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Why Not See It All? The Best Reasons to Book a Once-In-A-Lifetime Grand Circle Tour

If you’re seeing one park, you may as well see ‘em all.

By Brian Higgins
June 22, 2024

This article is sponsored by Southwest Adventure Tours

You know that ice cream shop you go to every time you’re on the other side of town, because you think, “Well I’m already over here …” Well, the Southwest is kind of like the other side of town. Except instead of ice cream shops, it has national parks. And instead of one, it has seven, plus endless acres of stunning terrain along the way. Take the multi-state spanning, 11-day Grand Circle adventure with Southwest Adventure Tours and you can see it all. 

Because you’ve gotta take advantage when you’re in the neighborhood. You might have plans to see all these incredible parks one at a time, but you also usually have plans to skip that ice cream. Take advantage of the opportunity and see it all in one unforgettable trip. With lodging, food and transportation taken care of, you’ll have more time to focus on what’s in front of you.

Still on the fence? We’ll explain why each of these Grand Circle highlights (there’s even more on the itinerary) can’t be missed when you’re in the neighborhood.

Angel's Landing, Zion National Park

Zion National Park, Utah: Days 2 and 3

Why it’s worth it: So you can have your breath taken away, right away. As far as first stops go, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Practice dropping your jaw (you’re gonna need it this week) as you and your group stare up at the unbelievable walls of Zion Canyon and take a hike or two.

North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: Day 3

Why it’s worth it: Because it’s the Grand Freakin’ Canyon. It doesn’t just make it to the top of everyone’s bucket list because of a good PR team. Enjoy the views from Cape Royal and Point Imperial as you witness one of the world’s natural wonders and pretend those tears are just from the wind.

Monument Valley, Utah: Day 5

Why it’s worth it: So you can see a real life movie background. Setting the scene for everyone from Forrest Gump to Clark Griswold and John Wayne (more than once), the instantly recognizable buttes of Monument Valley have become synonymous with the American Southwest. If your trip felt like a movie before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Four-Corners Monument: Day 5

Why it’s worth it: Because you’ve always wanted to be in four states at once. Don’t lie. 

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado: Day 6

Why it’s worth it: Because it’s one of the most well known cultural sites in the world, and well deserving of that title. The Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings are not only awe-inspiring in their design, cut into caves and cliff sides atop a natural mesa, but are also incredibly well preserved. You’ll get the opportunity to see sites from up close and afar, reflecting on the cultures that came before us. 

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado: Day 7

Why it’s worth it: Because the best part of the Grand Circle experience is watching the landscape of the Southwest change before your eyes. You’ll see deep canyons become wide open deserts before traveling through forested mesas and into the heart of the West’s most iconic mountain range. The craggy, snow capped peaks of the Colorado Rockies will have you forgetting all about the desert … until you pull into Moab that night. 

Arches National Park, Utah: Day 8

Why it’s worth it: Because you’ll witness some of Mother Nature’s more delicate handiwork. You’ve already seen what she can do with her big brush — the chasmic geological wonders of Zion and the Grand Canyon — but at Arches, she’s paying attention to the finer details. You’ll see the world famous Delicate Arch, along with several others. 

Canyonlands National Park, Utah: Days 8 and 9

Why it’s worth it: So you can catch back up with your old pal, the Colorado River. You’ll watch the sunset over the winding canyons of this remote and rugged park, witnessing the Colorado’s creations yet again. You’ll also return the next morning to visit Mesa Arch and see the sprawling views of Canyonlands in a whole new light.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah: Day 9

Why it’s worth it: So you can brag that your tour guides took you to a whole new planet. The Mars-like landscape of Goblin Valley is unlike any you’ve ever seen, and the twisting sandstone hoodoos, or “goblins,” only add to the strangeness. It’s often overshadowed by Utah’s Mighty Five, but it’s one of the most unique parks in America.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah: Day 9

Why it’s worth it: Because at this point in the trip, you’re a full-on geology nerd. Nine days ago, hearing about a 100-mile monocline (or slanted wrinkle of rock created by uplifts in the Earth’s crust) might not have done it for you. Now, you can’t wait to see the Waterpocket Fold, the main geologic feature of Capitol Reef, aka the most underrated of all the Grand Circle’s national parks. 

Scenic Highway 12 and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah: Day 10

Why it’s worth it: Because you’ll be driving an All-American Road, which isn’t just an expression. To be designated an All-American road (which only 37 roads have), a byway needs to have qualities of national significance and truly one-of-a-kind features. As you travel through some of America’s most rugged pavement-accessible terrain, you’ll agree that Highway 12 fits the bill. 

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: Days 10 and 11

Why it’s worth it: Because it’s the perfect sendoff. You might think you’ve seen it all by now, but Bryce Canyon is gonna come along and show you how wrong you were. The descending maze of hoodoos (rock spires) is impressive to behold from above or below, and you’ve got plenty of time to see it every which way. 

The best part of Bryce (and maybe your whole trip) might be the sunrise over the canyon on your last day. It’s one last snapshot for your mental scrapbook and one more reason you’ll be glad you booked this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Start planning your Grand Circle experience with Southwest Adventure Tours today.