Sunset hikes, stargazing and s’mores in the Wild West

Utah packs a lot into 200,000 square kilometres – more than many countries, let alone states, could ever imagine. Hit the road and head into the vast desert on this eight-day Lonely Planet Experience, powered by Intrepid. Leave Vegas behind to discover the tranquillity of the hidden gardens of Zion, iconic Monument Valley, the inspiring scenery of Moab and the majestic spires of Bryce Canyon. Find the heart of this giant continent on a journey to some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring parts of the USA.


Start
Las Vegas, United States
Finish
Las Vegas, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
SSRI
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Learn about indigenous culture and history in Monument Valley during a tour led by a Navajo guide and spend the night in a traditional hogan hut.

  • Hike past sculpted sandstone formations, waterfalls and hanging gardens in Zion National Park, roasting s’mores around a campfire by night.

  • See the exquisite sandstone arches of the aptly named Arches National Park and witness spectacular desert colours during a sunset hike.

  • Get closer to nature in cabins and campsites, the perfect way to take advantage of Utah’s dark skies for some premier stargazing.

  • A local leader who is passionate about Utah’s parks, a small group of like-minded explorers and the grand wilderness of the west – a recipe for pure adventure.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves a partial camping experience, giving you access to more remote destinations at close proximity plus the joy of camping under the night skies and beside a campfire. This is a participatory trip – a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride, but you are part of a team! Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand, and everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!

  • That teamwork also extends to our optional food kitty of approximately USD 10 per day, run to cover the cost of meals. This kitty saves you worrying about stuff like where to get food or what exactly sales tax is, and actually helps keep your costs down. Instead of paying individually as you go, it means we can bulk purchase items and cook our own food – though there’s always the chance to use it for the occasional pizza night! The kitty is optional and for your convenience, so if you've got specific dietary requirements you can opt out and purchase (and cook) your own food.

  • North America is a world of endless possibilities – that’s why our trips are designed so they fit together as (not quite endless) combinations. This means that while you might just be starting your trip on Day 1 in Las Vegas, some of your new mates may have been travelling together for a week through Joshua Tree National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park on our LA to Vegas & Utah Parks tour (SSRSU).

  • The desert areas of Utah can be very hot and dry, especially in summer. Although our private vehicles do have air conditioning, it has to work pretty hard to keep a full group cool. Expect to feel hot during summer and cold at other times of the year, especially at night. Please consider your suitability to the weather conditions in the season you wish to travel in.

  • You'll be travelling in a van with your group, so conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s simply the best way to get around, and you might even make some long-term friends.

Itinerary

Welcome to Las Vegas! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6 pm today. If you arrive early in the desert city, there's plenty to see and do, even if gambling isn't your thing. Hit the shops, feel your stomach drop on a rooftop roller-coaster or simply stroll along the extravagance of the Strip, walking through the casinos and past the desert palms. In the evening, perhaps feast in one of Vegas’ restaurants or buffets, check out one of the large array of stage shows on offer or party the night away in a Vegas nightclub.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for your welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you are interested in seeing a Vegas show, we recommend booking in advance to get the best deal and ensure you don’t miss out.
Today, leave Nevada and drive for around 3 hours to Zion National Park. The park is home to stunning desert landscapes, sculpted sandstone formations, waterfalls and hanging gardens. There will be plenty of time on arrival to stretch your legs and have a good look around the park. The Emerald Pools trail, a two-hour stroll past a lush stream, is a good option for those who don't want anything too strenuous. If you are feeling adventurous and have a decent level of fitness (plus aren't afraid of heights), you might want to tackle the famous Angels Landing trail. Taking around six hours and following a path with sheer drops on either side, this isn't for the faint of heart. However, the views from the top of the rock formation are spectacular. In the evening, set up camp for the night.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Zion National Park - Entrance Fee
Optional Activities
  • Zion National Park - Hiking - Free
  • Zion National Park - River tubing (seasonal) - USD24
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You’ll have a full day to explore what you missed yesterday in Zion. It would be the ideal time to head on a longer hike, potentially to admire the beauty of the flowing streams along The Narrows, or a steep climb to an incredible view at Observation Point. The national park can also be discovered via shuttle or an optional float trip, giving your feet a well-deserved rest. At night, don’t forget to look up at the dazzling night skies while camping and enjoy and try your luck at stargazing – quite perfectly combined with some s’mores around the campfire.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Zion - Narrows Hiking Gear Rental - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive through southern Utah to Monument Valley, so-named for the giant sandstone formations scattered across the desert. Passing by stunning lookouts and by Forrest Gump’s desert running scene, make sure to also check out the Navajo roadside stalls for some authentic goods, and if you’re lucky, some fried bread. The backdrop for countless Westerns, the valley is part of a massive Navajo reservation, and there’s no better way than heading out on an incredible guided jeep tour. Get your camera out and snap some photos of the spectacular landscape, which changes colour with the setting of the sun. Take in the stunning night skies and spend the night in a hogan, a traditional Navajo hut made of logs and earth. Total driving time today is approximately 3 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hogan (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Monument Valley - Jeep tour & overnight experience
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Continue on your journey this morning through the impressive landscape of Utah. On the way north to Moab, you’re going to see some incredible scenery, including Goosenecks State Park overlook, Muley Point and Moki Dugway. Moab is a small city in Utah that attracts hikers, mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts to the incredible Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. Arches National Park is punctuated with spectacularly eroded sandstone formations and contains the world's largest concentration of natural stone arches. Take a group hike at sunset to see famous sights such as Delicate Arch.
Accommodation
  • Cabin (multishare) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Delicate Arch sunset hike
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
During the busy summer months some of the more popular optional activities in Moab can sell out. We recommend you discuss your interest in these activities with your leader as soon as possible so they can assist in arranging bookings.
Experience Moab for a second day, filled with towering rock formations, winding trails and never-ending horizons. Hopefully there will be time to take a group hike in the Arches in the morning before the day gets too hot, however the afternoon is yours to explore. Perhaps book yourself into a raft float trip down the Colorado River, or test your balance with some stand-up paddleboarding. If you need to give your weary muscles a rest, a Slickrock Hummer tour might be your thing – though keep in mind it’s not exactly a smooth journey. At nightfall, maybe head into town and hit the local brewery.
Accommodation
  • Cabin (multishare) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Arches National Park
Optional Activities
  • Moab - Raft Float Trip on Colorado River - USD72
  • Moab - Slickrock Hummer tour - USD100
  • Arches National Park - Hiking - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Bryce Canyon National Park is next on the list. On the way, you’ll stop and admire the golden sandstone of Capitol Reef, and refuel at the unique Kiva Koffeehouse, which overlooks the expanse of the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. Once arrived, there is a chance to hike a section of Bryce Canyon: from the easy Rim Trail, to the moderate Queen's Garden Trail or the strenuous Peek-a-boo Loop. The canyon is famous for its 'hoodoos' – odd-shaped rock spires formed by centuries of erosion. Wherever you walk, there are unique landscapes and a kaleidoscope of desert colours, especially at sunset. If you're keen to live out a Wild West fantasy, chat to the group leader about a horse-riding optional activity.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
Optional Activities
  • Bryce Canyon National Park - Hiking - Free
  • Bryce Canyon - Horseback Riding - USD60
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, drive across the border into Nevada and back to Las Vegas, where your trip ends on arrival. No accommodation is provided for tonight, however, if you do wish to spend extra time in Las Vegas, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • Las Vegas - Helicopter Tour of The Strip - USD104
  • Las Vegas - Limo (per group) - USD300
  • Las Vegas - Big Apple Express roller coaster - USD15
  • Las Vegas - Mob Museum - USD27
  • Las Vegas - Monorail - USD5
  • Las Vegas - Fremont Street Experience - Free
  • Las Vegas - Bellagio Fountains - Free
  • Las Vegas - Eiffel Tower - USD22
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The arrival time into Las Vegas depends on each group, but if you decide to fly out on this day, please don't book a flight before 8 pm. This will give you enough time to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the airport and be there twoooo hours before departure.
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night), Multishare Cabin (2 nights), hogan (1 night), camping with facilities (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Zion National Park - Entrance Fee
  • Monument Valley - Jeep tour & overnight experience
  • Delicate Arch sunset hike
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Utah Parks Circuit trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival in Las Vegas in the afternoon on day 8.

2. SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip however excludes Days 4 (Monument Valley), 5 and 6 (Moab) where you will be in shared accommodation.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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