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Spirit of the Desert: Southwest National Parks

Spirit of the Desert: Southwest National Parks

Stories by Ken Burns

The Spirit of the Desert: Southwest National Parks tour is a 10 day Tauck World Discovery tour bringing you to Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Author and famed filmmaker Daytona Duncan removes the mystery of the West on this tour.

The Spirit of the Desert: Southwest National Parks tour begins in Grand Junction before heading on a float trip down the Colorado River. This luxury tour is full of exclusives only Tauck tours can offer as you visit places like Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon and of course the ultimate location in this part of the United States, the Grand Canyon. You’ll get your fill of the wildlife, flora and fauna of these national parks before wrapping up your tour in Las Vegas.

10 Days • fr. $7,590

  • TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
  • DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
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  • TERMS & CONDITIONS

Tour Includes

  • Exclusive to Tauck! Filmed vignettes by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan share their own personal stories and tell the stories of those who shaped the creation & preservation of the national parks
  • Six National Parks! On the ground or by air, explore Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon national parks – more than any other Tauck trip
  • Two Flightseeing Adventures! Fly over the extraordinary remote reaches of Capitol Reef National Park and see the Grand Canyon from the air en route to Las Vegas
  • Two Nights on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon provide a fresh, “new” perspective of the park; you’ll have a privileged, less conventional national park experience that is enjoyed by fewer than 10% of all park visitors
  • Local experts associated with Ken Burns's documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, give special talks and lectures
  • Dawn Patrol & Sunset Scouts – independent sunrise and sunset spirit-of-the-moment experiences in the national parks, taking place at the best times of the day, for a rich and emotional connection
  • Insights and perspectives by a member of the Navajo Nation
  • Mild-to-moderate float trip on the Colorado River
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as detailed
  • All customary gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff and local guides are included.

Not Included

  • The customary gratuities for the Tauck Director and local drivers are not included. We ask that gratuities be extended on a voluntary, individual basis and not as a group.
  • All items of a personal nature (room service, beverages, telephone charges, laundry, dry cleaning, special food requests, etc.) and meals not specified on the tour itinerary are not included and must be paid by the client.
  • Airline excess luggage charges, vaccinations, visa fees and services, airport arrival and departure taxes, individual airport transfers (when applicable), and other optional or incidental extras are not included.
  • All rates exclude airfare unless expressly noted.

Meal Inclusions

  • 9 breakfasts

Hotel Details

  • Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah (3 nights)
  • The Lodge at Bryce Canyon in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (1 night)
  • Zion Lodge in Zion National Park, Utah (2 nights)
  • Grand Canyon Lodge - North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (2 nights)
  • Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (1 night)

An amazing week begins in Grand Junction Location Information Description

Moab, United States

Tour begins: Red Cliffs Lodge, 5:30 PM. A transfer is included from Grand Junction Regional Airport to Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab, Utah. The "Spirit of the Desert" defies just one single definition. It's the spirit of the moment, a mood, a feeling harmonious with nature yet transcendent of earth and sky. It moves the senses to create, the mind and soul to soar, adventurers to be bold. And, starting tonight, you will become part of its amazing story.

Learn about the days ahead through filmed vignettes by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, who explains: "If you really want to witness the national parks when they're most beautiful, you want to see them at sunrise and sunset - the times when we typically shot most of the footage for our film. Nothing quite compares to those parts of the day. From 10 am to 3 pm, standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon is certainly awe-inspiring; but standing on the rim as the first rays of light hit the canyon, or when the last rays of a sinking sun move through it, is an experience beyond words." In the vignette, Dayton introduces the “Dawn Patrol” and “Sunset Scouts,” independent explorations that take place at these optimum times of the day; mostly optional, they create an emotional connection to the parks that deepens your appreciation of all they offer.

Following pre-dinner drinks featuring hot and cold canapés, join us for a "cowboy cookout" dinner at Red Cliffs Lodge as Tauck's comprehensive national parks featuring the Grand Canyon vacation begins.

RED CLIFFS LODGE

Arches National Park & a Colorado River float trip Location Information Description

Rise early for a memorable journey to Arches National Park. You won’t believe your eyes – over 2,000 arches comprise the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches. National park status didn’t come easily... first declared a national monument in 1929, it took 40+ years to achieve. You’re sure to recognize Delicate Arch, the amazing Balanced Rock, and a variety of sensational geological formations during guided sightseeing before returning to the lodge for lunch.

Get set for adventure this afternoon when you depart on a scenic float trip along on the Colorado River* – rock towers, colors and light reflect upon the water like mirror images. There is an optional Sunset Scouts walk, then the evening is spent at the lodge, where you dine at your leisure and are steeped in the authenticity of an architectural style that defines the West. And your Arches National Park to Grand Canyon vacation crafted by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan begins...

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A Navajo perspective & Canyonlands Nat'l Park Location Information Description

You have the option this morning of joining your Tauck Director for a trip to enjoy spectacular views of Book Cliffs, Arches National Park, Colorado, and the La Salle Mountains... and perhaps see some dinosaur tracks! A lecture by a local Navajo connects you to the sacredness of the desert, to the ancient spiritual life that transcends today’s world.

Depart for the fun little town of Moab, then on to Canyonlands National Park, whose countless canyons, mesas and buttes shadow the Colorado River and the Green River. These rivers divide the park into four districts – today you’ll explore the northern section, Island in the Sky, where among other formations you’ll see a famed pothole arch, Mesa Arch, overlooking Buck Canyon. There is no better way to experience Canyonlands than at sunset – and the setting sun, during a picnic dinner at Dead Horse Point overlooking the U-turn in the Colorado River, is nothing short of inspirational.

Breakfast, Dinner

Flying over Capitol Reef & on to Bryce Canyon Location Information Description

Enjoy some free time this morning – go on an optional Dawn Patrol or visit the Film Museum at the Lodge (both on your own). For the past 70 years, many of the most famous western movies were filmed in and around Moab – learn about the filming locations and the stars who brought them to life.

Vignettes today include Dayton Duncan’s insights on the best way to access the major sights in the national parks; some are available at a turnout, while others are inaccessible and require back-country hiking or an aerial overview – and that is exactly how you’ll tour Capitol Reef National Park today. Cross the Waterpocket Fold, which is sort of a “warp” in the Earth’s crust that runs nearly 100 miles, and see Strike Valley, the spectacular sandstone Capitol Domes that give the park its name, colorful cliffs, soaring spires and of course the odd monoliths.

Location Information Description

Bryce Canyon, United States

Arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park, home to some of Earth’s more whimsical geologic formations; spend some time at the Visitor's Center and enjoy some free time before dinner – there is an optional Sunset Scouts this evening.

THE LODGE AT BRYCE CANYON

Bryce's hoodoos & a talk on "singaways" at Zion Location Information Description

Another independent Dawn Patrol is available this morning – a hike along the rim of Bryce Canyon to catch the shocking array of colors illuminated by the first rays of light on the hoodoos below. More of a series of horseshoe “amphitheatres” than a canyon, morning walks reveal millions of pinnacles positively glowing.

Zions Park, United States

This afternoon, depart for Zion National Park; en route you’ll learn about the park’s complicated creation via a film vignette by Ken Burns, who shares his favorite memories of the park. Upon arrival, Ryan Paul, Curator of Frontier Homestead State Park Museum (formerly Iron Mission State Park), entertains with a lecture on “singaways” and the contribution of the Union Pacific Railroad to the story of the national parks. There is an independent Sunset Scouts opportunity tonight to the historic Virgin River bridge located at the mouth of the canyon.

A full day in Zion National Park Location Information Description

“I was so impressed by the red cliffs and wilderness surroundings of Zion Canyon that I determined we should... have it made a national park.” The words of conservationist Horace Albright set the stage for the expansion of national park designations in the Southwest, and the creation of Zion National Park in 1919. Zion’s most striking images are unique sandstone cliffs that range from towering monoliths to narrow canyons, changing in color from light cream to pink to red. Tour the park by tram through Zion Valley, with walks to Weeping Rock and the Court of the Patriarchs, then have some free time to explore as you please.

Late afternoon, internationally acclaimed environmental historian and author Alfred Runte gives a talk on the history of the railroad in the national parks; he was on the team advising Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan during production of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and appeared in every episode. Those who wish a little time for personal reflection this evening might do an independent Sunset Scouts’ visit to the Virgin River, a tributary of the Colorado River that earned the designation “wild and scenic.” Tomorrow – we'll travel to the last of our six national parks for some Grand Canyon vacation memories!

Pipe Spring Nat'l Monument & the Grand Canyon Location Information Description

Grand Canyon, United States

A film vignette by Dayton Duncan tells the story of Grand Canyon National Park, and how it exemplified the struggle that often occurred when creating a new national park. Leave Zion, and en route to Grand Canyon National Park get a guided tour of fascinating Pipe Spring National Monument to learn about Paiute Indian and Mormon pioneer history. Drive to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, a place more intimate and less crowded than the South Rim, with fewer than 10% of the park’s total annual visitors. Following lunch, explore the North Rim, including the vistas from Point Imperial (absolutely awesome). Dinner tonight is at your North Rim lodge – a great start to Tauck's Grand Canyon vacation days.

GRAND CANYON LODGE - NORTH RIM

Grand Canyon National Park as you please Location Information Description

A Dawn Patrol takes in the fantastic North Rim – and remember, sunrise comes pretty early! Naturalist John Muir remarked: “The dawn, as in all the pure, dry desert country is ineffably beautiful; and when the first level sunbeams sting the domes and spires, with what a burst of power the big, wild days begin.” The day is free to explore “your park” as you please; optional activities include additional ranger talks about history, geology, etc., and mule rides. Or, you just might want to sit for a spell in the Adirondack chairs on the porch of the lodge with a nice refreshing drink in hand – and gaze at one of the most fantastic views on Earth. It's a Grand Canyon vacation memory to treasure...

Flightseeing from the Grand Canyon to Vegas Location Information Description

A final Dawn Patrol takes in the spectacular sunrise, at your own pace, from the North Rim of the canyon. The last of our vignettes features reflections by Ken Burns about our own private memories of the national parks – these memories are not about the “views,” but instead they are the memories of those you shared the views with. Dayton Duncan’s vignette explains how the parks belong to all of us, and the need to continue to help to protect them for future generations. The most fitting farewell to the Southwest and this Grand Canyon vacation is a flightseeing trip from Kanab over the western regions of the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas for your return home. Join us tonight for a farewell reception and dinner at your Four Seasons hotel.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL LAS VEGAS

Journey home Location Information Description

Las Vegas, United States

Your Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon vacation ends: Las Vegas. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. Checkout time is 12:00 noon. Allow a minimum of two hours for flight check-in.

  • All rates listed are per person based on double occupancy and are subject to change without notice. Your land package pricing will be confirmed and guaranteed once your deposit is received and applied to the booking, except where price increases may result from increases in government taxes or fees. Room configurations are subject to availability. Guests added to your party after the booking are priced at the prevailing rate at the time they are added.

Important Information

Cancellation policy.

  • 60 days or more before departure: $525.00 per person
  • 59-8 days before departure: $925.00 per person
  • 7-1 days before departure: $1500.00 per person
  • On departure day and later: 100% of total price
  • Any changes or cancellations to airline reservations made through Tauck either before or after departure are subject to the cancellation / change policies of the individual airlines. In n some instances these cancellation / change fees may be up to 100% of the ticket price.
  • Cancellation fees may also apply to any additional services, including extra night accommodations, independently supplied services, and optional excursions reserved prior to, during, and after the tour. If flight changes, including, but not limited to, flight cancellations or name changes, are requested after full land and air deposits are received, revision fees, change fees, or airline cancellation fees will apply.
  • All cancellations must be received in writing prior to tour departure. The cancellation policy will apply according to the date that the cancellation notification is received. The MINIMUM cancellation penalty is the deposit amount.
  • The purchase to trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended.

Terms and Conditions

  • Land only “from price” is per person based on two people sharing a room together and does not include airfare unless expressly stated.
  • All prices are in US Dollars.
  • A $525 non-refundable, non-transferable, per-person, per-vacation deposit is required to reserve space for you. Payment of the deposit indicates you have read and accepted all Terms & Conditions. Your booking is not confirmed until the deposit payment is processed and you receive a confirmation invoice.
  • Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure. Within the final payment date, payment in full is required at time of booking to reserve space. Reservations (land, cruise, and air) are canceled if final payment is not received by the due date.
  • Additional deposits or payments are required for international air added to the start and/or end of your vacation.

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Spirit of the Desert: The National Parks of the Southwest 2022

tauck tours zion national park

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  • Stunning landscapes so arresting that they'll live forever in your mind's eye… impossible red rock arches opening before you like grand entryways
  • offering a sense of endless possibility… canyons and immense cliffs
  • seemingly carved by a giant to form an island in the sky… fanciful hoodoos come alive while gods and legends linger everywhere… how the human spirit is cheered and fortified by the spirit of the desert.On the ground or by air
  • explore Arches
  • Canyonlands
  • Capitol Reef
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Zion and Grand Canyon national parks. Fly over the remote reaches of Capitol Reef and see the Grand Canyon from the air en route to Las Vegas. Spend two nights on the Grand Canyon's North Rim for a fresh
  • 'new' perspective of the park
  • enjoyed by fewer than 10% of park visitors. Enjoy independent sunrise and sunset spirit-of-the-moment experiences in the national parks… and gain insights through filmed vignettes by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan

What's this trip about?

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Travel themes, destinations.

  • North America
  • United States

Attractions

  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park

Trip includes

  • TAUCK EXCLUSIVE – Filmed vignettes by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan share their own personal stories and tell the stories of those who shaped the creation & preservation of the six national parks On the ground or by air, explore Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon national parks – more than any other Tauck trip Two Flightseeing Adventures! Fly over the extraordinary remote reaches of the Capitol Reef National Park and see the Grand Canyon from the air en route to Las Vegas

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PORTOFCALL : Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

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Dates & Availability

Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Tauck .

The total tour cost includes the tour price (regular or promotional) and the compulsory local payment. The promotional price is subject to change. Check directly with the operator for the latest price offer. The tour operator requires you to pay only the tour price to purchase your travel. The compulsory local payment will be paid when you join the trip. All prices are based on double, twin or triple share occupancy. Solo passengers will be accommodated in a double, twin or triple room according to availability with a passenger(s) of the same gender. Single supplement only needs to be paid if the passenger does not want to share and requests their own room. Discounts can only be applied at the time of booking and cannot be added at a later date, regardless of any changes made to the original booking.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

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It's easy to see the world's sights. To stand in long lines, push through the crowds, and generally have the same standard-issue vacation as everyone else. But that's not good enough for us, and it's not good enough for you. We believe that travel should be easy. It should be fun. It should be worth your time and the price you paid. It should re-energize and transform. And above all else, it should be beyond the ordinary. Because how you see the world matters.

In 1882, Herman Tauck arrived in New York City from Germany in search of the American dream. His determination and values were passed on to his son, Arthur Tauck, who would realize that dream. With ingenuity and an innovative spirit, Arthur started Tauck Motor Tours, a travel company that would give birth to a new industry. The first tour, through the back roads of New England, was created by this 27-year-old in 1925. It embodied the same successful formula used by Tauck today: do the right thing. Craft a life-enriching travel experience; provide it at a single all-inclusive price; ensure there is great value for money; and rely on recommendations of satisfied customers to build a following and grow the business.

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Throughout its history, the concept of “family” at Tauck has gone far beyond those sharing the surname to include hundreds of valued employees, and hundreds of thousands of loyal guests. The story of Tauck is the story of a unique American family company celebrating a passion for travel – a story that will continue to inspire generations to come.

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Zion National Park

Travel guide.

  • Things to Do
  • Best Hotels
  • Things to See
  • Best Restaurants
  • Organized Tours
  • Active Pursuits
  • Entry Requirements & Customs
  • Getting Around
  • Health & Safety
  • Visitor Information
  • Protecting the Environment
  • Tips for Families
  • Getting There
  • Escorted & Package Tours
  • Tips for Travelers with Disabilities
  • Tips for Travelers with Pets
  • Staying Connected
  • Suggested Itineraries
  • Exploring the Area
  • Exploring the Backcountry
  • A Nature Guide

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Escorted & Package Tours in Zion National Park

A number of nationally recognized companies offer tours that include Zion and Bryce and surrounding areas. In most cases, all you do is pay, and then the outfitters arrange everything, including lodging, meals, and transportation. Offerings range from fairly standard bus tours to luxury adventure vacations. You'll want to contact tour operators as far in advance as possible, as reservations are required and group sizes are limited. The adventure tour operators generally specialize in small groups and have trips for various levels of ability and physical fitness. Trips are offered in a range of price categories, from basic to luxurious, and are of varying lengths.

For a list of outfitters in Utah, as well as a lot of other useful information and Web links, contact the Utah Office of Tourism, Council Hall, 300 N. State St., Salt Lake City, UT 84114 (tel. 800/200-1160; www.utah.com), or check out the website of Utah Guides & Outfitters, www.utah-adventures.com.

In addition to the companies listed below, one well-respected national company that offers tours to southern Utah's national parks is Tauck Tours (tel. 800/788-7885; www.tauck.com). A good online source for a variety of outdoor adventure trips offered by various outfitters is www.adventurefinder.com .

  • Austin-Lehman Adventures, P.O. Box 81025, Billings, MT 59108-1025 (tel. 800/575-1540 or 406/655-4591; www.austinlehman.com), offers guided multiday hiking tours in Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks and surrounding areas.
  • Backroads, 801 Cedar St., Berkeley, CA 94710-1800 (tel. 800/462-2848 or 510/527-1555; www.backroads.com), offers a variety of guided multiday road biking, mountain biking, and hiking tours in Zion and Bryce Canyon.
  • Bicycle Adventures, 29700 SE High Point Way, Issaquah, WA 98027 (tel. 800/443-6060 or 425/250-5540; www.bicycleadventures.com), offers guided multiday hiking and biking excursions in Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.
  • REI Adventures, P.O. Box 1938, Sumner, WA 98390 (tel. 800/622-2236 or 253/437-1100; www.rei.com/adventures), offers guided multiday hiking and biking treks into Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, plus a unique trip on New Year's Day that includes a bit of snowshoeing with your hike.
  • The World Outdoors, 2840 Wilderness Place, Ste. D, Boulder, CO 80301 (tel. 800/488-8483 or 303/413-0946; www.theworldoutdoors.com), offers a variety of trips, including hiking and multisport adventures to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Frommer’s EasyGuide to Bryce Canyon National Park

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A first-timer’s guide to Zion National Park

Lauren Keith

May 6, 2024 • 12 min read

tauck tours zion national park

Plan your trip to Zion National Park with this first-timer's guide © Mark Muratore / Shutterstock

Heavenly Zion National Park is the holy grail of Utah’s "Mighty 5"  and one of the most-visited national parks in the country. 

The towering red and white cliffs of Zion Canyon, one of Utah's most dramatic natural wonders, loom high over the Virgin River, and are enshrined in the park’s original name, Mukuntuweap, the Native Paiute word meaning "straight canyon." Mormon settlers who arrived here in the 19th century rechristened it Zion, an ancient Hebrew word meaning "sanctuary."

It’s impossible not to be overcome by the awesomeness of Zion, and the names of its prominent features and rock formations reflect the early Anglo view that Zion is a place on a higher plane: Angels Landing, Court of the Patriarchs , Cathedral Mountain and the Temple of Sinawava, named for the Paiute coyote spirit.

Hiking through the Virgin River in the Narrows or gaping at the canyon from the top of Angels Landing after a 1500ft ascent is indeed amazing, but for all its might and majesty, Zion National Park also holds smaller and more delicate beauties: sandstone rocks "weeping" with water, tiny grottoes, hanging gardens and mesa-top wildflower meadows.

Zion’s beauty is no secret. Nearly five million people pass through its entrances every year, making it the third most-visited national park in the United States . Summers can sometimes feel claustrophobic, and more mandatory permits have been introduced to control the crowds. But quieter corners can still be found, and much of Zion's 232 sq miles are little-visited backcountry.

If it’s your first time visiting Zion National Park, here’s a guide to what you need to know before you go.

A passage through a canyon with a curved overhang almost forming a tunnel

When should I go to Zion National Park?

Zion is one of the most-visited national parks in the United States, and about half a million people pour through the park’s entrances every month between April and October. The best times to visit Zion National Park, spring and autumn, bring balmy temperatures and relief from sweaty summers and frosty winters, but these seasons also attract crowds looking to enjoy the park at its prime.

However, if you’re set on hiking the Narrows, spring and summer can be tricky times to visit. The springtime snowmelt that feeds the Virgin River can send water levels soaring, and when the flow of water is faster than 150 cubic feet per second, the National Park Service closes the hike. The Virgin River’s flow rate in spring is unpredictable: sometimes the Narrows will close in early March and not open until late June, and other years the hike will remain open all season. The National Park Service posts current closure notices and dates from previous years on its website .

In summer, flash flooding in the Narrows and other Utah slot canyons is a genuine threat, and hikers have died from being swept away in the rushing waters. The rain doesn’t necessarily have to fall in the park – a surge of stormwater can flow down the river even when the sun is shining overhead. Heed all warnings posted by the National Park Service before you set out on a hike.

Some of Zion’s most popular hikes and activities – including Angels Landing, the Subway and the top-down route of the Narrows – require permits that are issued by lottery, so when you visit might be dependent on when you can score a permit. Far fewer people apply for wintertime permits, though these hikes, especially those in water, require extra care and equipment.

How much time should I spend at Zion National Park?

While you can zip through Zion Canyon in a day, you’d miss out on getting to the heart of this gorgeous national park. With limited time, hop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle from the Visitor Center and set off on the shorter hikes that give a taste of Zion’s unique landscape. Ride the shuttle bus to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava, and take the 2-mile round-trip Riverside Walk, a dry, paved route alongside the Virgin River. The paved trail ends where the Narrows begin, but if you’re short on time, resist the river and check out Zion’s other watery features: the delicate hanging gardens at Weeping Rock and the three Emerald Pools, where clusters of tiny, fragile plants cling to near-vertical rock walls, fed by water seeping out of the sandstone.

If you have more time, tackle Zion Canyon’s longer and more challenging hikes – Angels Landing (permit required) and the Narrows (additional gear often required) – and visit East Zion and Kolob Canyons.

A bus with two separate compartments drive on a road through a red-rock canyon

Is it easy to get to and around Zion National Park?

Yes, depending on your starting destination, it’s easy to get to Zion National Park, even without a car. The largest major airport closest to Zion is in Las Vegas , and shuttle bus companies can whisk you to the gateway town of Springdale in about three hours. (The closer Utah town of St George has a small airport with just a few direct flights.)

Getting around Zion Canyon without a car is also easy – and even required for much of the year. From March to the end of November, the National Park Service runs the free Zion Canyon Shuttle between the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and the Temple of Sinawava, the location of the trailheads for the Riverside Walk and the Narrows. Private vehicles are not allowed on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the road through the canyon, when these shuttle buses are operating.

If you’re staying in Springdale, a separate but also free shuttle bus stops along the town’s main street, where most of the hotels are located. The Springdale Line Shuttle ends a short walk from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. Limited free parking is available inside the park; arrive as early as possible. Otherwise, it costs $20 to park in Springdale.

The main part of Zion National Park has two ways in: the south entrance near Springdale and the east entrance a short drive from Hwy 89. Near the national park’s east entrance, the historic 1.1-mile Zion–Mt Carmel Tunnel was once the longest tunnel in the country. It was completed in 1930 to the specifications for cars at that time (it’s just 22ft wide), so today’s RVs and other oversized vehicles are a tight squeeze. If your vehicle is wider than 7ft 10in or taller than 11ft 4in, you must pay $15 for a tunnel permit and drive through during specified hours when rangers are present so that the tunnel can be converted to one-way traffic.

You need a car to visit the lesser-seen areas of Zion National Park, including Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace Rd. These areas are not served by regular shuttle buses or other public transportation.

A vast canyon stretches out into the distance

Top things to do at Zion National Park

The 5000ft of elevation change from Zion Canyon’s floor to the park’s highest peak provides an astounding range of environments. Even the park’s two main hikes – the Narrows and Angels Landing – are polar opposites: one wades through river water that churns through a slot canyon, and the other embarks on a chain-assisted white-knuckle climb to a narrow plateau so high that a minister visiting in the early 1900s quipped that "only angels could land there." 

Angels Landing permits are required to hike the final stretch – the famous part where hikers pull themselves up by chains to reach the overlook with sheer drops and 360-degree views – but you can go as far as Scout Lookout without a permit. For our money, if you’re already putting in the work to conquer Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks on the hike up, you might as well reward your athletic efforts with the full experience and get the Angels Landing permit.

The three Emerald Pools (Lower, Middle and Upper) and Weeping Rock offer gentler trails to oasis-like hanging gardens where plants cling to dripping seeps on the canyon walls. Note: at the time of writing, Weeping Rock was inaccessible due to rockfall. Check online for the latest information before heading out.

Zion Canyon certainly hogs the spotlight, but it’s not the only part of the national park. In East Zion, Observation Point stands 700ft above Angels Landing, but it feels like cheating to reach the viewpoint along the flat woodland path, gloriously skipping the sweaty haul up Walter’s Wiggles. Observation Point was previously accessible from Zion Canyon via the East Rim Trail, but this route has been closed since 2019 because of a landslide and has yet to reopen.

The area around Zion’s east entrance has several more trailheads, and another excellent hiking option is Cable Mountain. At the end of the hike and at the edge of the canyon, the remnants of the historic Cable Mountain Draw Works are a reminder of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people who have called this place home. The contraption was once used to lower lumber 2000ft from the East Rim mesa to the floor of Zion Canyon, reducing the timber's transport time from weeklong trips by wagon to just two minutes. Hundreds of thousands of board feet were sent into the valley, including the lumber used to build the original Zion Lodge .

You can also escape the Zion Canyon crowds by checking out the trailheads along Kolob Terrace Rd and in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. These areas aren’t connected to Zion Canyon by road, but they are on overnight backpacking trails. Kolob Canyons is actually just off Interstate 15 but doesn’t see nearly as many visitors as Zion Canyon.

Need more inspiration?  Here are the best hiking trails in Zion National Park

Hikers wade through a river in a narrow slot canyon

My favorite thing to do at Zion National Park

My hiking boots and I have spent a lot of quality time together. We’ve trekked all over the world, but I can easily say that wading through the Narrows at Zion National Park is one of my favorite hikes on the planet. The Narrows is quintessential Zion, and this wet and wild "trail" is actually the Virgin River itself. Nothing brings out the kid in me like splashing in the river, and the sense of awe is infectious as you hike through the flowing water, wondering what’s around every river bend.

Hordes of hikers visit the Narrows, but many don't walk more than a mile or two. Quieter sections await the further you go. The best part about hiking the Narrows is that you can walk for as little or as long as you'd like and still have a great time.

As an almost entirely water-based hike, the Narrows isn't your standard walk in the park. Outfitters in Springdale rent canyoneering shoes, neoprene socks, wooden walking sticks, and dry suits or bibs. You don’t necessarily have to get the gear, but what you wear in the Narrows will greatly influence your enjoyment of the hike. The Narrows is cooler than elsewhere in Zion because of the tall canyon walls, and hypothermia can be a risk in colder months. A walking stick helps you navigate the fast-moving currents on slippery rocks, and you'll want to put your phone, camera and anything else you don't want to get wet in a dry bag.

Tents and RVs camping in a national park

How much money do I need for Zion National Park?

The standard entrance pass for Zion National Park costs $35 per vehicle or $20 per person if you’re visiting on foot, and it’s valid for seven days. If you’re visiting more national parks on a road trip through Utah and beyond, it’s worth buying the America the Beautiful pass for $80. The America the Beautiful pass is valid for a year at all national parks and federal recreation land across the country for one vehicle or four per person entry fees – arguably one of the best travel deals available.

Accommodations in and around Zion National Park can be pricey. Zion Lodge costs $200 to $350 per night depending on the season and the room size, and rooms can be booked out months in advance. Tent-only campsites at Watchman Campground cost $35 a night, and sites with electrical hookups cost $45 per night. 

Tent-only campsites at Lava Point Campground off Kolob Terrace Rd are cheaper ($25 a night) but are open seasonally (usually May through September). These sites are primitive, with pit toilets and no running water. You can camp for free on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in Utah, but these areas have no facilities.

What is the closest city to Zion National Park?

The town of Springdale sits at Zion National Park’s south entrance, and it’s so close that you can treat yourself to a post-hike beer at Zion Canyon Brew Pub just after leaving the park boundary. Springdale is a small town but is filled with excellent, if pricey, accommodation options, as well as lots of restaurants, cafes and grocery stores. Find cheaper accommodation options in the towns of Virgin, La Verkin and Hurricane (pronounced "hur-uh-kin") west of Zion along Hwy 9.

Where’s the best place to stay near Zion National Park?

Zion is one of Utah’s two national parks that has noncamping accommodations inside the park, at the historic Zion Lodge , opened in 1924 but rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1966. (Nearby Bryce Canyon National Park also has a lodge.) Reservations here and at Zion Canyon’s two campgrounds (Watchman Campground and South Campground, currently closed for long-term renovations) can be made up to six months in advance.

Springdale has a wealth of accommodations, though the proximity to the south entrance means higher prices. Not far from Zion’s east entrance, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is a good pick for families, with tons of on-site activities, including a climbing wall, swimming pool, mini golf and paintball. You can even glamp in a Conestoga wagon.

Zion Ponderosa is also a good base camp for travelers looking to tackle the hikes in East Zion. Its sister company East Zion Adventures runs shuttles to the trailheads for Observation Point and Cable Mountain, and it’s best to go with it because the roads are extremely rutted and parking is minimal.

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Spirit of the Desert: The National Parks of the Southwest

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Stunning landscapes so arresting that they'll live forever in your mind's eye… impossible red rock arches opening before you like grand entryways, offering a sense of endless possibility… canyons and immense cliffs, seemingly carved by a giant to form an island in the sky… fanciful hoodoos come alive while gods and legends linger everywhere… how the human spirit is cheered and fortified by the spirit of the desert. On the ground or by air, explore Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon national parks. Fly over the remote reaches of Capitol Reef and see the Grand Canyon from the air en route to Las Vegas. Spend two nights on the Grand Canyon's North Rim for a fresh, "new" perspective of the park, enjoyed by fewer than 10% of park visitors. Enjoy independent sunrise and sunset spirit-of-the-moment experiences in the national parks… and gain insights through filmed vignettes by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, sharing their own personal stories and of those who shaped the creation of the national parks.

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Tauck’s “Spirit Of The Desert: The National Parks Of The Southwest”

In the area referred to as The Narrows in Zion National Park

tauck tours zion national park

in Southern Utah, visitors wade across a shallow portion of the Angel River, which has an uneven rocky bed and a current that can be challenging. As I approached the river, which was filled with people of all ages attempting the crossing, an older woman with curly grey hair reached out with the walking stick she had been using for stability and offered it to a younger woman ahead of me who was looking tentatively at the crossing.

“Here, take this walking stick,” said the older woman. “It really helps. Just make sure you hand it to someone on the other side, as someone handed it to me.”

The young woman smiled and thanked her profusely, promising to hand it over to someone on the other side.

That moment was a perfect example of the sense of camaraderie in the national parks visited on Tauck’s Spirit of the Desert tour. The 10-day program is offered May – June and August – September and focuses on national and state parks in Southern Utah and Arizona, including Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Pipe Spring National Monument, The Grand Canyon (North Rim), Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Dead Horse State park.

TAUCK’S KEN BURNS’ AMERICAN JOURNEYS SERIES: The Spirit of the Desert gives clients a chance to get up close and personal with these iconic national parks. It’s part of Tauck’s Ken Burns’ American Journeys series, a collection of tours planned and designed with the guidance of Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, whose 2009 PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea helped generate a new wave of interest in the national parks.

Several short videos featuring Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, created especially for visitors on the American Journeys tours, are shown at various times during the tour. Their informative and inspiring content enhances the experience of the park visits.

Guests stay at lodgings that are often actually inside the parks, picturesque, historic lodges such as Bryce Canyon Lodge and Grand Canyon National Park Lodge, where guests can simply wake up, grab a coffee and sit on a bench looking out at some of the most epic and iconic views in the United States.

THE PARKS’ HISTORY Along with the breathtaking natural beauty of the parks, visitors encounter people of all different nationalities hiking together, families with children, older couples, young couples and solo hikers. The diverse groups all mix together with a shared sense of appreciation and awe as they fulfill the vision of advocates of the national park system like Theodore Roosevelt, who fought to create these parks and the laws and systems that would protect them for future generations to enjoy. At the laying of the cornerstone of the gateway to Yellowstone Park, our first national park, President Theodore Roosevelt made a speech that summed up the vision and purpose of all of American’s national parks:

“This park was created, and is now administered for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” he said. “The only way that the people as a whole can secure to themselves and their children the enjoyment in perpetuity of what the Yellowstone Park has to give, is by assuming the ownership in the name of the nation and by jealously safeguarding and preserving the scenery, the forests, and the wild creatures.”

Although the national parks are some of America’s most amazing and valuable treasures, many continue to be under siege by those who want to extract their natural resources. Many public lands have been opened to drilling and fracking in recent months, so now is a good time to visit.

THE TOUR The first park on the tour is Arches National Park, which is famous for its abundance of naturally occurring arches, which look like modern sculptures but are actually sandstone structures formed by unique natural conditions.

During that part of the tour guests stay at The Red Cliffs Lodge on the banks of the Colorado River, surrounded by steep red cliff walls. The lodge has an old-fashioned ranch vibe and houses a film museum full of posters and artifacts from famous movies that were made in the area there, including Rio Grande with John Wayne, and parts of Thelma and Louise.

From there. guests visit Bryce Canyon National Park with its amphitheater of Hoodoos, strange rock formations that resemble people. Lodging there is at Bryce Canyon Lodge, which is listed on the National Historic Register and is the only hotel located inside the park.

The visit to Zion National Park begins with a drive into the long and scenic Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles long and 2,640 deep, in the spacious and comfortable motor coach that is your home between park visits throughout the trip. Guests stay at the Zion Lodge at the bottom of the canyon, surrounded by gorgeous red and tan colored Navajo Sandstone cliff faces. There are a variety of sites to hike in and the park offers a free shuttle service that stops at the lodge which makes it very easy to explore.

The final stop is Grand Canyon North Rim which includes a visit to Cape Royal, the southernmost viewpoint on the North Rim with the widest panorama available to visitors of the Grand Canyon. Guests spend two days and nights at the Grand Canyon Lodge on The North Rim, a rare experience since only 10 percent of travelers visit there. Built in 1928, the lodge sits near the edge of the canyon. Its main lodge, with its large picture windows, cozy leather couches and rocking chairs is the perfect place to curl up with a book or just meditate while looking out at the view. A lecture outlined the history of the lodge, including details such as the charming national park tradition of “the sing away,” in which lodge workers would line up and sing a goodbye song to visitors as they left.

There are many ways to explore the parks, some included and some optional add-ons, such as a rafting trip on the Colorado River, horseback riding in Zion National Park, a mule ride down the Grand Canyon and thrilling rides in small aircraft over Capital Reef National Park and the Grand Canyon, allowing guests to see the stunning geography from the air. There was even an opportunity to examine ancient petroglyphs with a local guide. Local guides are brought onboard at various stops to enhance guests’ experience of the area.

Tauck guests get early admission to most of the parks on the tour, which gives them time to explore the pathways and hiking trails before they are opened to the general public. There are also ample opportunities throughout the tour to explore on your own.

The tour ends in Las Vegas at the opulent Four Seasons Hotel which is located adjacent to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, making it a fun and totally “Vegas” experience for those who want that. But it is also a luxurious place to rest and relax while getting ready for the trip home. The McCarran International Airport provides good connections for return flights. www.tauck.com

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By Elena Skye

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Desert Oasis Zion, Death Valley and Palm Springs

Escorted tour details, a 8-day tauck tours tour starting from $5,990.00.

Desert Oasis Zion, Death Valley and Palm Springs

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All prices are per person, double occupancy, subject to availability and are quoted in U.S. Dollars. These pages are not endorsed or supported by the tour operator in any way. All information presented is based on promotional material provided by the tour operator. All prices, itineraries, accommodations and dates are subject to change without notice and at any time by the tour operators. Availability is limited and must be reconfirmed at time of booking. The prices on this website are not guaranteed. We are not responsible for errors, omissions, or changes in pricing. Please call us toll free at 800-942-3301 to confirm availability and pricing.

Escorted Tour Highlights

California, National Parks, United States

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Sightseeing Highlights

A tour of Death Valley National Park

A tour of the Valley of Fire in Fire State Park

A guided walk through Zion Canyon

A visit to the Center & Garden of Sunnylands, the sprawling Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage known as the "Camp David of the West"

... and our eight-day national park road trip will take you to some of the places where that desert spirit lives largest, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, Zion National Park in Utah, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park in California, some less well-known than others, but each with a distinct character and vibe you can feel up close on guided hikes and excursions and inside-the-park accommodations. And just so you don't feel too overwhelmed by natural wonders, we've bookended the tour with a healthy dose of civilization: overnight stays in luxury hotels in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

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Tour Begins: Las Vegas. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas. A transfer is included from McCarran Airport to The Four Seasons Hotel in the city's pulsing neon heart, on the boulevard known as the Strip. Your luxury hotel is a tranquil, non-gaming retreat from the action, but shopping, bright lights, and entertainment are only steps away; guests at the Four Seasons enjoy access to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino next door; and floor to ceiling windows in your room offer captivating views of the desert city at night.  Join us this evening for a welcome reception and dinner at the hotel.

Travel to Valley of Fire State Park, in the Mojave Desert, a landscape of red sandstone mountains, bizarre rock formations, cacti, and undulating striped hills of pink and orange; it is a vast, mystical, outdoor gallery, where ancient tribes left hidden messages in strange, indelible petroglyphs. Drive to Zion National Park in Utah, arriving in time for dinner at your classic wilderness lodge inside the park's south entrance.

Zion, named by Mormon settlers, is known for its dramatic, diverse geography: forests, deserts, canyons with soaring red sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, emerald pools, weeping rocks, and hanging gardens, and monumental rock formations with titles like Angels Landing, Court of the Patriarchs, the Temple of Sinawara (coyote-god of the Paiutes), and the Great White Throne, that suggest a place between earth and heaven. California Condors and golden eagles sail over canyons that harbor bighorn sheep and mountain lions; forests along the winding Virgin River are home to mule deer, spotted owls, and peregrine falcons. This morning experience an awe-inspiring guided walk through Zion Canyon, featuring some of the park's iconic scenery, molded, and sculpted from soft rock by currents of water. After lunch in nearby Springdale or at the lodge, rejoin the group on a scenic drive highlighting the major landmarks in the eastern half of the park, a photogenic realm of orange-tinted rock, petrified dunes, arches, plunging canyons, and stunning vistas. Tonight, dinner is followed by a lecture on the park's ecology and history.

Depart Zion National Park and head back to Las Vegas via St. George, where you'll board a small plane for a flightseeing trip over the west side of Grand Canyon National Park and Lake Mead; arrive at North Las Vegas Airport. Depart the airport for the drive to Death Valley, a stretch of desert east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Named by luckless prospectors looking for a shortcut to the California Gold Rush, Death Valley is known as the lowest, driest, hottest place in North America, 282 feet below sea level. In an earlier era, it was the bottom of a vast lake which evaporated and left behind a moonscape that a million years of wind and elements have carved into strange rolling hills, unexpected rock formations, desert plains, sand dunes, and salt pans. Arrive at your luxury resort deep inside Death Valley National Park, under the shade of palm trees on a lush desert oasis.

Among Death Valley's stranger features are sand dunes that emit ghostly sounds, like the low notes of an organ. Strange, too, is the fact that this inhospitable place has been the ancestral home of a Native American tribe, the Timbisha, for at least a thousand years. Perhaps most surprising, Death Valley teems with hidden life. Bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, and occasional mountain lions live discreetly in the hills; small creatures survive by burrowing underground or under rocks; some, like kit foxes and black-tailed jackrabbits, are nocturnal, and some endemic species like the Badwater Snail actually thrive in hostile environments. Board a special vehicle for a tour of major landmarks, including Zabriskie Point, a location for westerns,  Star Wars  movies, and an Antonioni art film; Badwater Basin, covered in salt, looks from a distance looks like a tundra blanketed with snow, where the constant cycle of freezing, thawing, and evaporation of water has carved a honeycomb pattern on the plain; and Artists Palette, a psychedelic (geologic) patchwork tinted with many colors. Return to the lodge for lunch, then it's your choice: spend the afternoon at the inn enjoying the pool, the spa, tennis, or a game of golf, or venture out to Mesquite Flats, where mesquite trees and creosote bushes are habitats for birds and small animals, and hiking trails wind among towering, mesmerizing sand dunes. You'll also visit the remains of a mining facility at Furnace Creek that used to haul borax out of the valley in 20-mule-team wagons; the company went bust in 1888, but the 20-mule-team logo remains a commercial and cultural icon. Keep your eyes peeled for elusive wildlife; you may not see a coyote riding an Acme rocket, but there are roadrunners galore. Tonight, experience the dazzling constellations of the desert sky, untouched by ground lights; Death Valley has been designated the largest dark-sky national park in the country by the International Dark Sky Association.

Depart for Palm Springs, with lunch along the way, and arrive this afternoon in Joshua Tree National Park. Here the Mojave and Colorado deserts, with their distinct vegetation and ecosystems, merge to create a surreal landscape of creosote and cactus, weird rock formations, boulder hills, wandering canyons, and windswept desert plains where giant yucca plants called Joshua Trees open their spiky arms to heaven. Along nature trails that wind through Lost Horse Valley, hidden oases, abandoned mining camps, arresting monoliths, and the Wonderland of Rocks, the park is a place out of time, made for awestruck wonder and meditation. Begin the last leg of your road trip, and arrive at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage in time for dinner.

Once famous for its restorative springs and health tourism, Palm Springs in the mid-20th century became a hot destination for movie stars, presidents, and entertainers drawn to its burgeoning golf resorts, nightclubs, and casinos, where they created an impressive community of wealth and influence. Depart your hotel on Frank Sinatra Drive for a visit to Sunnylands, the former estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The exquisite modernist mansion, designed by A. Quincy Jones, sits on 200 acres with its own golf course (naturally), and was known as "Camp David of the West" for the number of presidents who stayed and played there; the estate is now a retreat and meeting place for world leaders, dedicated to international understanding; peruse the garden and visitor's center for a sense of Sunnylands' history, then embark on a tour of the area's extraordinary wealth of mid-century Desert Modern architecture. Spend free time in town to lunch and explore on your own, then join us at the hotel this evening for a farewell reception and dinner.

Tour ends: Palm Springs. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage to Palm Springs Airport.

Tauck Tours

tauck tours zion national park

An overnight stay at the Four Seasons Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip

Two nights in the heart of Death Valley National Park, at a desert oasis

Two nights in Zion National Park, at a lodge inside the park

Two nights at the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage

A lecture on the history and ecology of Zion National Park by a naturalist expert

Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as detailed

17 meals, service charges, gratuities to local guides, admission fees, taxes, and porterage included

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Hello I'm 50ish

Travel: Tauck America’s Canyonlands – Part 2

tauck tours zion national park

Well, this is part two of our America’s Canyonlands Tour with Tauck. This post will cover the last half of the trip through Utah national parks. I hope you save both posts for future reference if you ever want to take this land tour with Tauck.                                      

Tauck America’s Canyonlands Tour- Part 2

Day 5- colorado river rafting & on to bryce canyon.

We spent the morning rafting down the Colorado River after departing the Lake Powell Resort. Our rafting trip began at Lees Ferry. Lees Ferry is officially the border between Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon, as well as a natural border splitting Northern Arizona and Utah. Because of its location, millions of tourists head over here to begin their rafting trip down the Colorado River and into the heart of the Grand Canyon.

The 2 1/2 hour float trip on the Colorado River takes you through Glen Canyon; your experienced river adventure guide imparts a wealth of knowledge about the canyon as you glide past colorful walls of Navajo sandstone. We dressed in layers because it was chilly on the river until we were in the sunshine.

tauck tours zion national park

The Descending Sheep Petroglyph Panel along the Colorado River is estimated to be 3,000 to 6,000 years old and is interpreted as a hunting scene. The rock art panel is almost exactly halfway between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry.

tauck tours zion national park

We saw wild horses on the river and thought the one on the right was injured. He didn’t move the entire time we saw them.

tauck tours zion national park

We arrived late afternoon at the Lodge at Bryce Canyon. The Lodge doesn’t have television in the rooms, but you can stream your favorite shows on your phone or read a book like I did. I think I fell asleep after one chapter. The food at the national park lodges we stayed in is adequate, but they are never going to get a Michelin star!

Day 6- Bryce Canyon (My favorite One on the Tauck America’s Canyonlands Tour)

Of all the national parks we saw on the America’s Canyonland tour, the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon were my favorites.

Did you know: Bryce Canyon in Utah is not technically a canyon because it was formed by weather erosion, not flowing water?  Canyons, like the Grand Canyon, are formed by flowing water over millions of years.  Bryce Canyon is a series of amphitheaters carved into the Paunsaugunt Plateau by millions of years of wind and water erosion, as well as frost weathering.

tauck tours zion national park

Fun Fact : Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah is famous for the largest collection of hoodoos—the distinctive rock formations at Bryce—in the world.

What is a hoodoo? These weirdly shaped rock spires that look somewhat like totem poles are carved by water in arid environments. The word “hoodoo” means to bewitch, which is what Bryce Canyon’s rock formations surely do. A legend of the  Paiute Indians, who inhabited the area for hundreds of years before the arrival of European Americans, claims the colorful hoodoos are ancient “Legend People” who were turned to stone as punishment for bad deeds.

If you rise early this morning, you’ll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring Bryce Canyon sunrise as the light of dawn slowly spreads across the hoodoos and other unique geological features steps from your room at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon!

tauck tours zion national park

After lunch, we got back onto our bus and headed off to Zion National Park and the Zion Lodge, which was actually the nicest lodge we had stayed at in the national parks.

Day 7- Zion National Park

The history of Zion National Park: The Southern Paiute called this place Mukuntuweap, which means “straight canyon.” By AD 1,100, these groups migrated out of the region as Southern Paiute tribes moved in. The first European American settlers, Mormon pioneers, arrived in the area in the late 1800s. They named the area Zion, which is ancient Hebrew for “sanctuary” or “refuge.”

tauck tours zion national park

Zion National Park is a southwest Utah nature preserve distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive cuts through its main section, leading to forest trails along the Virgin River. This is the first national park that we drove down into on our Tauck America’s Canyonland Tour.

tauck tours zion national park

Zion Lodge was our last lodge in the national parks on this trip and one of the Historic Hotels of America. Read more about Zion Lodge.

tauck tours zion national park

Read more about Zion Lodge.

The next morning, we went on the Riverside Walk. This is one of the most delightful sections in all of Zion and is accessible to everyone. The path is paved and is mostly accessible by wheelchairs. Even if you aren’t hiking The Narrows , you can do the Riverside Walk. This is the first half of The Narrows hike — the paved portion. You won’t get wet or have to walk in the water along this stretch.

tauck tours zion national park

After our walk, we had lunch at the Lodge and then boarded the bus for our final destination, Las Vegas.

Day 8- Departure from Las Vegas

Our trip ended at the Four Seasons Hotel, which is actually the top five floors of Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. It is a much better hotel than the one we stayed at in September for my midlife influencer  conference.

tauck tours zion national park

People were sniffing the faux flowers on the wall. I thought was pretty comical watching their reactions when they realized that the flowers were fake!

tauck tours zion national park

Our room actually had a view of the airport! But it was beautiful and comfortable too!

tauck tours zion national park

The hotel was also where we said our goodbyes to our travel mates on America’s Canyonlands Tour. We had a final farewell party and got to wear something nicer than walking attire. It’s amazing how many wonderful friends you can make when you travel like this. Some stayed an extra day in Lad Vegas, but we headed back to Atlanta in the morning.

tauck tours zion national park

Maybe I will plan a trip again with Tauck and gather some of these people for my next adventure!

I hope you enjoyed my trip through some of the most incredible national parks! We need to do everything we can to preserve our national treasures!

Until next time!

tauck tours zion national park

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Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

Select Year

Select Group Size

  • Small Group

Select your departure type

Choose from classic or small group (averaging 24 guests).

  • 2024 Classic
  • 2024 Small Group
  • 2025 Classic
  • 2025 Small Group

Accommodations

  • Pricing & Availability
  • Important Info

Uniquely Tauck

Yellowstone Tours

EXPERIENCE WITH TAUCK

TAUCK EXCLUSIVE – Insider stories about the national parks during filmed narratives by Ken Burns & Dayton Duncan

TAUCK VALUE INCLUDES

   

Stays at sought-after inside-the-national-park accommodations in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks

Rafting adventure along the Snake River, surrounded by the spectacular scenery of the Tetons

Visit to the Mormon Row Historic District inside Grand Teton National Park

Extensive exploration inside the world's first national park, Yellowstone National Park

Visits to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore National Memorial

SEE WHAT YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES

Guests should be able to easily walk one to two miles, which may include climbing one or two flights of stairs and walking over uneven pavement, groomed hiking trails or cobblestones. Standing up to one hour or more may be required.

Often robust – may include long days, active sightseeing, early starts, evening activities, significant travel times.

Legendary Journeys and Adventures

The soul of the American West... Naturally inspiring, the landscapes of the American West challenge the imagination with jaw-dropping canyons, gurgling mud pots, geysers, and wide-open spaces... while towering mountains are a study in contrast, harboring wildlife and man-made wonders. 

A day at ta guest ranch, a taste of the cowboy life at a working wyoming ranch.

Make your way through Wyoming's breathtaking Bighorn Mountains to an authentic (and fun) western ranch experience at TA Guest Ranch in Buffalo. Homesteaded in 1884, the ranch was once the site of a shootout during the infamous Johnson County War that pitched cowboy against cowboy in these parts in 1892 – you can still see some of the old bullet holes! But today's visit will be a peaceful one… where you can choose to meet a horse whisperer, learn roping techniques from real cowboys, ride in a horse-drawn wagon, or saddle up for a horseback ride... and enjoy a private lunch on the ranch.

A night at the rodeo

Attend the exciting cody nite rodeo (seasonal, june – august).

Way out here in Wyoming, nothing promises more real Western fun than an honest-to-goodness rodeo... especially in a town named for the legendary Wild West showman, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and often called the "Rodeo Capital of the World." Established in 1938 and operating June through August, the Cody Nite Rodeo is the world's longest-running nightly rodeo. Get set for an evening filled with bull riding, saddle bronco riding, team roping, barrel racing, rodeo clowns, and a "calf scramble" for kids 12 and under.

Old Faithful Inn

Stay in a classic national historic landmark in yellowstone national park.

One of the largest log structures in the world, Old Faithful Inn was designated a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1904 of native lodgepole pine – and the epitome of the "National Park Rustic" architectural style – it is set within walking distance of Old Faithful Geyser, just one of Yellowstone's many natural wonders... including geysers, fumaroles and boiling hot springs.

This relatively untamed territory makes you proud of those who had the foresight to set aside the space for National Parks.

Dean Horton

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Take The Details With You

Download day-by-day details.

All the information you need for this journey at your fingertips – day-by-day details, map, hotel descriptions, key highlights and more.

Where you stay is an important part of your journey – with Tauck, accommodations have been handpicked and carefully selected for their location and ambiance, enhancing the destinations you explore. Download accommodation details and your travel plans begin!

Tour Planner

Download the details to make planning your trip easier - including an itinerary overview, pricing based on your selected departure date and accommodations, plus protection plan costs.

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Overnight Accommodations

Extend your stay

Arrive Early

Jackson lake lodge.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins

Holiday inn® cody at buffalo bill village.

Cody, Wyoming

The Ranch at Ucross

Ucross, Wyoming

The Rushmore Hotel & Suites

Rapid City, South Dakota

Your Journey

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Want More Detailed Information?

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Call 800-788-7885

About Booking This Tour

Travel Documents

Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks begins and ends in the U.S.

Real ID Act - Effective May 7, 2025

Beginning in May 2025, some state IDs will no longer permit you to board a domestic flight. Currently, some states are compliant, some have received extensions, and some are not compliant.  Click here  to see the status of your state. If your state license is not compliant, you can use a passport in lieu of a valid state ID. 

Please Note:  The federal government has extended the deadline to May 7, 2025 for domestic airline passengers to secure a Real ID driver's license for use as identification at the airport. Travelers without a verified license or ID card will also have the option of showing other identity documents, such as a passport or military ID to board a plane.

If you are a citizen of another country traveling internationally,   you should contact an embassy or consulate of the U.S. to determine what travel documentation is necessary. You may also log on to the U.S. State Department's Internet site by clicking  here.

If you are traveling by air to join and/or depart from this tour within the U.S., please read the section entitled Airline Security Measures under Additional Information to determine what travel documentation is required.

If you are a citizen of the U.S. or Canada who travels frequently between the two countries, you may benefit from the NEXUS program, which is a joint initiative between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency that allows pre-screened and approved travelers faster processing at designated highway lanes in high-volume border crossing locations, at a NEXUS kiosk at several airports, and at certain marine reporting locations in the Great Lakes and Seattle regions. For further information, you may log on to the Nexus Internet website by clicking here . Please note that longer stays abroad for any purpose may require additional travel documentation.

We recommend that you make at least two photocopies of all the travel documents that you bring with you. Include copies of the photo page of your passport that contains the date of issuance, the date of expiration and your citizenship. Secure one set of copies in the safe in your room while traveling and leave one set behind with someone at home who will assist you in the event your documents are misplaced, lost or stolen.

To facilitate Travel Requirements, destinations are increasingly utilizing online forms that require digital proof that you've successfully completed your submission (via an email, QR code, etc.) To ensure smooth travels and peace of mind, we strongly recommend all guests carry a personal smart phone and sign up for international data plans before traveling overseas.

Note: For activities marked with an asterisk (*) in day-by-day descriptions, participation is at your own risk; a signed liability waiver will be required.

TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN AS A GUARDIAN: If you are traveling as the guardian of a child/children, we strongly suggest that you carry a letter from both parents of the child authorizing emergency treatment in the event of illness or accident. For travel abroad, many foreign countries have specific entry requirements for children under 21 who are traveling internationally without BOTH parents. (These requirements are in response to the increased incidence of children being abducted and taken abroad.) PLEASE NOTE THAT TAUCK IS NOT RESPONSIBLE for the disruption of travel caused by improper documentation for children traveling without both parents.

How to Book a Tour

See your travel advisor, or call Tauck at 800-468-2825 to make a reservation.

At the time of booking, please have the following information ready for all members of your party:

  • Tour Name and Departure Date
  • Traveler's Name: First and last names as they appear on your passport or driver's license
  • Traveler's Address(es)
  • Email Address*
  • Traveler's Phone Number(s)*
  • Emergency Contact Information: Please provide the name and phone number  of a relative or friend (not travelling with you) whom we could contact during the tour in the unlikely event of an emergency
  • Interest in purchasing a travel protection plan (US and Canada)
  • Interest in extending your trip by staying in a Tauck recommended hotel before your trip begins or after it ends
  • Interest in our specially negotiated airfares

* Required Fields

Deposit & Final Payment

The deposit and the fees for the optional Protection Plan or Cancel Fee Waiver [CFW] coverage are due at time of booking.

The deposit amount is $350 per person

Final Payment:

Final Payment is due to Tauck 90 days before departure for lands trips, and 120 days before departure for cruises and rail journeys. If your deposit was made by credit card, final payment will be automatic unless you opted out at time of booking. Bookings without full payment at this time may be subject to cancellation without notice. Failure to make payment will be a considered a cancellation by the guest and all applicable cancellation fees will apply.

Travel Protection Plan

Effective for plans purchased as of July 1, 2021:

Cancellation Waiver – Provided by Tauck:

Under Tauck's Cancellation Fee Waiver you can cancel your tour for ANY REASON up to the day before departure and receive a money-back refund (except in Extreme Circumstances*) on the land tour cost, based on your original method of payment.

*Extreme Circumstances:  In the event of an act of God, war (whether declared or undeclared), terrorism, accident, natural disaster, outbreak of disease, or other event or circumstance beyond our control that contributes to or results in cancellation rates above our historical cancellation rates in the absence of such event or occurrence, Tauck reserves the right to issue a credit to you in lieu of a money-back refund, applicable to a future Tauck journey.

Travel Insurance Benefits – Underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company.

  • Trip Cancellation –  If you must cancel your tour due to a covered reason, the plan provides coverage for the amount you paid for your travel arrangements. Since the non-insurance cancellation waiver takes care of the land package cancellation fees already, this benefit reimburses the airfare cancellation charges up to the value of your original airfare purchase.
  • Trip Interruption –  If you have to interrupt your tour for covered reasons, the plan provides reimbursement for up to $5,000 to catch up to your tour or return home.
  • Travel Delay –  Provides reimbursement for missed, prepaid travel arrangements if you are delayed by a common carrier, natural disaster, unannounced strike, or other reasons as cited in the plan.
  • Medical Expense –  Reimburses covered medical expenses incurred in the event you become injured or sick during your trip. 
  • Baggage / Personal Effects Protection –  Provides reimbursement in the event your luggage or personal effects are, lost, stolen, damaged or delayed during your trip.

Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services –  Provided by Carefree Travel Assistance; 24-hour emergency telephone assistance hotline for medical and travel related problems.

The cost of Tauck's Guest Protection is: $349  per person

This protection provides insurance coverage that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker.

This optional Guest Protection must be requested at time of booking and fee must be included with initial payment. Fees are based on costs as of July 1, 2021, and are subject to change. Details will be provided with written confirmation of your tour reservation. Guest Protection does not protect travel agent commissions. Reimbursements will be made according to original method of payment. The amount of any refund shall be reduced by any recoveries obtained by you from any third parties.

The Guest Protection plan waives cancellation fees outlined below, provided we are notified of cancellation before your tour departs. Tour cancellation fees are waived regardless of reason, without written notice, and Tauck will refund land tour cost.

To obtain your state-specific Certificate of Insurance that contains the complete terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the certificate, visit  affinitytravelcert.com/docs/TACGPPDOM .

If You Have To Cancel

If you cancel within 10 days of initial deposit Within the first 10 days after you place your initial deposit, you may cancel your reservation for any reason with no cancellation fees. If you cancel more than 10 days after initial deposit Regardless of reason, cancellations result in costly charges from our travel and hotel providers covering penalties and fees incurred by canceling confirmed bookings. These fees vary from tour to tour. Therefore, the following fees apply.

Cancellation Fees with Tauck's Guest Protection Plan:

Loss of Guest Protection fee, per person

Cancellation Fees without Tauck's Guest Protection Plan :

90 days or more before departure = $350 per person

89-8 days before departure = $600 per person

7-1 days before departure = $900 per person

Time of cancellation  will be when notice is received in our Wilton Woods, CT office.

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance beyond our control,  Tauck reserves the right to amend the cancellation terms outlined herein.

Note:  All Guests, regardless of residency, who book a Tauck journey have the option of purchasing the Cancellation Fee Waiver provided by Tauck in the event they need to cancel their trip after making their reservations. Tauck's Guest Protection, which includes both the Cancellation Fee Waiver and the Travel Insurance Benefits and Assistance Services described above, is not available to residents of Puerto Rico.

Travel Terms and Conditions

Click here  to find Tauck's Travel Terms & Conditions.

Travel Requirements For This Tour

Air Information and Luggage Restrictions

AIRFARE: Airfare to and from this destination is not included in the journey cost. If purchasing your air elsewhere, it is very important to provide us with your confirmed arriving and departing flight information no later than 3 weeks before your arrival date. Flight information can be submitted to Tauck (or verified, if you've already provided it) in the My Account section of Tauck.com.

TAUCK AIRPORT TRANSFERS are included at the start and end of the journey between the airport and the Tauck hotel. Airport transfers are available for any pre tour or post tour hotel stays immediately consecutive to the tour, providing flight information is received in the Tauck office no later than three weeks in advance. Details on locating your transfer upon arrival to the tour start city will be included in your final documents.

AIRLINES and CHECKED LUGGAGE: Due to space limitations during your Tauck journey, we ask that you please limit your checked luggage to one average-size suitcase per person. Besides complying with the Tauck restriction noted above, you should also be sure to research and comply with all airline baggage restrictions relating to your flights to and from your Tauck journey. Airlines have become much more strict in enforcing size and weight limits in recent years, and are free to revise luggage policies without notice. Researching and complying with airline luggage restrictions is the responsibility of the guest, and Tauck cannot be held responsible for any costs or disruptions to travel caused by the failure to research and comply with airline policies. PLEASE NOTE that if you are booked on a tour that includes on-tour flights, the checked luggage weight restrictions for these flights may be lower than the weight restrictions for your international flights.

Checked Luggage – General

Due to space restrictions, we ask that you please limit your checked luggage to one suitcase per person weighing no more than 50 pounds (23 kg) and with overall dimensions (length + width + height) not exceeding 62 inches (158 cm).

Besides complying with the Tauck restriction noted above, you should also be sure to research and comply with all airline baggage restrictions relating to your flights to and from your Tauck journey. Airlines have become much more strict in enforcing size and weight limits in recent years, and luggage exceeding airline standards for size or weight may result in expensive overage fees or other consequences.

Airlines are free to revise luggage policies without notice, and certain airlines have different baggage allowances for different classes of service. Researching and complying with airline luggage restrictions is the responsibility of the guest, and Tauck cannot be held responsible for any costs or disruptions to travel caused by the failure to research and comply with airline policies.

Tauck luggage tags will be provided by your Tauck Director on Day 1 of your itinerary. Please do not attach a Tauck luggage tag to any carry-on items, as the Tauck tags designate luggage that is to be handled and transferred by ground operators and hotel staff during your journey.

Carry-on Luggage - General

Although oversize bags and wheeled, carry-on luggage are popular for airline travel, they are often not convenient or appropriate for motor coach travel or for many on-tour flights. Most modern sightseeing motor coaches offer limited space for numerous or larger items. Space under seats or in the overhead rack is typically small, and designed to accommodate items like coats, hats, purses, and small camera bags, etc.

For your day-to-day travel while on tour, we recommend that you limit your hand luggage to a small, soft-sided carry-on piece, and that you bring only those items you need handy during the day such as make-up, medications, cameras, film, etc. Items too large to fit under the motor coach seat or on the overhead rack must be stored in the luggage bays beneath the motor coach, and may be inaccessible during daytime travel.

Health, Safety and Mobility

HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

Please check with your health insurance provider to determine whether you are covered while traveling. If you will not be covered under your current policy, we strongly suggest that you arrange for adequate coverage while on tour.

If you have a medical condition that might limit your participation in activities, please consult your physician for pre-departure health advice and notify Tauck as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. We will advise your Tauck Director accordingly.

VACCINATIONS

If you are a resident of another country traveling to or within the U.S., we suggest that contact your physician, the public health service in your area, or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to obtain information regarding vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases for which you might be at risk when you reach your destination in the U.S. The Travelers' Health Section of the CDC operates a 24-hour "Travelers' Health Hotline" at 800-232-4636 (toll-free in the U.S.). You may also log on to the CDC website by clicking here.

To enjoy this tour, you should be in good health and able to walk reasonable distances, often over unpaved and uneven surfaces. Some of the most memorable sightseeing can only be accomplished on foot. The amount of walking you do, however, is at your discretion.

Some of the excursions on this tour are:

  • Whitewater rafting on the Snake River, the journey is roughly 2 hours and requires stepping in and out of an inflatable raft
  • Guided horseback riding on a working cattle ranch, guests are required to show ability to mount/unmount and for safety reasons, a weight restriction of 225 pounds is in place. 

There are no elevators at The Ranch at Ucross or at the Holiday Inn® Cody at Buffalo Bill Village, and while none of the planned activities are especially strenuous or difficult, we urge caution when engaging in activities at high elevations. If you have a heart condition or lung ailment, please consult your physician before you book your trip.

PLEASE NOTE: We regret that we're unable to provide individual assistance to guests with walking difficulties or other personal needs. The responsibility of the Tauck Director who accompanies your trip is to ensure that the larger group enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing individual assistance to any one guest. Guests requiring such individualized assistance must be accompanied by an able-bodied companion who can provide it. While drinking water is generally safe at all our hotels, bottled water will be available wherever the local water is not fit to drink. We also provide bottled water on the motor coaches.

The Jackson Lake Lodge, Old Faithful Inn and Lake Yellowstone Hotel are all non-smoking hotels and a very large fine will be assessed if it is determined that anyone has smoked while on property.

SPECIAL DIETARY REQUESTS

The restaurants, hotels, caterers and numerous other partners we work with all do their best to accommodate special dietary requests from Tauck guests. However, given the diverse nature of those food providers (from small wineries to grand hotels to world-famous restaurants in more than 70 countries worldwide), some of our partners are better able than others to accommodate such requests. We therefore cannot guarantee that all dietary requests can be accommodated at every meal. Also, please note that where dietary requests can be accommodated, choices will frequently be limited.

Reading List

We have compiled a reading list of recommended books to give you more information about the destinations you will be traveling to on your upcoming journey! You can view the reading list  here .

The high temperatures in the summer months average 70 to 90°F (21 to 32°C) and the lows average 40 to 60°F (4 to 16°C). The overnight temperatures can drop to the freezing point even during the summer at the highest elevations. Rainfall is light to moderate throughout the region. Salt Lake City receives the least amount of rain with an average of less than 1 in (25 mm) per month during summer; Jackson averages 1.5 in (38 mm) and Rapid City averages 2.5 in (63 mm.)

To read about current weather conditions, we suggest you log on to the Internet website, noaa.gov , by clicking here.

What To Pack

Bringing the right clothing for your trip is important – we've partnered with Necessary Gear who provide an "easy-to-use, one-stop shop" for your Tauck travel needs, specifically selected for this trip. Click here to visit their site .

Your journey is designed with leisure in mind. Dress for comfort and convenience with a wardrobe that is adaptable and allows for layering. Generally, during the day, casual, comfortable, cotton clothing is recommended. Cool weather at higher elevations or at night will require warmer, layered clothing. For the welcome and farewell receptions, casual resort wear is appropriate; formal wear is never required.

All of our hotels offer valet laundry service for a fee except for the Old Faithful Inn, Lake Yellowstone Hotel and The Ranch at Ucross.

We recommend that you pack an adequate supply of your prescription medication in its original container to last through your entire journey, together with a copy of your doctor's prescription or a letter from your health-care provider on office stationery explaining that the medication has been prescribed for you, a list of the generic names of your medication, your travel documents and a change of clothing in your carry-on bag to avoid any inconvenience in the event that your flight or luggage is delayed.

The national park lodges do not have televisions or Internet hook-ups, so bring along a good book to read!

Following is a list of recommended items to pack for your journey to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks:

  • Comfortable walking shoes (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • Casual daytime wear – shorts, slacks, long and short-sleeved shirts
  • Long pants or jeans (long pants and closed-toed shoes are required for the horseback riding)
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
  • A light sweater or jacket for higher elevations or a breezy night
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera, lenses, batteries, memory cards and chargers
  • Lightweight, comfortable, sturdy walking shoes that have already been broken-in
  • Travel alarm clock/cell phone with alarm functions (many hotels do not have clocks in the rooms
  • Rain poncho and collapsible umbrella
  • Reusable zipper-lock bags or other waterproof bags
  • Daypack for camera equipment
  • Sundries and toiletries that may be difficult to find en route
  • A book or e-reader to read in the evening, or downloaded podcasts or video programs to watch during your free time.
  • Copies of your travel documents that should be secured in the safe in your hotel room while traveling

The Tauck Experience

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tauck tours zion national park

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Desert Oasis: Zion, Death Valley & Palm Springs

Select Year

Select Group Size

  • Small Group

Year, Departure Type

Select small group departures (averaging 26 Tauck guests), or classic departures, and the year you would like to travel.

  • 2024 Classic
  • 2024 Small Group
  • 2025 Classic
  • 2025 Small Group

Accommodations

  • Pricing & Availability
  • Important Info

Uniquely Tauck

Death Valley Zion Escorted Tour Map

EXPERIENCE WITH TAUCK

A tour of Death Valley National Park

A tour of the Valley of Fire in Fire State Park

A guided walk through Zion Canyon

A visit to the Center & Garden of Sunnylands, the sprawling Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage known as the "Camp David of the West"

TAUCK VALUE INCLUDES

An overnight stay at the Four Seasons Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip

Two nights in the heart of Death Valley National Park, at a desert oasis

SEE WHAT YOUR JOURNEY INCLUDES

Active components such as hiking, bicycling and walking longer distances may be included, and hills and/or uneven terrain may be encountered on several days. Guests should be able to walk two to three miles and stand for long periods of time with no difficulty.

Often robust – may include long days, active sightseeing, early starts, evening activities, significant travel times.

Legendary Journeys and Adventures

Deserts are where Nature paints its big-canvas art, its most astonishing and colorful landscapes and wildest sculptures, flaming sunsets and deepest, starriest night skies...boundless places where wind and water are free to play and create works that inspire awe, wonder and surprise... where Native Americans and Biblical-minded pioneers alike felt something grand and sacred in its empty spaces...

... and our eight-day national park road trip will take you to some of the places where that desert spirit lives largest, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, Zion National Park in Utah, Death Valley National Park, and Joshua Tree National Park in California, some less well-known than others, but each with a distinct character and vibe you can feel up close on guided hikes and excursions and inside-the-park accommodations. And just so you don't feel too overwhelmed by natural wonders, we've bookended the tour with a healthy dose of civilization: overnight stays in luxury hotels in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.

Spend two nights in Zion National Park

Go inside 260 million years of geologic history.

As one of the oldest national parks, Zion encompasses 229 square miles of jaw-dropping vertical sandstone cliffs, monoliths, carved buttes, colored mesas and canyon walls. A virgin river runs through it. Cottonwoods, red maples and Ponderosa pines line its rocky trails. And elusive wildlife, like North America's big cats, find welcome solitude here in the rocky outcroppings. And with only one inside-the-park hotel, you'll enjoy a front-row seat to spectacular views of the park's rock cliffs, with light shows that paint the landscape with ever-changing hues.

Flightseeing Over the Grand Canyon & Lake Mead

Experience the beauty of western landscapes... from above.

Explore diverse US Western landscapes by land – and by air – when you do some flightseeing from St. George, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada. You'll get a good view of the west side of Grand Canyon National Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area; the lake is actually a reservoir that is formed by Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, renowned for its stunning blue color.

Joshua Tree National Park

The intersection of two deserts.

Arrive at Joshua Tree National Park where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts merge... creating an ecosystem unlike any other. Here, the creosote and cacti, weird rock formations, boulder hills, wandering canyons and windswept desert plains where giant yucca plants, appropriately named Joshua Trees, create unimaginable landscapes. Along nature trails that wind through Lost Horse Valley, hidden oases, long abandoned mining camps and the Wonderland of Rocks, there is so much more than meets the eye at this timeless sanctuary.

Artist's Palette

Nature's natural palette.

One of the most unique areas of Death Valley National Park is Artist's Palette, specifically, a portion of the nine-mile drive known as "Artist's Drive." Famous for its beautiful, vibrant colors that the outer facing rocks showcase, this phenomenon is caused by the oxidation of different metals found within the rock formations and is due to the chemical weathering and hydrothermal alteration occurrences within the area. Each metal, when oxidized, produces a different color. Iron compounds produce pink, red and yellow colors whereas mica and manganese produce green and purple respectively. These colors are likely a remnant of explosive volcanic times of the past! Don't forget to bring your camera to capture this jaw-dropping scenery.

The Inn at Death Valley

A hidden gem within the surrounding desert....

Amidst the shifting sand dunes, hidden canyons and gargantuan rock formations sits The Inn at Death Valley. Surrounded by palm trees and other unique desert flora, this property has transformed into a desert oasis unlike any other. Once an exclusive desert escape for the Hollywood elite the likes of Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard, The Inn at Death Valley is bringing back the Old Hollywood feel after a multi-million dollar renovation to its property finished in 2019. Relax by the spring-fed pool, enjoy the sunset from one of the stone patios, partake in a round of 18 at the world's lowest elevation golf course and witness the awestruck beauty of the Milky Way Galaxy like you've never seen before!

Download, Print Or Share

Take The Details With You

Download day-by-day details.

All the information you need for this journey at your fingertips – day-by-day details, map, hotel descriptions, key highlights and more.

Where you stay is an important part of your journey – with Tauck, accommodations have been handpicked and carefully selected for their location and ambiance, enhancing the destinations you explore. Download accommodation details and your travel plans begin!

Tour Planner

Download the details to make planning your trip easier - including an itinerary overview, pricing based on your selected departure date and accommodations, plus protection plan costs.

Request A Tour Planner

Overnight Accommodations

Extend your stay

Arrive Early

Four seasons hotel las vegas.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Zion National Park, Utah

Death Valley, CA

Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage

Rancho Mirage, CA

Find your tour

Pricing & Availability

Pricing & Dates are not available yet. Please check back soon.

No departures found.

Try using less filters or select a different year.

Want More Detailed Information?

Request a Tour Planner

Call 800-788-7885

About Booking This Tour

Travel Documents

Desert Oasis: Zion, Death Valley & Palm Springs begins and ends in the U.S.

Real ID Act - Effective May 7, 2025

Beginning in May 2025, some state IDs will no longer permit you to board a domestic flight. Currently, some states are compliant, some have received extensions, and some are not compliant.  Click here  to see the status of your state. If your state license is not compliant, you can use a passport in lieu of a valid state ID. 

Please Note:  The federal government has extended the deadline to May 7, 2025 for domestic airline passengers to secure a Real ID driver's license for use as identification at the airport. Travelers without a verified license or ID card will also have the option of showing other identity documents, such as a passport or military ID to board a plane.

If you are a citizen of another country traveling internationally,   you should contact an embassy or consulate of the U.S. to determine what travel documentation is necessary. You may also log on to the U.S. State Department's Internet site by clicking  here.

If you are traveling by air to join and/or depart from this tour within the U.S ., please read the section entitled Airline Security Measures under Additional Information to determine what travel documentation is required.

If you are a citizen of the U.S. or Canada who travels frequently between the two countries , you may benefit from the NEXUS program, which is a joint initiative between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency that allows pre-screened and approved travelers faster processing at designated highway lanes in high-volume border crossing locations, at a NEXUS kiosk at several airports, and at certain marine reporting locations in the Great Lakes and Seattle regions. For further information, you may log on to the Nexus Internet website by clicking here . Please note that longer stays abroad for any purpose may require additional travel documentation.

We recommend that you make at least two photocopies of all the travel documents that you bring with you. Include copies of the photo page of your passport that contains the date of issuance, the date of expiration and your citizenship. Secure one set of copies in the safe in your room while traveling and leave one set behind with someone at home who will assist you in the event your documents are misplaced, lost or stolen.

To facilitate Travel Requirements, destinations are increasingly utilizing online forms that require digital proof that you've successfully completed your submission (via an email, QR code, etc.) To ensure smooth travels and peace of mind, we strongly recommend all guests carry a personal smart phone and sign up for international data plans before traveling overseas.

Note: For activities marked with an asterisk (*) in day-by-day descriptions, participation is at your own risk; a signed liability waiver will be required.

How to Book a Tour

See your travel advisor, or call Tauck at 800-468-2825 to make a reservation.

At the time of booking, please have the following information ready for all members of your party:

  • Tour Name and Departure Date
  • Traveler's Name: First and last names as they appear on your passport or driver's license
  • Traveler's Address(es)
  • Email Address*
  • Traveler's Phone Number(s)*
  • Emergency Contact Information: Please provide the name and phone number  of a relative or friend (not travelling with you) whom we could contact during the tour in the unlikely event of an emergency
  • Interest in purchasing a travel protection plan (US and Canada)
  • Interest in extending your trip by staying in a Tauck recommended hotel before your trip begins or after it ends
  • Interest in our specially negotiated airfares

* Required Fields

Deposit & Final Payment

The deposit and the fees for the optional Protection Plan or Cancel Fee Waiver [CFW] coverage are due at time of booking.

The deposit amount is $350 per person

Final Payment:

Final Payment is due to Tauck 60 days before departure for lands trips, and 120 days before departure for cruises and rail journeys. If your deposit was made by credit card, final payment will be automatic unless you opted out at time of booking. Bookings without full payment at this time may be subject to cancellation without notice. Failure to make payment will be a considered a cancellation by the guest and all applicable cancellation fees will apply.

Travel Protection Plan

Effective for plans purchased as of July 1, 2021:

Cancellation Waiver – Provided by Tauck:

Under Tauck's Cancellation Fee Waiver you can cancel your tour for ANY REASON up to the day before departure and receive a money-back refund (except in Extreme Circumstances*) on the land tour cost, based on your original method of payment.

*Extreme Circumstances:  In the event of an act of God, war (whether declared or undeclared), terrorism, accident, natural disaster, outbreak of disease, or other event or circumstance beyond our control that contributes to or results in cancellation rates above our historical cancellation rates in the absence of such event or occurrence, Tauck reserves the right to issue a credit to you in lieu of a money-back refund, applicable to a future Tauck journey.

Travel Insurance Benefits – Underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company.

  • Trip Cancellation –  If you must cancel your tour due to a covered reason, the plan provides coverage for the amount you paid for your travel arrangements. Since the non-insurance cancellation waiver takes care of the land package cancellation fees already, this benefit reimburses the airfare cancellation charges up to the value of your original airfare purchase.
  • Trip Interruption –  If you have to interrupt your tour for covered reasons, the plan provides reimbursement for up to $5,000 to catch up to your tour or return home.
  • Travel Delay –  Provides reimbursement for missed, prepaid travel arrangements if you are delayed by a common carrier, natural disaster, unannounced strike, or other reasons as cited in the plan.
  • Medical Expense –  Reimburses covered medical expenses incurred in the event you become injured or sick during your trip. 
  • Baggage / Personal Effects Protection –  Provides reimbursement in the event your luggage or personal effects are, lost, stolen, damaged or delayed during your trip.

Worldwide Emergency Assistance Services –  Provided by Carefree Travel Assistance; 24-hour emergency telephone assistance hotline for medical and travel related problems.

The cost of Tauck's Guest Protection is: $349  per person

This protection provides insurance coverage that applies only during the covered trip. You may have coverage from other sources that provides you with similar benefits but may be subject to different restrictions depending upon your other coverages. You may wish to compare the terms of this policy with your existing life, health, home and automobile policies. If you have any questions about your current coverage, call your insurer, insurance agent or broker.

This optional Guest Protection must be requested at time of booking and fee must be included with initial payment. Fees are based on costs as of July 1, 2021, and are subject to change. Details will be provided with written confirmation of your tour reservation. Guest Protection does not protect travel agent commissions. Reimbursements will be made according to original method of payment. The amount of any refund shall be reduced by any recoveries obtained by you from any third parties.

The Guest Protection plan waives cancellation fees outlined below, provided we are notified of cancellation before your tour departs. Tour cancellation fees are waived regardless of reason, without written notice, and Tauck will refund land tour cost.

To obtain your state-specific Certificate of Insurance that contains the complete terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions of the certificate, visit  affinitytravelcert.com/docs/TACGPPDOM .

If You Have To Cancel

If you cancel within 10 days of initial deposit Within the first 10 days after you place your initial deposit, you may cancel your reservation for any reason with no cancellation fees. If you cancel more than 10 days after initial deposit Regardless of reason, cancellations result in costly charges from our travel and hotel providers covering penalties and fees incurred by canceling confirmed bookings. These fees vary from tour to tour. Therefore, the following fees apply.

Cancellation Fees with Tauck's Guest Protection Plan:

Loss of Guest Protection fee, per person

Cancellation Fees without Tauck's Guest Protection Plan :

60 days or more before departure = $350 per person

59-8 days before departure = $600 per person

7-1 days before departure = $900 per person

Time of cancellation  will be when notice is received in our Wilton Woods, CT office.

In the event of an unforeseen circumstance beyond our control,  Tauck reserves the right to amend the cancellation terms outlined herein.

Note:  All Guests, regardless of residency, who book a Tauck journey have the option of purchasing the Cancellation Fee Waiver provided by Tauck in the event they need to cancel their trip after making their reservations. Tauck's Guest Protection, which includes both the Cancellation Fee Waiver and the Travel Insurance Benefits and Assistance Services described above, is not available to residents of Puerto Rico.

Travel Terms and Conditions

Click here  to find Tauck's Travel Terms & Conditions.

Travel Requirements For This Tour

Air Information and Luggage Restrictions

AIRFARE:  Airfare to and from this destination is not included in the journey cost. If purchasing your air elsewhere, it is very important to provide us with your confirmed arriving and departing flight information no later than 3 weeks before your arrival date. Flight information can be submitted to Tauck (or verified, if you've already provided it) in the My Account section of Tauck.com.

TAUCK AIRPORT TRANSFERS  are included at the start and end of the journey between the airport and the Tauck hotel. Airport transfers are available for any pre tour or post tour hotel stays immediately consecutive to the tour, providing flight information is received in the Tauck office no later than three weeks in advance. Details on locating your transfer upon arrival to the tour start city will be included in your final documents.

AIRLINES and CHECKED LUGGAGE:  Due to space limitations during your Tauck journey, we ask that you please limit your checked luggage to one average-size suitcase per person. Besides complying with the Tauck restriction noted above, you should also be sure to research and comply with all airline baggage restrictions relating to your flights to and from your Tauck journey. Airlines have become much more strict in enforcing size and weight limits in recent years, and are free to revise luggage policies without notice. Researching and complying with airline luggage restrictions is the responsibility of the guest, and Tauck cannot be held responsible for any costs or disruptions to travel caused by the failure to research and comply with airline policies. PLEASE NOTE that if you are booked on a tour that includes on-tour flights, the checked luggage weight restrictions for these flights may be lower than the weight restrictions for your international flights.

Checked Luggage – General

Due to space restrictions, we ask that you please limit your checked luggage to one suitcase per person weighing no more than 50 pounds (23 kg) and with overall dimensions (length + width + height) not exceeding 62 inches (158 cm).

Besides complying with the Tauck restriction noted above, you should also be sure to research and comply with all airline baggage restrictions relating to your flights to and from your Tauck journey. Airlines have become much more strict in enforcing size and weight limits in recent years, and luggage exceeding airline standards for size or weight may result in expensive overage fees or other consequences.

Airlines are free to revise luggage policies without notice, and certain airlines have different baggage allowances for different classes of service. Researching and complying with airline luggage restrictions is the responsibility of the guest, and Tauck cannot be held responsible for any costs or disruptions to travel caused by the failure to research and comply with airline policies.

Tauck luggage tags will be provided by your Tauck Director on Day 1 of your itinerary. Please do not attach a Tauck luggage tag to any carry-on items, as the Tauck tags designate luggage that is to be handled and transferred by ground operators and hotel staff during your journey.

Carry-on Luggage - General

Although oversize bags and wheeled, carry-on luggage are popular for airline travel, they are often not convenient or appropriate for motor coach travel or for many on-tour flights. Most modern sightseeing motor coaches offer limited space for numerous or larger items. Space under seats or in the overhead rack is typically small, and designed to accommodate items like coats, hats, purses, and small camera bags, etc.

For your day-to-day travel while on tour, we recommend that you limit your hand luggage to a small, soft-sided carry-on piece, and that you bring only those items you need handy during the day such as make-up, medications, cameras, film, etc. Items too large to fit under the motor coach seat or on the overhead rack must be stored in the luggage bays beneath the motor coach, and may be inaccessible during daytime travel.

Health, Safety and Mobility

HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS

Please check with your health insurance provider to determine whether you are covered while traveling. If you will not be covered under your current policy, we strongly suggest that you arrange for adequate coverage while on tour.

While drinking water is generally safe at all our hotels, bottled water will be available wherever the local water is not fit to drink. We also provide bottled water on the motor coaches.

If you have a medical condition that might limit your participation in activities, please consult your physician for pre-departure health advice and notify us as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. We will advise your Tauck Director accordingly.

VACCINATIONS

If you are a resident of another country traveling to or within the U.S.,  no vaccinations are currently required for travel to the U.S. For complete vaccination and inoculation information, contact your physician, the public health service in your area, or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. The Travelers' Health Section of the CDC operates a 24-hour "Travelers' Health Hotline" at 800-232-4636 (toll-free in the U.S.). You may also log on to the CDC website by clicking  here.

The very active Desert Oasis: Zion, Death Valley & Palm Springs journey across 834 miles (1,342 km) leads you from the southwestern U.S. high desert to the mountain heights of the U.S. national parks. To enjoy this tour, you should be in good health and able to walk reasonable distances, often over unpaved and uneven surfaces. Some of the most memorable sightseeing can only be accomplished on foot. The amount of walking you do, however, is at your discretion.

Although the hotels and lodges do have rooms that are handicap accessible, if you are traveling with a wheelchair or portable oxygen, Tauck strongly recommends that you consult with your physician to determine whether this tour is appropriate for you.

Strenuous exercise at high elevations should be avoided.

PLEASE NOTE: We regret that we're unable to provide individual assistance to guests with walking difficulties or other personal needs. The responsibility of the Tauck Director who accompanies your trip is to ensure that the larger group enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing individual assistance to any one guest. Guests requiring such individualized assistance must be accompanied by an able-bodied companion who can provide it.

  SPECIAL DIETARY REQUESTS The restaurants, hotels, caterers and numerous other partners we work with all do their best to accommodate special dietary requests from Tauck guests. However, given the diverse nature of those food providers (from small wineries to grand hotels to world-famous restaurants in more than 70 countries worldwide), some of our partners are better able than others to accommodate such requests. We therefore cannot guarantee that all dietary requests can be accommodated at every meal. Also, please note that where dietary requests can be accommodated, choices will frequently be limited.

Reading List

We have compiled a reading list of recommended books to give you more information about the destinations you will be traveling to on your upcoming journey!

You can view the reading list  here.

In Las Vegas, the average high temperature is 58°F (14.4°C). Winter is chilly, with average lows at 39°F (3.9°C). Las Vegas' high altitude keeps it cooler than other places in the desert. The average morning temperature in Palm Springs is 44 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 Celsius. The sun rises at 6:50 am. Mid-day the temperature averages around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. To read about current weather conditions, we suggest you log on to the Internet website, noaa.gov , by clicking here .

What To Pack

Bringing the right clothing for your trip is important – we've partnered with New Headings who provide an "easy-to-use, one-stop shop" for your Tauck travel needs, specifically selected for this trip. Click here to visit their site .

The weather you will encounter on this journey ranges from hot and dry in Nevada to cool and dry at the higher elevations in the national parks. Your journey is designed with leisure in mind. Dress for comfort and convenience with a wardrobe that is adaptable and allows for layering. Generally, during the day, casual, comfortable, cotton clothing is recommended. Cool weather at higher elevations or at night will require warmer, layered clothing. For the welcome and farewell receptions, casual resort wear is appropriate; formal wear is never required.

We recommend that you pack an adequate supply of your prescription medication in its original container to last through your entire journey, together with a copy of your doctor's prescription, or a letter from your health-care provider on office stationery explaining that the medication has been prescribed for you, your travel documents and a change of clothing in your carry-on bag to avoid any inconvenience in the event that your flight or luggage is delayed.

Following is a list of recommended items to pack for your tour of Desert Oases :

  • Lightweight, comfortable, sturdy walking shoes that are already broken in (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • Casual daytime wear – shorts, slacks, long and short-sleeved shirts
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
  • A light sweater or jacket for higher elevations or a breezy night
  • Windbreaker for the raft trip
  • Insect repellent
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Shoes that can get wet for the raft trip (flip flops are not recommended)
  • Camera, lenses, batteries, memory cards and chargers
  • Telephoto lens
  • Backpack or belt-pack
  • Lightweight, comfortable, sturdy walking shoes that have already been broken-in
  • Travel alarm clock/cell phone with alarm function (many hotels do not have clocks in rooms)
  • Rain poncho and collapsible umbrella
  • Reusable zipper-lock bags or other waterproof bags
  • Daypack for camera equipment
  • Sundries and toiletries that may be difficult to find en route
  • Copies of your travel documents that should be secured in the safe in your hotel room while traveling

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