Utah On Your Own
October/November 2020 (Flexible Dates) • 8 Days • $1500
Arrive: Salt Lake City, UT
Depart: Las Vegas, NV
Travelers may choose to visit Utah on our NEW self-guided tour option. This unique tour of incredible Utah includes 5 national parks and 3 state parks. We would provide you with everything you need to sightsee in amazing Utah on your own, including walk directions, driving directions, a daily suggested itinerary, daily commentary info sheets, hotel reservations, and more!
Reserve your spot on this tour with a $100 Registration Deposit!
You will spend nearly all of your Adventure exploring the Colorado Plateau, a geological wonderland covering southern Utah and parts of Colorado and Arizona. This high plateau is crisscrossed by a seemingly endless spider web of stunningly-colorful, bizarrely-shaped stone canyons. It truly feels like its own world, shut off from the rest of planet Earth, and the central part of Utah, from Boulder to Escalante, was one of the last places in the Lower 48 to be penetrated by roads, rather than be serviced by packmules. You’ll understand why when you drive Utah’s Journey through Time Scenic Byway along the Hogsback, a narrow bridge of stone, surrounded by a sea of sandstone valleys, barely wide enough to lay a 2-lane road.
Here are just a few Utah highlights you will experience along your journey!
- Canyonlands National Park – with a surprising companion walk in Dead Horse Point State Park overlooking dramatically layered sandstone terraces 1000-2000 feet below our trail
- Arches National Park – geologists’ playground with massive red sandstone windows and arches hinting at erosive forces and a scope of time beyond our ability to comprehend
- Bryce Canyon National Park – You will use two different trails to see Bryce Canyon, a park that boasts some of the most colorful, fantastical rock formations on a journey chock-full of incredible canyons of color!
- Goblin Valley State Park – Your trail here allows you to explore these bizarre geological formations that come in all sorts of oddball shapes and sizes.
- Zion National Park – Zion’s excellent shuttle system and network of trails and viewpoints make this a delightful, low-stress way to unwind after a tour packed with “amazing”!
NOTE: Entrance fees for the parks are not included. Pricing is per person, based on double occupancy.
- Tourist Class or better accommodations
- Daily Suggested Itinerary – featuring the theme of the day, a listing of the day’s walks, google routing, ideas on how to customize your experience, estimated budget, and more!
- Daily Commentary Info Sheets – featuring fun facts, historical information and cultural commentary, plus additional resources for a deeper dive on any given topic!
- 5 meals: 5 breakfasts as listed (B)
- 13 walk routes as listed, with detailed maps, directions and GPX files
- Walking fees for 4 walks for those collecting AVA walk credit (if AVA sanctions approved)
- Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $450.
- Arches National Park
- Dead Horse Point State Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Goblin Valley State Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Drive along Highway 12 – All American Road
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Anasazi State Park Museum
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
Click on each day to reveal more details. B refers to meals included – Breakfast.
Day 1: Arrive Salt Lake City, Utah
Optional Salt Lake City, Utah Capital Walk – 5/10 km, rated 2B
You arrive into Salt Lake City today for the beginning of your self-guided tour of fantastic Utah. No activities are planned for the day but walkers are welcome to explore Salt Lake City, Utah’s state capital on a walk sponsored by a local walking club.
Day 2: Salt Lake City – Moab, Utah (B)
Arches National Park Walk – 9 km, rated 1B
A lengthy drive down country roads takes you into the Colorado Plateau area that you’ll be traveling through for the rest of the adventure. The small town of Moab serves as a base for two unforgettable national park experiences. Today’s 3-part walk in Arches National Park is characterized by graceful, gargantuan arches and windows carved into magnificent reddish sand-stone monoliths. The bonus of walking right up to many of the formations adds an almost sacred sense of scale to the experience.
Day 3: Activities from Moab (B)
Canyonlands National Park Walk – 11 km, rated 2C
A 4-kilometer walk at Dead Horse Point State Park is a great warm up for the main event in Canyonlands—three additional short trails in the aptly-named Island in the Sky section of the National Park. A top-of-the-world feeling may overtake you as we walk along mesa rims, looking down 2000 feet to the canyon floor spread before us to infinity. Vistas offered on these walks are among the most dramatic we’ve ever witnessed!
Day 4: Moab - Escalante, Utah (B)
Goblin Valley Walk – 3 km, rated 1B (unsanctioned)
Goblin Valley really shouldn’t be situated on planet Earth. The goofy, mud-colored, larger-than-life shapes seem to belong more in a corny, 1960s sci-fi film. The fact that they’re real, however, allows for a feeling of child-like delight as one wanders through the bizarre formations. Capitol Reef National Park also has its share of geological wonders, but it’s the early 20th century settlement of Fruita that makes this park unique. Fruit orchards offering a variety of produce are still tended by National Park Service staff. The final leg of your journey takes you down storied Highway 12, designated an All-American Road for its combined offerings of scenery and history.
Day 5: Activities from Escalante
Lower Calf Creek Falls Walk – 11 km, rated 2C
In good weather, this morning’s trail sparkles with color. Box elder, gambel oak, and cottonwood line the trail, with varying shades of green and gray from a rich spectrum of shrubs and bushes and surprisingly resilient wildflowers. The “cherry on top” is a delightful 126-foot tall waterfall at the trail turnaround, an excellent spot for a picnic lunch. Take the afternoon off to soak up the Escalante ambiance, or consider driving to Anasazi State Park Museum in nearby Boulder to learn more of the Anasazi, mysterious predecessors of the Navajo who inhabited this part of the Southwest for over a thousand years!
Day 6: Escalante – Springdale, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park Walk – 9 km, rated 2B
Bryce Canyon boasts some of the most colorful, fantastical rock formations on a journey chock-full of incredible canyons of color! You will walk at your highest elevation here, over 8,000 FASL, and use two different trails to see the canyon. Part 1 has a “standard” option along the rim or a “challenge” option that drops down amongst the captivating hoodoo formations of the Queen’s Garden trail. More scenic driving takes your through tunnels east of Zion National Park to Springdale, situated on the southern border of Zion, and your home for the last two nights.
Day 7: Activities from Springdale (B)
Zion National Park Walk – 10 km, rated 1B
Zion’s excellent shuttle system and network of trails and viewpoints make this a delightful, low-stress way to unwind after 6 days packed with “amazing”! Your instruction packet will provide an orientation to the Park and the shuttle service, providing our trail recommendations and approach to Zion, then you may choose your own Adventure!
Day 8: Depart from Las Vegas, Nevada (B)
Breakfast is followed by a drive across the desert to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. We hope you enjoyed your otherworldly walking adventure in amazing Utah!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a $100 deposit. Final payment is due once hotel bookings are made.
General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms
State Park Entrance Fees
State Park entrance fees are not included on this tour. Individual park entrance fees total approximately $85.
National Park Entrance Fees
National Park entrance fees are not included on this tour. We recommend you purchase an annual U.S. Park Pass for approximately $80 USD. If you are over 62, this annual pass is also a lifetime pass. Alternatively, individual park entrance fees total approximately $150.
How Is Airfare Arranged?
This tour starts in Salt Lake City, Utah and finishes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Travelers will fly into the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and out of the McCarran International Airport (LAS). We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!
Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Because much of this Adventure is in small town Utah, a few of our properties are quality motels reflecting the spirit of our setting, which we think you’ll enjoy. Many, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are single-floor or have elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.
Elevation on Tour
Through most of this adventure, you are traveling on the Colorado Plateau. The elevation of our hotels—where you overnight—has a greater impact on us physically than where you travel or walk during the day. That is, the elevation of where you sleep overnight is usually more important than the elevation of activities during the day. Our hotels are located around 4000 to 5000 feet above sea level, with one just under 6000 feet above sea level. Activities are generally in that range as well, with the exception of the walk at Bryce Canyon National Park, where you are at about 9000 feet above sea level for activities on this day. Because Bryce Canyon is near the end of the trip, it is possible that your body will have acclimated to mid-range altitudes by that time. It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities.
What about the walks?
If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
No Traveler Discounts
No traveler rewards or discounts are available for this tour.
WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provides air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.
Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).
As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the squaremouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.
What happens next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initiate invoice. An email confirming your lodging will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take before you trip. Please do not purchase airline tickets until you review the lodging confirmation email.