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, Arizona1 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 a peek at Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park

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

Best Tour Director!

Nancy has to be the best tour director there is. Her in-depth knowledge of the places we visited, her expertise in handling a large group, her delightful, caring personality, and her sense of fun were all assets we appreciated. Covering 2300 miles and six magnificent national parks as well as other exciting destinations made this a trip we'll long remember. We felt we were guided to see the best of everything while still having enough leisure time to explore on our own with Nancy's sound advice. The only significant negative was the bus breakdown (twice) which did cause some inconvenience, but Nancy worked tirelessly to be sure it did not spoil our trip.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NY

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Natural Wonders!

All travelers need to visit the US National Parks! the tour showcases not only the beauty and majestic landscape but enriched my understanding of native cultures and climate. Well worth some of the long bus travel; our guide was not only knowledgeable about the area and its history, but made sure all of our needs were met!

5 / 5

Traveled On: 5/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 4

From: DE

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Awe Inspiring Tour

It was a pleasure to explore the National Parks of the Southwest and West with our tour leader, Phil. His incredible knowledge and enthusiasm made the learning experience especially enjoyable. Our bus driver, John, was a true professional. The local tour guides in Santa Fe and Mesa Verde gave in-depth lectures on the anthropology and archaeology of these respective areas. I highly recommend this tour.

review photo

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Best Tour Director, Bus Driver and Itinerary

Phil, our tour director, was incredible. His attention to details and his unbelievable knowledge base were a tremendous asset to all of us on the National Parks Tour. He was very organized, fair and pleasant. He made the beauty of our national parks come alive! We never would've known all of the facts he shared, had we done this trip on our own. John was a safe and also a humorous bus driver. His care and skill utilized in driving us was much appreciated. He was always smiling. We loved each park. The Grand Canyon helicopter ride and the Snake River float were relaxing, unforgettable and very safe. The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, Zion's tall "towers" and Bryce's hoodoos were beautiful. Yellowstone's Old Faithful Inn and Old Faithful were marvelous. The Grand Tetons were magnificent. Seeing various wildlife such as bisons and pronghorns was a thrill. Again, thanks to Phil, John and Go Ahead, this vacation will be long remembered. It increased our love for America.

5 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: PA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

The National Parks Tour was Excellent! !

The National Parks Tour was excellent. Our Tour Director, Phil, did a great job of keeping the tour on schedule, and providing information on the history, cultures, and geology, along the way. The bus driver, John, was also excellent. The tour director planned stops in Park City and Durango for lunch. He gave information on optional locations for us to visit. All of our accommodations and food were excellent. The only complaint that we had was with flight and seating arrangements on the flights. We were not seated together on all flights and had a ridiculous 4 hour layover in MSP airport on the flights home.

4 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

The National Parks Tour was Excellent !

We had a great experience for our 1st Go Ahead Tour. The tour director, Phil, was excellent. He gave a great mix of history, geology, and topography, as we went 2300 miles in 11 days seeing the National Parks. The only disappointing part of our trip was the poor airline flight seating arrangements, (seated separate from my spouse) and a 4 hour layover in MSP airport on the return home. Our driver, John, was also excellent. John arrived in Santa Fe with a brand new coach. We had options for doing as much hiking, or as little as we wanted, in the parks.

4 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: OH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Lots to see

This trip packs in so many extraordinary things to see. I loved seeing so many wonderful places that were on my bucket list.

review photo

4 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: NY

Tour Director: 4 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Constructive criticism

Driver and tour director were good. Hotels ok accept for the Salt Lake City one: it needs refurbishing but good location. The meals were edible, but I wouldn't mind having them deleted from the plan and purchasing food on my own. There were 40 people in my group. It took too long to get out of a bus with only one door and so many people. The bus needs 2 doors and wifi.

3 / 5

Traveled On: 6/13/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 3 / 5

Fantastic Voyage.

I thought this tour might be dull but was I ever wrong. The scenery and the sights can be almost overwhelming. Worth every minute of the long bus rides to get from Santa Fe to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The many stops in interesting places like Durango, NM and Park City, UT for lunch were great. Also want to mention that Go Ahead has first class Tour Directors, Bus Drivers and organization. It is such a pleasure to leave all the planning to them. Makes for a worry free and relaxing vacation. Our tour group was large (43) but full of fun and interesting people.

4 / 5

Traveled On: 5/16/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: NC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

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