The Arches & Canyonlands National Parks
& Smooth Water Rafting on the San Juan River
October 1st-4th, 2019
$958 (Double Occupancy)
Day One: We’ll leave the Valley and head north, with a stop for coffee & goodies, on our way to enjoy lunch on self at Cameron Trading Post. After lunch it’s back on the bus headed for Bluff, Utah and the very lovely Desert Rose Hotel—our headquarters for the next three nights. We’ll check into our hotel, and after a refresh we’ll gather again to enjoy dinner on self, with your choice of dining in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, or head into historic Bluff where we’ll have a few rustic eateries to choose from. Later we’ll enjoy a free evening.
Day Two: Breakfast on self at a local restaurant, then it’s back on the bus headed for the Sand Island launch ramp. After taking a few minutes to secure our cameras and sunscreen in dry bags, and a brief introduction to rafting, we’ll begin this remarkable 8 hour, 26-mile journey. The San Juan river, often described as calm and congenial, offers a relaxing rafting experience in Southeastern Utah. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the dramatic Goosenecks of the Lower San Juan, where rock formations can tower 1,000 feet overhead. We’ll visit Native American ruins; view bighorn sheep grazing along the shore and truly experience a red rock labyrinth that is one of the most complex canyons in the Colorado Plateau. This was once the home of the Anasazi, a desert farming culture who lived in this area eight to twenty centuries ago. Evidence of their time here is everywhere, with remains of their dwellings and the art that they carved in the rising sandstone walls. The Butler Wash petroglyph panel will be our first stop. Just a few feet from the river’s edge, this broad panel is filled with mysterious images carved by early Anasazi—the Basketmakers—some 1500 years ago. Further down the river, we’ll land again and walk an easy quarter mile to “River House,” a Pueblo III style cliff dwelling. With a small round kiva and several adjoining rooms tucked into a rock alcove, this structure is believed to be about 800 years old. Later we’ll continue down the river to a shady spot under a canopy of cottonwoods, to enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch. The journey continues, as the rock formations begin to take prominence when the river enters the Monument Upwarp, a giant wrinkle in the skin of the earth. As we near the end of our trip the river leaves the canyon and we pass beneath the balanced slab of “Mexican Hat” rock, where vans will be waiting to shuttle us back to Bluff. Dinner is on self this evening and later we’ll enjoy a free evening.
Day Three: We’ll enjoy breakfast on self in town, before hopping back on the bus headed for Canyonlands National Park, located just west of Moab, Utah. With paved roads running through the park, Canyonlands offers the most spectacular scenic drive—wave after wave of famously deep canyons that drop suddenly from the desert floor and wind along the Colorado Plateau, accompanied by towering cliffs and sandstone spires. Later we’ll head into charming Moab, for lunch on self, with several wonderful restaurants to choose from. After lunch it’s back on the bus for the half-hour drive to Arches National Park, where we’ll journey the 18-mile (one way) scenic drive high onto the Plateau, crossing a vast landscape, offering panoramic views of distant snowcapped mountains. Arches is one of the most visited parks in the world, a wonderland of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks and arches! Later we’ll head back to our hotel to enjoy dinner on self and a free evening.
Day Four: Breakfast is on self, then it’s bags out and we’re off to enjoy an incredibly scenic drive through the Hopi and Navajo Nations, on into Winslow and the La Posada Hotel–the last great railroad hotel—built in 1929 by the Santa Fe Railway for the Fred Harvey Company. We’ll take some time to explore the La Posada and enjoy lunch on self, at the award-winning Turquoise Room, considered to be the best restaurant in the Four Corners region. After lunch it’s back on the bus and we’ll hightail it for the Valley, enjoying some great scenery along the way. This is a remarkable tour—truly a bucket-list of an experience and we hope you’ll join us!