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Stunning Southwest: Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon

american southwest

There are 61 national parks scattered around the country, so the best way to see all of them (or at least as many as you can) is to cross a few off the list in one trip.

Fortunately, the Southwest is home to several national parks, all within short traveling distances to each other. Member Choice Vacations’ Canyon Country tour winds through three states, stopping at three national parks. During the eight-day expedition, travelers will explore not just these parks, but several other equally exciting destinations in Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

Take a look at some of the trip’s stops around Canyon Country.


The first stop on this majestic tour of the Southwest is the picturesque town of Sedona. Surrounded by towering red rock monoliths, there may not be a city in the country that rivals Sedona’s natural beauty. Among other sites, travelers will get the opportunity to see Oak Creek Canyon. This 12-mile long canyon ranges from 800 to 2,000 feet deep, creating a unique and breathtaking landscape.

Sedona also has a thriving arts scene and historic uptown area. It’s the perfect spot to spend an afternoon exploring the city’s galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

Afterward, the tour heads north to the Kaibab National Forest. The 1.6-million-acre site borders both the north and south sides of the Grand Canyon. The forest features a little bit of everything: canyons, prairies, peaks, plateaus, 300 miles of trails and four designated wildernesses. Guests will travel through the southern portion of Kaibab on the way to their destination: the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Grand Canyon

There may be no better testament to the majesty of the Grand Canyon than when President Theodore Roosevelt said, “In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world … You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

Those “ages” Roosevelt spoke of are 2 billion years of geological history that have carved out an unparalleled landscape. Translation: Visiting the Grand Canyon will be a memorable 24 hours.

The tour travels along the East Rim Drive. During this excursion, you’ll be able to see sights such as the Little Colorado River Gorge, Marble Canyon, Navajo and Rainbow Bridge, and Horseshoe Bend. Afterward, a short ride takes you to Cameron Trading Post. For a century, this locale has been a haven for travelers, traders and explorers.

This is the perfect time to head to the Grand Canyon, as the park is celebrating its centennial. Special events will be held throughout the year in honor of the park’s magnificent 100 years.

America…This Land Is Your Land

The American landscape is so many things. It’s red rock formations, fertile fields and boundless beaches. It’s horizons, hillsides and plains. Yet, there is something very special about America’s national parks. It is often said that our national parks are the very embodiment of the American spirit. It’s America the Beautiful at its best!

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Lake Powell

After leaving Grand Canyon, you’ll continue north toward the Utah border and Lake Powell. The lake is technically a reservoir, formed when a damn was built in the 1960s and flooded the Glen Canyon, creating 185 miles of glistening waterways. This stunning setting will be your home for the next two nights. On your first morning, you’ll hit the water as you enjoy an invigorating breakfast cruise along Lake Powell.

Navajo Nation

In the afternoon, you’ll get to explore Navajo Nation. This surrounding area covers more than 17 million acres across three southwestern states. You’ll have the unique opportunity to see this land by choosing between a visit to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park or touring the Navajo and Antelope canyons.

The Tribal Park’s valley boasts sandstone towers that rise to 1,000 feet surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs and trees, and windblown sand to create an otherworldly scene. Travelers will enjoy a guided tour narrated by a Navajo Tribe member. It will also include a visit to a traditional Navajo hut called a “hogan.”

Navajo and Antelope canyons are geological wonders branching off Lake Powell. Guests will enjoy a canyon adventure cruise through these areas.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The following day, head to Utah’s first national park. In 1915, U. S. Forest Service Supervisor J. W. Humphrey came to the rim of Bryce Canyon and said, You can perhaps imagine my surprise at the indescribable beauty that greeted us, and it was sundown before I could be dragged from the canyon view.”

You’ll get the same view that inspired Humphrey to turn Bryce Canyon into a national park when you walk along the Rim Trail from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point. This path offers hikers the chance to view the Main Amphitheater from above. Bryce Canyon is famous for its hoodoos (thin spires of rock). In fact, it has the largest concentration found anywhere on Earth. The sights are surely something you won’t soon forget.

zion national park

Zion National Park

Zion is the third and final national park on the tour. Zion National Park’s location at the intersection of the Mojave Desert, Colorado Plateau and Great Basin creates one of the most unique landscapes in the country. It is highlighted by Zion Canyon, a 15-mile long, 2,400-foot deep, half-mile wide canyon of red and white sandstone cliffs.

Fortunately, travelers will have more than enough time to explore. The Canyon Country tour allots a full day to take in all that is Zion. In the afternoon, guests can choose to continue sightseeing outdoors or visit the Zion Human History Museum.

Las Vegas

The last stop on the tour is Las Vegas. You’ll have come a long way from the rugged outdoors, so kick up your feet and enjoy the big city. Spend two nights exploring the bright lights of the Vegas Strip, a 4-mile stretch of nonstop fun and excitement. Afterward, it will be time to pack your bags and head home!

Book a tour of the American Southwest with AAA Member Choice Vacations. 


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