States of Wonder: National Park Tour

The American Southwest boasts awe-inspiring canyons, buttes and arches, millions of years in the making. View these geological wonders on a national park tour.

Like nowhere else on Earth, the American Southwest is not solely defined by the unique scenery that leaves a deep impression, but also its scale. Sculpted sandstone formations, deep canyons winding alongside rushing rivers, cliffs painted in a palette of reds, oranges and purples meeting wide, crystalline-blue skies—everything feels epic. Immerse yourself in the beauty of these landscapes and learn about the region’s history and culture on a national park tour.

Grand Canyon National Park

Standing at the edge of Arizona’s Grand Canyon, you’ll understand why no photograph has ever captured its surreal magic. This gaping chasm, up to 18 miles wide, overwhelms the senses; hours disappear as light and shadow interplay on multicolored rocks and steep-sided cliffs. Make sure you visit on your national park tour.

Yaki Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Photo: Thinkstock

Monument Valley

In Monument Valley, along the Arizona/Utah border, massive sandstone buttes, jutting hundreds of feet skyward, probably seem familiar. You’ve seen these landscapes in the heart of Navajo Nation countless times in TV shows, commercials and movies, from Stagecoach to Forrest Gump. But the idealized screen versions don’t measure up to the real thing. Climb into a 4×4 to get a closer look at these ancient formations. And after a visit to the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum, where you can see an exhibit on Navajo Code Talkers, you can spend an evening savoring a Navajo meal and watching entertainment that brings the tribe’s culture and traditions to life.

Monument Valley

Photo: Thinkstock

Arches National Park

More than 2,000 red sandstone arches (the world’s highest concentration) are scattered throughout Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah. The combined forces of wind, water and time have sculpted these natural artworks, from the smallest (with a span of three feet) to the largest (306 feet) in this must stop on a national park tour. As the sun sinks low, saturating the sky with purple and pink, the landscape seems to ignite: the perfect time for you to board a jet boat and follow the river deeper into the canyons, revealing color-drenched panoramas most visitors never see.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Photo: Thinkstock

Highway 12

Utah’s Highway 12, arguably the most beautiful road in the U.S., is an attraction in itself, offering unforgettable canyon views as it zigzags across the mountains. Your journey ends at two of Utah’s most famous parks. An enormous, eerie stone forest of jagged hoodoos greets visitors at Bryce Canyon National Park. Nearby Zion National Park got its name from Mormon pioneers, who compared the site to the heavenly city. As you pass this Eden of striated canyons draped with hanging gardens, waterfalls and jade-green cottonwood and willow trees, it’s easy to understand why this is a must-stop for a national park tour.

Road arch near Bryce Canyon National Park

Photo: Thinkstock

AAA Travel offers a variety of trips to America’s national parks. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor.

Get in Touch

Rose Stadt, AAA Travel Counselor, Vallejo, Calif.

More and more people want to customize their escorted trips with longer stays in certain cities or visits to specific sites. I make sure the independent pieces fit seamlessly with the tour.

© 1996–2018, AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah. All rights reserved  |  Terms & Conditions  |  Privacy Policy