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Viva Las Vegas! Welcome to Sin City, home to endless entertainment, award-winning dining and world-class shopping. On day one of your USA vacation, spend some time exploring the best places in Las Vegas like the iconic Las Vegas Strip or perhaps relax while soaking up the warm desert sun. You will then meet your Travel Director and fellow explorers for a Welcome Reception at 6 p.m. Connect with your group at a classic bistro with refreshing drinks and some local bites as the city shifts into night with its infamous bright lights and outdoor entertainment. Local tip: Don't miss the famous Bellagio Fountains show which runs every 15-30 mins, featuring 4,500 lights and water jets shooting up to 25 stories in the air, all seamlessly choreographed to Las Vegas classics like Frank Sinatra.
After breakfast, it's time to leave the lights of Las Vegas behind as you head to Zion National Park, the first of Utah's Mighty 5® on this US national park tour, full of rich history and a unique collection of plants and animals. Spend the day in a landscape relatively unchanged from the times when brave pioneers headed west and the first nation settlers traversed the land over 10,000 years ago. Full of nature's works of art, Zion National Park is a photographer's dream, with narrow canyons, multicolored desert cliff stones and waterfalls with hanging gardens. After you've checked the first of Utah's national parks off your bucket list (although we're sure you'll want to visit again), we'll take a short drive east to visit Bryce Canyon National Park. For dinner tonight, your Travel Director will be happy to suggest some of their local favorites.
Fill up at breakfast for an adventure as we check off the second of Utah's Mighty 5® National Parks and head into the strange world of hoodoos! Despite its name, Bryce Canyon is not actually a single canyon but rather comprised of a series of natural amphitheaters which are carved into a high plateau. Here you'll find the largest concentration of hoodoos, a unique geological landform of irregularly-eroded spires of rock, giving this park a gravity-defying, other-worldly feel. Explore this eerie landscape as you wander among the maze of hoodoos and learn about the fascinating geology of this park. As the day winds down, we'll head out to the city of Moab for a visit with our friend and local specialist, Tom Till - one of the top landscape photographers in the United States. With over 40 years of experience and hundreds of publishing credits across books and magazines, Tom will share his exclusive tips and tricks with you. During our national park tour you will make memories of a lifetime and will be able to capture them in your own publish-worthy photos - making you the envy of all your Facebook® friends.
Today, day four of your trip, will be a Moab tour as we explore two exciting places to visit in the USA. First up is Arches National Park, whose story has been in the making for over 65 million years. A former dry seabed, it was transformed by geological forces and erosion, carving away layer-by-layer to form the magnificent scenery we'll see today. Perhaps you'd like to stop at one of the viewpoints and practice your new landscape photography skills by capturing Delicate Arch. As you stand in awe at what nature has created, see why Delicate Arch is one of the most photographed formations of the park, and why even the best shutterbugs claim that photos simply do not do it justice. After Arches National Park, it is just a quick trip over to Canyonlands National Park, although the diverse geology will have you feeling like it's much further away. Earning its name from the countless rocky red canyons carved by the Green and Colorado rivers, Canyonlands National Park is divided into four districts, each with its own distinct character, including the Island in the Sky district. We'll spend time here on the mesa resting over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain, providing impressive views and a different perspective of the canyons. To cap off an amazing day of Moab sightseeing, enjoy the quintessential American dining experience with a Be My Guest dinner. Experience an authentic roadside restaurant with a 'coffee shop meets local steakhouse' flair that happens to be a staple of the Moab community. Soak up the warm, friendly atmosphere as you meet Shawn, former waitress turned owner and your host for the evening, as she shares her history and what she is doing to keep the restaurant alive and serving the community.
Start the day with a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, originally established to preserve and understand the heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who resided here for over 700 years, it is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Mesa Verde protects thousands of known archeological sites, along with 600 cliff dwellings which were carved out of the sandstone canyon walls. In the afternoon, you will visit Monument Valley Tribal Park and its majestic formation of 1,000-foot-tall sandstone towers reaching up from the desert landscape. Aside from its natural beauty, Monument Valley is the heart of the Navajo Nation. Hear about its sacred meaning to the Navajo people and history firsthand during a Navajo Cookout. Not only will you enjoy delicious specialties for dinner, you'll experience the Navajo culture through heart-felt stories, songs and dance performed by a local Native American passionate about sharing his culture. To end our unforgettable day in Monument Valley, we'll head to Goulding's Lodge where founder Harry Goulding is credited with turning Monument Valley into an icon of the American West. Goulding lobbied for the valley to be used as a filming location in Stagecoach, starring John Wayne and other western files. Aside from its rich film history, the on-site Trading Post Museum also supports the local community, as any donations go towards a Navajo Scholarship fund.
We will continue our Monument Valley tour from a different perspective today as we board 4x4 open-air vehicles accompanied by a member of the Navajo Nation, who will navigate us through the towering sandstone buttes and mesas, bringing the sacred site and its geological history to life. Later today, we'll head to Grand Canyon National Park - one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Although still up for some scientific debate, some believe this canyon began forming over 70 million years ago. Now over a mile deep, 18 miles wide and 277 miles long, the Grand Canyon leaves us lots of ground to explore. Spend some free time getting acquainted with the area as you begin to understand why Theodore Roosevelt once proclaimed it to be "…beyond comparison - beyond description." Tonight, you'll have the option to choose from a variety of dining options from casual to elegant before returning to your lodge in the heart of the park.
Today we'll spend the entire day discovering this UNESCO World Heritage Site with 'Canyon Tim', our Local Specialist and expert in all things Grand Canyon. Learn about the captivating history and geology of this park created by the Colorado River and be sure to stay on the lookout for local wildlife including Gila monsters, bighorn sheep and the most dangerous to visitors… the rock squirrel! After daytime exploring, it's time to see the Grand Canyon in a new light during the most magical time of day, with a private tour at sunset. While most sunsets are at least photo worthy, nothing is quite as breathtaking as you take in the changing color palette of the dimming rays as they transform the cliffsides and ridges into darkness to match the depth of the Grand Canyon itself. The only fitting way to end such a spectacular day of sightseeing is a dinner together with your traveler friends and Travel Director as you toast to new memories, new experiences and new friends.
As our trip together winds down, we'll make time for one more pit stop in Seligman, the "Birthplace of Historic Route 66." Originally a railroad junction town, it served as part of the original US Route 66 for over 50 years and played a part in how the Southwest became a popular travel destination after World War II. After finding our kicks on historical Route 66, we'll head back to where it all began in Las Vegas, the perfect spot to end our journey together. Consider extending your stay to catch a show or reservation at the newest and hippest spot in town. Note: Airport arrival will be at Las Vegas International Airport at 4:00pm - please be aware when booking your flights.
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