Colorado & Utah: Mesa Verde, Arches & Canyonlands

Guided Walking Tour, Colorado & Utah: Mesa Verde, Arches and CanyonlandsGuided Walking Tour, Colorado & Utah: Mesa Verde, Arches and Canyonlands

Colorado & Utah

Mesa Verde, Arches & Canyonlands

overview

The remote borderlands of Utah and Colorado defy imagination. Your trip into this wilderness of limitless sky and sculpted stone spans worlds created by man and nature. In Mesa Verde National Park, juniper and piñon forests conceal sky canyons and the remarkably preserved cliff dwellings of the 13th-century Pueblo Indians. The park museum tells their story; winding trails lead to their vivid petroglyphs and archaeological treasures. At Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, prehistoric towers and under­ground kivas invite exploration. Heading into the desert, a land of strange and mammoth forms is revealed. Raft through red-rock Colorado River canyons past signature formations like Fisher Towers and Castle Rock. Trek through Canyonlands National Park, passing sheer-walled canyons, sandstone spires, jagged cliffs, and looming mesas. In Arches National Park, red sands lead to natural stone bridges like amazing Landscape Arch, whose 290-foot span is the hemisphere’s largest—just one of many sights here that must be seen to be believed.

Activity Level
Moderate;
4-7 miles daily
Meet
Durango, Colorado
Depart
Durango, Colorado
Daily Itinerary
Download printable
itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Guided Walking 
6 days, 5 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except for one dinner; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Single supplement + $550
 

Solo surcharge + $0
 

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Mesa Verde National Park
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2
Mesa Verde National Park
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3
Moab
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4
Moab
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5
Moab
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6
Moab
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Day 1

Mesa Verde National Park

Arrival in Durango, Colorado. Transfer to Mesa Verde National Park. Cliff Dwellings and Petroglyph Point; 3 miles, moderate

You meet in Durango and immediately transfer to Mesa Verde National Park (approximately one hour). Mesa Verde was 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 pit houses 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, you 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 you gather for a welcome drink and dinner in the Metate Room, overlooking the surrounding mesas. Here you choose from local specialties such as cactus dip, grilled blue corn trout, stuffed quail with Anasazi beans, or roasted elk.

Far View Lodge

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Simple rooms in the heart of Mesa Verde National Park offer balconies with views, as well as immediate access to hiking trails and spectacular cliff dwellings. Our group will enjoy the recently renovated kiva rooms, which are tastefully decorated with Native American and Western fabrics and art.

Day 2

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park: optional sunrise walk; 1 mile, easy. Sand Canyon; 6.5 miles, moderate

This morning you may wish to join the guides on an optional pre-breakfast walk to enjoy the view from Park Point Overlook. As the sun rises in the east, you savor the peace and quiet at this tranquil time of day.

After breakfast, you 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 (this site was excavated in the late 1980s and early 1990s and then backfilled to preserve the buildings). 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.

Far View Lodge

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Simple rooms in the heart of Mesa Verde National Park offer balconies with views, as well as immediate access to hiking trails and spectacular cliff dwellings. Our group will enjoy the recently renovated kiva rooms, which are tastefully decorated with Native American and Western fabrics and art.

Day 3

Moab

Transfer to Moab, Utah. Negro Bill Canyon; 4.5 miles, easy to moderate

This morning you depart for Moab, Utah (approximately a 3-hour transfer) and, 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, where you may hear spadefoot toad song, 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 you 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.

Red Cliffs Lodge

Moab, Utah

Spacious riverside and creekside rooms offer private patios overlooking the Colorado River. Guests enjoy views of the red rock canyons from virtually everywhere on this property, including the pool, restaurant, and lodge decks. The lodge also offers easy access to rafting and hiking.

Day 4

Moab

Colorado River rafting excursion. Canyonlands National Park; Island in the Sky; 2-4 miles, easy. Optional walk, Fisher Towers; 5 miles, easy to moderate

Early this morning you meet your rafting guides and embark on a half-day float trip on the Colorado River (some short sections of class I and II rapids). You drift through red rock canyons and past famous rock formations including Fisher Towers, Castle Rock, and the Priest and Nuns. En route you stop to eat lunch on a river beach.

If you prefer to hike this morning, one of your guides can take you to Fisher Towers Trail, which offers excellent views of these carved piles and the surrounding canyon systems. Later, you drive approximately one hour 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 your 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.

Red Cliffs Lodge

Moab, Utah

Spacious riverside and creekside rooms offer private patios overlooking the Colorado River. Guests enjoy views of the red rock canyons from virtually everywhere on this property, including the pool, restaurant, and lodge decks. The lodge also offers easy access to rafting and hiking.

Day 5

Moab

Arches National Park; Double Arch, Window Arch and Turret Arch; 1 mile, easy; Delicate Arch; 3 miles, moderate, 600-ft. elevation gain and loss

Following an early breakfast, you drive the short distance to Arches National Park, home to some of the region’s most extraordinary geologic sites. You begin the 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 Window Arch and Turret Arch. 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.

Red Cliffs Lodge

Moab, Utah

Spacious riverside and creekside rooms offer private patios overlooking the Colorado River. Guests enjoy views of the red rock canyons from virtually everywhere on this property, including the pool, restaurant, and lodge decks. The lodge also offers easy access to rafting and hiking.

Day 6

Moab

Optional sunrise walk; 1-2 miles, easy. Transfer to Durango for departure

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, the drive to Durango takes approximately three hours, stopping along the way to stretch your legs and have a picnic lunch.

Itinerary Disclaimer

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. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Tim Smith

When Tim Smith moved to Vermont, he immediately began exploring the backwoods and trails of this beautiful state. As he developed his middle school teaching career, he integrated exploring the early history of the Champlain Valley into his hiking. Through week-long backpacking trips on the Long Trail, his love of the peacefulness that Vermont offers grew. Tim can be found hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing or skiing during his free time.

Clint Fries

Clint has been guiding adventurers and sharing his curiosity, love, and stewardship for the natural world for over 20 years. His own sense of adventure has led him to accompany groups in locations ranging from Big Bend National Park, to Alaska, and the Arctic. In addition to guiding walking tours in Arizona, he has been building his own home and raising a family on a windswept prairie outside Flagstaff.

Guest Comments

B. Bienvenu, Florida, May 2013

The guides were incredibly knowledgeable about the geology of this area and met and exceeded every expectation.

M. Van Tuyl, Michigan, May 2013

The guides were exceptional, the group was made up of a variety of interesting and friendly people and the scenery was amazing.

E. Hogan, New Jersey, May 2012

CW offers a great way for a solo traveler to meet friendly people and enoy a hassle free getaway.

L. Beaton, Ontario, Canada, May 2012

Incredible scenery. Knowledgeable guides. Like-minded hikers. This was my second trip with CW and one of the reasons I returned to this company for another holiday was due to the nature of the guides. On both trips they went beyond just leading the group on hikes; we felt cared for, safe, informed and had many good laughs along the way. We reckoned that if our guides felt we could do it then we could. Everyday was packed with adventure, good company, new knowledge and excellent food and accommodations. I would travel again with CW in a heartbeat.

S. Blystone, Texas, May 2012

This is the second time I've toured with Tim, and he's a great guide. He has boundless enthusiasm and really brings to life the history of the places we see. The scenery was amazing, and the group was exceptional. Great trip all around!

N. Hoffmann, Pennsylvania, May 2012

A pleasure to walk with people dedicated to the out of doors in multiple ways: beauty, environmental concern, and the enhancement of the personal experience for each participant.

J. Christman, Pennsylvania, May 2012

Red Cliff Lodge was spectacular. Stunning setting. Staff that aimed to please.

K. Cutter, Arizona, May 2012

Our guides did an outstanding job of infusing the ancient Puebloan culture into the hikes.

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