A grand-slam adventure with MTS’ expert naturalists through the three crown jewels of the Southwest
When it comes to unique landscapes, it’s hard to top the American Southwest! Surreal rock formations reveal a diverse and ancient geology and a rare perspective into the evolution of the planet. Hike through three of the National Park Service’s crown jewels: the Grand Canyon, with its awesome walls of red rock, hundreds of plunging waterfalls, and narrow slot canyons; Bryce Canyon, a fairytale amphitheater of spires, columns, and pink “hoodoos” (pinnacles); and Zion Canyon, called a “Yosemite dressed in red.” And MTS delivers this grand-slam in just 6 days —ideal and within reach if you really want the feeling of getting away. Explore Kodachrome Basin and see the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. Learn how these incredible rocks were formed and about the diversity of the Southwest’s plant life from MTS’ professional, naturalist guides. Pamper yourself in comfortable lodges set in stunning locations, without having to camp. After spending a week among such mind-blowing landscapes, your body might be tired, but your mind will be at peace. A visit to the Southwest is the ultimate cure for what ails you.
6 days moderate hiking
- Get away from it all hiking through three of the National Park Service’s crown jewels in just a week: the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park
- See the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument
- Learn how these incredible rocks were formed and about the diversity of the Southwest’s plant life from MTS’ professional, naturalist guides
- Pamper yourself MTS style in comfortable lodges set in stunning locations, without having to camp!
Duration: 6 days Start Location: Las Vegas End Location: Las VegasDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim
NOTE: You will need to arrive in Las Vegas on the day prior to day one.
On day one, you will meet with the Mountain Travel Sobek trip leader in the lobby of the Double Tree Club Hotel in Las Vegas at 8:00 a.m. After a brief orientation, we depart and travel northeast through the deserts of the remote Arizona Strip and up onto the Kaibab Plateau. We then change direction and head south across the high elevation meadows toward the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. The North Rim is 1,500 feet higher and receives 60% more rainfall than the South Rim. Its remote location, low visitation, and high elevation create an island of quiet green forests and alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, a stunning contrast to the enormous red abyss of the Grand Canyon.
In the afternoon we will reach Point Imperial, where we will enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the Grand Canyon. Following lunch, we will set off on a short warm-up hike following the Transept Trail, which ends at the Grand Canyon Lodge where we will be spending the next two nights.
The original Grand Canyon Lodge was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1937 by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. Its rustic construction of limestone walls and timbered ceilings complements the North Rim’s lush beauty. The Lodge offers peace and comfort to the North Rim visitor and is a National Historic Landmark. Tonight we’ll enjoy a dinner in its magnificent dining room, which offers fine dining with a western flair and a view of the canyon.
Day 2 : Grand Canyon
After an early breakfast, we will dip below the rim on the North Kaibab Trail, the only maintained trail into the canyon from the North Rim. Guests of all abilities will enjoy this trail by choosing one of three turn-around points, each perfect for different levels of fitness and accomplishment. Watch your step down this steep trail as the incredible views can distract you during our descent to Coconino Overlook—and for the more ambitious members, down to the Supai Tunnel. For those looking for an ultimate challenge, we will continue on the North Kaibab Trail to Roaring Springs where we will dip our feet in the cool waters while enjoying a picnic lunch. Don’t get too excited about your accomplishment yet, because it’s not over until you’ve returned to the rim—a total of 10 miles and 3,200 feet in elevation change for the longest option.
For those that turn around at Coconino Overlook or Supai Tunnel, we will spend the afternoon sightseeing along the road to Cape Royal. The views from here are stunning and easily accessible via paved pathways traversing along the canyon’s rim. Angels Window, Vishnu Temple, the Little Colorado River, and Unkar Wash are all seen from Cape Royal making it one of the best views of the Grand Canyon. We will then return to the lodge for a well deserved drink on the patio tonight before dining with a view of the setting sun.
Day 3 : Bryce Canyon
After breakfast and a leisurely morning we will drive north into Utah and ascend the Paunsaugunt Plateau before entering Bryce Canyon National Park. Words cannot describe the sweeping views we will have at the rim of Bryce’s amphitheater, where we will begin our hike along the rim trail to Sunset Point. Soon it is time to descend into this wild land of rock as we hike downhill through a surreal maze of pink hoodoos, spires, and rock windows. At the mouth of the Bryce amphitheater and hidden beneath Sinking Ship Rock, we have the luxurious Stone Canyon Inn reserved for us. Our favorite innkeepers will welcome us into their beautifully appointed stone-and-timber palace before we head into town for dinner. Following dinner, we return to the Stone Canyon Inn to relax with a drink or a book on the patio. Be sure to take note of 10,188-foot Powell Point as the setting sun illuminates the pink cliffs beneath it.
Day 4 : Kodachrome Basin and Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument
We’ll take time to soak in the serene surroundings of the Stone Canyon Inn while breakfast is served. We’ll then venture into Kodachrome Basin, which contains eroded, multicolored rock formations in various shades of red, yellow, pink, white, and brown. Together with the deep blue sky and occasional green vegetation, this combination of colors led the National Geographical Society to name the area Kodachrome Basin, (with the consent of the Kodak Film Corporation). One especially unique feature of the park is the presence of many spires or “chimneys” of rock, known as sand pipes, which are thought to be solidified sediment that filled ancient springs or geysers, left standing after the softer surrounding sandstone rock weathered away.
We then drive 10 miles to Round Valley Slot Canyon, within the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument, where we’ll hike 45 minutes down the drainage and descend the slot canyon by way of a log ramp. The cool canyon is a wonderful break from the desert heat and a relaxing place for lunch. For those who don’t wish to descend into the canyon, a rock ledge provides ample shade until the rest of the group returns. This slot canyon is seldom visited and the hike takes about 1½ hours roundtrip through a maze of rocks cut steeply into the Navajo sandstone. Later, we drive another four miles and visit Grosvenor Arch, a huge double arch that sits high up on the cliff face. Finally, we return to the Stone Canyon Inn for dinner on the patio.
Day 5 : Zion National Park
Rise and shine for an optional sunrise hike on the Peekaboo Loop, our favorite hike within Bryce National Park. As the sun peaks over the horizon and illuminates Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos, be sure to have your cameras ready. We will return to the Stone Canyon Inn for breakfast and to prepare for our departure.
We will return across the Paunsaugunt Plateau and enter Zion National Park, where we will be spending our final evening. Upon arrival, you will have the opportunity to choose your own activity for the afternoon. Options include hiking in Zion’s Narrows or on one of the many park trails, shopping in Springdale, or visiting the local museum and visitors center to learn about the history of the area.
Day 6 : Zion National Park
After an early breakfast, we enter Zion National Park and begin the day’s hike strolling beneath shady cottonwood and sycamore trees by the Virgin River’s edge. Soon we begin ascending and it is time to conquer the challenging hike up Angel’s Landing before the desert sun peeks over the canyon walls. A classic Zion hike, the 5-mile roundtrip Angels Landing trail will lead you to one of the most breathtaking views in all of the American Southwest. The trail ascends 1,700 feet over a distance of 2½ miles to the summit, which is ringed on three sides by the Virgin River below. After returning to the canyon floor for a picnic lunch, we will head back south to the bright lights of Las Vegas, arriving around 6:30 p.m. If you plan on flying out this evening, please do not schedule your flight before 8:00 p.m. We will drop you off at the Double Tree Club Hotel or the airport this evening.
DATES: Best time to go: May - October Departures: Oct 5 - 10, 2014 May 16 - 21, 2015 “Special FTL departure with Laurent Langoisseur – call for details! May 24 - 29, 2015 May 24 - 29, 2015 “Special FTL departure with Laurent Langoisseur – call for details” Jun 7 - 12, 2015 Sep 13 - 18, 2015 Oct 4 - 9, 2015
2014 & 2015 Prices
Grand Canyon LodgeGrand Canyon, North Rim
Kick back in your cabin at The Grand Canyon Lodge-the only lodging inside the National Park on the North Rim. The cabins are located within easy walking distance from the canyon rim. Located at Bright Angel Point, the Lodge was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Here you can enjoy the quiet serenity of the North Rim while enjoying comfortable guest rooms and cabins.
Stone Canyon InnTropic, Utah
Stone Canyon Inn serves as a peaceful base camp to explore Bryce Canyon. Each room is distinctively decorated with attention to detail for those who enjoy comfort and luxury.
Pioneer LodgeSpringdale, Utah
Well located from the entrance of Zion National Park, the Pioneer Lodge is conveniently located, and features a touch of local history. These bright and airy rooms are a comfortable place to lay your head after a day of adventure.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Nick is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he majored in both marketing and international business. Following graduation, Nick spent two years in the pharmaceutical sales industry before succumbing to his passion for adventure and his love for the outdoors. That passion brought him to Arizona, where he has been guiding since 2006. Nick is an avid snow skier and enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking; he has recently taken up SCUBA diving as well. His adventurous spirit has led him to running with the bulls in Spain and skiing in the Swiss Alps. Nick also has a great motivational spirit and enjoys helping others achieve outdoor goals beyond their expectations. He holds certification in CPR, First Aid, and Wilderness First Aid.
Brian has been leading trips in the Southwestern U.S. and Western Canada for over 10 years. His attention to detail, sensitivity to guest needs, and extensive knowledge of the unique flora, fauna, geology, and history of the Grand Canyon is unrivalled. Brian is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) where he was trained in backpacking, rock climbing, canyoneering, spelunking, winter camping, and backcountry skiing. He also possesses amazing fitness and athleticism, which trip members find both entertaining and comforting! He holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Denver.
An Oklahoma native, graduated from Central University of Oklahoma with a degree in business administration and accounting. He is a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with valor from the 101st Airborne Division, Long Range Reconnaissance. He is trained not only in first aid and CPR, but also in Wilderness First Aid and Swiftwater Rescue. After owning his own accounting firm for 20 years he became a full-time river rafting, hiking, and mountain biking guide 12 years ago. Dave’s enthusiasm is contagious, keeping every trip he leads upbeat and filled with adventure.