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Arches, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde National Parks

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From$4,495
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7 DAYS
Durango, Colorado
Max People : 25

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW

  • Hike and picnic among the intriguing rock landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks alongside a National Geographic expert.
  • Marvel at the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings and intricate Cliff Palace of Mesa Verde National Park.
  • Arrive to your riverside lodge by raft after a thrilling float down the Colorado River as it cuts through eastern Utah’s crimson canyons and towers.
  • Set off on a jeep tour of rugged Monument Valley with Navajo guides, and sit down together over a traditional lunch.

EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A National Geographic expert will accompany each departure to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed here are some of the experts that will be joining departures on this trip.

Stewart Aitchison

BIOLOGIST, GEOLOGIST

Stewart Aitchison has been exploring, photographing, teaching, and writing about biodiversity, geology, and the American Southwest for forty years. He frequently travels as a naturalist and photo instructor aboard the National Geographic-Lindblad fleet. Stewart also spent ten years as a field biologist for the Museum of Northern Arizona, a nonprofit institution dedicated to preserving the Colorado Plateau’s natural and cultural heritage. His travels and studies have resulted in more than 20 books, including the bestselling Grand Canyon: Window of Time, a photography book focused on the history, geology, and mystery of this natural wonder. His latest book is The Desert Islands of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Stewart’s photos have appeared in National Geographic, Arizona Highways, the Los Angeles Times, Mountain Bike magazine, National Wildlife, Nevada magazine, Outdoor & Travel Photography, Reader’s Digest, and Sierra.

DEPARTURES WITH THIS EXPERT
No departures scheduled at this time.

Steve Kluge

GEOLOGIST, EDUCATOR

Award-winning Earth science educator, avid outdoorsman, and national parks aficionado Steve Kluge has taught New York Regents and college-level geology courses for more than 35 years. He’s planned and led day, week, and month-long field trips and expeditions that include geology and natural history, cave exploration, and backpacking. He has led a pre-college expeditionary science program on the Juneau Icefield in Alaska and taught geology on the flanks of Hawaiian volcanoes in a semester-long Cornell University field program. Steve has designed fun and rewarding standards-based instructional activities for kids and teens in partnership with National Geographic, the Geological Society of America, NASA, and New York public television. He has also built his own kayaks, one of which he’s paddled along most of the coast of Maine. Kirk Johnson of the NY Times described him as a man of “rumbling enthusiasm,” and Steve brings that enthusiasm with him wherever he goes. He loves sharing his knowledge of and passion for America’s national parks with National Geographic travelers.

DEPARTURES WITH THIS EXPERT
Oct 7-13, 2018
Oct 21-27, 2018
Apr 21-27, 2019
May 5-11, 2019
May 12-18, 2019

ITINERARY

Venture into the legendary rock-carved landscapes of the American West, exploring Utah’s Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. Get a glimpse of the powerful forces of nature that shaped these sandstone arches, fantastical formations, and colorful mesas and canyons. Delve into the fascinating history of the ancient people that built civilizations here, and ponder their petroglyphs and cliff dwellings. Among the soaring buttes of Monument Valley, find new perspectives of the Old West alongside Navajo guides.

DAY 1: GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO

Arrive in Grand Junction and transfer to your hotel. Spend the day relaxing at the hotel’s outdoor pool and tennis courts, or explore the lively town’s galleries, boutiques, and cafés on your own.

Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Junction

DAY 2: MOAB, UTAH

Take the slow, scenic way to Moab—on a leisurely rafting trip along the Colorado River into Utah’s canyon country. Float along a tranquil stretch of the legendary waterway, past the bizarrely shaped rock pinnacles known as Fisher Towers, encountering a few rapids along the way. Stop for a picnic lunch along the riverbank, surrounded by the area’s picturesque rock-carved landscape. Continue by raft to our lodge set among rust-hued cliffs. Tonight, join fellow travelers for a welcome reception on the terrace, which offers stunning river views.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Red Cliffs Lodge

DAY 3: ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

Rise early to explore Arches National Park. Go on a series of short hikes to discover some of its 2,000 sandstone arches, and sit down to a picnic set against this gorgeous natural backdrop. Head to Dead Horse Point, a promontory high above a gooseneck in the Colorado River. Local legend holds that this narrow spot was once used as a corral for wild mustangs, and a herd of horses died of thirst within view of—but 2,000 feet above—the mammoth river.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Red Cliffs Lodge

DAY 4: CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK/BLUFF

Visit Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument, where a stunning concentration of more than 650 petroglyphs adorn sandstone rock faces and record some 2,000 years of human activity here. Continue on to the one-of-a-kind Needles District in the southeast corner of Canyonlands, and hike among this spectacular landscape punctuated by colorfully striped sandstone spires. Picnic among the rugged scenery, then retreat for the night to the historic town of Bluff—established by Ancestral Puebloans around A.D. 650.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Desert Rose Inn

DAY 5: MONUMENT VALLEY/BLUFFS

Get immersed in what is perhaps the most iconic landscape of the American West—Monument Valley. Here on the Navajo Indian Reservation, majestic red mesas and lonely buttes rise above the valley floor. Join a team of native guides on a jeep tour of the rugged valley floor and its geological wonders. Take in thousand-foot-tall sandstone buttes made famous by countless Western movies, hear about the Navajo perspective of the area’s history, and enjoy a traditional Navajo lunch. After a thrilling day of exploration, return to Bluff and dine at a local restaurant. Enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Desert Rose Inn

DAY 6: DURANGO, COLORADO

Set off on a breathtaking drive through Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, an archaeological hub of cliff dwellings, rock art, and kivas (ceremonial rooms). Arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mesa Verde National Park, a complex network of Ancestral Puebloan dwellings dating to the 6th through 12 centuries. Discover the remarkable ancient culture that built these villages and imposing cliff dwellings, and see the famous Cliff Palace, with 150 rooms constructed out of nothing more than natural sandstone, wooden beams, and mortar. This afternoon, continue on to the historic railroad town of Durango, and cap off your adventure through the American West with a farewell dinner.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations: Strater Hotel

DAY 7: DURANGO, COLORADO
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast

WHAT TO EXPECT

This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain.

Accommodation
We stay in comfortable hotels, classic western-style lodges, and a historic Old West hotel in Durango.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.

PRICES & DATES

2018 Dates & Prices
2 Departures

Oct 7-13, 2018

$4,495
Per Person
$5,445
Per Person

Oct 21-27, 2018

$4,495
Per Person
$5,445
Per Person

Price is per person, double occupancy. Airfare to/from Colorado is not included in the expedition cost. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

For a single room, add $950.

WHAT’S INCLUDED
Transfers upon arrival and departure
Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
Meals as indicated in the itinerary
Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
All gratuities

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
Visas
Alcoholic beverages