Albuquerque Balloon Festival & U.S. National Parks 12 days / Special Event Tours
About This Experience
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.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
11 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Hundreds of hot air balloons illuminating the sky
Spectacular scenery at every turn
Mother Nature’s architecture in Monument Valley
The Grand Tetons & Grand Canyon
Jackson’s odd elk-horn archways
Zion’s dramatic, red-rock “skyscapers”
Albuquerque2 nights - hotel info
Descend into the Duke City—Albuquerque, New Mexico
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.
Fix your eyes on the sky as it fills with color and creatures
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
Dig into the old mining town of Durango
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, Utah1 night - hotel info
Discover the enigmatic cliff dwellings of the Anasazi
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
Gaze over the South Rim and into the vastness of the 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.
Get a different perspective on this colossal canyon
Optional Excursion - Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride
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.
Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride $275* pp
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
Ride the rail through Zion’s red cliffs and green valleys
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
Hike through the rosy, rocky landscapes of Bryce Canyon
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
Crane your neck to see the peaks of the towering Tetons
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.
Search for geysers and grizzly bears in America’s first national park
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.
Animals or art—check out Jackson’s creative exhibits of wildlife art
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
U.S. dollars will be the currency on your tour.
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.
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.
Albuquerque/National Parks Tour 2012
Beautiful views! Great eats! Great attractions! Great tour guide! Highly recommended!!
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.
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