In 1847, Brigham Young famously led Mormon pioneers into this Utah valley declaring "This is the right place." There are several highlights that are well worth a stop in this scenic city. On top of a hill at the northern end of Salt Lake's main State Street is the elegant Utah State Capitol, patterned after America's Capitol Building, that has free guided tours available most of the year. Sculpture, murals and exhibits throughout the building tell the story of the settling of the West. Nearby recommended stops include the Pioneer Memorial Museum, Memory Grove Park, City Creek Canyon, and Council Hall for visitor information. For an overview of the region, we suggest a visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah. The main lobby opens up into a towering slot canyon, reflecting the geology of Southern Utah. Visitors work their way through exhibits covering past epochs, life, land, gems and minerals, first peoples, Great Salt Lake (with a view), indigenous voices, and rotating exhibits. The museum is also the trailhead for the city's Bonneville Shoreline Trail System. *Ask us about adding Rocky Mountaineer’s iconic ‘Rockies to the Red Rocks’ luxury 2 day train journey to this tour.*
Overnight: Salt Lake City
Pick up your rental car and embark on an adventure through The Mighty 5 National Parks. 300 million years of erosion carved unbelievably dramatic landscapes sculpted by the passage of time. Start with Arches National Park which contains about 2,000 windowed arches, towering spires, harrowing hoodoos, and precarious pinnacles on display, including Delicate Arch, perhaps Utah's most iconic feature - a must-hike destination in the park. A paved 36-mile scenic drive from the park entrance provides numerous parking areas for trail access and scenic overlooks. You will discover a sun-soaked red rock wonderland of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks and arches.
We combine both Arches and Canyonlands this day into one full day of guided sightseeing and exploring. Although you may have seen parts of Arches on the previous day, this guided tour by 4x4 vehicle adds a different dimension. We start high atop the Island in the Sky mesa and descend via the Shafer Trail’s steep switchbacks. We traverse part of the White Rim for incredible views of the Colorado River corridor below. We’ll stop here for some stunning views before continuing on. The Ancestral Pueblo peoples left evidence of their lives and culture in the canyons. We‘ll stop to investigate their mysterious and beautiful rock art before entering Arches National Park. Our knowledable guides add even more color to the iconic landforms and arches as we make our way to the Devils Garden for lunch. After lunch, we depart for the Arches backcountry from near Doc Williams point. We’ll climb a steep, but short rock wall, cut across a valley and wind through sandstone fins and dunes. Along the way we’ll see the Marching Men, Tower Arch, and the Eye of the Whale. We exit via an old cowboy trail and see Dinosaur tracks on our way back to Moab.
Canyonlands is made for adventure enthusiast with countless canyons that have been carved out by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The canyon can be best experienced by rafting or kayaking the Colorado River. Dead Horse Point is a Utah State Park providing panoramic views of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River. From Moab, drive north on Hwy 191 for about 19 kms (12 miles) to Hwy 313 and take the signed turnoff to Dead Horse Point. Follow this for about half an hour as it winds to the top of the plateau and then south to Dead Horse Point. This gives you a birds-eye view of Canyonlands and the Colorado River over 1,000 feet below. It is an absolutely spectacular view of the river. Time permitting, take a half-day jet boat ride down the Colorado River into Canyonlands National Park and see Canyonlands from the river, a view that most people never experience. Glide along the top of the water going around bends in the river surrounded by high cliffs. If it is late afternoon or evening, you may catch a beautiful sunset over Canyonlands.
The large petroglyph panel of Newspaper Rock is on the scenic road to the Needles District of Canyonlands. From there, continue to the Edge of the Cedars State Park and then Bluff Fort before heading south to Monument Valley. The next experience is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, an iconic symbol of the American West and the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation. Spend the evening seeing the best of Monument Valley, from natural landmark photo opportunities, a Navajo Hogan and petroglyphs to cultural demonstrations, a Navajo dinner, and campfire entertainment. This four-hour tour encompasses a wide variety of the incredible experiences lead by a Navajo guide. Your tour will begin with a journey into the spectacular backcountry of the Valley, exploring the natural and historic landmarks like sprawling rock arches and bridges and petroglyph rock art. Along the way, your guide will do a Navajo cultural demonstration as you make your way to the Rain God Mesa camping and picnic area. Here we’ll watch the sunset lapping the beautiful colors of the ending day over the landscape as we eat a dinner of Navajo tacos and steaks. After dinner, you’ll be treated to a one-of-a-kind campfire that you’ll never forget, with Native American dancing, flute playing, drumming, chanting, and storytelling. For those feeling adventurous, you can optionally stay overnight in a hogan, a traditional Navajo dwelling, for an authentic indigenous experience.
Overnight: Monument Valley
It is a scenic drive north to Green River through Hanksville on Routes 95 and 24. Green River is famous for its melons, sold during the growing season and also a popular free ride mountain biking spot. Overnight: Green River
It is a 3 hours drive north to back to Salt Lake City. Aim to return around noon time to return your car and head to the airport for your return after your epic drive through Southern Utah and some of the most stunning landscapes on earth.