From: September 16 to September 23, 2018

Destination: North Rim Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce National Parks

  • Hiking the Grand Staircase National Parks

    The Grand Staircase refers to an immense sequence of sedimentary rock layers that stretch from Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, through Zion NP and Grand Canyon NP. The rock that is at the bottom of Bryce forms the top of Zion and the bottom rock of Zion is the top layer of the Grand Canyon. We’ve picked three National Parks along the Grand Staircase to hike: Zion, Bryce and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Parks are all spectacular and all very different from the others. The Grand Canyon is vast: it is 10 miles from one side to the other and a mile deep. Bryce is known for amazing hoodoos, the brightly colored spires of varied shapes; and Zion, with the tallest layer of redwall limestone of any canyon, is both majestic and a much more intimate canyon that fully deserves its name. We have chosen some of the classic trails in each park, designed to give you an experience and understanding that can only be gained by hiking in them. Maximum group size: 10
  • Sunday, September 16
    Our trip starts today at 3:00pm at the Las Vegas airport. It's a busy airport so plan to arrive not later than 2:30. After brief introductions we will pack up the vans and head to Mesquite, a small town out of the bustle of Las Vegas. We'll start getting to know each other and have a trip orientation in the evening before sharing our first dinner. Bedtime is likely to be early tonight!

    Monday, September 17
    We'll get an early start this morning and drive the remaining 1.5 hours to Zion National Park. Geologically speaking, Zion is the middle of the Grand Staircase. Our hike today is to Observation Point. This steep trail passes Weeping Rock and then climbs through Echo Canyon, gaining 2,150 feet in four miles. Observation Point is aptly named; from here we have a phenomenal view down into the canyon of the Virgin River and across to the plateaus from which it is carved, as well as a clear look at Angels Landing. Overnight Zion National Park

    Tuesday, September 18
    We'll start this morning with a trip to the Visitors' Center and then into the charming town of Springdale. We'll pick up the gear we need for the Narrows and also take time to wander the town a bit. We'll then return to the Park and our hike today is completely different as we wade up the Narrows. This is the name given to a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon that is 16 miles long and up to 2000 feet deep. Our destination is Orderville Canyon, about 2 hours upriver and site of some of the most spectacular scenery in the Narrows. However it is an out and back hike so turning around earlier or going a little further are also options, depending on the weather and our energy. If the weather or the conditions don’t permit a hike into the Narrows the guides will take you on one of the other phenomenal hikes in Zion. Overnight Zion National Park

    Wednesday, September 19
    Today our choice of hikes starts on the trail to Scout's Landing. This paved trail switchbacks up on a wide trail for about 2 miles. For those who have no fear of heights and want a mental challenge, we offer Angels Landing, one of the classic hikes in Zion. From Scouts Landing, the trail follows a narrow ridge (there are chains there for support) out to a fantastic overlook high above Zion Canyon. For many, however, this will be far enough, and you can either wait (the view is amazing) or return to the trailhead and walk along the Virgin River trail. In either case you can make your final decision once you've actually seen the trail. Hiking up to Angels Landing is about .5 miles out and back. If your legs are demanding a bit of a rest today, walking along the Virgin River is always a good choice.

    Whichever you choose, we'll regroup for our drive to Bryce Canyon. This is a very scenic drive of about 2 hours. We'll pass Checkerboard Mesa and go through the Zion Tunnel, an engineering marvel from the days when cars were smaller. We'll arrive in time to settle in and, since our rooms are only 5 minutes from the Rim, we can get our first look at this unique landscape. Tonight we'll enjoy a delicious dinner at the wonderful old Lodge there. Overnight Bryce Canyon

    Thursday, September 20
    Our hike today, the Fairyland Loop, will leave you breathless - both by the brightly colored rock spires that have been carved into a myriad of fascinating shapes by erosional forces, and from the altitude. Bryce is at the top of the Grand Staircase, and the rim of the canyon is around 8,000 ft. The loop will help us understand the concept that Bryce Canyon is not truly a canyon. This 8-mile trail, which follows a loop around a major formation with constantly changing views, provides an excellent opportunity to see hoodoos from the bottom up. The trail starts with 2.5 miles along the rim before plunging down into the hoodoos of Fairyland Canyon.  The scenery is spectacular:  along the way we get a great view of the Chinese Wall, hike past Sinking Ship Mesa, and take a short spur to Tower Bridge. With much less traffic here than other trails in the park, it may be one of the park's best kept secrets.

    Or you can chose the equally spectacular Peekaboo Loop. This 6-mile hike includes the Navajo Trail, Peekaboo Loop, and the Queens Garden Trail. The Navajo Trail descends into the canyon in a series of dramatic switchbacks, winding under hoodoos, and down to a trail junction at the bottom. From here it's a short distance to the Peekaboo Loop, an undulating 3 mile trail that gets its name from the "windows" along it. Returning to the junction with the Queen's Garden Trail, we'll follow it along the foot of the escarpment for about a mile.

    This evening we can gaze at the sunset over some of the most amazing geology you will ever see. Bryce is also known for having one of the most glorious nighttime skies of anyplace in the U.S. and if stargazing appeals to you, this is the perfect place to do it.  Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park.

    Friday, September 21
    Today we say good-bye to the top of the Grand Staircase and drive to the top of the bottom of the staircase. The 4-hour drive will take us to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. At 8,000 feet it is 1,000 feet higher than the south rim. Its distance from metropolitan areas results in 10 times fewer visitors than its southern counterpart.

    We start our visit here with a hike on the Widforss Trail, a relatively flat trail that follows the rim of the Transept and is 10 miles. However the first 3 miles are the most scenic and there are numbered stops and a brochure that are a great introduction to some of the natural and human history of the Grand Canyon. Overnight, North Rim of the Grand Canyon

    Saturday, September 22
    We will hike down into the Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. The North Kaibab Trail is the least visited but most difficult of the three maintained trails at Grand Canyon National Park. If we hiked all the way to the Colorado River (which we do not because it is 14 miles one way), we would pass through every ecosystem to be found between Canada and Mexico. Initially we hike through fir trees and aspen. Next we descend through the Redwall Limestone where the trail is blasted directly into the cliff. Most likely we will stop at Roaring Springs, where water gushes directly out of the canyon walls to form Bright Angel Creek. After a long drink and a chance to bathe our feet, we retrace our steps up the 4.7 miles and 3,000 feet we came down. Some women prefer going up steep trails, some prefer going down; both will get their wish today. Overnight Grand Canyon National Park.

    Sunday, September 23
    Oh no! Can this be our last day? It can so we will not waste it. We start with the very short hike out to Bright Angel Point. Following that we'll drive Cape Royal Road, one of the most scenic drives in the park.  We'll turn off onto the 3 mile road to Point Imperial, at 8803' the highest point on either rim, and then go on to Vista Encantada at the end of the road. Our last hike is a 1/2 mile nature trail that goes by Angels Window, an eroded opening that frames a view of the Colorado River, the perfect way to end our time here.

    It's about a five hour drive back to Las Vegas. We'll have you at the airport by 5:30 pm and you can fly out anytime after 7:00.
  • Price: $2495 (see this page for travel discounts) $300 deposit. There are a limited number of single rooms available for an additional $695. You can see our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • Two AGC experienced guides
    • Seven nights of double occupancy accommodation
    • All meals from dinner on Sunday thru lunch on the following Sunday
    • Transportation during the trip, starting in Las Vegas
    • National Park entry fees
    • Gear rental for the Narrows

    Not included: Travel to and from Las Vegas, alcoholic beverages, snacks, guide gratuities and travel insurance

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Hiking through two billion years of geologic time as we descent 3000 feet into the Grand Canyon
  • Seeing Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos as you hike through them
  • Experiencing the peace of Zion Canyon from the floor of the canyon and the rim
  • Learning about the diverse and fascinating geology of the area
  • Gazing upward at more stars than you ever knew existed

Register for this trip today

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