Explore the glorious red-rock landscapes of Utah and Colorado, encountering fascinating geology and indigenous archaeological sites in national monuments and three celebrated national parks. 

Starting at: $4,495 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde
 Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park
 Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
 The Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park
 Vista of Arches National Park. Credit: Fadhillah Azman
 The cliff dwelling of Mesa Verde

Hiking Canyon Country in Utah and Colorado

An Active Journey

7 days from $4,495

Explore the glorious red-rock landscapes of Utah and Colorado, encountering fascinating geology and indigenous archaeological sites in national monuments and three celebrated national parks. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Activity Level 3: Moderate / Active

Expectations:  This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection and features a schedule of physical activities—including walking and hiking—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Walks, hikes, and activities will take place rain or shine. If you are reasonably fit and can walk and hike from 1 up to 7 miles easily you should be comfortable on this Moderate/Active tour (Level 3).

On this trip, daily hikes are taken at a leisurely to active pace over various types of terrain, from well-groomed paths to some more challenging/rocky trails.  Many of the days will also feature a cultural site associated with the hike, such as an archaeological site. A few longer travel days with early morning departures should be expected.  Hikes are not long enough to require support vehicles so once a hike is begun it is necessary to finish. Sometimes it is feasible to skip a day’s activities and relax at the hotel, if desired. During the tour, leisure time is usually limited to the evenings. Hiking boots, rain gear, and day packs for daily necessities are a must; some travelers may wish to bring hiking poles. Details on what to pack and expect on this trip will be included in your Pre-Tour documents.

Transportation between hotels will be by a small van or motor coach. Accommodations on this trip feature comfortable city hotels, lodges, and country hotels. The highest elevation on this trip is 6,000 feet.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, have a strong fitness level, expect a slightly vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to four hours of hiking per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive in Grand Junction, Colorado

Arrive in Grand Junction by mid-afternoon and check into your stylish hotel on the campus of Colorado Mesa University. Gather on the rooftop this evening for a welcome reception and dinner with panoramic views of Grand Junction and the red cliffs beyond. (R,D)

Day 2 — Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Get an early start this morning for the journey to Canyonlands National Park, a protected area so large it is divided into four distinct districts. Spend today exploring the Island in the Sky District, where a vast 1,000-foot mesa is edged by sheer sandstone cliffs. Set off on a variety of hikes through this fascinating landscape, stopping at viewpoints and encountering fascinating geological features like iconic Mesa Arch. Late in the afternoon, drive through Moab to cabins perched along the Colorado River—your home for the next two nights. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Arches National Park

Rise early to arrive in Arches National Park when it’s still quiet, before the daytime crowds. Set out to discover some of the 2,000-some natural arches that occur in an area about a tenth of the size of Rhode Island. On a series of short hikes, encounter arches and geological formations of all forms and sizes, including landmarks like Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Landscape Arch and the Windows. After a picnic lunch, return to our lodge for a free afternoon. Take a swim in the outdoor pool, visit Moab’s Museum of Film and Western Heritage, or wander over to the on-site winery on the property for a tasting. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Needles District of Canyonlands

Start the day at Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, where many generations of native peoples etched petroglyphs into the rockface up to 2,000 years ago. Learn what researchers have learned from this treasure trove of ancient symbols and art—the largest known collection of petroglyphs in the U.S. Then enter the Needles District in the southeastern corner of Canyonlands National Park to explore the unusual striped rock pinnacles that give the area its name. Stops here may include an Ancient Puebloan ruin, interesting desert potholes, a primitive cowboy camp, and ancient rock art. Enjoy a picnic lunch before traveling to our lodgings near the town of Bluff. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Bears Ears National Monument 

Spend the day discovering Bear Ears National Monument, a protected area with diverse geography, important archaeological sites, and spiritual significance to numerous Native American tribes.  

As the park infrastructure is still relatively undeveloped, you’ll explore with seasoned guides, following a range of stunning trails to ancient rock art sites, red-rock formations, forests, and high plateaus. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Journey through the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument this morning. The region and has been occupied by Ancestral Puebloans for 10,000 years, and you’ll stop to see some of its more than 6,300 recorded archaeological sites. Continue to Mesa Verde National Park, a World Heritage site that protects astonishing archaeological ruins—including 600 cliff dwellings—left by the Ancient Puebloan people who inhabited these cliffs from 600 to 1300 BC. See some of the dwellings on short guided walks for an intriguing glimpse into everyday life, and enjoy a longer hike in the surrounding canyons. Later, travel to Durango and gather for a farewell celebration and dinner at our historic hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Depart Durango

After breakfast, head to the airport to catch your flight home.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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