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Albuquerque Balloon Festival & U.S. National Parks

12 days Special Event Tours
You can’t help but catch your breath as you watch hundreds of balloons fill with hot air and float gracefully upward, filling the sky with color. You’ll have the same reaction again and again on this inspiring tour, as you gaze into the depths of the Grand Canyon, feel the spray from Old Faithful or stand in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. Each day displays a new destination, and with it a new landscape and a new adventure.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

Local cuisine with beer or wine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 11 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine

  • Guided sightseeing

  • Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Select entrance fees

Albuquerque2 nights Hotel info

Day 1

Included meals: Dinner

Your trip begins with a regularly scheduled flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico, aboard a major airline. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport and then accompanies you to your hotel. Tonight, get acquainted with your fellow travelers at an included Welcome Dinner.

Day 2

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Rise and shine early today to watch balloons ascend en masse at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest hot air balloon festival in the world. At 7am, the first of the balloons begins its graceful ascent into “the Albuquerque box,” a unique set of air currents that allow the balloons to parade through the sky and return to the site from which they launched. While you’re at the festival, you’ll have access to a heated hospitality tent stocked with drinks and snacks. After the mass ascension, the majority of the day is free to explore the city of Albuquerque on your own. This evening, you’ll return to the festival around dusk, as the sky begins to fill with illuminated globes as part of the festival’s Twilight Twinkle Glow event.

Mesa Verde National Park1 night Hotel info

Day 3

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Cross the Colorado border and stop for lunch in Durango, an authentic Old West mining town. Then continue on to Mesa Verde National Park, home to the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians. Along the way, you’ll pass through the scenic southwestern landscapes that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe.

Kayenta, Arizona1 night Hotel info

Day 4

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Mesa Verde

This morning, visit Mesa Verde National Park. On your guided tour, you’ll view the fascinating 800-year-old cliff dwellings that honeycomb the canyon walls. Later today, pass through Monument Valley before arriving in Kayenta, Arizona, where you’ll spend the night.

Grand Canyon2 nights Hotel info

Day 5

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Included entrances: Grand Canyon

Reach the Grand Canyon. One mile below the rim runs the Colorado River, while the rocky canyon sides reflect millions of years of geological evolution in their striated patterns. Begin your exploration of the canyon with this afternoon’s visit to the South Rim. Dinner is included tonight.

Day 6

Included meals: Breakfast

With a full free day to explore the Grand Canyon at your leisure, you might choose to walk along the rim, or hike down to a plateau. Alternatively, consider joining our optional Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride to take in spectacular bird’s-eye views of one of our nation’s most awe-inspiring sites.

Optional Excursion - Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride $235*pp Details

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon aboard a thrilling half-hour helicopter ride. Soar over the massive canyon, taking in a unique perspective on the striated terrain far below. From high above the Canyon rim, you can begin to fully appreciate the immense scale of this natural wonder. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent.

Zion National Park1 night Hotel info

Day 7

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Zion National Park, tram ride

Pass by Lake Powell, a favorite southwestern vacation destination, on your way to Zion. During your visit to Zion National Park—including a tram ride—discover why the Mormon settlers of the 19th century named it after their heavenly city. Zion is famous for its dramatically eroded sedimentary rocks, whose yellow and orange hues create magnificent vistas contrasted with the thick green foliage along the riverbanks.

Salt Lake City, Utah1 night Hotel info

Day 8

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Bryce Canyon National Park

Your journey through Utah continues with today’s visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon is known for its distinctive pink sandstone, which forms awe-inspiring arches, spires, steps and bridges across the landscape. Tour the park by bus and by foot for up-close views of this fascinating phenomenon. Later today, reach Salt Lake City, capital of Utah and host city of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, for an overnight stop.

Jackson, Wyoming3 nights Hotel info

Day 9

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Grand Teton National Park

Cross into Wyoming and visit Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Teton, which is the highest mountain of the Teton range, rises to 13,770 feet above sea level, while 12 other Teton peaks are higher than 12,000 feet. This range is particularly interesting to geologists because it is the youngest range in the Rockies but displays some of North America’s oldest rocks. Reach the town of Jackson, a colorful resort town popular with skiers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Day 10

Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Yellowstone National Park

Today’s destination is Yellowstone, the world’s first national park (so designated in 1872). See the park’s famous hot springs and geysers, including Old Faithful. Wildlife within the park includes grizzly bears, wolves, bison and elk. You’ll spend the entire day experiencing the majesty of Yellowstone’s awe-inspiring views and terrain.

Day 11

Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy a free day in Jackson. Peruse the shops and restaurants as you spend a leisurely day in and around the Snake River Valley. Later this evening, join your fellow travelers tonight for an included farewell dinner.

Day 12

Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

This morning, a Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your return flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Albuquerque, United States
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Grand Canyon, United States
  • Springdale, Utah
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
  • Jackson, Wyoming, United States
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & Visa

Valid government-issued identification is required for air travel within the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please be sure to have your required identification with you as well.

Transportation / Walking on tour

Flights arrive in Albuquerque, where a Go Ahead representative escorts you to Sante Fe for hotel check-in. Flights depart from Jackson. All included ground transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.

Baggage Allowance

Airlines have varying policies on weight restrictions and checked luggage. Charges for one or more checked bags may apply when traveling domestically. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.

Clothing & Packing Tips

Light, loose-fitting clothing that provides comfort when exploring the sights is essential for your tour. A sun hat, sunglasses and a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers are recommended for sightseeing. Hiking boots might come in handy, if you plan to do any extensive walking or hiking. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for any event—a lightweight sports jacket and emergency rainwear are advised. Restaurants are typically informal in this region of the United States.

Health

Please be aware that you will be traveling at altitudes between 7,000 and 9,000 feet above sea level on this tour. These high altitudes can sometimes cause difficulty breathing and other health problems with travelers who have heart problems or respiratory ailments. If you suffer from any of these conditions, please speak to your doctor regarding any potential health risks. Even healthy travelers may sometimes experience altitude sickness, a temporary condition featuring symptoms of headache, fatigue, nausea and lightheadedness. Until your body acclimates to the higher altitudes, we suggest that you drink plenty of fluids and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Otherwise, there are no major health risks when traveling to this region. During the summer months, take care for sun exposure and heat. It is always advisable to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and personal travel requirements.

Cuisine

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling is the delightful variety of local cuisine—even if you’re not traveling abroad. After all, the United States contains some of the most varied food in the world, and your tour will hit many different historic regions. Most of the cuisine is well-known to Americans, but look out especially for delicious Mexican and Spanish food in New Mexico.

Currency

U.S. dollars will be the currency on your tour.

Tipping

At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 3

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Best vacation ever!

My daughter and I planned to take this trip together last year but it was cancelled due to the closing of the National Parks in 2013! So, our anticipation and excitement when we left had built up for almost two years. The trip began with the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico which was a magical experience with hundreds of brightly colored balloons floating so quietly and graceful through the sky as far as your eye could see. There were vendors for food and gifts galore. We also had tickets to see the concert - Josh Turner! Our next stop was Mesa Verde National Park, home to the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians. Here we actually walked into the dwellings some having over 100 rooms! Monument Valley our next destination provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region. We toured the area in a jeep driven by some of the Native Americans and were thrilled to have them play some tribal music on their flute and guitar. We saw petroglyphs drawn on the walls over 800 years ago! Our "Best Tour Director, EVER" arranged for a Navajo code talker to speak to us during breakfast the following day. Navajo code was the only unbreakable code in modern military history used during WWII and saved thousands of US lives. Peter MacDonald was raised on the Navajo Reservation and was a marine in 1944 - 1946 joining at age 15. Our next adventure was to the Grand Canon. We signed up for a plane ride, tour of Antelope Canyon and float down the river! This excursion was 12 hours but it was worth every minute. It included a picnic lunch and several stops along the river ride. You can truly understand just how vast and amazing the canyon really is when viewing it from the sky. Next stop, Zion National Park - which was my daughters favorite park! As far as your eye can see looks like giant drip sand castles. Each park was so unique and different which is what I found most interesting. Next to Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic. Salt Lake City is also headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we were able to tour their beautiful temple. We also had a nice bus tour of the beautiful buildings and state capital. Next on to Jackson Hole, home of the famous Cowboy Bar complete with saddle seats! Great shopping too. In closing I must say this is my 3rd Go Ahead trip and Stevyn Polk our Tour Director went above and beyond making sure we all had the best time and he freely shared his passion of the history, geology and natural beauty of this country with us all. This was a sold out tour and I'm sure we would all love to do it all over again thanks to him.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/5/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: IN

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Grand Adventure

This was our first Go Ahead Tour, so we wondered how the experience would be. Well, it was a " Grand Adventure"! Our tour director, Stevyn, made what would have been a very good tour into an excellent tour! He was informative, personable, and energetic. He offered additional experiences, if you were interested. He also watched closely over the details and prepared the tour group for each stop. Everything was taken care of, so we could relax and enjoy the National Parks and Balloon Fiesta. We extended our tour on the front end flying into Albuquerque 5 days early to explore Santa Fe. I checked into the Go Ahead option of booking our own flights but could not beat Go Ahead's prices on flights. (Good Value!) The Go Ahead staff on the phone was very helpful with this. My only question is... we could not get a hotel transfer (pick-up) from the airport even though we were returning our airport rental car the same day as the majority of our fellow tour travelers were arriving. We knew up front from Go Ahead that we would have to get a cab to the hotel- so no complaint. Maybe Go Ahead has had problems in the past with people not being at an assigned luggage pick up time-when others are being picked up- understandable. We were happy with the hotels and lodges on this trip. Everyone on the tour was cooperative and friendly. Our bus driver, Patrick, was great too. We like the way our tour director rotated the seating and who got off the bus first. The bus rides never got boring. From the scenery, frequent stops, interesting talks from Stevyn - the time went quickly. I had downloaded 2 novels on my kindle for this trip and I only read for about 40 minutes out of 12 days! I was afraid I'd miss something. Each day, you thought you had seen the best place on the trip and you were amazed all over again. We will definitely book again withe Go Ahead Tours.

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5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: NJ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Awesome tour director and driver!

Everything about the tour was great. Stevyn our director was excellent. He provided us with great optionals to fill in free time, had great information about all the sites and was a lot of fun. Patrick our driver did a great job navigating the 2300 miles we covered.His daily basket of candy was a nice touch. I would highly recommend this trip especially if Patrick and Stevyn were involved.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NY

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Best Tour Director and Bus Driver!

What an amazing tour and was even better because of the Tour Director, Stevyn and bus driver, Patrick! They were both very professional, extremely well organized and a wealth of information. Needless to say, the national parks are all amazing and need to be seen and experienced to understand the natural beauty they all offer. The hotels were all very clean and accommodating. The whole experience was excellent! I highly recommend this tour!

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5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MN

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

"Balloon Fiesta" and so much more!

This was our first experience on a guided tour start to finish, It was fabulous!, Our tour Director Stevyn was terrific, Hey explained in detail what was going on that day and prepared everyone for the next days activities, To me it seemed like three vacations in one, we saw so much !, I wouldn't have been able to put this together on my own. Our driver Patrick was Great as well, they made a terrific team, Stevyn's knowledge of the sites was amazing, His expertise made the trip ,really! I'm already looking forward to the next "Go Ahead " trip! Met some great fellow traverlers Too!

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1 / 6

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/10/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Complete Tour Director

No one living in the U.S. should reach old age and not have visited the natural wonders of our Western National Parks. Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, The Tetons, Yellowstone and as well Monument Valley are all in the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, a trip offered by Go Ahead Tours. If the natural wonders weren't enough, our trip was led by Stevyn, a bright, extremely knowledgeable young man who wove a tapestry of geography, history and humor which brought this adventure to life. A must do trip.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/5/2012

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Albuquerque Balloon Festival

My husband & I took our first organized tour with you. We would not hesitate to take another. Our tour director Stevyn Polk was excellent. He was very informative and very caring. His sense of humor was most enjoyable. The itinerary was well planned. We saw everything listed and more. We enjoyed the beautiful parks and scenery. The hotels were very satifactory. The meals provided were very good. I should also mention that our bus driver was very good. We enjoyed our trip and wish to thank Go Ahead Tours.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/5/2012

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: GA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Albuquerque/National Parks Tour 2012

Beautiful views! Great eats! Great attractions! Great tour guide! Highly recommended!!

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4 / 5

4 / 5

Traveled On: 10/5/2012

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: IL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Baloon Festival & Park tour

Wonderful tour. Our guide, Stevyn, was wonderful. Very helpful, wonderful background on areas visited. Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon was awesome.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Traveled On: 10/5/2012

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: WI

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

national parks

What a WONDERFUL trip!!!!!!!!!!! Stevyn was very knowlegable, kind,respectful, and could tell a good joke:-) Each day was so different from the one before that I cannot say which was my favorite. The group was fun but the only suggestion would be to have a smaller group. We could not get to know everybody and they were all such interesting people. Dale, the bus driver, was wonderful and did a great job maneuvering some pretty challenging terrain. I feel we really lucked out with such a good guide and bus driver as well as a great group of people.Our accommodations were excellent as well as the food. Keep it up GO Ahead Team!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nancy