Hiking through Utah’s twin rock stars, Zion and Bryce, reveals a who’s-who of hoodoos and colorful canyon scenery.

Refrigerator Canyon? Thor’s Hammer? After a week walking through Utah’s national parks, you’ve gotten used to colorful names. But now it’s Zion’s colorful landscape that’s grabbing your attention. Your snaking climb up the zigzag path known as Walter’s Wiggles has earned you the best view of this Utah hiking trip. And that’s saying something! Framed by sheer red-rock faces, the Virgin River winds through the verdant valley below. In a lifetime of walking, you’ve never seen scenery so divine. Bryce’s labyrinth of fiery-hued, wind-sculpted hoodoos. Shocks of slot canyon greenery contrasting with ruddy streaks of mineral-rich “desert varnish.” The polychrome glow of Zion’s sandstone cliffs at dawn. Returning your gaze to Angel’s Landing, the knife-edged formation now soaring before you, you’ve got to admit – it’s a pretty apt name.

Highlights

  • From the edge of the rim, descend into the heart of Bryce Canyon on foot, observing natural amphitheaters and unique rock formations as you go.
  • Explore the frontier beauty of Springdale, your home for three nights, and admire the local art inspired by Zion’s soaring backdrop of multicolored sandstone.
  • With expert guides, discover how the Ancestral Puebloans thrived in Zion’s extreme climate, and perhaps spot their ancient rock art during your hike.
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Expert local guides to introduce you to the best of your destination.
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Off-the-beaten-path places you’d never find on your own.
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Delicious, authentic multi-course meals — virtually all are included.
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A maximum of 18 fun-loving fellow travelers to share the journey.
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Gracious accommodations that are a clean, comfortable home away from home.
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Experts to handle all the details.

Itinerary

Sun, May 2 to Fri, May 7 - 2021

Show Itinerary:

Snow Canyon; 2-3 miles, easy to moderate. Transfer to Bryce Canyon National Park. Fairyland Rim Trail; 3 miles, easy to moderate

Your guide(s) will meet you at the Inn on the Cliff at 8:00 a.m. in the lobby. Your guide(s) will be wearing a Country Walkers shirt. Please be dressed for walking.

Upon meeting your guides in St. George, you travel north to the day’s destination of Bryce Canyon National Park, with several stops en route to break up the approximate two-and-a-half-hour drive. The drive follows the course of the Virgin River—rising almost 8,000 feet from its terminus at Lake Mead to its origin at Navajo Lake on the Colorado Plateau—the vast geologic area that includes not only Bryce and Zion Canyons but also the Grand Canyon. Your morning walk in Snow Canyon, located in the 62,000-acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, offers your first glimpse of the area’s colorful sandstone cliffs. Once ancient sand dunes, these formations have been sculpted over time by the wind and rain.

Next is a stop at Kolob Canyon, in the upper portion of Zion National Park, where you enjoy a picnic lunch at an elevation of over 6,000 feet as you look over the lower parts of Zion. Established as a national park in 1919, this Kolob portion was added to Zion in 1956.

Continuing the drive to Bryce Canyon, you disembark your van at Fairyland Point. Here, you walk along the Fairyland Rim trail that brings you on foot to Bryce Canyon Lodge—your home for the next two nights. Panoramic views of Bryce Canyon are a magical introduction to this area, as you walk past the red, orange, and white hoodoos. These fantastic rock spires glow in the afternoon light underneath Ponderosa pines. In the distance, you have views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Aquarius Plateau, and Navajo Mountain. You may choose to shorten the walk, or arrive by van to your 1920s park lodge, a National Historic Landmark. Its privileged location within the park provides unlimited access to the spectacle of Bryce Canyon’s rim and, after dark, a crystalline night sky. You gather for dinner at the rustic-yet-elegant main lodge.

Accommodation: Bryce Canyon Lodge, Bryce Canyon National Park
Included Meals: Lunch, Dinner

3-4 miles, moderate, 700-1,000-ft. elevation gain. Queen’s Garden Loop and Navajo Loop; 3 miles, easy to moderate, 500-ft. elevation gain; 1 mile, easy. Shorter option: Bristlecone Loop via Rainbow and Yovimpa Points; 1 mile, easy

After a hearty breakfast in the lodge’s dining room, you start today’s walk on the rim of the canyon, with spectacular views of Bryce Amphitheater and the Paria River Valley beyond. Passing multicolored limestone rock formations, both surreal and whimsical, you descend gently into the heart of the canyon, making your way through a stand of bristlecone pines. These pines are the park’s oldest living trees, said to date back over 2,000 years. You ascend gradually out of the canyon on the Navajo Loop through the “Wall Street” formation—massive orange limestone fins. These rocks were once part of an ancient lakebed, and now they provide cooling shade. Pass beneath these remarkable rocks and continue along the trail for a view of Thor’s Hammer, one of the park’s most impressive hoodoos.

This afternoon, choose from two distinct walking options: the longer includes the Queen’s Garden Loop (named for a hoodoo that looks like Queen Victoria in profile) and Navajo Loop. This option begins and ends at your lodge, descending to the canyon floor, passing the Twin Bridges, and bringing you into Bryce Amphitheater before rising gradually.

The shorter option is reached via a 20-minute drive to Bryce’s southern point at an elevation of 9,100 feet. This easy walk begins on the canyon rim and offers tremendous views for hundreds of miles in all directions: to the north are Bryce’s 14 amphitheaters; northeast, the red and orange cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau; to the east, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, one of the world’s greatest sources of dinosaur fossils; and to the south, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is visible. This evening, you linger over refined Western fare, perhaps a grilled steak or Alaskan salmon accompanied by a Utah microbrew at your historical lodge’s dining room.

Accommodation: Bryce Canyon Lodge, Bryce Canyon National Park
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Optional sunrise walk: Bryce Point to Sunset Point; 2 miles, easy. Canyon Overlook Trail; 1 mile, moderate. Emerald Pools Trail; 3 miles, easy to moderate

Early risers may wish to join the guides for a serene sunrise walk and catch the morning rays over the Aquarius Plateau, bathing the hoodoos in warm hues. After breakfast, you transfer to Zion National Park, stopping along the way to walk the Canyon Overlook Trail, offering expansive views of Pine Creek Canyon, the East Temple, and the west side of Zion.

The entrance to Zion Canyon is breathtaking. You emerge from the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which was cut laboriously through 1.1 miles of sandstone, and descend into Zion’s main canyon, carved out of rock by the Virgin River. Zion is a true natural wonder, not only due to its unique geology and stunning scenery but also for the incredible variety of flora and fauna—from peregrine falcons to the desert bighorn sheep and the Zion snail, found nowhere else on Earth. In addition to its rich natural history, the canyon contains evidence of human history extending back 2,000 years to the Ancestral Puebloans, as well as the Paiutes of 800 years ago.

The Emerald Pools Trail is an easy to moderate walk leading to several pools and underneath a cool waterfall. Depending on the season, the falls can be either a steady stream or a slight trickle. The vegetation around the pools offers an oasis of shade in the surrounding desert cliffs.

Your home for the next three nights is an inn resort along the Virgin River in the charming town of Springdale. After some time to unpack and freshen up in your spacious room, you venture out for dinner at a favorite local restaurant.

Accommodation: Desert Pearl Inn, Springdale
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

4 miles, moderate, 1,000-ft. elevation gain or Echo Canyon plus Observation Point; 8 miles, challenging, 2,000-ft. elevation gain

After breakfast in a nearby café, you begin today’s walk to Echo Canyon. This beautiful slot canyon boasts gorgeous curves of orange sandstone and offers incredible views of Cable Mountain towering overhead. Starting with a few uphill switchbacks, you follow a paved trail upward about 1,000 feet to middle Echo Canyon. This canyon, with its pools and undulating slickrock, is a marvel of nature’s artistry. Because of time constraints you will need to decide this morning whether to opt for the additional afternoon walk to Observation Point or to turn around at Echo Canyon for a more leisurely return to the inn.

Following a picnic lunch at Echo Canyon with spectacular views over Angel’s Landing and into the Narrows, you may choose to walk to Observation Point. One of the most remarkable hikes in the area, the trail to Observation Point climbs the smooth, wide, and mostly paved trail all the way to the rim of Zion. Know that you will be rewarded for your efforts with stunning views of the entire canyon.

The rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy by relaxing at your inn’s inviting swimming pool and hot tub, or by taking advantage of the visitors’ center at Zion National Park. This evening, you return to Springdale for dinner on your own, with your guides offering many suggestions from outdoor cafés to fine-dining restaurants.

Accommodation: Desert Pearl Inn, Springdale
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

2 miles, easy. Scout’s Lookout and West Rim Trail viewpoint; 5 miles, moderate, 1,500-ft. elevation gain or the Narrows; 3-5 miles, moderate, water-level dependent, optional*

After breakfast, you set off from the Grotto trailhead on a moderate walk to Scout’s Lookout (elevation gain of 1,300 feet). A winding trail leads from the valley floor through a series of switchbacks into Refrigerator Canyon, where, as its name implies, you are sheltered and cooled from the desert sun. You continue through Walter’s Wiggles, where closely cut switchbacks lead to spectacular Scout’s Lookout. The park unfolds below, with views of the Virgin River and canyon walls.

From here, hike a few hundred feet farther up the West Rim, where you share a packed trail lunch with your companions under a ponderosa pine on top of the world. Everyone will descend the same route to the river in the early afternoon.

This evening, you venture into lively Springdale for a celebratory farewell dinner at a favorite local restaurant serving fresh, innovative cuisine.

*Note that close-toed walking shoes/boots with good traction are highly recommended for walking in the Narrows. River boots and dry pant rentals are available, at your own expense.

Accommodation: Desert Pearl Inn, Springdale
Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

2 miles, easy to moderate

After breakfast, a final walk takes you through the Red Cliffs Archaeological Site. The Ancestral Puebloans (formerly known as the Anasazi) lived here from 600 to 1200 AD. It is thought they left the region in search of the permanent water source of the Rio Grande, where their descendants, the modern Pueblo Indians, live today. The hilltop site contains the rectangular and circular ruins of numerous habitation and storage rooms carved into the rock. These vantage points likely provided clear views of enemies and game. Below are the flatter areas for farming corn, squash, and beans, and the water source at the cottonwood-lined Quail Creek. It’s still possible to find 1,000-year-old pottery shards on the ground, underneath the red sandstone cliffs.

After the walk, you enjoy lunch at a lovely restaurant in Ancestor Square in St. George, Utah, which features locally grown organic fare with Southwest flavors. After lunch, a complimentary transfer is provided to the Inn on the Cliff at approximately 3:00 p.m. or to the St. George Regional Airport arriving at 3:30 p.m.

Accommodations

What's Included

Tour Only
Exceptional boutique accommodations Check
All on-tour meals except 1 dinner Check
Local guides with you throughout tour Check
Local wine and/or beer with dinner Check
Travel assistance available 24/7 provided by Allianz Check
Morocco: Marrakesh, Foothills of the High Atlas & Essaouira

Dates & Prices

Tour Only

6 days. Includes your tour only.

Single Supplement: From $1,048

Sun, May 2 - Fri, May 7, 2021

$3,648

Reserve Online

Sun, May 9 - Fri, May 14, 2021

$3,648

Reserve Online

Sun, Sep 26 - Fri, Oct 1, 2021

$3,648

Reserve Online

Sun, Oct 3 - Fri, Oct 8, 2021

$3,648

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Sun, Oct 10 - Fri, Oct 15, 2021

$3,548

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