Apologies to Indominus Rex. And Texas. And anyone with a “bigger is better” mentality. We respectfully disagree, especially when it comes to the size of groups. Smaller groups are soooo much more desirable than large groups. Think about the rapid succession of messages in a group text with more than 15 people. Almost as ANNOYING as words typed in all caps. And large group tours? If the guide has to hold up a sign like a line leader in kindergarten to prevent people from getting lost, it’s too big.
Enter small group travel. Southwest Adventure Tours has perfected this type of trip. The company offers several tour packages in Utah and the surrounding states, each designed for 10-14 people. Small group tours are the ultimate form of oxymoronic travel. You can travel alone together. Fly solo and still have company.
The six-day Canyons of the Escalante, for example, offers a mix of group time and alone time. The package includes breakfast and lunch every day, as well as two dinners. On the other nights, you can have an intimate dinner with your boo and relax in your private room (lodging for all six nights is included). The next morning, join the group again for some unbelievable adventures.
There are other benefits of small group travel as well, especially when it comes to the technicolor terrace known as Grand-Staircase Escalante.
An Environmental Answer
Here’s a story problem straight outta algebra class. Five couples decide to visit Grand Staircase-Escalante. Each couple drives their own car on Scenic Byway 12. Along the way, they stop for the best hikes in the region. How much gas would they save if they traveled together in a single vehicle instead? By what percentage would they reduce air pollution? (Be sure to show your work.)
You don’t have to be a mathlete to realize that carpooling is better for the environment. Southwest Adventure Tours has a fleet of clean, comfortable passenger vans. We’re talking Mercedes Sprinter Vans and Dodge Promasters with customized seating to make sure everyone has a good view out of the windows. Not to mention the seats feel oh so cushy on your tushy.
The Road Less Traveled
The last day of the Canyons of the Escalante trip explores the Spooky Gulch and Peek-a-Boo slot canyons located off of Hole in the Rock Road. As the name implies, it is technically a road. But it is the opposite of smooth and paved. The terrain is uneven and peppered with potholes and washboards that’ll knock the hiccups out of you. It’s the kinda ride those “oh-shiz” handles on the roof of vehicles were made for. A guided tour in a high-clearance vehicle with sturdy shocks allows you to venture farther off the pavement than you might be able to in the sensible sedan you drive to work every day.
“But I have a truckasaurus with Raptor trim,” you say. “I can drive anywhere in my own vehicle.” Yes, you could hit many of the locations included on a guided tour’s itinerary on your own. But you’d miss out on the unique opportunities offered on a small group tour.
Canyons of the Escalante has private astronomy viewing experiences on the first night. Kodachrome Basin State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are all International Dark Sky Parks. You will see more stars there than you will see in any city or suburbia, and chances are you won’t know whether you’re looking at Machina, Electra, Canis Major or Lacerta (or D, none of the above). Guides also have local connections that can make your trip more memorable, and are armed with fun facts about the area that you won’t find on Google. They know a lot of things that you don’t know you don’t know.