Introduce your family to the incredible geological treasures of the American Southwest, exploring Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. Explore the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on foot or ride mules like the old pioneers. Hike amid Zion’s wonderland of slot canyons, hanging gardens, and waterfalls. And explore Bryce Canyon’s whimsical maze of red rock spires. Stay in historic park lodges with Old West atmosphere, and take part in activities and excursions geared for explorers of all ages.
Hike or ride a mule along the Grand Canyon’s rim and peer into its mile-deep chasm.
Marvel at the rainbow colors of the high desert, and go on a rafting trip on the Colorado River.
Splash through the Narrows of the Virgin River beneath Zion’s sheer red cliffs.
Learn about the incredible formations called hoodoos, and go on a scavenger hunt at Bryce Canyon.
Itinerary - 7 Days
Day 1 — St. George, Utah/Grand Canyon
Meet in St. George and travel southeast to begin your family adventure in the canyon country of the desert Southwest. Upon arriving at Grand Canyon National Park follow the Transept Trail for our first views of the canyon itself. Walk along the canyon rim to our historic lodge perched amid the alpine forests of the North Rim. Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim (L,D)
Day 2 — North Rim of the Grand Canyon
This morning, kids saddle up for an exciting mule ride along the rim of the Grand Canyon. Look down into the mile-deep chasm, carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, and marvel at the colorful expanse. Meanwhile, adults can choose from a variety of hikes for all levels, and learn about the park’s unique ecosystems and vegetation. Return to our lodge this evening, and get your camera ready to capture nature’s dazzling palette at sunset from the stone balcony overlooking the canyon. Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Colorado River/Zion National Park
Get up with the sun and watch as it spotlights mesas and mountaintops on our journey to the Grand Canyon. Then hop into rafts for a fun, splash-filled adventure down the Colorado River. Starting at the head of the Grand Canyon, raft through colorful gorges and white-water rapids, and discover hidden grottoes amid the high desert landscape. After a riverside picnic, continue north across the Kaibab Plateau to Zion National Park. Cliffrose Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Zion National Park
Welcome to Zion National Park! A wonderland of sandstone slot canyons, lush hanging gardens, and cascading waterfalls is waiting to be explored. Our expert will discuss the geological events that have shaped this land for over 200 million years. Explore the Narrows of the Virgin River, and climb to Scout Lookout for a panoramic view of Zion’s stunning rock sculptures. This evening, explore the western town of Springdale with your family, located just outside the Zion National Park boundaries. Cliffrose Lodge (B,L)
Day 5 — Zion/Bryce Canyon
Beautiful landscapes unfold as we travel to Bryce Canyon National Park. Stop for a family photo at Fairyland Point before walking along the Rim Trail overlooking Bryce Amphitheater, painted all shades of pink, red, orange, and brown. Then settle into our home for the next two nights near the rim of the canyon. Bryce Canyon Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Bryce Canyon
Spend the day exploring Bryce Canyon’s famous hoodoos—whimsical rock formations shaded red, orange, and yellow, which have been eroded into surreal spires. Learn about the geology behind this landscape of time-sculpted stone. This afternoon, kids head off on a scavenger hunt with the kids coordinator to look for lizards, chipmunks, prairie dogs, hawks, and other canyon wildlife. Meanwhile, adults can relax at the National Historic Landmark stone-and-timber lodge, go on a hike, or drive to Rainbow Point for panoramic views. This evening, gather for a festive farewell dinner. Bryce Canyon Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Bryce Canyon/St. George
We leave the multicolored sculptures of Bryce and head to Kolob Canyon, a lesser known area of Zion National Park, hike up the short Timber Creek Overlook Trail and peer into the red sandstone expanse. After soaking our final views of red rock country and one last picnic lunch, we travel to St. George for your flight home. (B,L)
Kirt Kempter is a field geologist and teacher based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A Fulbright Fellow, Kirt has led many geologic expeditions to Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks, and has published numerous maps and articles on the geology of the American Southwest. He has conducted fieldwork on a National Geographic-funded project, as well as studies of plate tectonics and volcanism around the world, including Iceland, Costa Rica, and Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Texas.
Price is per person, double occupancy. Price does not include a 6.25% Utah state sales tax. For a single room, add $800. Airfare from/to your home city and trip leader gratuity are not included in the expedition cost.
What To Expect
This expedition is designed to accommodate both adults and kids at different activity levels. Choose hiking options ranging from easy walks of one to two miles to moderate or strenuous hikes of four miles or more, depending on your preference.
In addition to our National Geographic Expert, every departure includes an extra leader as kids coordinator to ensure both kids and parents have an expedition of a lifetime.