Take in Wild West wildernesses on this adventure-rich road trip that stops by national parks and canyons via luxury-camping sites and wholesome hotels.Less
Before exploring the Grand Circle, get a primer of the region’s history at this museum. Only a short cab ride north of NoMad, this fascinating museum showcases exhibits from around the globe and treasures found right in Nevada. Long before mobsters and moguls arrived in Sin City, prehistoric mammoths, camels and aquatic ichthyosaurs called Las Vegas their stomping grounds. The Wild Nevada Gallery complements them perfectly with its multisensory display of contemporary local plants and animals.
Sleep under the stars in style at Under Canvas Grand Canyon – on the edge of your road trip's first park and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Less than 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, surrounded by secluded forest, this glamping site has a Zen garden, a firepit and a host of group activities if you’re game to make new friends. With a private bathroom, luxurious linens and a wood-burning stove under your deluxe canvas tent, you’ll forget you’re "roughing it".
Images and videos never truly capture the astounding beauty and magnificence of the Grand Canyon. A visit here is a must for all travelers on America’s Grand Circle. You’ll stand slack-jawed and speechless as you marvel at the 277mi-long natural phenomenon that stretches into the horizon. Somehow, the Grand Canyon becomes even more breathtaking when viewed from the bottom of its 1mi-deep floor.
Even if you don’t leave the property, you’ll still be treated to unforgettable views of the lake and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from Dreamcatchers. Comfortable rooms, a rooftop jacuzzi with views of the wilderness and delicious breakfast make this B&B an excellent stay – especially for adventure-seeking couples and honeymooners. Add in endless opportunities to hike, bike, fish and boat, and Dreamkatchers is an exceptional base near Lake Powell.
Splashing into both Arizona and Utah, Lake Powell is one of the coolest puddles of the Colorado River for outdoor adventure. Dive into an afternoon of fishing, boating and rafting, or cruise around nearly 2,000mi of shoreline searching for that perfect photo op – the Cathedral in the Desert in Glen Canyon is a great one. When hunger strikes, Wahweap Marina serves up a range of restaurants and bars with a helping of waterfront views.
You’ll lose track of all the landmarks you can see from your private balcony at Goulding’s Lodge. The flat-topped Eagle Mesa and other Monument Valley highlights are readily visible whether you’re crashing in a villa, apartment or cabin. But it’s the lodge’s history that’s of note; the owners encouraged director John Ford to film Stagecoach (1939), starring John Wayne, in the valley. The restaurant is even named after the film. The standard rooms have everything you need for a comfortable stay,
Monument Valley is a Navajo Tribal Park crossing the Arizona-Utah border. You can book a tour with a local guide and venture into the rough terrain that boasts sandstone marvels as high as 1,000ft (305m). The visitor center grants an instant panoramic view of Merrick Butte and Mittens Butte, but there’s no substitute for an educational tour that breathes life into the area.
You’ll never have to choose between Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park when you go glamping at Under Canvas Moab. Its tents are pitched between the two sites, giving you easy access to all the hiking, biking and rock climbing you desire. When night falls on Utah’s Canyon Country, you’ll find warmth in the king-size Stargazer tent, with a wood-burning stove and a sky view above the bed. Feel free to cozy up to your neighbors, too, with conversation around the communal firepit.
The namesake structures of Arches National Park are worth visiting, but first-time visitors should note that there’s plenty more to do than take snapshots of the geological features. Horseback riding, canyoneering, rock climbing, stargazing and more can easily be added to your schedule. If you’re short on time, take an auto-tour along the 18mi (29km) scenic road en route to Zion – your next Grand Circle destination.