NATIONAL PARKS

SOUTHWEST

It’s just one word… Southwest. Yet it conjures up so much history, so many sights, sounds, flavors and emotions. This is the land that is sacred to many Native Americans. It’s Route 66 and roadside diners, Georgia O’Keefe, canyons, desert cactus, Tex-Mex cuisine, mountains and more mountains, the Colorado & Rio Grande rivers, vast vistas and so much more. It’s Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The American Southwest is where nature and adventure combine to form one great outdoor playground. And it doesn’t stop the thrills just because it’s nighttime. Look up and you’ll be treated to one of the best light shows on earth – the Milky Way as it’s meant to be experienced.

It’s all here waiting for you on your Southwest vacation. To be hiked, biked, photographed, rafted, kayaked, and climbed. After a day of sheer ear-to-ear grinning fun, you’ll still have time to slow down and soak in its grandeur and spirit. And of course to enjoy some of the amazing food, craft beers and boozy cocktails. We think the best trips are ones that take you just a touch out of your comfort zone but still pamper you at day’s end. We’ll help you to do just that on a private, custom Southwest vacation.

HIGHLIGHTS

MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK & DURANGO


MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK & DURANGO

Our local guides are keen to unveil the fascinating history of Mesa Verde National Park and the Old West ambience of Durango, Colorado. History-lovers are smitten with this chance for insight into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made this area their home for more than 700 years, between AD 600 and AD 1300. They built elaborate stone communities and sheltered alcoves in the canyon walls – today, evidence of their home base lives on in nearly 5,000 archaeological sites (including 600 cliff dwellings).

Not far away lies the old Colorado mining town of Durango – an enticing cache of Victorian-era saloons, charming bungalows and sleepy streets. Thanks to galleries, live music, organic and locavore dining and a myriad outdoor adventures, a Durango vacation is a comfortable blend of cool vibes and homey ambience.

WHAT WE REVEAL

Colorado and the Rocky Mountains represent the archetypal Old West vacation experience and we can help you experience it all, from the beautifully preserved ruins of Mesa Verde to the cowboy and cowgirl town of Durango. Your entrée is Denver, the gateway to the Rockies, where you’ll stroll through cultural institutions, including Lower Downtown, the city’s original settlement, and check out the city’s popular microbreweries. Move on to Great Sand Dunes National Park, where herds of bison and many bird species make themselves known. Durango brings with it the opportunity to drive through ghost mining settlements, to hike in the mountains and to raft on the Animas River. The highlight of your Mesa Verde National Park and Durango vacation is, obviously, the World Heritage Site itself, one of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites in the United States. You’ll privately tour the best cliff dwelling sites and gain a better understanding of the culture and daily life of the people who once called this their home.

COMBINE WITH
> Arches National Park
> Canyonlands National Park
> Moab

COLORADO SPRINGS & GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK


COLORADO SPRINGS & GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK

A combination Colorado Springs and Great Sand Dunes National Park vacation instills a newfound appreciation for our planet’s vast diversity. Colorado Springs was one of the United States’ first destination resorts and still attracts adventure seekers thanks to a pleasant climate and proximity to the majestic Pikes Peak. The pedestrian-friendly neighborhood of Manitou Springs lies just below the peak, while Old Colorado City, originally founded in 1860, maintains a Wild West feel.

Soaring mountains, fast-flowing creeks and what might appear at first to be a landscape from another planet – that’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. Set amidst grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes and tundra, the park boasts an incredible array of adventure, from hiking and sand sledding to splashing in the creek and communing with the local wildlife.

WHAT WE REVEAL
From the sandstone spires of the Garden of the Gods to the tallest sand dunes in North America, your Colorado Springs and Great Sand Dunes National Park vacation is the best way to experience the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. In Colorado Springs, get to know each neighborhood’s characteristics – from college town to New Age – then visit the excellent fine arts museum and the historic Air Force Academy. Horseback ride at Garden of the Gods and marvel at the approximately 290-million-year-old red sandstone formations.

Since there are no designated trails in the 30-square-mile expanse of Great Sand Dunes National Park, we’ll lead you on a private three-hour tour to make the most of dune hiking – and point out the tallest sand peak at 700 feet above the valley floor. Try your hand at sand sledding and sandboarding – we have all the tips for making this a safe and memorable experience. Splash in Medano Creek with the whole family. Take a walk on a boardwalk for bird watching and view resident bison herds at a nearby ranch.

COMBINE WITH
> Rocky Mountain National Park
> Denver
> Santa Fe & Taos

WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT


WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT

Though hundreds of miles from the closest ocean, your White Sands National Monument vacation may well feel like a beach holiday. Huge, wave-like dunes of white gypsum sand have taken over 275 square miles of desert, creating a massive dunefield and an irresistible playground for all ages. Skim down the dunes next to your kids. Learn about the unique plant and animal life found here. Capture amazing photos at sunrise or sunset in this otherworldly landscape.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Venture into the dunes for a special experience unlike most other national parks you’ll ever visit. White Sands National Monument has preserved a large portion of this unique gypsum dunefield and actively protects the flora and fauna that call this area home. Stop into the visitor center to learn more about the local geology and cultural history. Unleash your inner kid and use a skimboard to slide down the dunes. Hike the Alkali Flat backcountry trail through the heart of the dunes or stick to the simpler mile-long-loop nature trail. Meander along eight-mile Dunes Drive, stopping to wiggle your toes in the snow-white sand and savor the silence and solitude of the dunefield. Nestled between the Sacramento and San Andres Mountain ranges of southern New Mexico, your White Sands National Monument vacation is a closer look at some of the spectacular and varied landscapes with which our country is blessed.

COMBINE WITH
> Big Bend National Park
> Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe National Park
> Santa Fe & Taos

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK


BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK

A Big Bend National Park vacation packs a lot of punch, with more diversity than most parks and bursting with flora, fauna, wildlife and heart-pounding adventures. Birdwatchers are in paradise with more species seen here than in any other national park, and even a few rare felines – think ocelots, jaguarundis and jaguars. And that’s in addition to the resident white-tailed deer and black bears who call the park’s canyons, rivers and mountains their home. A huge bend in the Rio Grande is the park’s namesake and creates the entire southern border of the park.

WHAT WE REVEAL
As curators of your Big Bend National Park vacation, we’ll introduce you to the countless canyons that have been created by the mighty Rio Grande, including Santa Elena Canyon at 1,600 feet deep, Mariscal Canyon and Boquillas Canyon. Soak in the natural Langford Hot Springs. Try your hand at skeet shooting and horseback riding on an authentic ranch. Fly over the park with a pilot who used to be a park ranger at Big Bend. Take a private tour to Shafter Ghost Town and Presidio and drive along one of the country’s most scenic routes, Rio Grande Road along the river. Tour Marfa with an insider and learn about its artistic roots and the mysterious Marfa Lights phenomenon. The park lies in one of the United States’ least densely populated counties, allowing one to capture that often fleeting sense of stillness and solitude in today’s frenetically paced world.

COMBINE WITH
> Austin & Texas Hill Country
> Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe National Park
> Marfa

AUSTIN & TEXAS HILL COUNTRY


AUSTIN & TEXAS HILL COUNTRY

With the energy of a much larger city, but still true to its small-town roots, funky, friendly Austin is a music lover’s mecca. Of course, there’s more to your Austin and Texas Hill Country vacation than just great music – think gourmet meals, world-class golf and outdoor adventures sure to complement your inner cowboy (or girl). Fully deserving of its moniker of “Live Music Capital of the World,” you’re likely to spend an evening taking in a live performance at one of the many clubs or eateries – everything from country to blues, rock to jazz. Follow it up with a tasty barbecue or soul food snack from one of the ubiquitous food trucks and you have a classic night out on the town in Austin.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Headlining your Austin and Texas Hill Country vacation is, of course, a world-famous live music scene. Visit key heritage neighborhoods and musical sites, including 6th Street, the epicenter of today’s nightlife scene, and the historic Scholtz Biergarten. Wander the music venues and eclectic shops of South Congress Avenue – or “SoCo” – then delve into the city’s history at the State Capitol and Texas History Museum. Kayak in or hike around Lady Bird Lake (part of the Colorado River) or take a dip in the local favorite, Barton Springs Pool. Texas Hill Country lays out the red – or more likely, green – carpet for you in the form of championship golf courses and renowned golf academies. Stroll through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Centre and continue on to Stonewall, where you’ll see the “Texas White House” and hear tales of one of the state’s favorite sons, Lyndon Baines Johnson. In the midst of all that verdant beauty, Fredericksburg awaits, with the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, and not-to-be-missed fresh ales and lagers brewed on-site in copper kettles at the Fredericksburg Brewing Company. There’s a congenial and communal ambience to Austin and the Texas Hill Country that we promise you’ll find endlessly beguiling.

COMBINE WITH
> Big Bend National Park
> Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe National Park
> Marfa

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK


ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Alpinists and weekend warrior hikers agree – Rocky Mountain National Park is a force to be reckoned with. There are 78 mountains taller than 12,000 feet within the park, and even the valleys are 8,000 feet above sea level. And yet, they remain some of the most often tackled and accessible peaks in the world. Take advantage of a rare opportunity within the continental United States to see tundra landscape and look up to glimpse many unusual birds, from the blue grouse and Clark’s nutcracker to the three-toed woodpecker and Wilson’s warbler. Keep your eyes on land and you’ll see bobcats, black bears, moose, beavers, wolverines, river otters, yellow-bellied marmots and so many more wildlife residents.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Making the sometimes-overwhelming Rocky Mountains well within anyone’s reach, we will help you experience the park on your terms. Our local, private guides know the park like the back of their hand and can take you to lesser-known sights as well as the most popular spots. Head out on a mountain wildlife safari, putting you up close and personal with elk, moose, marmots, pikas and perhaps even coyotes and big horn sheep. Venture into the streams and lakes of the park with a private guide for an afternoon of fly fishing. And no Rocky Mountain National Park vacation is complete without a visit to beautiful Dream Lake – along the way, you’ll glimpse Long’s Peak and Bear lake, meadows of alpine wildflowers and even a snowshoe hare or two, if you’re lucky. Ride on horseback at a local ranch and tuck into a hearty western-style BBQ as you drink in the spectacular Rocky Mountain beauty surrounding you.

COMBINE WITH
> Aspen, Vail & Snowmass
> Denver
> Grand Junction & Western Colorado

CARLSBAD CAVERNS & GUADALUPE NATIONAL PARK


CARLSBAD CAVERNS & GUADALUPE NATIONAL PARK

With 119 caves (and those are just the ones known to researchers at this time), Carlsbad Caverns is a national treasure, where you’ll venture more than a mile underground and visit subterranean rooms as big as 11 football fields. Not far away, Texas holds yet another prize: Guadalupe Mountains National Park with some of the state’s finest fall foliage and its highest mountain, Guadalupe Peak, at 8,749 feet. It’s a deliberately wild park – no restaurants, indoor accommodations or even paved roads. A Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park vacation is just the way to get back to nature – and break in those new hiking boots.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Your Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park vacation is a look at the wild and subterranean marvels of Texas and New Mexico – and they are well worth the long drives to get there. After a stop in mysterious Roswell, continue on to Carlsbad Caverns for a look at what happens when sulfuric acid dissolves the surrounding limestone. Your personal guide will lead you into the earth (either take an elevator the height of the Empire State Building or walk down, down, down from the cave mouth for more than a mile). Here, the Big Room (1,800 feet long) is home to the popular Bottomless Pit and the world’s largest stalagmite. There’s a Mexican free-tailed bat colony to meet – they roost here from mid-May to mid-October, fluttering en masse from the cave at sunset. The night sky is celebrated daily with star parties, complete with telescopes and stories about the region’s nocturnal creatures, cultural folklore and astronomy. Moving to the wilds of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we’ll introduce you to hikes of every level and length, from easy nature walks through desert flora to all-day treks that take you to the “Top of Texas.” Birdwatchers are smitten with Frijole Ranch, where you’ll spot Say’s phoebes, western scrub jays, white-winged doves, northern mockingbirds and canyon towhees. Smith Spring, with its cascading waterfall and lush riparian forest, is home to red-naped sapsuckers, Lewis’ woodpeckers and more. Rest assured, as remote and unfettered as these parks are, we’ll help you find all the can’t-miss sights.

COMBINE WITH
> Big Bend National Park
> Santa Fe & Taos
> White Sands National Monument

DENVER


DENVER

Equal parts cowboy and cosmopolitan, a Denver vacation is for outdoor adventurers, art lovers, foodies, music fans and more. Radiating from its urban core, distinct neighborhoods entice visitors with noteworthy restaurants, hipster bars and renowned theater and museums. From the Lower Highlands to the Golden Triangle, we’ll have you feeling like a local in no time. It’s hard not to fall in love with a city that boasts every urban convenience with easy access to some of the country’s most beloved mountain country. The Rocky Mountains are only a short drive away and chockfull of remarkable hiking, biking and skiing opportunities.

WHAT WE REVEAL
A Denver vacation is the perfect primer to a Rocky Mountain exploration, a pleasing blend of cultural and recreational highlights. Your local guide will engross you in the capital city’s history and vibrant neighborhoods, as you tour Capitol Hill’s historic mansions and thriving urban center. You’ll get an inside peek at Lower Downtown, Denver’s original city settlement, where, if you’re a fan of craft beers, you’re in luck. Share a pint with your guide at one of the city’s many popular microbreweries. Art lovers won’t want to miss the Denver Art Museum, comprised of two architecturally stunning buildings – the fortress-like structure by Italian architect Gio Ponti, and the crystal-esque edifice by Daniel Libeskind. Stroll the 16th Street Mall, open to pedestrians and home to inviting cafés and boutiques. Boulder is a short drive away and has been coined the “happiest” city in America. How can you pass that up? Nearly 200 miles of trails, street performances on the Pearl Street Mall and towering Eldorado Canyon State Park are among its many charms. Have a full day? We’ll whisk you to Rocky Mountain National Park, just 71 miles west of Denver, and the state’s top attraction with 350 miles of trails, thundering waterfalls, snowcapped peaks and resident elk and big horn sheep.

COMBINE WITH
> Colorado Springs & Great Sand Dunes National Park
> Aspen, Vail & Snowmass
> Rocky Mountain National Park

MARFA


MARFA

Given that it’s half a day’s drive from nearly any major US city, a Marfa vacation is a commitment – and a worthy one, at that. A haven for creative spirits, the city is a wonderful addition to a Big Bend National Park trip and the unique chance to experience one of the last American frontiers. Here, nearly 5,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, the Marfa Plateau is home to the mysterious Marfa lights, one of the world’s largest installations of minimalist art, plus quirky lodging and dining. It’s a place to make art, or live it, write your novel, or just sit back and read one.

WHAT WE REVEAL
As an extension to a Big Bend National Park exploration, or as a stand-alone, art-infused adventure, your Marfa vacation can include a private, guided, half-day tour of this breathtaking West Texas town. We’ll help you uncover the creative genius that infuses every inch of Marfa. Since there is no “gallery district,” it’s essential to have a local expert show you the way so as not to miss one of the many internationally recognized artworks. Walk the grounds of a former military base, a museum unto itself. Wander into museums dedicated to traditional Western art and mythology. Most of the tiny galleries here, dotted throughout the landscape, are “by appointment only,” so we’ll help you make the necessary connections, leading to what will undoubtedly be one of the most personal and insightful art tours you’ll ever experience. Think outside the box in Marfa – where the art may be described as minimalist, yet is anything but, and may very well come in the form of a performance about making the perfect tortilla. It’s sure to get you thinking.

COMBINE WITH
> Big Bend National Park
> Austin & Texas Hill Country
> Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe National Park

SANTA FE & TAOS


SANTA FE & TAOS

Santa Fe – “The City Different” – beckons with its artsy vibe and world-class installations ranging from ancient traditional art to the most contemporary. In fact, this is one of the largest and most important art markets in the country. More than just the sum of its (many) museums and galleries, the city offers ample outdoor recreation as well and is a popular jumping-off point for hiking and biking in the Sangre de Cristo range. Nearby, Taos brims with a delightful bohemian character, and boasts a reputation as an art colony, a world-class ski resort and an ancient community. Taos Pueblo, both a World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark is one of the country’s oldest continuously inhabited communities. Reconnect with and reenergize your creativity on a Santa Fe and Taos vacation.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Our local guides are excited to share with you the magic, exuberance and artistic flair of Santa Fe, from the traditions of the region’s early Native Americans to its remarkable churches and unique flavors at world-class restaurants. A private guide will show you around colorful markets and into more museums and galleries than you thought possible in a single visit. Moving on to Taos, marvel at traditional adobe architecture and savor Native recipes during an exclusive luncheon. Tour the Puye Cliffs and learn about the history of the people who once inhabited these pueblo villages. A dramatic landscape serves as a reminder of the ruggedness and remoteness of the Land of Enchantment, where snowcapped mountains reach more than 12,000 feet skyward and a vast plateau drops 800 feet into the Rio Grande Gorge. A Santa Fe and Taos vacation is relaxed, quirky in the best possible way and just different enough to take you worlds away from the every day.

COMBINE WITH
> Mesa Verde National Park & Durango
> Colorado Springs & Great Sand Dunes National Park
> White Sands National Monument

GRAND JUNCTION & WESTERN COLORADO


GRAND JUNCTION & WESTERN COLORADO

Discover the small-town feel and cowboy influence of Grand Junction, a pleasant western Colorado destination near two major rivers (as one might expect, given the city’s name). To the south, the beautiful Grand Mesa. To the north, the soaring Book Cliffs. This is the place for outdoor adventure, whether you’re hoping to catch a rodeo, go horseback riding, raft down a rushing river or take to the mountain bike trails. At day’s end, return to the sweet pedestrian downtown for boutique shopping, art-browsing and wine tastings.

WHAT WE REVEAL
Arrive at the confluence of the mighty Colorado and Gunnison rivers and be met by our Grand Junction and Western Colorado vacation guides who have scoured the region for the best off-the-beaten-path experiences and are ready to take you on an adventure. Drive to nearby Gateway Canyon. Tour the Colorado National Monument and marvel at its deep sandstone canyons and red-tailed hawks gliding above. Remember, you’re in dino country – the Dinosaur Journey Museum will unveil the story of western Colorado’s prehistoric residents with real fossils, cast skeletons and robotic reconstructions. Join ranch hands on a cattle drive or take a roping lesson. Horseback ride through McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Preserve. Hike for hours through red rock formations and the many state and national parks nearby. A Grand Junction and Western Colorado vacation is a fantastic jumping-off point for exploring the nature’s playground that is Colorado.

COMBINE WITH
> Moab
> Aspen, Vail & Snowmass
> Mesa Verde National Park & Durango

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