entrance fees to national parks, state parks, public lands, Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley included
✔ 11 nights hotel accommodations in 3-star hotels with private facilities 
✔ 3 nights wilderness camping (dry camp, no showers or tables or organized toilets)
✔ 14 Breakfasts (every morning) – mostly Continental (cold) breakfasts and some hot breakfasts
✔ 13 self-made picnic lunches (breads, cold cuts, cheeses, trail mix, snacks, fruit)
✔ 3 group prepared camp dinners
✔ Camping equipment for 3 nights wilderness camping (2 person tents plus inflatable mats; excluding sleeping bag)
✔ Basic portable kitchen
✔ Wilderness fees for North Rim Grand Canyon National Park and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
✔ Navajo guide and camp / luggage support for 2 day Canyon de Chelly trek
 
Price Excludes
International airfare 
X Travel Insurance (required)
Airport taxes and charges
Airport transfers
Any Private Expenses
Meals not mentioned
Alcoholic beverages
Optional excursions
Tip to Guide/Driver, Porterage Fee and others which are personal in nature (suggested Tips of $105-150 per person for the tour manager depending on his / her performance)
All hikes at Grand Canyon are self-guided
In some locations, due to group size restrictions, the group may have to split up for hikes
Sleeping bags
Other services not mentioned in the itinerary
 

 

TEMPERATURES
Spring and autumn (April - May and September – October) the weather in the deserts of Utah & Northern Arizona is very pleasant and stable and are the preferred months for outdoor activities. Temperatures will depend on elevation. Daytime temperatures are 15-25 C in the desert. Nighttime temperatures are 5-10 C but could drop to freezing. Spring has desert wildflowers (cacti). Autumn has beautiful tree colors (late September to October) and soft light. In the mountainous national parks of the Sierra Nevada (Yosemite) and Rocky Mountains (Rocky Mountain NP, Yellowstone) spring and fall are crisp and colder.

June – mid September are the hottest months in the south west desert. Daytime temperatures are 25-35 C or 40C. July to September the desert and the Rockies experience afternoon thunderstorms. Certain dirt roads may become impassable due to mud. On hot days, hikes might be conducted early to avoid the heat. Fortunately, the dry air makes these temperatures less noticeable. In the mountains most hikes have to be completed by early afternoon to avoid the threat of lightning strikes. Therefore, hikes will start early in the day.

Las Vegas and Death Valley are at a very low elevation and therefore, hotter than the rest of the southwest. Extended hiking at these low elevations is typically not possible. Only in the winter months is it advisable to hike in Death Valley (October – April).

PACKING LIST
Each passenger is allowed to bring one luggage with a maximum weight of 23 kg, plus one carry-on item with the weight of 10 kg. We recommend you bring sturdy rolling duffel bags. Hard-shelled luggage will be scratched due to the rough road surfaces in the countryside.

Worn-in hiking boots (over the ankle with cleated sole, tennis shoes are NOT acceptable on our hikes!!!)
• Hiking socks (we recommend a combination of liner socks with wool socks)
• Sports sandals (these are sandals that will stay on your feet while swimming in creeks, lakes, or oceans)
• A daypack (for rain shell, sweater, 1-2 liters of water & food)
• 2 one-liter water bottles
• Sunhat
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen
• Lip balm with UV
• Bathing costume / pareo / beach towel
• Insect repellent (preferably also a spray to spray clothing)
• Personal first aid and blister kit
• Hiking shorts
• Long hiking pants
• Rain jacket and pants, breathable material
• T-shirts or shirts
• Fleece jacket or sweater (jumper)
• On camping tours, bring your own sleeping bag (and pillow if you desire)
• Spring and autumn tours: fleece hat and fleece gloves
• Headlamp and batteries
• Pocket knife
• Walking poles

We recommend you dress in layers, as that allows you to properly adapt to the varying temperatures of the trip. We might experience crisp mornings followed by warm to hot days. Layering helps to adapt to these temperature changes.

BOOKING TERMS

Please refer to our standard booking conditions. Payment and Cancellation terms below.  

PAYMENT DUE DATE
Full payment is due 30 days prior to departure. If we do not receive full payment we reserve the right to cancel your booking at any time. If your payment is late we may require you to pay by credit card and charge a 4% processing fee.

CANCELLATIONS
Summary cancellation fees:
At time of booking - 30 days prior departure 25%
29 days - 22 days prior departure 30%
21 days – 15 days prior departure 40%
14 days – 7 days prior departure 60%
6 days – 3 days prior departure 75%
2 days prior departure, or no-show 80%
Trip interruption 100%