U.S. National Parks

12 days / Nature & Wildlife Tours
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About This Experience

Follow in the footsteps of the explorers on this tour of North America’s national parks—the country’s greatest natural treasure. Each day displays a new destination, and with it a new landscape and a new adventure. Explore the mysterious cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde; hike into the depths of the Grand Canyon; and stand in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. And, within the borders of the parks, discover the amazing cultural and geographic diversity of the Southwest.

Your Tour Includes

  • Round-trip airfare & transfers

  • 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

How's the weather?

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
  • 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

Santa Fe, New Mexico2 nights - hotel info

Day1

Land in New Mexico—Land of Enchantment

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 on the transfer to Santa Fe. You’ll be assisted with check-in at your hotel. Meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s included welcome dinner.

Day2

Uncover the cultural crossroads of Santa Fe

Breakfast

This morning, an expert local guide leads your sightseeing tour of Santa Fe, a city settled by a Spanish conquistador nearly 400 years ago. Today, the city is an exuberant blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American influences, and on your tour you’ll see some of its landmarks which may include the Cross of the Martyrs, Loretto Chapel and Saint Francis Cathedral. The afternoon is free to continue exploring on your own.

Mesa Verde National Park1 night - hotel info

Day3

Dig into the mines and mountains in Durango

Breakfast, Dinner

Cross the Colorado border and stop for lunch in Durango, an authentic Old West mining town. Then continue on to Mesa Verde. Tonight, enjoy an included dinner.

Kayenta, Utah1 night - hotel info

Day4

Climb the cliffs of Mesa Verde and the buttes of Monument Valley

Breakfast

Mesa Verde, Monument Valley

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

Day5

Contemplate the enormity of the Grand Canyon from Lipan Point

Breakfast, Dinner

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.

Day6

Explore the canyon from above or from below

Optional Excursion - Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride

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, soar over the canyon and take in breathtaking views on an optional helicopter ride.

Optional Excursions

Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride $235* 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

Day7

Soar over Zion for views of vibrantly colored sandstone cliffs

Breakfast

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

Day8

Hike through the rosy, rocky landscapes of Bryce Canyon

Breakfast

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

Day9

Snake through a landscape of jagged peaks and lush valleys

Breakfast

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.

Day10

Get sprayed by geysers and watch for wildlife in Yellowstone

Breakfast

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.

Day11

Take in the Teton scenery on horseback or by river raft

Optional Excursion - The Grand Tetons by Horseback

Optional Excursion - Snake River Float

Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy a free day in Jackson. Peruse the shops and restaurants. Alternatively, join our optional Grand Tetons by Horseback excursion this morning. This afternoon, opt for a scenic float down the Snake River. Join your fellow travelers tonight for an included farewell dinner.

Optional Excursions

The Grand Tetons by Horseback $79* pp

Jackson is home to fewer than 9,000 people, but it'll feel like the big city after today's horseback riding excursion through the Grand Tetons. Suitable for riders of every skill level, this trip into Wyoming's back country will highlight the scenic beauty of the Snake River Valley. As you trot down mountain paths, keep your eyes peeled for the incredible array of wildlife that calls this area home. Please note: This excursion is weather-dependent and runs seasonally.

Optional Excursions

Snake River Float $69* pp

One of the best ways to see the Grand Tetons—the glorious peaks that surround Jackson—is from the Snake River. On a raft ride, you'll have a great chance of glimpsing some of Wyoming's wildlife, including soaring eagles and graceful mountain lions. You’ll also get a firsthand view of the site of Ansel Adams’ famous photo. Please note: This excursion is weather-dependent and runs seasonally from mid-May through mid-September. Layered clothing and waterproof shoes are recommended for this excursion.

Day12

Your trip is over but your memories will last a lifetime

Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

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

Passport & Visa Requirements

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.

Baggage Allowance

Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Be advised that most domestic airlines impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage, and that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

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.

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 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 eventuality—a lightweight jacket and emergency rainwear are advised. Restaurants are typically informal in this region of the United States.

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. Most of the cuisine is well-known to Americans, but look out for delicious Mexican and Spanish food in New Mexico.

Transportation

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

Electricity

All regions operate on the U.S. standard 110 volts.

Time Zones

Most of your tour will fall on Mountain Standard Time (MST), which is two hours behind Eastern Standard Time (EST). Arizona is on Pacific Standard Time (PST) in the summer, which is three hours behind EST; and MST in the winter. For most of your tour, when it’s noon in New York City, it’s 10am on tour.

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.

Best Park Tour on the Market!

Go Ahead is the only tour company that gives you both the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone on the same trip. Plus a lot of other parks and cities. Nik did a great job providing us an excellent tour. The price was right and the service was outstanding. The big parks were busy as it was high season but our coach dropped us off and picked us right in front of all the action. Meals were well coordinated and we particularly liked the Bar J Ranch meal at the end. We also saw 8 Big Horn sheep, Bald Eagles, Pronghorn Antelope, Elk, Moose, Bison, Condors and even one Grizzly Bear. Fast paced but it has to be to get it all in. Best extras were the helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon and the Snake River Raft trip which is picturesque but real safe.


5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/19/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: GA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Fabulous scenery!

We enjoyed our national parks tour VERY MUCH! The scenery was fabulous and we would recommend this tour .

4 / 5

Traveled On: 9/20/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Great Tour Director

Adrian our tour director was such a caring & informative person. Also, very upbeat & always ready to help wherever he was needed.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/13/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: PA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

"The Best of the Best Tours"

The U.S. National Parks Tour was absolutely the best tour out of 18 tours we have lead. I would again choose a post Labor Day departure date. The weather was cool but ideal for travel in the Southwest. The crowds were very manageable which made it possible for our group to enjoy each of the site visits. Phil, our tour Director, was so organized, so well prepared, and so knowledgeable that I did not hear one negative comment from any of our 38 participants. He prepared the participants in such a way that they enjoyed the ultimate learning experience and a very enjoyable group travel adventure. Any group traveling with Go Ahead would be fortunate to have Phil as their tour Director.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/20/2013

Number of Past Tours: 14

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Cross This Off Our Bucket list

We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our Go Ahead tour of western US Nat'l Parks. Not that it was without a glitch - our bus broke down in Kayenta, AZ - but our tour director Phil and bus driver Russ went out of their way to see that we didn't miss a minute of our trip. After searching high and low, Phil found another bus and driver to move us to our next location while Russ worked most of the night fixing our bus so that he could catch up with us the next day and keep us on schedule. These two should receive awards for their dedication to the job! The highlight of the tour was the Canyon River Adventure excursion. We had been disappointed with the pre-trip excursion offerings and when Phil announced this one during the tour, we jumped at the chance. It was just what we wanted - a dawn flight through the Grand Canyon, a visit to indescribable Antelope Canyon, & a leisurely raft float down the Colorado River. It was a 12 hr day and we were exhausted at the end but it was worth every minute and penny!! Phil was a fantastic tour director - extremely knowledgeable, accommodating, personable, witty, & engaging. We wouldn't hesitate to book another tour with him as our tour director. I've already recommended this tour to a friend who saw our trip pics on FB!

review photo

5 / 5

Traveled On: 9/20/2013

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

National Parks are 'grand'

Just finished National Parks tour. On the plus side the National Parks and area are a splendor to behold! The tour director and especially our driver and at times part time tour director were quite fine. The one thing I would say is that you do cover a lot of ground over the time period of the trip, so it is indeed a 'taste' of the parks as other reviewers have stated. There is a fair amount of time in the bus, but it is most comfortable and almost the whole time there is wonderful scenery to behold. The one negative was that the food was uneven in terms of what was presented as a covered dinner as well as availability when on your own for dinner or lunch as well.

4 / 5

Traveled On: 9/13/2013

Number of Past Tours: 5

From: RI

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

US Nat'l Parks well done!

We had a delightful tour a few weeks past led by Ken as fearless director and Dale as dependable driver. Generally good accommodations, great organization, careful timing and a cohesive group of travel companions made for a wonderful vacation. We did have some trouble with one of the side tours and frankly a couple of the hotels were simply "ok" but overall this is a good value and a well mapped-out vacation.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 8/2/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NJ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

The best of the US

I went into this tour with few expectations. I knew I always wanted to see the national parks and when the opportunity was presented to me, I snatched it up! This tour combined a good amount of nature, local eats and the opportunity for me stretch my legs in the parks and delve a little deeper. While time was limited at some of the parks, this tour gave me a taste of each of them and made me realize I want to re-visit many of them on my own and spend more time exploring at each of them. Our guide, Phil, was top notch. He is extremely knowledgeable, friendly and charismatic. He can answer any question you might come up with and he'll make sure the tour runs smoothly for everyone. He takes into consideration the various interest of the group and makes sure there is something for everyone. This tour is a great value and is perfect for anyone wishing to get a taste of the West and the parks. You will be left speechless but the sights and sounds of the Western States and you certainly won't go home hungry!

review photo review photo

5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/22/2011

Number of Past Tours: 6

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Oh beautiful USA

I chose this tour last year because I loved the starting and ending locations and because I had only seen the Grand Canyon at that time. I have since taken another tour to the British Isles, and I wanted, especially, to commend our tour director on the Parks tour because of the great job he did giving us additional, relevant information about the places we went to. I love Santa Fe (this was my 5th or 6th time there -- it never gets old) and I was delighted with Jackson Hole and would love to return. The Parks, of course are all gorgeous and the accommodations were great. Although the tour is not strenuous, the elevations sometimes exceed 8000 feet, so anyone having breathing issues might have a difficult time. I traveled alone and people on the tour were lovely and many included me in lunch and dinner plans, which was much appreciated.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 7/6/2012

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: AZ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Best Tour Director

We have been on four Go Ahead tours and, not to diminish the other tour guides at all because they were all wonderful, we found that Phil Pesch was the best tour director we have experienced. Phil was very knowledgeable and gave us so much information on each of the parks we visited. Also, he seemed very interested in continuing his education by informing himself along the way with new information for future travelers. In addition, he was very pleasant and kept us safe. I would recommend Phil as a tour director to anyone who is planning a tour of the national parks or any other tour he might guide.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/28/2013

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

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