As schools close and summer days get long, our over-scheduled souls yearn for freedom and adventure! Look no further than the open roads through our country’s mountains and deserts, farms and seashores!
In the next few weeks, I will inspire you! I’m going to spotlight 4 different itineraries, in various regions of our country. So, trade your island brochures for National Park guides, get an oil change in your car, and pack up your hiking boots, because the American landscape awaits!
Itinerary #1: The Desert of the American Southwest!
Start in Las Vegas!
Known for its cheap flights (strategically low to attract gamblers), this city gives you the pick of themed hotels for any budget! Try Circus Circus (rock bottom rates right on the strip), or the MGM Grand (for a GRAND river pool), or the opulent Venetian (complete with gondolas on a private canal)!
You can catch the newest Cirque show, a gravity-defying spectacle called KA:
or see the classic musical, Lion King
or just walk the strip and watch the moving stage of pirate battles and dancing fountains.
Ever seen the fountain “ballet” at the Bellagio?
Then load up your rental car and hit the desert highway!
Loop north though Utah’s canyon country!
You’ll hit Zion’s slot canyons first (always take a guide… those flash floods warnings are no joke!), and then Bryce’s orange rock pillars, called Hoodoos Country!
You can’t go wrong with either a morning hike or an afternoon balloon ride!
When my kids were young, we used to call those buttes “Birthday Cake Mountains” since they looked like a layered cake!
Stay and Play on Lake Powell!
Hire a houseboat for a few days, and kick back on the emerald green waters of this magnificent canyon! We fished by day and stoked bonfires by night, jet-skiied to the Rainbow Bridge (longest rock span on earth)
and hiked to the top of buttes.
We spent afternoons, dropping the hook in private coves to fire up our BBQ and open our waterslide right off the back of the boat!
And when night came, we dined on the water in the seclusion of our anchorage, watching the sun set over the empty canyonland – then we drug mattresses to our boat’s top deck to cuddle together under a powdered-sugar sky full of stars!
You’ll have to force yourself away from the treasures of Lake Powell, but more excitement awaits, only a few hours south at the Grand Canyon!
Stash your rental car in Williams and board the Grand Canyon Railway! You’ll hear history and enjoy refreshments as you chug through the northern Arizona countryside, but be careful to steer clear of the gun-slingin’ cowboys — sometimes they get into shoot-outs, right on the platform!
If you plan carefully, you can snag a cabin, right on the rim.
“It’s much more than basic… we were delighted”, a client told me this past Spring.
And another guest said, “All I need is my percolator and the sunrise!”
You might enjoy the IMAX theatre show: The Grand Canyon Movie (buy your tickets online at http://www.explorethecanyon.com/)
And be sure you take some time to hike, not just along the rim, but also BELOW it, to feel the magic in this geological wonder! It’s 270 miles long and over 1 miles deep!
If you’re real Native American buffs, detour east to Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shay) where a canyon jeep tour with a Navajo guide will uncover petroglyphs and cave dwellings!
If you’re a outdoor enthusiast, try a wilderness rafting trip on the Salt!
You’ll ride wild rapids through the Sonora desert, tackle a multiday trip from Inn to Inn, or go all the way in a Wilderness River Expedition!
Take a day in civilization as you head back west through Sedona!
Gel at a vineyard, gear up on a mountain bike, go Zen at a spa, or just enjoy a dine-around in the downtown area. Watch up for those killer burritos!
No visit to Arizona would be complete without some hot spring-ing! There are many hot spring resorts, but the real finds are the ones you hike to, like this one, one a few minutes drive, but then a few hours hike, from Hoover Dam:
The rules? Hike together and in daylight. Take lunch and plenty of water. Expect nudity. And NEVER put your hand up on a ledge or under a rock…. this is scorpion country!