Arizona & Utah holiday highlights

Please note that USA national parks require passes and these are not included. If you are planning to visit four or more national parks or recreation areas it may be worth purchasing an annual pass. We recommend pre-booking online at www.nps.gov/fees for a charge of around $80 per vehicle. Passes can also be obtained at the park.

It is standard practice for resorts/hotels within the USA to charge a mandatory resort fee which is payable locally. This fee can be anywhere between 5USD to 40 USD per room per night and is not included in the cost of your Kuoni holiday.

Arizona
In the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Arizona’s capital Phoenix offers vibrant city entertainment and leisure activities it’s the gateway for many desert adventures. Once described as ‘a desert version of Miami’s South Beach’, Scottsdale boasts a ‘Wild West’ style old town, a fashionable nightlife scene, upmarket shopping, galleries, spas and golf courses. Situated at a crossroads on a historic trade route, the city of Tucson has a mix of European, Native America, Mexican and Asian cultures. The cacti-scattered Saguaro National Park is located nearby.

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the whole of the United States and it is not hard to see why. Expansive views encompass almost two billion years of geology exposed by the Colorado River, the wind and the rain. The national park itself consists of the South and North Rims while the West Rim, with its glass-floored Skywalk, is the nearest part of the canyon for visitors from Las Vegas and is part of the sacred lands of the Hualapai Indian Reservation.

A popular spot on the Colorado River on the Utah-Arizona state line, man-made Lake Powell was created by the flooding of Glen Canyon following the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam. A haven for swimming, boating, waterskiing and fishing, it also hosts incredible red rock landscapes the waving walls of Antelope Canyon and the majestic Rainbow Bridge – the world’s largest natural arch. Just to the west of the city of Page, downstream from the dam is Horseshoe Bend, a natural meander of the Colorado River.

Monument Valley
Welcome to the Wild West, just as you are likely to have imagined it. Straddling the Arizona-Utah state line in the lands of the Navajo Indians, this awe-inspiring landscape consists of red-rock mesas and buttes rising up out of the desert floor. The back-drop of many Western films, the landscape is instantly recognisable. From the visitors centre, we highly recommend you head down into the valley floor with a Navajo guide to discover traditions and cultures and witness the valley’s most iconic natural landmarks.

Utah
The first of Utah’s five national parks, Zion National Park is a wonderland of dramatic sandstone cliffs and rock towers and other unique rock formations. On entering the park, particularly from the west, the view you are greeted with is truly spectacular – an other-worldly landscape of wave-like rocks. There are plenty of unique hiking trails to take here, such as the Narrows – walking between the walls of the canyon in waters of the Virgin River – and Angel’s Landing an uphill hike which is not for the faint hearted!

You may be forgiven for doubting that the landscapes of Bryce Canyon are of this planet. Millions of years of freeze-thaw cycles have created a series of ‘amphitheatres’ where hoodoos – delicately carved pillars of eroded rock – line the walls and floor. Hike or drive along the rim or even walk down into the canyon itself amongst the hoodoos which tower above you. Far from any source of light pollution, the park is a prime stargazing spot and there are even Night Sky Programs, run by park rangers, to join throughout the year.

To the north of the Utah city of Moab is the incredible Arches National Park, home to approximately 2000 natural stone arches as well as balanced rocks, and fiery-red sandstone fins. Highlights of the park include the iconic Delicate Arch which is reached by a three mile round hike over slick rock; and Landscape Arch which is the longest arch in the park and sits in the Devil’s Garden section of the park. For a truly unique experience join a tour into the Fiery Furnace – a labyrinth of sandstone fins (bookable in advance through the NPS website).

The lesser visited of Moab’s two nearby national parks is the vast expanse of Canyonlands, where you will find numerous canyons, buttes and mesas as well as both the Green and confluence of Colorade Rivers. Split into four sections, which at the most are a six hours’ drive from one another, it is hard to experience the whole park in just one trip. The Island in the Sky is the most popular section which provides many lookout points over the canyons as well as the famous Mesa Arch – plan to be here for a wondrous sunrise if you can.

An intriguing city with a spectacular backdrop, Salt Lake City is the state capital of Utah. Perhaps most famous as the centre of The Church of the Latter Day Saints (a visit to the Salt Lake Temple is a unique cultural experience), the city is also a great start or midway point on an epic western road trip. It’s a great base from which to enjoy winter sports in the surrounding mountains. To the north of the city is the Great Salt Lake, the remainder of the pre-historic Lake Bonneville and the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere.

Arizona & Utah key facts

Currency

US Dollar ($)

Language

English is the official language, although many other languages are widely spoken in certain cities and communities. America has its own written US English spellings.

Passport & visas

•  Brits must have a full 10-year British Passport that's valid for six months after you return to the UK.
•  You will also need a USA visa or waiver form/ESTA. Apply for your ESTA at least 72 hours before travelling (http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov).

Voltage & electricity

The domestic electrical supply is 110V, 60 cycles AC. Sockets are for plugs with two flat pins.

Arizona & Utah good to know

Tipping

Tipping is an established and accepted custom in America. For good service, waiters and taxi drivers expect 15-20%, and counter and bar staff 10-15%. Porters can expect from $3-$5 per case, while tour guides can be given the equivalent of £2-£3 per day.

Public holidays

• 1 January: New Year's Day

• Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

• Third Monday in February: Presidents Day

• Last Monday in May: Memorial Day

• 4 July: Independence Day

• First Monday in September: Labor Day

• Second Monday in October: Columbus Day

• 11 November: Veterans Day

• Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving Day

• 25 December: Christmas Day