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Arches, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde National Parks
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7 days

from $6,440 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($4,695 USD)

Prices are per person, based on twin share occupancy. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange. The expedition price will be finalised at time of booking.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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  • Hike and picnic among the intriguing rock landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks alongside a National Geographic expert.
  • Marvel at the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings and intricate Cliff Palace of Mesa Verde National Park.
  • Arrive to your riverside lodge by raft after a thrilling float down the Colorado River as it cuts through eastern Utah’s crimson canyons and towers.
  • Set off on a jeep tour of rugged Monument Valley with Navajo guides, and sit down together over a traditional lunch.

Venture into the legendary rock-carved landscapes of the American West, exploring Utah's Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park. Get a glimpse of the powerful forces of nature that shaped these sandstone arches, fantastical formations, and colorful mesas and canyons. Delve into the fascinating history of the ancient people that built civilizations here, and ponder their petroglyphs and cliff dwellings. Among the soaring buttes of Monument Valley, find new perspectives of the Old West alongside Navajo guides.

Day 1: Grand Junction, Colorado

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Arrive in Grand Junction and transfer to your hotel. Spend the day relaxing at the hotel’s outdoor pool and tennis courts, or explore the lively town’s galleries, boutiques, and cafés on your own.

Day 2: Moab, Utah

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Take the slow, scenic way to Moab—on a leisurely rafting trip along the Colorado River into Utah's canyon country. Float along a tranquil stretch of the legendary waterway, past the bizarrely shaped rock pinnacles known as Fisher Towers, encountering a few rapids along the way. Stop for a picnic lunch along the riverbank, surrounded by the area’s picturesque rock-carved landscape. Continue by raft to our lodge set among rust-hued cliffs. Tonight, join fellow travelers for a welcome reception on the terrace, which offers stunning river views.

Day 3: Arches National park

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Rise early to explore Arches National Park. Go on a series of short hikes to discover some of its 2,000 sandstone arches, and sit down to a picnic set against this gorgeous natural backdrop. Head to Dead Horse Point, a promontory high above a gooseneck in the Colorado River. Local legend holds that this narrow spot was once used as a corral for wild mustangs, and a herd of horses died of thirst within view of—but 2,000 feet above—the mammoth river.

Day 4: Canyonlands National Park/Bluff

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Visit Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument, where a stunning concentration of more than 650 petroglyphs adorn sandstone rock faces and record some 2,000 years of human activity here. Continue on to the one-of-a-kind Needles District in the southeast corner of Canyonlands, and hike among this spectacular landscape punctuated by colorfully striped sandstone spires. Picnic among the rugged scenery, then retreat for the night to the historic town of Bluff—established by Ancestral Puebloans around A.D. 650.

Day 5: Monument Valley/Bluffs

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Get immersed in what is perhaps the most iconic landscape of the American West—Monument Valley. Here on the Navajo Indian Reservation, majestic red mesas and lonely buttes rise above the valley floor. Join a team of native guides on a jeep tour of the rugged valley floor and its geological wonders. Take in thousand-foot-tall sandstone buttes made famous by countless Western movies, hear about the Navajo perspective of the area’s history, and enjoy a traditional Navajo lunch. After a thrilling day of exploration, return to Bluff and dine at a local restaurant. Enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Day 6: Durango, Colorado

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Set off on a breathtaking drive through Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, an archaeological hub of cliff dwellings, rock art, and kivas (ceremonial rooms). Arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mesa Verde National Park, a complex network of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings dating to the 6th through 12 centuries. Discover the remarkable ancient culture that built these villages and imposing cliff dwellings, and see the famous Cliff Palace, with 150 rooms constructed out of nothing more than natural sandstone, wooden beams, and mortar. This afternoon, continue on to the historic railroad town of Durango, and cap off your adventure through the American West with a farewell dinner.

Day 7: Durango, Colorado

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Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light\/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain.

We stay in comfortable hotels, classic western-style lodges, and a historic Old West hotel in Durango.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.