Discover the 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, and learn about the powerful forces that have carved this mile-deep chasm over 200 million years. Wind through colorful gorges on a float trip down the Colorado River. Hike amid Zion's wonderland of slot canyons, hanging gardens, and waterfalls, and explore Bryce Canyon's otherworldly maze of crimson-colored spires. Soak up the Old West atmosphere at historic park lodges.
Discover the geologic and natural wonders of three national parks — Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce.
Immerse yourself in the majestic beauty of the American Southwest: hike amid Bryce Canyon's surreal maze of pink spires and Zion's magnificent red rock monuments.
Explore the Grand Canyon on foot and learn about its unique geology.
Stay in historic national park lodges, and learn about the region's unique wildlife and varied vegetation.
Itinerary - 7 Days
Day 1 — St. George, Utah/Grand Canyon
Arrive in St. George and travel into canyon country,
stopping at Pipe Springs National Monument
and Kaibab Indian Reservation. Upon arrival at the
Grand Canyon, check into our historic lodge and
learn about its geology from our expert. Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim (L,D)
Day 2 — Grand Canyon/North Rim
Set out to explore the canyon’s rim, peering into
the multi-hued chasm carved by the Colorado
River over millions of years. Choose from a variety
of hikes for all levels, and learn about the park’s
unique ecosystems and geology while enjoying
sweeping views at every turn. Return to the lodge
this evening, and capture the canyon’s dazzling
colors at sunset. Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Zion National Park
Journey north across the Kaibab Plateau into Zion
National Park, stopping for a picnic lunch on the
way. Check into our hotel and relax, or take an
optional walk along a trail that parallels the Virgin
River. Cliffrose Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Zion National Park
Spend today exploring Zion, a wonderland of
sandstone slot canyons, lush hanging gardens,
and cascading waterfalls. Hike the Emerald Pools
Trail, passing under the cool spray of a waterfall. In
the afternoon, explore the Narrows of the Virgin
River, where our expert will discuss the geological
events that have shaped this land for over
200 million years. This evening, visit the town of
Springdale located just outside of the park. Cliffrose Lodge (B,L)
Day 5 — Bryce Canyon National Park
Beautiful landscapes unfold as we travel to Bryce
Canyon. Stop for breathtaking views at Fairyland
Point, then stroll along the Rim Trail overlooking
Bryce Amphitheater. Settle into our home for
the next two nights near the rim of the canyon.
Bryce Canyon Lodge or Best Western Bryce Canyon Hotel (B,L,D).
Day 6 — Bryce Canyon National Park
Spend the day exploring Bryce Canyon’s famous
hoodoos—whimsical rock formations shaded red,
orange, and yellow, which have been eroded into
surreal spires. Hike or drive into the heart of the
park, and learn about the geology behind this
landscape of time-sculpted stone. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Kolob Canyons/St. George
Head to Kolob Canyons, a lesser known area of Zion National Park. Hike up the short Timber Creek Overlook Trail and peer into the red sand-stone expanse. After a final picnic lunch, return 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.