Encounter the incredible geological treasures of the American Southwest with your family on an expedition to 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 wind your way through 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.
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)
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)
Get up with the sun and watch as it spotlights mesas and mountaintops on our journey to the Grand Canyon. Then continue through the red rock landscape of Angel Canyon toward the Best Friends Animal Society’s Sanctuary, where we’ll explore a portion of the 3,700 acres devoted to the care and welfare of homeless animals waiting for adoption. Leaving our furry friends to frolic in their protected environment, we hop back in the shuttle and head toward Zion National Park.
Cliffrose Lodge (B,L,D)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Christa Sadler is a geologist, educator, wilderness guide, and writer with a serious addiction to rivers, deserts, and mountains. Her research in archeology, geology, and paleontology has included several ridiculously hot summers searching for dinosaurs in the badlands of Montana, fighting off dust storms and overly curious camels in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, and steering clear of annoyed marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands. In 2003, Christa participated in a National Geographic research grant to find and catalog fossil vertebrate in the Grand Canyon. She appeared in the July 1996 and June 2004 issues of National Geographic magazine in connection with her work in the Gobi Desert and the Grand Canyon. Christa is the author of Life in Stone, a book about the fossil history of the Colorado Plateau, and she has published an anthology of short stories by boatmen on the Colorado River. She has taught introductory geology and paleontology courses at Northern Arizona University and other Arizona colleges, works as an instructor for the Grand Canyon Field Institute, and runs geology programs for park service staff at Grand Canyon National Park.
Christa will join the following departure:
Jul 18 - 25, 2015
ALT indicates a departure that has a slightly different itinerary than the one shown on this page. Click the ALT icon to see the day-to-day itinerary.
Child (under age 18)
Price is per person, double occupancy. Price does not include a 6.25% Utah state sales tax. For a single room, add $800 in 2014 and $900 in 2015.
Airfare from/to your home city is not included in the expedition cost.
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.