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Walking Vacation Walking the American West: Zion & Grand Canyon ​

Activity Level: Easy / Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 2 – 6 mi  |  Daily Walking: 2 – 4 hr
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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive Zion National Park / Zion Lodge

VBT offers a shuttle from Las Vegas International Airport to Zion Lodge in Zion National Park, our base for the first two days of the tour. The shuttle will depart at 9:00 am from the Zero Level of Terminal 1, down the escalator from baggage claim.

If you are arriving after the shuttle departs, or if your flight is delayed, you must make your own arrangements to reach Zion National Park. A regular shuttle operated by St. George Shuttle travels from the Las Vegas Airport to St. George, Utah. Cost is approximately $36. An additional taxi can take you from St. George to Zion Lodge for approximately $110. Please contact the St. George Shuttle at 800-933-8320 or visit their website: www.stgshuttle.com for more information.

Guests driving to the tour should meet the group at the Las Vegas International Airport and park there for the week. If preferred, you may drive to the start of the tour in Zion National Park. Please plan to arrive at Zion Lodge in Springdale, Utah by 12:00 pm. You will have to purchase a park entrance pass for your vehicle for $25. You will receive a Zion “Red Permit” at the Zion Lodge upon arrival. In addition, you will have to drive your vehicle from Zion to Williams, Arizona on our transfer day as we will not return to Zion. You can leave your vehicle at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel; our shuttle will drop you off there at the end of the tour.

Your Trip Leaders will accompany you on the shuttle from Las Vegas to the Zion Lodge in Zion National Park. We regroup at noon for lunch and afterward attend a safety briefing and orientation session. Then we’ll board the in-park shuttle for a brief trip to the Temple of Sinawava, a splendid natural amphitheater with vertical walls soaring 3,000 feet. The shaded Riverside Trail follows the meandering Virgin River. You might cool off in the fresh stream water.

After our walk, we transfer back to the lodge and settle in to our rooms. We spend our first two nights in the unique Zion Lodge cabins, nestled in a shady oasis in the heart of Zion National Park. At 6:00 pm, we meet the group for a tour orientation and welcome reception before our 7:00 pm dinner at the lodge.

Day 2 - Walk Pa'rus Trail / Human History Museum / Springdale / Emerald Pools Trail

After a leisurely breakfast, we board the Zion Park Shuttle for a brief trip to our trailhead at  the flat Pa’rus Trail. As we trace the Virgin River, we’ll admire majestic canyon walls on either side of us, including the Towers of the Virgin, Streaked Wall, Bridge Mountain, and the Watchman.

Our walk delivers us to the Zion Human History Museum, where we can take in a short film or listen to a ranger talk about Zion National Park. Later, we continue along the Pa’rus Trail to the Zion National Park visitor center where you can stamp your National Parks Passport and pick up souvenirs and trinkets from Zion.

For lunch, we shuttle into Springdale where our Trip Leaders suggest several local restaurants and cafes. We’ll have time to explore Springdale before taking the shuttle back into Zion.

The afternoon is free. Explore more of Springdale, relax at the Zion Lodge, or get out for a lovely afternoon stroll from our lodge to the Emerald Pools. The Emerald Pools Trail forms a 3-mile loop departing directly from the lodge. It skirts several pools nestled into hillside grottos. Water drips from the pools directly over our trail at points, making this walk a refreshing and scenic afternoon jaunt.

You'll have the evening to explore Zion at your leisure. Relax at the lodge or shuttle on your own into Springdale for dinner at one of the many local restaurants.

Day 3 - Flagstaff, Arizona / Kaibab National Forest / Williams

We board a bus after breakfast for our transfer to Williams, Arizona. Take advantage of our relaxing ride to soak in the iconic scenery of the Utah desert as we head toward Arizona and the Pacific Time Zone.

We arrive in Flagstaff, Arizona in time for lunch. This eclectic college town is home to Northern Arizona University and a number of brew pubs, cafés, and restaurants. Explore Flagstaff’s walkable downtown, sample some excellent cuisine and visit the local artist galleries.

After lunch and time to explore, we continue to Williams, Arizona. En route, we stop in the Kaibab National Forest to join a Forest Service archaeologist for an afternoon walk. Our trail meanders through an open pine forest and takes us to a set of prehistoric petroglyphs. Our archaeologist guide will interpret the markings and help us envision an earlier time when this place was a prime hunting ground for local natives.

In Williams, we check in for the evening at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Take the rest of the day to relax. Or explore this historic town at the end of Route 66 before meeting for a special dinner within walking distance of our hotel.

Day 4 - Grand Canyon Railway to South Rim / Trail of Time

Our day starts with a literal bang at the Wild West Shootout—a lively morning show that sets the mood for a thrilling ride on the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the Grand Canyon. Once onboard, we’ll relax in the luxury parlor car at the back of the train, featuring a talk from our porter about the magnificent classic American landscapes right outside our windows. We’ll arrive in style in about two-and-a-quarter hours, alighting in Grand Canyon Village directly at the South Rim.

Our Trip Leaders know just the spot for our bag lunch with spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. After lunch, we follow the scenic Rim Trail on the Trail of Time. Along our path, markers provide fascinating insight into the geologic history of the Grand Canyon. Our walk concludes in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, where we can view a brief film about the Grand Canyon, stamp our National Parks Passport, or find the perfect keepsake. Continue along more magnificent walking trails to Yaki Point, or take our shuttle to the hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight at one of several restaurants in the South Rim Village

Day 5 - Rim Trail along Hermit Road

After breakfast, we board an early morning shuttle along Hermit Road to the Monument Creek Vista. Our walk along this thrilling leg of the Rim Trail takes us to some of the canyon’s most spectacular vistas and overlooks. The views of the Colorado River over a mile below are spellbinding.

During this morning’s walk, keep your eyes peeled for one of the rarest and largest birds in North America—the California Condor. Fewer than 100 condors survive in Utah and Arizona, and many of them make their home along the walls of the Grand Canyon. Their wingspan extends over nine feet and they are a stunning sight to behold as they soar on the thermals rising from the hot canyon floor. Our Trip Leaders will help us keep watch for these rare birds.

After a snack at a special overlook along the Rim Trail, you may take the shuttle back to the village from Powell Point or continue along the trail to our hotel. Lunch is on your own, followed by a free afternoon.

Perhaps you'll browse one of the villages several studios and museums to learn more about the art and human history shaped by the Grand Canyon. Daily ranger lectures on a variety of topics from California Condors to Grand Canyon geology are also available. You may rent bikes from the visitor center and ride along the Hermit Road out to Hermit’s Rest. The road is closed to traffic except shuttle buses and offers rolling terrain. If you’d like to hike into the Grand Canyon on your own, you can follow the Bright Angel Trail, just a short walk from our hotel.

Tonight, we toast our week in Zion and the Grand Canyon during an early farewell dinner at the historic El Tovar Hotel. We’re sure to finish in time to catch one final sunset over the Grand Canyon.

Day 6 - Hermit’s Rest / Depart for home

Following a final breakfast at the El Tovar Restaurant, we set out on the last walk of the week. After shuttling to Monument Creek Vista, we walk to Pima Point and on to Hermit’s Rest along a paved path with breathtaking views of the multi-hued canyon. At walk’s end, we shuttle back along the Hermit Road to the Grand Canyon Village where we conclude our tour.

Our VBT shuttle arrives at 12:00 pm for our transfer via coach back to Las Vegas. Our Trip Leaders will have a bag lunch prepared for us to enjoy during our drive. Our shuttle stops at the Grand Canyon Hotel to drop off guests who left their cars there. We arrive at the Las Vegas International Airport at 5:00 pm. We recommend spending the night in Las Vegas and flying out the next morning. There are a number of hotels that offer free airport shuttles directly from the terminal.

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