Today the Grand Canyon celebrates its 100th anniversary! So, let’s hear it for the redrock, white and blue! A vacation that dips and winds through the amazing canyons of our premier national parks is about as all-American you can get. Leisure travelers have visited the Grand Canyon since the 1890s. Bryce and Zion opened their gates not long after. If you’re of the generation that remembers making a too hot, too long minivan trek to these parks (“It’ll be fun,” Dad insisted), you can rest assured that that’s one travel tradition Classic Journeys has put to rest.
First, get it out of your head that if you’ve seen one canyon, you’ve seen them all. Not true…and it’s why a well-coordinated visit to these three natural wonders is a major revelation. Immersive explorations with an expert local guide put you in touch with areas most visitors miss because they don’t stray far from the car park. As Marcia, one of our guides loves to say, “It’s all about erosion, but I promise it won’t wear you down!”
Bryce, for example, is famous for its hoodoos. They’re those spindly needles of sandstone with boulders balanced on top that tended to cause a lot of trouble for Wile E. Coyote. Sighting one of them would be enough to knock your socks off, but there are hundreds and hundreds tightly clustered in a canyon that looks like the set for a high-speed Star Wars chase. Wandering among them is one of the most inspiring walks you’ll ever take.
The Zion Canyon Narrows couldn’t be more different. Known as a slot canyon, it’s slender, smooth and sinuous. At the narrowest point, it’s only about 20 feet from wall to wall, but it’s 1,300 straight up to the narrow slit of sky you can see. Where Bryce overwhelms with wind-carved complexity, Zion is a streamlined canyon sliced deep by the Virgin River.
The Grand Canyon has a river, too. But in many spots, the Colorado flows so far below that it barely registers as a thread of silver. The rim’s the place to be to enjoy the technicolor show that plays all day from sunrise until the last drop of purple and red disappear at nightfall. The trails are wonderful, and it’s not too shabby that you can enjoy this particular canyon from the terrace of your lodge with your beverage of choice in hand.
Along the way and at ground level, you’ll also walk (or if you’d like, sand surf) in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. And one of your trails offers a look at Ancestral Puebloan ruins that are more than 950 years old.
These canyons are as deeply carved in the American spirit as they are in the rusty red rock of our continent. For a vacation that’s closer to home and near and dear to our homegrown traditions, you can’t do better than Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon.