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Combining the unique spectacle of an annular eclipse with some of the most breath-taking landscapes on the North American continent, this hiking trip covers the breadth of Western USA's natural wonders. Marvel at the magnificent Grand Canyon, feel on top of the world in Zion, hike amid the surreal hoodoos in Bryce and watch the sunset through Delicate Arch.
Explore Tour Leader
10 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights premium hotel
Trip maximum 13
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip begins in Salt Lake City, the gateway to some of the USA's most dramatic national parks.
Due to the number of evening flights into Salt Lake, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) - a 10 minutes' drive from the hotel.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you could choose to take a stroll around the centre. Founded by a group of believers of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) in 1847, the city is now their international headquarters and some of the finest buildings belong to the church. The setting, below the Wasatch Mountains and beside the Great Salt Lake, is superb and makes this a pleasant city to explore on foot.
Crystal Inn & Suites (or similar)
We leave the city immediately this morning, heading for the vast open scenery of the national parks, which Utah is famous for.
Our first stop is Canyonlands. This is a wilderness of countless canyons and buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries, which also divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. Our hikes this afternoon take us into the Island in the Sky district where we will take an easy trail to the spectacular Mesa Arch, a natural rock arch on the edge of a cliff before hiking on to the Grand View Point, aptly named for its beautiful panoramic views of the region. After our hike, we continue to Moab for the evening.
Today's four-and-a-half kilometre hike is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours along a flat route.
Redstone Inn (or similar)
Moab is the adventure capital of Utah and home to both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Having already explored Canyonlands, we make our first visit to Arches today, to discover some of the park's over 2,000 natural stone arches as well as soaring pinnacles, giant balanced rocks and winding hiking trails.
First stop is the Fisher Towers site. These rock pinnacles are isolated remnants of a 225 million year old floodplain deposit, which soar above the red and purple-hued canyons below. After the hike we return to Moab and midday is left free to to discover more of the townsite around lunch time.
Late this afternoon we will once again visit Arches and take a hike to the most iconic area of the park, Delicate Arch. At 20 metres tall and freestanding, this natural rock archway is a perfect spot to watch the sun set on this magnificent landscape. After sunset, the lack of light and air pollution in the area should afford us a dazzling display of stars.
Today's seven kilometre morning hike to Fisher Towers is expected to take around four hours with 550 metres of ascent and descent. The afternoon hike to Delicate Arch is five kilometres, taking approximately two hours with 170 metres of ascent and descent.
We return to Arches again this morning with a hike into Devil's Garden, to view one of the world's longest natural arches, Landscape Arch. As we continue along this primitive trail across fins of sandstone, we are afforded unparalleled views into this maze of rock slabs.
After our morning hike, we continue to Torrey, the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park.
Today's seven-and-a-half kilometre hike is expected to take around three hours with 120 metres of ascent and descent.
The Noor Hotel (or similar)
An annular eclipse of the Sun will take place today, 14th October 2023. Our location for the eclipse is Capitol Reef National Park - the wide open spaces of the US National Parks provide an ideal spot to view the spectacle. This morning, at around 10.27am, you can expect to experience some four minutes and 44 seconds of annularity (weather permitting).
Eclipse glasses will be provided to allow you to view this natural wonder safely and we will be accompanied by an expert astronomer to provide an insight on the science behind the eclipse, and to answer any questions you may have. There will be another Explore group with us, and we'll be able to share stories about our travels so far.
According to weather records, this day in Capitol Reef has had some level of cloud cover 25% of the time (since 2000), although we are unable to make any guarantees regarding the weather conditions and the likelihood of seeing the eclipse.
In the afternoon, we'll take a hike in Capitol Reef. This may be the most remote and under-visited of Utah's 'Big Five' National Parks. The red rock park encompasses a landscape of coloured sandstone cliffs, twisting canyons, monoliths and spires, and our Tour Leader will choose an easy to moderate hike of approximately 5 to 10 kilometres depending on what time we leave the eclipse location this afternoon.
Super 8 by Wyndham (or similar)
After the excitement of yesterday's eclipse, Our journey takes us on to Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. This 'Monument' is an enormous 1.87 million acre playground for hikers and bikers, taking its 'Staircase' name for the series of plateaus that descend south between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. We plan to walk the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail, with a varied terrain from sand to red rock, through a deep canyon that ends at the impressive falls themselves.
After our return hike the way we came, we continue to Bryce Canyon.
Todays 11 kilometre walk is expected to take around four to five hours with 264 metres of ascent and descent.
Bryce View Lodge (or similar)
Not actually a true canyon, but a series of natural amphitheatres, Bryce is distinctive due to its geological structures known as 'hoodoos'. These unusual structures are formed by a combination of frost and water erosion of sedimentary rocks and result in an 'other worldly' landscape of pinnacles, spires and wonderful rich colours that are not seen in such abundance in any other area. Our hiking this morning takes us down amongst these wonderful formations on an assortment of trails which interlock and cross over giving you the opportunity to make your walk as long or short as you like.
In the afternoon we drive to Zion National Park
La Quinta Inn - Springdale (or similar)
Taking the shuttle bus from Springdale today we enter Zion for a full day of exceptional hiking. Zion National Park is the showcase of the west and is home to, arguably, the best hikes in Utah. The main area of the national park that we will visit is Zion Canyon, a 24km rift in the beautiful red and tan coloured Navajo sandstone and the location for our hiking today and tomorrow.
Hiking the West Rim trail as far as Scout Lookout is one option, beginning with 21 steep switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles, and culminating in an astounding view across the park.
Pending weather conditions, an alternative and beautiful trail is a moderate hike to the Emerald Pools - lower, middle and upper - that offer us waterfalls, misty trails, hanging gardens and winding paths along with a taste of the beauty that Zion National Park has to offer.
Today's six kilometre hike to Scout's Lookout is expected to take around three hours with 340 metres of ascent and descent.
Our second visit into Zion National Park takes us along the Watchman's Trail, a moderate hike of approximately two hours that will take us past many of the park's famous geological formations, including the Towers of the Virgin and the Altar of Sacrifice. The very end of the walk brings us to a spectacular overlook of the Watchman, a red rock pinnacle that dominates the skyline. Photographic opportunities are plentiful, with a great contrast between the red of the rocks and the running rivers that we'll pass.
After the walk, we drive to Page, a small town in northern Arizona situated on the shores of magnificent Lake Powell. After a short break for lunch we take a second short hike at Horseshoe Bend. The trailhead is located just outside Page and overlooks one of the most spectacular views on the Colorado River. Created when the Colorado plateau uplifted (a mere five million years ago) and the river became trapped in its bed, causing it to cut its way through the rock to seek a new natural level and forming a 270 degree horseshoe-shaped bend in the canyon.
From Horseshoe Bend, we continue to the Grand Canyon.
Today's hike in Zion is three-and-a-half kilometres, taking approximately two hours with 170 metres of ascent and descent. The afternoon two-and-a-half kilometre morning hike to Horseshoe Bend is expected to take around one hour with 240 metres of ascent and descent.
Red Feather Lodge (or similar)
The Grand Canyon National Park is a sight to behold. A unique combination of geologic colour and eroded forms make this massive fissure in the ground one of the 'must see' sights of America. At 446 kilometres long, up to 29 kilometres wide in places and 1.8 kilometres deep, the sheer size of the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses. We have a full day to explore the routes and trails around the South Rim of the canyon. With routes ranging from easy to strenuous and regular buses to drop you at the various trail heads, you will have the opportunity to choose the walk that most suites you.
You may wish to hike various parts of the rim trail (easy to moderate walking), taking you along the top edge of the canyon with some stunning view points; or perhaps the Bright Angel Trail, a steeper walk that takes you further down below the rim of the canyon and into the abyss itself. There are a multitude of different walking options available, all of which will offer you some spectacular scenery of this amazing landscape. In the evening, if you wish to see more of the canyon, there is the opportunity for an optional helicopter ride over the canyon or, if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, to visit the local IMAX theatre.
We'll take our last spectacular views of the Grand Canyon with a morning walk along the rim to Yavapai Point.
In the late morning we leave the park behind us, and head towards the bright lights of Vegas. We will travel today along one of the most historic highways in America, the famous Route 66. A shadow of its former self, the road is nonetheless still rich in the Americana of its glory days, when it used to be known as the 'Main Street' of America. Our drive back to Las Vegas takes us through the towns of Kingman and Seligman, home to the wonderfully eccentric 'Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-in'. On arrival in Vegas we then have a final free evening to make the most of one of America's most notorious cities.
Today's four and half kilometre hike is expected to take around one hour along a flat route.
The Strat Hotel (or similar)
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Las Vegas.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Las Vegas at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Las Vegas International Airport (LAS), which is a 15 minute drive away.
There are great variations in the altitude and terrain of the areas visited and this is reflected in the temperatures. Desert areas can be extremely hot in the summer months (49°), though temperatures can drop dramatically at night. The mountains are cooler and wetter especially in the north of the Rockies. At the beginning and end of the season there may still be some snow around in the high passes and it can be cold, whereas in mid-summer the day time temperatures can soar.
2 Pin Flat
These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract. Grand Canyon Helicopter flight approximately US$ 235-265 (1 hr), IMAX cinema US$ 13
This trip covers a variety of altitudes and, being later in the season , the temperatures could be extremely cold, especially at night. Warmer layers are essential. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier and warmer are recommended as a base layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. A waterproof jacket is essential at all times in case of rain and wind. -Breathable wind and waterproof jacket (you may also wish to bring waterproof trousers) -Long sleeved tops -Sunhat -Long trousers -Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them) -Swimwear and towel -Midlayer Fleece/pullover -Socks (liner and thicker pair) -Insulated jacket -Scarf -Hat -Gloves
We recommend you bring walking boots with ankle support- leather or fabric are both fine. Make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
One main bag plus a small daypack for walking and for personal items. Main luggage cannot be accessed during the day. Soft luggage is more practical than a hard shell suitcase for loading into the trailer. Please pack light as you will be expected to carry your own luggage at times. Laundry facilities will be available at various points during the trip. A 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, water and picnic lunch.
-Sunglasses -Sun cream -Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb) -Camera -Walking poles (if you usually use them) -Personal toiletries -Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials. -Insect repellent -Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone) -Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore -Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches)
We use a range of comfortable rated motels, lodges and hotels during this trip, in order to make the most of the USA's natural wonders. In Vegas we use the Stratosphere hotel, which is at the end of the famous strip and has all the bizarre charms that you'd expect from a Vegas hotel, including fairground rides on the roof!
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
USA: You will require either a visa or an ESTA (an evisa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html ETA - only if transiting via Canada Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ETA here - http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp - other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.