Sightseeing:In Santa Fe and Albuquerque, guided walking tour in Taos, Monument Valley 4-wheel-drive-tour, Mass Ascension & Balloon Glow in Albuquerque at the Balloon Fiesta, Tombstone, OK Corral, Mission San Xavier del Bac, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Heard Museum.
Scenic Highlights:Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, Durango, White Sands National Monument.
Local Guide for sightseeing in Monument Valley; services of a professional Tour Director.
Welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon state. Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day 2Scottsdale–Sedona–Oak Creek Canyon–Grand Canyon National Park
This morning, travel to Sedona, a beautiful town amid stunning Red Rock Country. Browse its eclectic shops, feast on Southwestern cuisine, or just breathe in the incredible scenery. Next, pass through the weather-sculptured rock formations of Oak Creek Canyon, the San Francisco Mountains, and beautiful pine forests to the GRAND CANYON, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Overnight stay is inside the park.
Day 3Grand Canyon National Park–Monument Valley–Kayenta
This morning, don’t miss the optional flightseeing excursion for a unique bird’s-eye view over the canyon—it’s the thrill of a lifetime! Continue to MONUMENT VALLEY, where you will enjoy an exhilarating 4-WHEEL-DRIVE TOUR of the Tribal Park and will see the amazing twin “Mitten” buttes, the impressive “Totem Pole,” and other sights forever associated with the Wild West. The park has been the setting for countless movies, including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Thelma & Louise.
Day 4Kayenta–Mesa Verde National Park–Durango
Our first stop today is wondrous MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will walk in the footsteps of Ancestral Puebloans and see their mysterious, centuries-old cliff dwellings. Next, the Southwestern town of Durango, nestled in the Animas River Valley and surrounded by the San Juan Mountains. Tonight, why not explore the historic downtown or stroll along the Animas River?
Day 5Durango. Excursion On The Durango & Silverton Narrow-Gauge Railroad
Board the DURANGO & SILVERTON NARROW-GAUGE RAILROAD this morning for a scenic ride through San Juan National Forest. Experience the adventure of traveling by a coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive on the same tracks that miners, cowboys, and settlers of the Old West took more than a century ago. The locomotives used to pull today’s train are 1923- 1925 vintage. This historic train has been in continuous operation for more than 125 years. The train hugs steep canyon walls as it winds its way through the Rio de las Animas Canyon with vistas of snowcapped peaks. Free time in Silverton, once a major mining town that owes its name to the bragging statement by an early miner, “We have no gold, but silver by the ton!”
Day 6Durango–Taos–Santa Fe
Head to New Mexico, stopping at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, one of the highest in the U.S. before arriving in the adobe town of Taos, seated on the high desert mesa at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. On today’s WALKING TOUR, learn about its 1,100 years of history and explore the historic town plaza, offering eclectic galleries, and wonderful shops. Continue to the charming city of Santa Fe, New Mexico's capital.
Day 7Santa Fe
Today begins with an inside visit to the historic LORETTO CHAPEL and the 'miraculous staircase.' Afterward, enjoy a GUIDED TROLLEY tour of Santa Fe. Your expert guide has knowledge in specialized areas such as archaeology, architecture, Santa Fe art and galleries, and the history of Santa Fe. The 8-mile loop in open-air trams includes Santa Fe’s most important historical areas, including the colorful art galleries of Canyon Road, the Museum Hill area, historic Santa Fe Plaza and Palace of the Governors, and other notable locations in the heart of the oldest capital city in the United States. The remainder of the day is free to explore Santa Fe’s one-of-a-kind stores. (CB)NOTE:Inside visits to the Loretto Chapel are dependent on private weddings, at which time the chapel is not open to the public.
Day 8Santa Fe–Albuquerque
A late-morning departure for Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city. Framed by stunning mountains and with a captivating mix of Mexican, Spanish, and Native American cultures, this vibrant city bursts with fascinating landmarks. Upon arrival in Albuquerque, enjoy a walking tour of historic Old Town with its Spanish church and fine museums. This evening, there’s time to relax or perhaps enjoy an optional outing to towering Sandia Peak, which includes dinner and a thrilling cable-car ride that transports you 2.7 miles over deep canyons and breathtaking terrain. (CB)
This morning stand in awe as you experience the pre-dawn opening ceremonies and the unforgettable Mass Ascension where hundreds of hot air balloons take off, turning the sky into a virtual rainbow of colors. What began as a gathering of thirteen balloons 35 years ago has since turned into the largest ballooning event in the world. This afternoon there is time to further explore this atmospheric city, so why not explore the plethora of shops, galleries and restaurants in the city's Old Town, or visit the renowned Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. This evening return to the Balloon Fiesta to catch the popular Balloon Glow, where all balloons fire up their burners and light up at the same time, and After-Glow Fireworks show this evening.
Day 10Albuquerque–White Sands National Monument–Las Cruces
This morning, travel south through the fertile Rio Grande Valley. This afternoon begins at one of the world’s great natural wonders: WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT. Here, gigantic sand dunes rise from the Tularosa Basin, creating an awesome 275-square-mile scenic canvas. View breathtaking desert landscapes as you travel into Las Cruces, New Mexico’s third-largest city. (CB)
Day 11Las Cruces–Tombstone–Tucson
Today, travel across the deserts to TOMBSTONE, the most authentic Western town left in the United States. Here you can walk the same streets that saw gunfights along Allen Street and witness a reenactment of the 1881 shootout at the OK CORRAL. Also stop at Boot Hill Cemetery, where many of the graves are of gunfighters who died quickly and violently and were buried with their boots on. Travel north to Tucson, one of Arizona’s most attractive cities. Your city tour includes the University of Arizona, downtown, and the 200 year old Mission SAN XAVIER DEL BAC. (B)
Day 12Tucson–Sonora Desert Museum–Scottsdale
This morning begins with a visit to the acclaimed ARIZONA-SONORA DESERT MUSEUM, where you will admire the diverse flora and fauna. More than 300 species of live animals and over 1,200 species of plants indigenous to the area are exhibited in their natural habitats. Afterward, we make our way to Phoenix and its world-famous HEARD MUSEUM, rich in history and one the world’s finest for learning about American Indian arts and cultures. Tonight, join your travel companions on an optional excursion for dinner and live entertainment at Arizona’s legendary cowboy steakhouse, Rustler’s Rooste, atop a butte in the foothills of South Mountain.
The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore this desert oasis further with a variety of exciting optional activities.
Transportation:Private, deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach while touring.