UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

THE GRAND CANYON AND DINOSAUR DISCOVERY SITES

PHOENIX TO DENVER

15 - 25 October, 2018

£1850

Price includes entrance fees to all National Parks, National Monuments, the Antelope Canyon tour,
The tour also includes geological guiding, transportation and hotel accommodation with breakfast included

THIS TOUR VISITS 4 NATIONAL PARKS, 2 NATIONAL MONUMENTS AND 1 WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Exclusive small group tour: 4 - 8 people
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Meteor Crater, Arizona seen from the air
The Grand Canyon
Dinosaur tracks near Tuba City, Arizona
Horseshoe Bend, near Page, Arizona
Monument Valley
Delicate Arch in the Arches National Park
Taken at the base of the Dinosaur Hill where Elmer Riggs discovered Apatosaurus bones in 1901. Fruita, Colorado
Dinosaur National Monument, Utah

ITINERARY 

Day 1 - Arrive in Phoenix, Arizona.

Day 2 - Petrified Forest National Park. We spend the morning driving through the scenic Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests to reach Petrified Forest National Park at lunchtime. The National Park is so name because of its fossil trees. We spend the afternoon walking the three best trails. First we walk the 0.75 mile Crystal Forest Trail, named for the presence of beautiful crystals that can be found in the petrified logs; this trail offers one of the best opportunities to experience the petrified wood deposits. We then walk the 0.4 mile Giant Logs trail which features some of the largest and most colourful logs in the park. Old Faithful, at the top of the trail, is almost ten feet wide at the base. Finally we walk the 1.6 mile Long Log Trail. Long Logs is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the park and we can explore this ancient log jam at the base of gray badlands. The night is spent at Holbrook. Total driving time for the day: 4 hours.

Day 3 - Meteor Crater and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  After breakfast we drive for 1 hour to reach Meteor Crater. This breath taking impact crater is 1 mile across and 2.4 miles in circumference. It formed approximately 50,000 years ago  when an asteroid slammed into the earth at 26,000 miles per hour. At Meteor Crater we take a short walk along the crater rim and visit the visitor centre. We then continue another hour along the road to visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This monument is a 340 meter high cinder cone volcano that erupted around 1085 AD and is presently considered dormant. At the volcano we visit the visitir centre and walk  the 1 mile Lava Flow Trail to the base of the crater. It It is then a further 2 hours drive to Tusayan near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We spend 2 nights at this hotel.  Total drive time: 3 h 30 mins.

Day 4 - The South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, World Heritage Site. We spend the whole day at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In the morning we walk the gentle and flat 'Trail of Time'. The trail is 1.3 miles long , and 1 metre represents 1 million years. The trail goes from the visitor centre to the Yavapai Geology Museum, which has interpretive boards and stunning views. At the end of the trail you can walk back or take a shuttle bus. In the afternoon you can either take it easy or join James on a hike part way down into the Canyon. We will walk the first 1.5 miles of the South Kaibab Trail, descending 1,140 feet (350m) turning around at Cedar Ridge, to walk the 1.5 miles back. The night is spent in the same hotel in Tusayan.  Total drive time: 30 mins.

Day 5 - The Grand Canyon East Rim, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. We travel along the stunning eastern rim of the Grand Canyon with many photo stops, before reaching Tuba City where we visit a Dinosaur trackway. We then proceed to the photogenic Horseshoe Bend before reaching Page. In Page we will take an organised tour to Antelope Canyon. The night is spent in Page. Total drive time: 3 hours.

Day 6 - Monument Valley  Today we drive through the icon of the American West - Monument Valley. After exploring the valley we continue to Moab. Once in Moab we can enjoy some free time. The night is spent in Moab. Total drive time: 4 hours 30 minutes.

Day 7  -  Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.  In the morning we drive out to the Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park. We then return to Moab for lunch. In the afternoon we head  into Arches National Park and complete a 3 mile hike to Delicate Arch the most recognisable arch in the National park.  We return to our hotel in Moab for a second night. Total drive time: 3 hours 10 minutes.

Day 8 - Dinosaur Sites around Moab and Fruita.  Our first stop of the day 25 minutes north of Moab is the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite which  includes 8 different types of dinosaurs, along with a crocodile resting trace, and we can walk the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail where the bones of dinosaurs can be seen in the rocks. We then continue for another 20 minutes to the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite, which features the tracks of a sauropod (perhaps Diplodocus) and a theropod (perhaps Allosaurs). The many different kinds and sizes of dinosaur tracks, in an excellent state of preservation, make Copper Ridge unique.  We then continue for another hour and a half to reach Fruita. In Fruita we visit  Dinosaur Hill where Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) was discovered in 1901. We also walk the half mile Fruita Paleontological Area Trail which features interpretive signs in this world-class fossils in the Morrison Formation. Finally we return to the vehicle and drive to Vernal where we spend the night. Total Drive time: 3 hours 40 mins.

Day 9 - Dinosaur National Monument. In the morning we drive 25 minutes to reach Dinosaur National Monument. In the Quarry Exhibit Hall, located over the world-famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry we see a wall of approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus and Stegosaurus along with several others. The rocks are from the famous Morrison Formation from the Late Jurassic, 149 million years ago. The monument was founded in 1915 and was the site of several important early dinosaur discoveries. We will also walk the 1.2 mile Fossil Discovery Trail that links the Quarry and the Visitor Centre. Along the trail a number of dinosaur bones can be seen eroding out of the rocks. In the afternoon we head to the Rockies and drive to Aspen. Total drive time: 4 hours.

Day 10 - Rocky Mountains and Dinosaur Ridge. After leaving the town of Aspen we start to climb  Independence Pass and reach an elevation of 3,687 m. If the weather is fine we will have excellent views of alpine tundra towards Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest peak. After 3 hours of driving along one of the USA's most scenic routes we reach Dinosaur Ridge on the outskirts of the city of Denver. The Dinosaur Ridge area is one of the world's most famous dinosaur fossil localities. In 1877, some of the best-known dinosaurs were found here, including Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Allosaurus. After visiting Dinosaur Ridge we continue on into the city centre where we will stay for the night. Total drive time: 3 hours 10 minutes.

Day 11 - Depart from Denver