United States of AMerica
Yellowstone, Dinosaurs & Grand Canyon
Bozeman (Montana) to Phoenix (Arizona)
5 - 13 J
11 - 21 September 2023
11 Days/10 Nights
Exclusive small group tour: 4 - 8 people.
This is a geological road-trip through America’s Wild West! It covers a lot of miles, allowing you to be both in the Yellowstone Caldera and the Grand Canyon on the same trip, but these miles effortlessly sail by because the scenery is spectacular the whole way. The tour features the world’s largest geyser field, a super-volcano, some of the world’s best preserved fossil fish, a wall containing 1,500 dinosaur bones, hundreds of dinosaur tracks, eroded features that are now iconic monuments, two billion years of earth history visible in a single view in the Grand Canyon, a recent volcanic scoria cone, the world’s most famous meteor crater, and a whole forest of exquisitely preserved fossil trees. It is an epic geological tour, that hits all the ‘must-see’ sites!
A Tyrannosaurus rex at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. You can visit the museum in your own time on arrival day (Day 1).
The Lower Yellowstone Falls in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (Day 2)
Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming(Day 3)
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Day 3)
Your guide, James Cresswell with Green River fossil fish, Kemmerer, Wyoming (Day 4)
Carnegie Quarry, Dinosaur National Monument, Utah (Day 5)
Mill Canyon dinosaur track-site, near Moab, Utah (Day 6)
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah (Day 7)
Incised meanders at Goosenecks State Park, Utah (Day 7)
The open road of Utah near Monument Valley, this trip covers a lot of miles but the empty straight roads make it very easy (Day 7)
Monument Valley, Utah/ Arizona (Day 7)
Grand Canyon National Park and World Heritage Site, Arizona (Day 8)
Meteor Crater, Arizona seen from the visitor centre (Day 9)
Old Faithful Tree, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona (Day 10)
Days 1 - Arrive in Bozeman, Montana. Meet at a hotel near the airport at 18:00. Bozeman is the northern gateway to Yellowstone. It is possible to fly to Bozeman from several US cities including: Seattle, New York, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas or Phoenix-Mesa. If you are flying to Bozeman from outside the USA, you would first need to fly to one of those cities and change plane. You may consider arriving a day early to get to use to jet lag and to visit the excellent dinosaur exhibit in Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies.
Day 2 - Yellowstone National Park and World Heritage Site - We leave Bozeman and drive south making a few short geological stops in the Paradise Valley before entering Yellowstone National Park by the North Gate. Yellowstone is an active volcano and has produced some of the largest rhyolitic eruptions known on earth. It also hosts the world's largest concentration of of hydrothermal features with more geysers than the rest of the world combined. Yellowstone is the world's first National Park, and a World Heritage Site. Our first stop in the park is Mammoth Hotsprings with its striking travertine terraces. We then proceed to Sheepeater Cliffs to see columnar basalt before stopping at Obsidian Cliffs. We then have lunch at Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone’s oldest and hottest thermal area with Porcelain Basin. Here we find the world’s tallest geyser, the 400-foot Steamboat Geyser. We then drive to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone making several stops on both sides of the gorge. This amazing canyon not only boasts 2 huge waterfalls but also allows us to examine the internal geology of a hydrothermal basin. We then drive on to Tuff Cliff to learn about the Yellowstone Caldera, with a final stop at Terrace Spring before spending the night in West Yellowstone. Drive time: 4hrs.
Day 3 - Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Our first stop of the day is Firehole Canyon where we examine rhyolite lava flows that have erupted since the caldera formed. We then travel on to Fountain Paint Pots in the Lower Geyser Basin and learn how acidic fluids attack the rock forming mud pots. Our next stop is the Midway Geyser Basin, famous for the gorgeous Grand Prismatic Spring, the park’s largest hot spring. Midway is also home to Excelsior Geyser’s 200ft by 300ft crater. We then proceed to the Upper Geyser Basin, home to at least 150 geysers packed into just one square mile, including the world’s most famous, Old Faithful. Old Faithful erupts regularly and we will wait to see an eruption. We will also eat our lunch and take a walk around some of the other geysers. We then return to the car and pass along the Yellowstone Lake, briefly stopping at the West Thumb Geyser Basin before leaving the southern entrance of the Park and entering the Grand Teton National Park with its rugged mountain views. In Grand Teton we make several stops including at Jenny Lake. We spend the night in the nearby town of Jackson. Drive time: 3hrs30.
Day 4 - Fossil Butte National Monument. This morning we drive south along the Idaho and Wyoming boundary to reach Fossil Butte National Monument, the site of the famous Green River fish fossils which can be found in fossil shops and museums all around the world. The Monument has a wonderful museum and a scenic walk up to the old fossil quarry. The collection of fossils is not allowed in US National Parks and Monuments, however, if the weather conditions are suitable we plan to also visit a nearby 'pay to dig' quarry on private land where we will be able to collect our own fish fossils. The night is spent is the nearest town, Kemmerer. Drive time: 4hrs.
Day 5 - Uinta Mountains and Dinosaur National Monument. In the morning we drive through the Bridger Basin the discovery area of Eocene mammal fossils including the famous Uintatherium. We then drive along the Flaming Gorge Unitas National Scenic Byway stopping in the Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area. The route crosses the Uinta Mountains, before dropping down into Vernal where we have lunch. In Vernal we can also make a quick visit to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum to see the Eocene Mammals and Dinosaur exhibits. . After lunch we visit Dinosaur National Monument, and spend the whole afternoon at this wonderful site. 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. The night is spent in Vernal. Drive time: 3hr45.
Day 6 - Dinosaur tracks and dinosaur discovery sites. Our first stop of the day is the Colorado town of Dinosaur. Here we can pose for photos with the street names which are all different types of dinosaur. We then proceed on south crossing the Bookcliff Mountains via Douglas Pass to reach the Grand Valley at Fruita. In Fruita we visit Dinosaur Hill, the discovery site of Brontosaurus now called Apatosaurus. After lunch in Fruita, we then drive on to the Trail Through Time, in the Rabbit Valley. Here we walk the trail and can see dinosaur bones still in the rocks! After lunch we visit the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracksite, where the tracks of a sauropod dinosaur can be seen turning. Our final stop of the day is the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite where more than 200 individual tracks from 8 different types of dinosaurs, along with a crocodile resting trace can be seen. We spend the night in the nearby town of Moab. Drive time: 5hrs.
Day 7 - Arches National Park and Monument Valley. We make an early start and visit nearby Arches national park. We spend 3 hours in the park visiting Delicate Arch and Double Arch and many other stops. We leave the National Park by mid morning and drive on to Goosenecks State Park where we see wonderful incised meanders in the San Juan River. We have a picnic lunch at Goosenecks. We then continue to Monument Valley Tribal Park, here we go on a tour around the monuments with a local Navajo guide. The night is spent in the nearby Indian Reservation town of Kayenta. Drive time 4hrs40.
Day 8 - The Grand Canyon National park and World Heritage Site. Our first stop of the day is the Tuba City dinosaur trackway. These early Jurassic theropod dinosaur tracks are on Navajo land and a local Indian guide will explain them to us. We then drive on having a pause at Cameron to reach the eastern entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon is a World Heritage Site and is one of the world's most famous geosites. Our first stop in the National Park is Desert View, here we can see all the way down to the Colorado River and Precambrian rocks at the base of the canyon. We also have our lunch here. We then travel along the eastern rim with photo stops at Navajo Point, Lipan Point and Moran Point to reach the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. After a look around the centre we take a National Park bus to Hopi Point and walk the gentle and flat 'Trail of Time' along the canyon rim. The trail ends at the Yavapai Geology Museum, which has interpretive boards and stunning views. From the Museum we take another bus to the South Kaibab Trail Head and Yaki Point. Those who still have the energy can optionally hike 200 metres down the into the canyon, a 2 mile return walk down and up the South Kaibab Trail, to Ooh Aah Point, to see the sunset. Alternatively it can be seen from the rim at Yaki Point. The night is spent in Tusayan which is a short drive south of Grand Canyon Village. Drive time: 3hrs.
Day 9 - Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Meteor Crater. In the morning we drive through the San Fransisco Volcanic field to reach Sunset Volcano Crater National Monument. This volcano is a cinder cone and erupted between 1040 and 1100. At the monument we visit the visitor centre and take two short walks to examine the lava flows. We then drive to Flagstaff where we have lunch. After lunch we drive on to Meteor Crater, one of the best preserved meteor impact craters in the world. We spend 2 hours visiting the amazing visitor centre which is on the rim of the crater with great views looking down into it. The night is spent in Holbrook. Drive time: 3hr45.
Day 10 - Petrified Forest National Park. This National Park is so named because of its fossil trees. We enter the park at the southern entrance stopping first at the visitor centre which has an exceelent museum. Here we 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. We then proceed on to 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. The next stop is Jasper Forest where we have a panoramic view over an area with a high concentration of petrified logs. The next stop is Blue Mesa where we get wonderful views. Our final stop is Newspaper Rock where 2000 year old petroglyphs can be seen. We then exit the National Park from the north entrance and drive via the scenic Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests to reach Phoenix where we will spend our last night. Drive time: 5hrs.
Day 11 - Depart from Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix has an international airport with direct flights to many US and European airports.
*A fee for commercial geological guiding on Part (ii) of the tour
*Informal geological discussion on Part (i) of the tour (there is no charge for this service)
Transportation from destination to destination (provided at cost price)
Breakfast in some hotels
Lunch, dinner and some breakfasts
*A guiding fee forPart (i) of the tour
Entrance fees to National Parks and National Monuments. You need to buy your own $80 pass.
*We do not run commercial tours in US National Parks or National Monuments. This tour is broken down into two parts: (i) A non-commercial field-trip run at cost price, which takes place inside National Parks and National Monuments. (ii) A commercial tour in all other areas, which includes a guiding fee. Profit is not made on transportation or hotel bookings on either part. The total trip cost combines both parts, but is broken down on your invoice.
CARBON GENERATED BY THIS TOUR
= 0.65 TONNES OF CO2
(calculated at https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx and using a rate of 0.12 kg/km for ferry/boat travel)
At no additional cost to you, GeoWorld Travel will offset the Carbon created by this tour using carbon offsetting company Carbon Footprint. A certificate for this offset will be supplied to you after the tour is completed.
It is your responsibility to book your travel to and from the start and finish of the tour, so if you would like to also carbon offset this cost please use our carbon offset calculator here.
Trip diaries, photo galleries and reviews of previous trips
"I went on the USA trip 2018. It was fantastic. The itinerary was excellent, every day was full of interesting areas to explore. It was quite a fast paced trip but so worthwhile- I saw places I had wanted to go for a long time and equally amazing places that I didn’t even know about. Geologist James Cresswell did a really good job as tour leader. He organised us, took care of us and answered all of our (sometimes daft) questions. It was great fun travelling with a group of people who were all interested in the geology of the area- we learned a lot from each other as well as from James. Highly recommended."
Andrea B., Cheshire, UK
Review was posted to TripAdvisor, November 2018
"Geologist James Cresswell's depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and careful planning made his Yellowstone, Dinosaurs, and Grand Canyon trip one of my favorites of all time. His focus on leading small groups made this trip personal and instructive and at the end, we all felt a kinship and appreciation for our shared experience."