Utah & Arizona: Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon Multisport
Multisport in Utah with Backroads
- Astonishing and beautiful geologic formations
- Revel in the magnificence of the Grand Canyon
- An impressive slot canyon in Bryce, whose walls are only ten feet apart in places
- Pedal among crimson rocks and desert wildflowers toward Red Canyon
- Splash your way through the Narrows in Zion
Adventures in the Phenomenal National Parks of Utah & Arizona
You have to wonder. What did the first people think when they saw it? The Grand Canyon. The immensity of the chasm, plunging more than a mile at its deepest. Rocks nearly two billion years old. The vastness of the sun-soaked plateaus. Are the outcrops really those colors? The Colorado River - responsible for all the beauty - carving a tenacious path through the middle. It's incredible. Almost indescribable. And it's only a third of the trip. Bryce and Zion are waiting. Each with its own profusion of breathtaking moments. And as you're biking and hiking, feel free to just wonder.
- All lodgings
- All meals included except 1 dinner, when you'll have the opportunity to sample local fare on your own
- Expertise and services of our experienced Trip Leaders
- Snacks and beverages between meals
- Additional guides and experts from the region on many trips
- Van shuttles to support a variety of route options
- Comprehensive Travel Planner with detailed pre-trip information
- Private guided tours at museums, historic sites, wineries and other attractions as noted
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants on Inn Trips
- On Biking and Multi-Sport trips use of fully equipped Backroads titanium bike plus helmet and accessories
- Trailercycles, carriers and kid-sized helmets for Family Trips
- Park and other entry fees
- Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel
- Select coach transfers
- Baggage transfers and porterage
- Backroads water bottle
- Alcoholic beverages (Backroads provides wine at select events)
- Gratuities for Trip Leaders
- Personal expenses
Day by Day Itinerary
Meet your Backroads Trip Leaders (the folks wearing Backroads T-shirts) at 10 a.m. in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott in St. George, Utah. Please arrive wearing hiking clothes and closed-toe shoes that can get wet, and have a daypack containing your rain gear.
Shuttle to Zion National Park 1½ Hours
Riverside Walk & the Narrows Hike 5 Miles (250-foot elevation gain)
Welcome to the Beehive State! After meeting in St. George, we shuttle to Zion National Park, where we get better acquainted over a picnic lunch. Then a park shuttle whisks us to the start of our afternoon trek through the Narrows—the park’s most popular hike. Weather permitting, wade into the inner gorge of the Virgin River as it forges through rock. Small waterfalls and hanging gardens tumble down the canyon walls, which reach up to 1,000 feet high. (Note: If you do this walk, you will get wet, so be sure to wear shoes with good tread and toe protection that you don’t mind getting soaked.)
Following this inaugural trek, settle in at our home for the next two nights, Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens, featuring five acres of botanical gardens framed by Zion’s towering cliffs. You’ll welcome the chance to relax in the steaming hot tub or take a dip in the swimming pool. Tonight we head to nearby Springdale for dinner at the Switchback Grille, where traditional steak and seafood dishes are peppered with French and Italian influences.
Lodging: Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens
Scout Lookout Hike 4 Miles (1,000-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Angels Landing 5 Miles (1,500-foot elevation gain)
or Observation Point Hike 8.2 Miles (2,200-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: Echo Canyon 4.2 Miles (950-foot elevation gain)
or Emerald Pools Hike 2 Miles (500-foot elevation gain)
The best way to discover Zion Canyon is by hiking its extensive network of trails, which reveal views that are hidden from the road. A park classic, the Scout Lookout hike begins with a precipitous climb above the river to Refrigerator Canyon. Then a challenging ascent up Walter’s Wiggles, a series of switchbacks carved into the cliff, leads you to Scout Lookout. From here you can continue (if heights don’t bother you) to Angels Landing, a sheer wedge of rock looming 1,500 feet above the valley. The last half-mile of trail to the landing runs along a steep narrow ridge with a dizzying drop-off on either side. Chains bolted into the rock steady you on your ascent. The vista from the landing is a 360-degree panorama of soaring rock faces and the yawning abyss of Zion Canyon.
Another surefire way to get the blood pumping is the hike to Observation Point, which dishes out over 2,000 feet of vertical gain along with spectacular views of Zion’s backcountry. A less strenuous option is the shaded trail to Emerald Pools, a natural spring with small cascades during parts of the year.
You’re on your own tonight to dine at one of Springdale’s charming restaurants.
Lodging: Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens
Zion Canyon Biking Route 18 Miles (500-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to Grand Canyon National Park 4 Hours
Transept Trail Walk 1.5 Miles (50-foot elevation gain)
After breakfast your leaders fit your bike and give a brief talk on biking techniques and safety. Then you’re off and pedaling along traffic-free Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. You’ll follow the contours of the Virgin River amid walls of sheer Navajo sandstone rising 2,000 feet from the canyon floor. The ride is quiet, serene and absolutely breathtaking.
Now that we’ve gotten to know Zion, we shuttle to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon, stopping for lunch along the way. Crossing into Arizona, you’ll see the Kaibab Plateau rising ahead. We ascend several thousand feet onto the plateau before the highway dead-ends dramatically at the North Rim. Over six million years ago the Colorado River started carving this vast gorge, eventually exposing rocks that are more than two billion years old. The canyon stretches 277 miles and ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles. Just 10 miles from the South Rim as the bird flies, the North Rim seems a world away. Because it is less developed and more remote (a 220-mile drive from the South Rim), the North Rim receives fewer visitors, allowing us to explore in peace.
Our adventures here begin with a short hike to the historic Grand Canyon Lodge–North Rim. From its perch at the very edge of the Grand Canyon, the lodge offers unrivaled views of this magnificent natural wonder. Tonight we dine at the lodge’s restaurant while enjoying a stunning sunset.
Lodging: Grand Canyon Lodge–North Rim
Optional Kaibab Trail Hike 2–9 Miles (500–1,500-foot elevation gain)
Optional Widforss Trail Hike 5–10.4 Miles (100–500-foot elevation gain)
Optional Scenic Shuttle & Cape Royal Walk 2½ Hours
Optional Cape Royal Biking Route 44 Miles (3,000-foot elevation gain)
Shorter Option: Point Imperial 22 Miles (1,800-foot elevation gain)
The day is yours to choose from a multitude of activities (or in-activities!) at Grand Canyon National Park. You can hike the Kaibab Trail on an out-and-back route that takes you up to two miles into the depths of the canyon. If you’re looking for a more relaxed walk, follow the secluded Widforss Trail as far as you wish. Arguably the park’s best plateau hike, it offers forested views and wide-open vistas extending across the canyon to the majestic San Francisco Peaks that tower above the South Rim. This trail also features excellent interpretive markers. (Please note that due to park regulations, Backroads leaders are not allowed to give guided hikes; if you choose to hike, you will be on your own.)
Interested in something other than hiking today? Join your Trip Leaders on a winding picturesque drive to Cape Royal for a whole new look at the canyon. Stretch your legs on a short walk offering superb views of the Colorado River as it slices through the belly of the earth. If you’re itching to bike, spin to Cape Royal or Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim. (Your Backroads leaders won’t be able to support you on this ride due to park regulations.) For more fun in the saddle, consider a traditional mule ride along the canyon rim (not included in the trip price, and reservations should be made in advance). Of course you’re also welcome to take it easy today—go for a short stroll or relax with a book in the Sun Room or on the balcony overlooking the canyon. We’ll swap stories tonight over dinner at the lodge.
Lodging: Grand Canyon Lodge–North Rim
Shuttle to Bryce Canyon National Park 2½ Hours
Queen’s Garden/ Navajo Loop Hike 3.4 Miles (500-foot elevation gain)
Longer Option: Peek-a-Boo Loop 7 Miles (800-foot elevation gain)
Bid farewell to the Grand Canyon as we make our way to Bryce Canyon National Park. Descending from the Kaibab Plateau, behold the sweeping vista of the Grand Staircase as it climbs north. On a clear day you can see for more than 100 miles; the earth literally rises up in a series of dramatic steps formed over millions of years by powerful geological forces. After stopping for a picnic lunch, we return to higher elevations and the desert landscape gives way to the green meadows of the Sevier River Valley. As we drive through Red Canyon, you’ll get a preview of Bryce Canyon’s unique rock formations.
Our afternoon hike offers a great introduction to the park as well as spectacular views and a look at some of Bryce’s most famous hoodoos. The park’s namesake, Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce, deemed this stunning region ―a hell of a place to lose a cow.‖ Take one look at the amphitheater’s maze of spires, hoodoos, windows, walls and pinnacles, and you’ll know exactly what he meant. Trek into the canyon, where whimsically shaped rock formations huddle beneath the watchful gaze of the Queen Victoria hoodoo. You’ll feel at times as if you’re walking through a petrified forest—or even on another planet. Bristlecone pines, some of the oldest living organisms on earth, thrive in this barren environment; keep on the lookout for a ridge covered with these ancient trees.
From Queen’s Garden, join the Navajo Loop Trail and walk through Wall Street, an impressive slot canyon with overhanging walls that are only ten feet apart in some places. Prepare for a steep climb up to the rim at Sunset Point, or take a detour on Peek-a-Boo Loop, a fairly strenuous trail with plenty of ups and downs as well as views of Fairy Castle, the Alligator, the Silent City and the Wall of Windows.
We spend tonight at rustic Bryce Canyon Lodge, located in a lush pine forest a short walk from the canyon rim. After our farewell dinner, a starlight stroll may be the perfect way to cap off your evening.
Lodging: Bryce Canyon Lodge
Red Canyon Biking Route 19 Miles (500-feet elevation gain)
Longer Option: Long Valley 29 Miles (800-foot elevation gain)
Shuttle to St. George 3 Hours
After breakfast hop on your bike and begin the long breezy descent through Red Canyon. You have one last opportunity to appreciate Bryce Canyon’s sculptures as you cruise along a quiet bike path surrounded by red-rock cliffs and hoodoos. Afterward we shuttle to Cedar City for a farewell picnic lunch, then continue on to St. George, where our trip ends.
About The Operator:
Every Backroads vacation is a one-of-a-kind adventure, where serendipity is supported - often invisibly - by a well choreographed backstage effort. After 30 years of practice, we've perfected the craft of creating and delivering world-class experiences and service, both hallmarks of a carefree Backroads vacation.
We ease your trip preparation with little extras, from a recommended packing list to lodging suggestions for before and after your trip. During your vacation, we make sure your luggage is waiting in your room, you have a cool drink or a lift when you desire them, and travel logistics are handled so you can focus on fun and relaxation.
Anticipating and responding to your needs - that is our commitment!Worldwide Presence
The Best Routes
All Backroads itineraries have been carefully researched by our team of 23 Trip Specialists and 9 Regional Managers to ensure you experience the very best way to explore the region. And before your trip, the routes are once again tested by our Trip Leaders-each and every season.
Seven Days of Service
Your Backroads Trip Consultants are available 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, to answer your questions.
We've designed our trips with plenty of options that let you personalize each day and make the most of your vacation. And on each day of the trip (or the night before if you're heading out early), you'll receive a Daily Snapshot that gives you all of the important information you need so that you have control of your precious time.
Bikes & Accessories
All Biking and Multisport Trips include use of a fully equipped, custom-designed Backroads Titanium bike. Choose either upright or drop handlebars. Backroads is also unique among travel companies in manufacturing our own line of custom-designed kids' bikes. For the younger ones we offer the Burley d'Lite trailer and Burley Piccolo trailercycle.
A Choice of Lodging
We're the only company that distinguishes between Premiere Inns and Casual Inns, making it easy for you to choose a trip that suits your personal style. We provide an honest assessment of each hotel giving you an assurance of quality you can trust.
Backroads has been taking responsible travel seriously since our first trip over 30 years ago. While traveling on two feet or two wheels is the ultimate minimal-impact approach to traveling, we recognize that any travel has an impact and so we do everything we can to make the impact as light and as positive as possible.
When you're out exploring, you may welcome some time to yourself, but when needed, we are there. We pioneered on-trip vehicle support and we continue to perfect it. Read more about On-Trip Support.
Local experts team up with your Backroads leaders, offering firsthand perspectives to enhance your overall experience. From explorations of historic and cultural sites, to culinary adventures showcasing traditional cuisine, to visits with special friends we've made over the years, we take you into the heart of a region with an immediacy and authenticity you'll never forget.
One of the biggest benefits of traveling with Backroads is the wonderful folks you travel with-adventurers who appreciate the Backroads level of quality, pursue new experiences with a passion and take their fun as seriously as they take their work. "People less interested in impressing each other than in having a good time," is how Departures magazine captured the spirit of our guests. Join us-and travel in terrific company.
Nobody knows families like Backroads. From our designated Kid Coordinators to extra vehicle support to custom-designed kids' bikes (a Backroads exclusive), we've considered all angles important to families. Each family trip balances quality time together and apart, with welcome opportunities for everyone to take a break and recharge-something that's virtually impossible to achieve when you vacation on your own.
Your Trip is Guaranteed
At Backroads we're so committed to providing you with an extraordinary experience that we guarantee the quality of your trip. We value our relationship with you, our guest, and want it to be mutually rewarding and long-term.
Our Leaders Make the Trip
You'll find Backroads Trip Leaders to be the best you've ever traveled with. That's not an idle claim-it's backed by the most rigorous recruiting, hiring, training and guest satisfaction programs in the business. View the full scoop on our leaders and why you'll love them.