Albuquerque Balloon Festival and the National Parks

Departure Date: Thursday, September 27       Return Date: Monday, October 8, 2018

Tour Length: 12 Days/11 Nights (M)

The perfect blend of beauty of the Balloon Fiesta and the amazing National Parks of the Southwestern United States. Float down the Colorado River; take a scenic cruise on the sky-blue waters of Lake Powell and stare in awe as over 600 specially shaped balloons fill up the bright Albuquerque sky!

Day One: Arrive in Utah

Arrive in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Join your tour manager and traveling companions at your hotel for a 6:00 pm welcome dinner.

Day Two: Salt Lake City and Dead Horse Point State Park

Meet your local guide, explore Salt Lake City’s historic Temple Square and walk in the footsteps of the Mormon settlers who founded this city more than 150 years ago.  Then, venture into Dead Horse Point State Park with its amazing views of the Colorado River, as it snakes its way through the massive sandstone walls, colorful canyons, mesas and buttes of the area.  Enjoy lunch on your own before you head out to Moab, Utah your home for the next two nights.  Relax and enjoy dinner on your own at the hotel.

Day Three: Arches National Park and Colorado River Float Trip

Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before exploring Moab, Utah.  Arches National Park contains the largest concentration of stone arches in the world.  Your local guide shows you the massive sandstone arches and describes the culture of those that have occupied the region. Enjoy a picnic lunch before boarding a raft for a float trip on the Colorado River.  During the leisurely ride, your oarsman will tell tales of the area, as you explore river passages with names like Fisher Towers and Professor Valley.  Dinner is on your own this evening.

Day Four: Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Enjoy breakfast in the hotel, before a morning scenic drive brings you to the impressive Capitol Reef National Park, where white sandstone “domes” cap massive reef-like cliffs.  Then, travel along Utah’s incredible Highway 12 Scenic Byway as you wind your way through spectacular Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument.   Enjoy lunch and dinner on your own.

Day Five: Bryce Canyon National Park

After breakfast in the hotel, join your local guide at the famed “Pink Cliffs” of Bryce Canyon National Park.  The natural orange and red hues that color these formations called Hoodoos, are the result of iron oxidizing within the rock.  Bryce Canyon National Park, is truly one of the most spectacular scenic wonders in the world.  Join your co-travelers for dinner this evening.

Day Six: Zion National Park

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the awe-inspiring Zion National Park, where the Virgin River has cut a dramatic, rugged, gorge through multi-hued sandstone, shale and limestone.  Look up at the towering rock walls, surrounding you on all sides as you tour this incredible natural wonder aboard open-air sightseeing trams. Have lunch and dinner on your own in one of the many local eateries.

Day Seven: Lake Powell Cruise

After breakfast in the hotel, travel along Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Arrive in Page, Arizona and embark on an Antelope Canyon cruise on sky-blue Lake Powell.  Dinner this evening will be in the Rainbow Room at the Lake Powell Resort. 

Day Eight: Grand Canyon South Rim

Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before boarding the motorcoach as we head to the Grand Canyon.  Entering through the east gate, we arrive at the Grand Canyon National Park’s amazing south rim.  World-renowned for its remarkable beauty and diverse range of rock layers, the Grand Canyon offers visitors an unmatched display of scenic wonders and breathtaking views.  Enjoy lunch and dinner on your own today.

Day Nine: Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert

After breakfast, we travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Along the way we drive through one of the world’s largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood at Petrified Forest National Park.  We also see the multi-hued badlands of the Painted Desert, in this surprising land of scenic wonders and fascinating science. Stop for a comfort stop and lunch on your own.  Join your co- travelers for dinner this evening.

national parks of the southwest 01Day Ten: Indian Pueblos Cultural Center and Evening Balloon Glow

After breakfast, board your motor coach and travel to The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Designed to preserve and perpetuate Pueblo culture and features original artwork, exhibits and theater presenting the accomplishments of the people of New Mexico.

Later, we meet our local guide for a tour of Albuquerque, to learn about the history of the area.  Just before dusk, the burners of nearly 500 balloons are ignited and the evening sky fills with a kaleidoscope of brilliant, luminous color at the Balloon Glow, followed by a vivid fireworks display.  Enjoy lunch and dinner on your own today.

Day Eleven: Balloon Mass Ascension and Sandia Peak

Rise early for breakfast in the hotel before we depart for the Fiesta Grounds and the Opening Ceremonies of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  Founded in 1972, the Fiesta began with 13 balloons and has grown to more than 600 balloons from all over the world.  View the “mass ascension” of these specially shaped balloons as they lift off at sunrise.

Later, take a thrilling ride aboard the world’s longest passenger aerial tramway, the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway.  You will be transported above the deep canyons and breathtaking terrains for an incredible view of the Rio Grande Valley. Tonight enjoy a farewell dinner atop Sandia Peak at Sandiago’s Restaurant in the Cibola National Forest.

Day Twelve: Depart for Home

After breakfast, transfer to Albuquerque’s Sunport Airport for flights home after 12:00 pm.


Departure Date: Thursday, September 27       Return Date: Monday, October 8, 2018

Tour Length: 12 Days/11 Nights (M)

Your Package Includes:

  • 11 Nights accommodation
  • 10 Breakfasts
  • 1 Picnic Lunch, along the Colorado River
  • 4 Dinners
  • Guided tour of Salt Lake City, led by a local guide, including Temple Square
  • Admission to Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Guided tour of Archers National Park, led by a local guide
  • Scenic rafting trip down the Colorado River
  • Travel through Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument
  • Visit the Capitol Reef National Park
  • “Pink Cliffs” Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Narrated tour of Zion National Park
  • Antelope Canyon cruise on Lake Powell
  • Time to explore the Grand Canyon’s south rim
  • Drive through the Petrified Forest National Park
  • Witness the Painted Desert
  • Opening ceremonies and moon glow at the Balloon Fiesta
  • Fireworks display
  • Witness the “Mass Ascension” of the balloons into the Albuquerque sky
  • Time to explore the Pueblo Cultural Center
  • Scenic ride on the Sandia Park Aerial Tram
  • Fully Escorted
  • Airport transfers
  • Motor coach transportation
  • Taxes and Gratuities (Note: Gratuities for full-time escort, local guide’s and coach driver are not included and are at your discretion based on service.)

Pricing Information:

  • Per person double occupancy: 3,389.00

Note: Above price does not include air transportation. Notch Above Tours will gladly arrange airfare as well as pre and post night stays upon request. 

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