If you want to see the US National Parks, but leave all the driving and the planning to someone else, consider a guided vacation. And if you want a signature experience that takes you just that bit closer to these stunning natural landscapes and historic places – choose Insight Vacations. Their journeys are carefully curated and coordinated to showcase America’s iconic and lesser-known wild places in a comfortable, enjoyable and exhilarating way.
As with any vacation, it’s the little things that make the difference. Like staying right in the park (as opposed to somewhere “down the road”) so you can breathe in the pure air and watch the dawn rising over a magnificent vista. Or like taking a private nature hike with a Park Ranger or local climber to really understand the natural wonders that you are seeing. There are motor coaches – and there are air conditioned Insight motor coaches with the same spacious legroom found in airline Business Class. You’ll have extended panoramic views of the National Parks and you’ll actually be able to hear the expert commentary thanks to the superb sound system. And you’ll even have Wi-Fi to keep you in touch with friends back home and send them your amazing photos real time!
There is no greater privilege than to stay in luxury while surrounded by the unspoiled beauty of a National Park. Or to enjoy local fine dining ,while taking in spectacular views of towering mountain peaks or a shimmering lake. Imagine a Highlight Dinner with Insight at the Thunderbird Room while taking in views of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as the sun slowly sets!
Lodges within the National Parks need to be booked a long time in advance and are highly prized accommodation. But, thanks to Insight’s extensive infrastructure and expertise, you often overnight within the National Parks. For instance - on an Insight tour of the Grand Canyon National Park, as the saying goes “When you stay at Grand Canyon National Park Lodges, you’re not just close – you’re there!” And at Mesa Verde National Park you stay at Far View Lodge in the National Park, offering panoramic vistas into three states.
But it is not just Insight’s background knowledge, planning and carefully curated itineraries that elevate your vacation a notch or two. Your highly-skilled Tour Director is right there with you to share knowledge, advice, act as a travelling concierge, give practical assistance, and manage all the details so your journey runs smoothly. You travel worry free and have nothing else to do other than take in the natural wonders around you. There is something about the authentic, wild landscapes of the US National Parks that captures the imagination. Something magnetic about America’s West and the backdrops we have seen in movies! And nobody takes you to the authentic heart of America’s National Parks in more style, or more effortlessly, than Insight Vacations.
The work of caring for these places was moved to a new agency created by Congress for that specific purpose.The National Parks in the US were the first such conservation areas in the world. The National Park Service was given the responsibility to not only conserve and protect parks, but also to leave them “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Today there are over 400 national parks and monuments which include not only places of scenic grandeur, but also places that commemorate history too.
The National Parks have been described as “America’s Best Idea”. Insight Vacations feature trips that make that claim come alive in the region where the idea was first realized: America’s West. Here are the parks that you can travel to on one of Insights carefully structured itineraries.
Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is the world’s oldest and perhaps most famous national park, known worldwide for its geysers and geothermal pools. It’s the largest of America’s national parks outside Alaska, and crosses volcanic plateaus and heavily forested peaks, containing 2.2 million acres of steaming hot springs, crystalline lakes and thundering waterfalls.
Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra. It was to this inspirational wilderness that John Muir brought Teddy Roosevelt to convince him of the need to protect such wondrous places. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.
The scale of the Grand Canyon is overpowering. It is one of the planet’s most powerful and inspiring landscapes. Numbers don’t do it justice, but here they are anyway: 277 river miles long, 18 miles wide, a mile deep and 1.5 billion years of earth history. Grand Canyon National Park encompasses canyons, river tributaries, and surrounding grounds and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Glacier National Park was established in 1910, covers about one million acres of land, and contains 25 “active” glaciers that move due to thawing and melting. Glaciers cut through stone, creating valleys and filling rushing rivers. Fields of wildflowers fill the spaces between mountains in the warm summer months. Sparkling stars fill the darkness of the night. In the stillness of these moments, absorb the astonishing reflections of the jagged peaks in the crystal clear mountain lakes.
Tall and proud, the Tetons rise dramatically from the grasslands, cutting through bluest skies and brightest sunrises. Snowcapped in the winter and stark gray in summer, these granite masterpieces are home to all seeking serenity in mountains. These ancient mountains also contain some of the oldest rocks in the National Park Service, dating to nearly 2.7 billion years ago.
The intensity of the colors—the vivid ruby of the rocks, the clear sapphire of the sky, the emerald of the grass—make Zion National Park a treasure of the West. The Virgin River cuts through the sandstone on her journey home, taking with her rocks and pebbles, widening and reshaping the canyons that define Zion. The highlight of Zion National Park is an expansive canyon. Averaging 2,000 feet deep, Zion Canyon offers hiking opportunities along its floor in the 20 to 30 foot wide area known as The Narrows and the challenging area known as The Subway. Swimming is also permitted in this area of the Virgin River. Other spectacular features of Zion include natural rock arches.
Capitol Reef National Park contains nearly a quarter million acres in 'slickrock country'. Plant and animal life is diverse because of a variety of habitats such as pinyon-juniper, perennial streams, dry washes, and rock cliffs. The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth's crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline: a regional fold with one very steep side in an area of otherwise nearly horizontal layers.
Carved by the Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park preserves 527 square miles of colorful landscape that has eroded into countless canyons, mesas, arches and buttes. The Colorado and Green rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration.
Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah is famous for the largest collection of hoodoos— a distinctive rock formation —in the world. Pillars of red, white, and orange cut through bluest skies. Bryce Canyon is also home to horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau, scenic vistas, and the dark night sky. Erosion and rain constantly evolve the landscape at Bryce.
With more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, Arches National Park offers the largest density of these graceful rock formations in the world. The Park is positioned in a “high desert”, with elevations ranging from 4,085 to 5,653 feet above sea level. Formed over millennia, the unique features of Arches National Park astonish and delight its many visitors. Find yourself dwarfed amongst the giant archways and delicate rock formations that constantly change with the wind over time.
Mountains tower over the remote wilderness of Denali National Park in Alaska, creating a cold stillness over the tundra. Mt. Denali, formerly Mt. McKinley, is North America’s highest point and watches over its country, imposing, magnificent and infinite. The Alaska Range includes countless other spectacular mountains and many large glaciers. Denali's more than 6 million acres also encompass a complete sub-arctic eco-system with large mammals such as grizzly bears, wolves, Dall sheep, and moose.
This National Park in Hawai'i encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's largest volcano at 19,999 cubic miles, Mauna Loa. In addition to Mauna Loa, the park includes Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, which offers scientists insights on the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and visitors views of dramatic volcanic landscapes. Pay your respects to the goddess Pele in her ancient home at Kilauea as she continually shapes and burns the earth with her molten self.
Mr Rushmore National Park is of the great cultural icons of America. Conceived in 1924 by Danish-American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the great sculptures on Rushmore were to be a ‘Shrine of Democracy’ that would use the presidents’ images to trace the country’s history, from its birth (Washington) through to its early growth (Jefferson), preservation (Lincoln) and robust development in the 20th century (Teddy Roosevelt). Work on the monument began on October 4, 1927, and ended 14 years later, on October 31, 1941.
Mesa Verde, "Green Table" in Spanish, National Park offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural and physical landscape. Including more than 4,000 known archeological sites dating back to A.D. 550, this national treasure protects the cliff dwellings and mesa top sites of pit houses, pueblos, masonry towers, and farming structures of the Ancestral Pueblo peoples who lived here for more than 700 years. Step into the past and experience the lives of one of America’s oldest cultures. Listen to the stories these cliffs tell and reflect how man can weave his life so seamlessly with nature.
That there is no better way to explore and experience the US National Parks than with Insight Vacations. They visit 16 National Parks in 9 states on 10 unique tour itineraries! Their journeys are carefully curated and coordinated to showcase America’s iconic and lesser-known wild places in a comfortable, enjoyable and exhilarating way. Unlike most others, Insight tours stay in sought-after historic lodges and grand hotels within the National Parks so guests can experience the tranquility and splendor without the crowds.
Here is just one example – the 15 days, Premium Tour “America’s Magnificent National Parks”. This takes in the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canon, Zion, Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore National Parks.
Welcome to Arizona. Your airport transfer takes you to your tour hotel in Scottsdale. Enjoy the superb facilities and grounds of this desert oasis. At 18:00, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception with drinks and appetizers.
Hotel: Scottsdale Marriott at McDowell Mountains. Welcome Reception and Dinner
Head north to the quaint bohemian colony of Sedona, where you can browse the stores and galleries, before travelling on to Grand Canyon National Park. Perhaps take an optional flightseeing tour by helicopter or plane over this natural wonder. Spend the night inside the park, enjoying the peace and quiet after the crowds have departed. During your stay, join a Local Expert for an informative presentation about the wonders of the Grand Canyon. In the evening, enjoy a Highlight Dinner in the Thunderbird Room while taking in the magnificent views.
Hotel: National Park Lodges, Grand Canyon. Full Breakfast, Highlight Dinner
Head to the historic Cameron Trading Post, featuring Southwest American Indian arts and crafts. The journey carries on through the colourful Painted Desert to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, where you board all-terrain vehicles for a guided tour of the valley floor, used as a backdrop of many Western Films. Stop at the Glen Canyon Dam to learn about its impact on the Colorado River before arriving at your lakefront resort.
Hotel: Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, Lake View Rooms Full Breakfast, Dinner
(Relaxed Start) Relax and enjoy the resort's facilities or join an optional float trip down the scenic Colorado River. Take a leisurely cruise through scenic Antelope Canyon with its dramatic steep, sandstone walls.
Hotel: Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas Full Breakfast
Head to Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah and enjoy a leisurely walk along Sunset Point to view the great amphitheatres of odd-shaped monoliths known as hoodoos before heading to Zion National Park.
Hotel: Zion National Park Lodge Full Breakfast
Travel through more amazing scenery to the lush cliff-and-canyon landscape of Zion National Park. Board a private Zion Canyon Shuttle with live commentary to experience the scenic highlights of the park, followed by some time to explore on your own. A complete change of scenery awaits you in the afternoon when you arrive in Las Vegas; bright lights, shopping malls, huge themed hotels and the omnipresent slot machine. In the evening, join your Tour Director and newfound friends for a Highlight Dinner with drinks before seeing the lights and glitz of Las Vegas.
Hotel: The Cosmopolitan™ of Las Vegas Full Breakfast, Highlight Dinner
Travel to Salt Lake City, the capital and most populous city in the State of Utah, and headquarters of the Mormon faith.
Hotel: Hilton Salt Lake City Center Full Breakfast
Join a morning orientation tour of Salt Lake City to see the famous Temple Square. Then travel north across the Oregon Trail to visit historic Jackson, where arches of elk antlers adorn the central square. Later, continue to your lakeside lodge overlooking Jackson Lake and the stunning peaks of Grand Teton National Park. Hotel: Jackson Lake Lodge Full Breakfast
The Grand Tetons thrust skyward 6,562 feet (2,000 metres) from the valley floor. Stop to admire some of the incredible views at Jenny Lake. Then enter Yellowstone, the world's first National Park and known for its unique geothermal activity, spectacular landscapes and abundant wildlife.
Hotel: National Park Lodges, Yellowstone Full Breakfast, Dinner
Walk among the geysers and watch them erupt. You will be joined by a Local Expert for an informative stroll through Yellowstone's Upper Geyser Basin. There is plenty of time to see the colourful bubbling mudpots and observe Old Faithful shooting water over 120 feet (37 metres) in the air. See free-roaming deer, elk and bear in their natural habitat and the roar of the Lower Yellowstone Falls.
Hotel: National Park Lodges, Yellowstone Full Breakfast
Depart Yellowstone National Park and travel through the stark Shoshone Canyon and Absaroka Rocky Mountains to reach the Wild West town of Cody. Visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, built in honour of one of America's great Western legends. Head to Clearmont in Wyoming and after checking into your hotel, ride horseback enjoying stunning scenery before enjoying a ranch style Highlight Dinner. Hotel: The Ranch at Ucross Full Breakfast, Highlight Dinner
(Relaxed Start) After a morning at leisure, head towards Devils Tower, an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the surrounding Black Hills and considered sacred to the Lakota and other tribes. Then, travel to Spearfish Canyon, a great spot for wildlife enthusiasts, where the breathtaking limestone palisades of this creek-carved gorge are more ancient than the Grand Canyon. Enjoy dinner including an option of local trout, which became native to the Spearfish region when they were brought from Colorado in 1899.
Hotel: Spearfish Canyon Lodge Full Breakfast, Dinner
Keep a lookout for pronghorn antelope as you cross the great high plains to the Black Hills of South Dakota. In Deadwood, join Kevin Costner's Original Deadwood Tour and explore this once lawless town. With a Local Expert, hear about the days of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, who made this town famous during the gold rush of the 1870s. Then, bear stories told by members of the Lakota tribe who share a live narrative of the Great Sioux Nation. Continue on to Custer State Park, renowned for its beautiful landscape and abundant wildlife. Perhaps get up close and personal with herds of buffalo on an optional jeep safari.
Hotel: The State Game Lodge, Custer State Park Full Breakfast
View the Crazy Horse Memorial, dedicated to all Native Americans. Move on to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where carvings of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt dominate the Black Hills. The rest of the day is yours to spend at your leisure before a farewell Celebration Dinner.
Hotel: The State Game Lodge, Custer State Park Full Breakfast, Celebration Dinner
Travel south from Custer State Park where your tour ends on arrival in Denver, with a transfer to Denver International Airport.
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