Utah’s National Parks
Explore the history, ecology and scenery of four national parks and monuments on the Colorado Plateau. Experience the dramatic cliffs of Zion and the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Hike amid multi-hued cliffs of Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef; and slot-canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante. This trip blends the natural beauty of Utah with the rich cultural history in the region.
Arrive in Las Vegas at your leisure today. Meet up with your small group at 5:00 p.m. for introductions and a trip orientation from your naturalist guide, followed by a group dinner.
Hyatt Place Las Vegas (D)
Begin our journey early and head to the gateway town of Torrey and Capitol Reef National Park. Capitol Reef was first a National Monument created in 1937. In 1969, a presidential proclamation expanded it, then Congress authorized the monument to become a National Park in 1971. It protects not only the famed Waterpocket Fold, a monocline “reef” that rises to 3,000 feet, exposing an incredible array of multicolored sandstone and limestone layers. The breathtaking rock formations and spectacular slot canyons are among the most beautiful geologic features on earth, often referred to as the “sleeping rainbow.” The park also protects the cultural history of emigrants, including a historic Mormon settlement known for its delicious stone fruit orchards, and intricately carved petroglyph panels of the Fremont people, who farmed and hunted these canyons from 700 to 1300 AD.
En route we stop for lunch, and later enjoy a short hike (2 miles) in Cohab Canyon to get a first look at the unique geological feature which once blocked the progress of emigrants, known as the Waterpocket Fold. Before dinner we will head to the Mormon community of Fruita and stop by the Visitor’s Center to orient ourselves to all the park has to offer. We'll also visit historic Gifford Homestead, first constructed in 1908 and surrounded by a 200-acre historical district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Red Sands Hotel (B,L,D)
Our exploration of Capitol Reef and the Waterpocket Fold continues with a morning hike of about 3 miles through the Grand Wash, which cuts through the Navajo sandstone. At times sections are only 15 feet wide, which made it very difficult for emigrants to fit their wagons through.We also take a two-mile hike to the 133-foot natural bridge known as Hickman’s Bridge with gorgeous, which provides views of the surrounding Fremont River Valley. After lunch we learn about some of the human history of the park at Capitol Gorge where we can view petroglyphs and a pioneer register from the first emigrants to pass here, during a 3-mile walk in a beautiful slot canyon.
Red Sands Hotel (B,L,D)
Grand Staircase-Escalante, unlike the National Park System, is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Little development exists within its boundaries with numerous trails and roads leading into the back country for a unique Utah experience.
On our way south on highway 12 we will leave the highway (after about an hour) to drive part of the famed Burr Trail through a narrow canyon of contouring of sandstone. We stop for a short walk into one of the narrow, steep-walled slot canyons that characterize the Escalante country. We continue to the town of Boulder for lunch, before visiting Anasazi State Park, the anthropology museum, and the excavated site of a 1,000-year-old village. The Fremont prehistoric people occupied most of Utah during the same period as the Ancestral Puebloans. Artifacts recovered from this site, as well as its architecture, reflect a prehistoric “melting pot.” Afterwards we continue south to stopping for a hike to beautiful Calf Creek Falls (2 or 6 mile options). We then continue along the scenic highway (for about 1.5 hours) to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon Lodge (B,L,D)
Bryce Canyon became a national monument administered by the U.S. Forest Service in 1928 to protect the natural wonders in this canyon including the unique geological formations known as hoodoos. Hotels in the park, like the one we stay in, originally were developed by The Union Pacific Railroad.
Our exploration starts with a walk along the Rim Trail showcasing the diversity of geological formations the park protects. We then head below the rim down to the Navajo and Queens Garden Trails for a closer look at the unique hoodoo formations. After walking the 3-mile loop, we finish by climbing the famed Wall Street section of the trail which takes you up a set of switch backs up to the rim. After lunch take some time to explore the Visitor’s Center and savor the ambiance of the Lodge, designed in 1924 by master architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood. The lodge and its cabins were recognized in 1987 as a National Historic Landmark. Before dinner we will drive to two scenic overlooks at Bryce Point and Paria View providing two more fantastic vantage points of this picturesque canyon.
Bryce Canyon Lodge (B,L,D)
Zion National Park originated as a national monument created from the public domain by a presidential proclamation, and then in 1919 Congress legislated to make it the first national park in Utah. It’s unique steep red cliff walls have been carved by the Virgin River to create an amazing canyon to explore.
After breakfast we head west to Zion National Park (about 2 hours), entering the park through the tunnel completed in 1930 to create direct access to Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from Zion National Park. We will stop off at the Zion Visitor’s Center and Human History Museum to give us a better sense of the unique natural and cultural history the park protects. After lunch we hike about 2 miles along the Virgin River which has cut its way through the canyon forming the beautiful landscape we see today.
Cliff Rose Lodge (B,L,D)
Zion is one of the few national parks that has implemented a mandatory shuttle program in order to create a nearly car free environment, and providing an opportunity to enjoy the park and the canyon with less traffic or crowds. We will hop on the shuttle to explore the park on a few different trails offering time both in the canyon and above the canyon including the Riverside Walk (2 miles round-trip) to Emerald Pools (1.5 miles round-trip) to Weeping Rock Trail (1 mile). After a full day of exploring the park we will gather this evening to celebrate our adventures together.
Cliff Rose Lodge (B,L,D)
After one last post-breakfast hike of 2-3 miles to get above the canyon to a scenic overlook of Zion we make our way down to Las Vegas (about 2.5 hours) to bid farewell after a great week in Utah.
Cost and Details
$3,995 per person, double occupancy
$450 single room supplement
(Based on 8 guests minimum and 12 maximum)
7 nights accommodation as specified; round-trip transfers from Las Vegas to Utah’s National Parks; all park admission fees; daily hiking activities; all ground transportation; daily breakfast (7) at the hotel or nearby, 6 lunches and 7 dinners, welcome and farewell dinners with beer and wine; tours, entrances, and events as specified in the itinerary; van transportation for all excursions; gratuities for hotel staff, restaurant staff, drivers and for all group activities; expert naturalist guide; services of a professional tour manager.
Air transportation to and from Las Vegas, Nevada; meals and beverages other than those specified as included; optional excursions and other activities done independently; trip cancellation/interruption and baggage insurance; personal items such as email and phone charges, souvenirs, laundry; and gratuities for non-group services.
Average temperatures in October range from day-time highs in the 70s and overnight lows down to the 30s. We’ll spend time at a variety of elevations from 4,000 to more than 8,000 feet.
Travelers should be in active good health to participate in this trip. Most hikes are between 2 to 5 miles with a 200 to 500 feet elevation gain. Walks are not too strenuous, but some are over uneven terrain and may require the use of hands and feet to climb over obstructions. Our longest day of hiking is up to 5 miles, with approximately 1,000 feet in elevation gain. Most hikes are “out and back” so participants can go as far as they like, and then wait for the group to return. Optional trekking poles will be provided to all guests for the duration of the tour.
Our transportation around the region is by comfortable passenger vans. Given the vastness of the area, there is some time spent driving between parks, but we’ve designed it so we alternate days with longer drives (3 to 4 ½ hrs) with days with much less driving (1 to 2 hrs).
Terms and Conditions
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415) 597-6720.
Deposits & Payments:
To make a reservation, a deposit of $500 per person is required by check or credit card. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the trip. Please provide your full name(s), address, email, and phone number. We can call you to take your deposit or send you a link to pay by credit card. If you want to pay by check, please mail your check (payable to “Black Sheep Adventures, Inc”) to Commonwealth Club Travel, 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105. Final payment is due by August 19, 2020.
Cancellations & Refunds:
Your deposit and payments are refundable, less the following cancel fees:
- Cancel 61+ days prior to trip start: No cancellation penalty. Your deposit is fully refundable until August 18, 2020.
- Cancel 0-60 days prior to trip start: No refund
The tour can also be canceled due to low enrollment. Neither CWC nor Black Sheep Adventures accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased in conjunction with the tour.
COVID-19 and Planning Future Travel: We understand that travelers have concerns about booking future tours due to COVID-19. As we look forward, we are hopeful that conditions will be favorable to travel. However, the safety and security of our guests are always our top priorities and, should U.S. authorities – Department of State and the CDC – deem it unsafe to travel to the destinations in the brochure, we would cancel the trip or postpone it until a later date. Traveler deposits on this trip are fully refundable until 60 days prior to departure.
During the trip we will take additional precautions including social distancing on hikes, masks and gloves available for guests, hand sanitizer available each day, and working with all restaurants for spacing during group meals. We will be adaptable and flexible given health recommendations at that time.
Van Transport: We will be physically separating to the greatest degree that is reasonable. Each van will be less than half-full (maximum 6 guests plus driver in a 15-seat van) with no more than one household of 2 people per 3-seat bench. The front windows will be rolled down at lower speeds when possible to aid in circulation of fresh air.
We recommend trip-cancellation insurance. A brochure describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your reservation and can be viewed on the Travel Insurance Services website. Please note that most travel insurance policies do not provide coverage for reasons relating to COVID-19, unless you purchase a "Cancel for Any Reason" policy. No matter what company you use, review your concerns and coverage with them.
Participation in this program requires that you be in good health. It is essential that persons with any medical problems and related dietary restrictions make them known to us well before departure.
The Commonwealth Club of California and our ground operators and suppliers act only as agents for the travelers with respect to transportation and arrangements, and exercise every care possible in doing so. However, we can assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity in connection with the service of any automobile, motor coach, or any other conveyance used in carrying out this program or for the acts or defaults of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the program. We cannot accept any responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine, pandemics, force majeure or other causes beyond our control. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger as tour rates provide arrangements only for the time stated. We reserve the right to make such alterations to this published itinerary as may be deemed necessary. Thee right is reserved to cancel any program prior to departure in which case the entire payment will be refunded without further obligation on our part. No refund will be made for an unused portion of any tour unless arrangements are made in sufficient time to avoid penalties. The Commonwealth Club of California accepts no liability for any carrier’s cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a nonrefundable ticket in connection with the tour.
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40
Blacksheep Adventures-CST# 2108143-40