Depart London Heathrow – 15:45
Arrive Denver – 18:25
Journey time – 9 hours 50 minutes
Arrival into Denver where you will pick up your rental vehicle and travel to your downtown Denver hotel. Get a good nights sleep, tomorrow there is much to do and see.
Overnight – Denver
Denver to Estes Park
This morning pick up your Denver Visitor Guide. Here are just some of the downtown attractions you may wish to visit.
Denver highlights include –
IMAX Theater/Museum of Science and Nature/City Park
16th Street Pedestrian Shopping area
State of Colorado Capitol Building
Denver Art Museum
Denver Museum of History
Lower Downtown shops and galleries
In the afternoon you will follow I-25 North out of Denver and begin your journey to Estes Park passing through, Boulder (home of the University of Colorado) and on to Lyons where you will enter the St Vrain Canyon and the route up to Estes Park. An even more attractive route if you have time would be Route 119 from Boulder to Nederland and then the Peak to Peak Scenic Highway to Estes Park.
Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park – and just four short miles away this natural wonderland is a must see! You may also wish to drive up to the famed Stanley Hotel (Stephen King wrote a part of his novel, The Shining, while staying at this lodge), but note they do charge a parking fee for all non-hotel guests.
Overnight – Estes Park
Estes Park to Glenwood Springs
This morning head to the northeast entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Horseshoe Bend Park. Continue on to the Trail Ridge Road and follow this up and over the mountains through the center of the Park. You will find several excellent photo stops along this route such as rainbow curve, and others along the top of the pass. This route is the highest continuous paved roadway in North America at over 12000 feet above sea level. The walk to the top from the visitor centre / shop is nice, but take your time at this elevation.
The route then travels down the west side of the park to Grand Lake and Grandby. At US-40 we suggest to turn right and follow past Hot Sulphur Springs to Kremmling and then down to Silverthorne. Silverthorne is the home of the largest outlet-shopping plaza in the American Rockies
. You are now in the Colorado Winter Playground, here you will find Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and then travel over Vail Pass and past the Vail Ski Resort. Just past Vail you will enter a wide valley (hole) before entering one of the most scenic drives along this entire route, the Glenwood Canyon. Sorry, no real good places to stop along this route, just the rest areas. Just as you exit the canyon you will enter the community of Glenwood Springs.
Hotel : Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs to Moab
Today pick up Route I-70 West and follow the Colorado River to Grand Junction. Here we suggest you take the business loop through town and follow the signage for the Colorado National Monument. This detour will take you about 2 hours through this beautiful park and you will exit the west and pick up I-70 once again at Fruita. The route will take you on into Utah at this point. You will now begin to notice the stunning change from mountains to red rock scenery.
At exit 212, take the back route (most scenic) again along the Colorado River past the Fisher Towers and the back wall of Arches and into the Moab area. Moab is a bustling little town famous for it’s mountain biking trails; you are likely to see one or two bikes during your stay! Your hotel is located right along the main street. We suggest you take the evening to stroll the main street where there is a very good choice of shops and restaurants. For those keen on outdoor activities this would be the time to book yourself on one of the river rafting or mountain biking trips for tomorrow at one of the many outfitters located along the main street.
Overnight – Moab
Moab to Capitol Reef National Park
This morning we suggest you visit the area’s other park. Travel north on US-191 to US-313. This is a dead-end road but it will take you to the Canyonlands National Park-Island in the Sky District. Here you must certainly stop at the Mesa Arch short loop trail….you will not be disappointed, but be careful for any climbing on the arch! The drop is incredible. Continue to the views from the end before returning back to US-191 and the travels on for this day.
US-191 will now take you north to I-70 West, but just for a short distance as just past Green River you will need to take UT-24 South. If you have the time, the Goblin Valley is a most interesting state park area. The route will take you past Hanksville and on through the Capitol Reef National Park. Again, any of the stops and short hikes would be well worth your time in this most scenic area.
Overnight – Torrey
Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park
The route today will be one that you will long remember, for the change in scenery and for the sheer rugged terrain. From Torrey you will take the route south over the pass, the Dixie National Forest and back into the deserts with the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Some side trips for this day are, the drive into the Monument near Boulder and Kodachrome Basin State Park. Just past Tropic you will see the signs directing you the short distance on to Bryce Canyon National Park.
First stop should be the Visitor Centre. There are several excellent short and medium hikes near to the entrance of this park again get your water!!! Here you may also sign up for some optional programs for horseback riding or helicopter flights. The rangers at the Visitor Centre may have the best ideas for you as you enter the park area based on the current conditions.
Overnight – Bryce
Bryce National Park to Zion National Park
Morning touring in Bryce before the short drive on (about 2 hours) to Zion National Park. One short hike suggestion at this point, as you travel into the park from the east entrance you will come to the long tunnel. Just at the entrance is a parking lot and a trail to an overview of the valley floor and Zion Park. This is well worth the short walk.
Continue on down to the park valley where you will need to stop at the Visitor Centre in order to take the shuttle further on into the park itself, no cars allowed beyond this point. The lodge for this night is found just outside the south entrance of the Zion Park in the community of Springdale. Here you will also find shops and restaurants all nearby.
Overnight – Springdale (near Zion National Park)
Zion National Park to Grand Canyon
This day you will pass back through the Zion Park and back to Mt Carmel Junction. (Alternative route will take you to Hurricane and then around the south and past the Pipe Springs National Monument.) From Kanab you will continue east to the Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The views from the dam and city area are again impressive. Continue past Page and on through the Navajo Indian Reservation (largest in the continental USA). Just past Cameron you will find the AZ-64 route that will bring you to the eastern entrance of the Grand Canyon South Rim. Follow through the park and out the south entrance to the community of Tusayan. Here you will find your accommodation for the night.
Overnight – Tusayan (near Grand Canyon National Park)
Local Tip: Have lunch at the Chuckwaggon Cookout in Kanab where Complete North American clients get 15% off a typical cowboy all you can eat buffet. Chuckwaggon is attached to the fantastic Little Hollywood Museum, home of many of the old western sets, which has been impeccably preserved and is free for visitors.
A full day for exploring and hiking the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. First suggestion is to stop at the Visitor Centre located along the rim just after you re-enter the park. You will also wish to visit the Village Area with the famed El Tovar Hotel. Some other options for this day include the Helicopter and Airplane flights over the canyon. These are from the Grand Canyon Airport located just south of your lodge, do remember to bring along photo ID just as you would for any flight these days.
You will find plenty to keep you busy, with a huge suggestion to catch either the sunrise or sunset (or both) from the canyon rim—or maybe even take one of the park tour busses for these daily events!
Overnight – Tusayan (near Grand Canyon National Park)
Grand Canyon to Canyon de Chelly
From you lodge you will travel south en-route to Flagstaff. Here you will catch I-40 East, Walnut Canyon National Monument is nice, but you will see better ruins in the next day or two. From Holbrook we do suggest to take the route south and the drive through the Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert. This drive will eventually bring you back into the Navajo Indian Reservation and on to the community of Chinle. Here you will find Indian Route-7 that will take you along the scenic ri
m drives of the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Both rims are nice, but the south rim is the preferable if you have limited time. And again you will find several excellent photo opportunities from the viewpoints along the park drive. The lodge for this night is located back in the community of Chinle.
Overnight – Chinle
Canyon de Chelly to Mesa Verde National Park
From Chinle, head north and take in the much pictured rocks of Monument Valley. Continue East to the area known as the Four Corners, the only spot where four states actually meet in the USA. This actual site is on Indian land and quite “commercial”, almost to the point of tacky. It is not a suggested stop unless you really want to stand at this point and say you were in four states at one time!
Continue on to the community of Cortez where you will pass through the small town and on to the entrance of the Mesa Verde National Park. As you enter the park you should sign up for one or more of the “guided ranger hikes” to the cliff dwellings, or if just one, try to get on the Cliff Palace tour. You will not be able to visit these sites unless accompanied by a ranger at a specific hike time. Once you enter the park you will climb to the top of the mesa. Travel to the park headquarters/Visitor Centre. Here is a great museum and you can visit the Spruce Tree House from this site. Watch the time so as not to miss your ranger guided walk.
Overnight – Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park to Durango
This morning you may spend more time in Mesa Verde, or travel on to Durango. You will want to spend some time along the main street of Durango with the fun shops and restaurants, and historic hotels of this community.
Suggested alternative activity ‘Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge’ railroad journey (not included in cost):
If you would like to include the very scenic ‘Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge’ railroad journey within your ‘Canyonlands’ holiday it can be done however we will need to amend your itinerary slightly to accommodate it. You would need to extend your stay in Durango by one night as the train now only operates once a day & it departs from Durango at approx 09:00am (the journey must be pre-booked). The train will take you through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in this region. If you do decide to take this option (& therefore have 2 nights in Durango) but still wish to keep your overall itinerary to 14 nights then we suggest that you exclude the last 2 nights of the existing itinerary (1 night in Gunnison & 1 night in Denver) & replace this with a night in Colorado Springs. You would then drive back to Denver airport (from Colorado Springs) on your last day before flying back to the UK. Please speak to us for more details if you would like to consider this option.
Overnight – Durango
Durango to Gunnison
Get ready to head up and over as you travel north from Durango you will pass over TWO mountain passes with the small community of Silverton located between them. This is one of the most scenic drive routes in Colorado and will bring you into the Box Canyon community of Ouray. From Ouray, continue north to Montrose where you will find an excellent museum for the Ute Indian Nation. In Montrose take the route to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (one of the newest parks in the NPS System). There really are no trails into the canyon, but the views of the world’s narrowest gorge are quite impressive.
Overnight – Gunnison
Gunnison to Denver
From Gunnison you will head east past Gunnison and the National Recreation area, over the Monarch Pass and into the South Park Valley. Continue to follow the route along the Arkansas River to Canon City, near here you will see the signs for the Royal Gorge, the world’s highest Suspension Bridge-nice stop and very scenic. Head north past Fort Carson Military Base and into Colorado Springs. Here we have a couple of suggestions for touring before heading north and back to Denver for this night. Visit Garden of the Gods. The city park is a MUST see for this area and offers some nice shorter trails into the huge red rocks with Pikes Peak as a backdrop. You could also visit Old Colorado City with the historic shops and galleries. From Colorado Springs you will continue north to Denver.
Overnight – Denver
Departure from Denver
This day you will have time to relax and enjoy Denver once again until time to depart to the airport for your flight home. As you near the airport watch for the rental car return signs as they will then shuttle you to the departure terminal. Safe travels home.
Depart Phoenix – 1925
Arrive London Heathrow – 1310 (Next Day)
Journey Time – 9 hours 50 minutes