“A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the ability to remind us—like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness—that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours.” Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
Celebrate the 101th anniversary of the National Park service by exploring 3 national parks, 1 state park, and 1 national monument—all in one epic expedition.
Join us on our new Southwest Unbound tour and discover the geological wonders of the American Southwest. We have crafted a multi-sport adventure that takes a more “experiential learning” take on visiting some of America’s most prized nature sanctuaries. Hike along monoliths of red rock. Discover the thrill of canyoneering and the whimsical feel of wading through a river that courses along desert slot canyons. Revel in the solitude of camping in unbounded wilderness where city lights can’t dim the stars. On our tour through the national parks, you don’t just look at nature, you interact with it.
Our Southwest Unbound itinerary creates a National Park experience unique to National Parks Unbound. Our small groups may visit some iconic attractions, but we also leave behind the crowds and visit remote locations less seen on roads less traveled.
We begin in hiking Zion National Park, a place too stunning—too awe-inspiring—to be home to us mere mortals. We also venture to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a crosshatch of canyons and colors waiting to be traveled. In Bryce Canyon National Park, rock formations become a fairyland that incites the imagination. And the view is always changing in the Grand Canyon as light and shadows vie to paint the rocks—giving new dimensions, new scenes, new moods to the hike-hungry landscape. Only with us can you climb to the Grand Canyon’s remote North Rim where few travelers find their way.
We also offer an incredible camping experience that doesn’t sacrifice comfort. After a day on the trails, you arrive at a prepared camp. Simply sit back and enjoy the encompassing view as our guides prepare culinary delights for you. You never knew camping could be so luxurious and stress-free.
Our Southwest Unbound offers endless colors. Endless adventures. Endless ways to disconnect from life’s stresses while you reconnect with nature—with yourself. The phrase “take a hike” has never been so tempting.
Note: The itinerary below is subject to change due to weather conditions and other similar variables. In such a case, activities will be adjusted to provide a similar experience. We are an authorized permittee of the National Park Service.
Note: The itinerary below is subject to change due to weather conditions and other similar variables. In such a case, activities will be adjusted to provide a similar experience.
Arrive in the stunning city of St. George at your own leisure. Direct flights are available to St. George from Denver as well as Salt Lake City, and a variety of shuttle rides are available to transfer guests from Las Vegas on a 2-hour shuttle drive. Settle into a hotel of your choosing once you arrive and explore the city that has lots to offer. St. George is the national park gateway, so it’s an ideal base camp for those hoping to hop between parks.
We have a brief orientation meeting planned at 7pm at the Wingate by Wyndham to prepare for tomorrow’s send-off.
Note: Accommodations for Day 0 and Day 6 are not included in the rate. However, we prefer that guests book directly with National Parks Unbound and have booked a block of rooms for Day 0 and Day 6 of the itinerary at the Wingate by Wyndham in St. George. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding accommodations for these days.
· Splashing your way through Zion’s Narrows
· Standing on the lofty perch of Angels Landing
· Hiking among a forest of hoodoos and sandstone spires in Bryce
· Exploring the Grand Canyon’s secluded North Rim
Day 1: After group introductions, travel from St. George to Zion. Introduction to Zion National Park. Hike the Narrows or Angels Landing before settling into Zion Unbound Camp.
Day 2: Explore Bryce Canyon National Park, with possible hikes on Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail.
Day 3: Visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Hike through the monument’s stunning slot canyons, venturing on Willis Creek Slot or Bull Valley Gorge trails.
Day 4: Explore Grand Canyon National Park’s remote North Rim. Hike Widforss Trail with a stop at Bright Angel Point overlook.
Day 5: Return to Zion National Park for a big-picture exploration day. Today’s options include the challenging Angels Landing and Observation Point or the more moderate Grotto and Emerald Pools trails. Final night at Zion Unbound Camp.
Monday: Zion National Park
We gather early at the Wyndham in St. George and meet our guides before we set off toward our first national park excursion. Get to know one another better and enjoy the passing views on the short drive from St. George to Zion National Park and its stunning cliff and canyon landscape. Once we arrive in Zion, we settle for a short safety briefing and then embark on one of Zion’s most iconic hikes: the Narrows.
Beginning at Temple of Sinawava, the Narrows truly is the perfect gateway into Zion’s natural beauty. Walk along a broad path overlaid with cottonwoods and flanked by canyon walls carpeted in lush green vegetation until we reach the mouth of the Narrows. We may be in a desert landscape of sandstone and pine, but the Narrows is a marine adventure found within slot canyons. The Virgin River meanders through the trail, ranging in depth from ankle length to your waist. We hike up the Narrows for about 1.5 miles, enjoying the chilled water and the high canyon walls flanking the path.
In the spring when runoff is high, the Narrows might be inaccessible. We’ll cross that river when we come to it, but if this is the case, we make our way to another of Zion’s most famous hikes known for it’s thrill rather than its chill: Angels Landing. This trail runs high rather than low, leading along a thin fin of rocks with sheer drop-offs on either side. The hike earns its angelic name with its stunning heavenward ascent, and the monolith offers one of Zion’s most dramatic viewpoints. We stop for a handcrafted picnic lunch on the trail and take time to explore before setting off once again.
As the afternoon draws to a close, we depart Zion and take a short drive to our Zion Unbound Camp—already set up by the team and waiting for us. Settle in, take a final short hike in the surrounding area, or relax with a cold drink while dinner is being prepared. After we enjoy a freshly cooked meal, gather around the campfire and enjoy the serenity of the outdoors.
Hiking Distance: 5 Miles Maximum Round Trip; River-Hiking
Activity Level: Moderate to Strenuous
TUESDAY: Bryce Canyon National Park
We wake early and enjoy a warm breakfast and some coffee at camp as we prepare for today’s excursions. Today takes us to Bryce Canyon National Park, lying a short drive away from our campsite. Bryce Canyon is known for its vast collection of hoodoos—the largest in the world. These fragile, spire-like geologic formations can appear rather uncanny when seen individually and unearthly when in en masse, giving them their hoodoo name as well as other common epithets such as “goblins” and “fairy chimneys.”
Once we reach the park, we set off on a hike through Bryce’s incredible terrain. We’ll make a trail decision based on our group before setting off on a hike such as Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail combo. This trail system takes you into the canyon on a gentle descent until you walk along the stone stumps of hoodoos, in the shadow of the hoodoos that tower over 400-feet high. The trail passes through tunnels carved through ridges, past well-known hoodoos such as Thor’s Hammer and England’s Queen Victoria. In terms of interesting rock formations, Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos definitely give Carlsbad Caverns a run for its money.
We also hike to overlooks such as Inspiration Point and Bryce Point that allow us to gaze at the main amphitheater where you can truly appreciate the sprawling fields of freestanding hoodoos that perforate the land like a forest of sunburned stone. We sit down for another picnic lunch on the trail, making sure we find great views for our stopover.
After a full day exploring the park’s incredible geology, we return to our Unbound Camp where cold drinks and a fresh dinner await you.
Hiking Distance: Navaho Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail—4.9 Miles Round Trip
Activity Level: Easy
WEDNESDAY: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Rise early to our signature wakeup call: coffee delivered to your tent. Enjoy a hearty breakfast prepared by our guides before loading up and heading toward the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Formed in 1996 and celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Grand Staircase is the newest national monument. That being said, its anything but new; primitive and prehistoric, the monument preserves over two hundred million years of history within its borders. The Grand Staircase is formed by a series of plateaus that descend from Bryce Canyon toward the Grand Canyon, and it’s a great introduction to Utah’s unconfined wilderness and the powers of nature.
Once we arrive, we either set forth on a hike through Willis Creek Slot or Bull Valley Gorge. Willis Creek Slot takes us off well-trodden paths and traverses over a stony, stream-bed path where small waterfalls and petroglyph lined slickrock walls lead the way. Walk along the low river through narrow sandstone passages that ripple and wave ahead of you. At times, walking Willis Creek can be like strolling through a Wonderland after you just sipped on some “drink me” potion, and nature seems much more “muchier” than it had been before.
The Bull Valley Gorge offers more of a challenge, and it will be an excellent option for more experienced hikers. One of the deepest and narrowest slot canyons in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bull Valley Gorge offers stunning views of twisting Navajo sandstone narrows.
After we finish our day adventuring through slot canyons, we return back to our Unbound Camp for another night of delicious food served with a side of fresh air and incredible views.
Hiking Distance: Willis Creed Slot—4 Miles Round Trip
Activity Level: Easy-Moderate
THURSDAY: North Rim Grand Canyon National Park
Wake up and prepare to see one of the seven wonders of the world! After some coffee and breakfast, we make our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. The North Rim only sees about 5% of the national park’s traffic, so we may have the trails, and the views, all to ourselves.
We then plan to set off on Widforss Trail, which takes you along the canyon’s rim before heading into the aspen and pine forest toward Widforss Point. We’ll relax with a picnic lunch on the trail and stopover at Bright Angel Point—the most popular viewpoint at the North Rim. With 360° views of Roaring Springs Canyon, the Transept, and Bright Angel Canyon with its 3 peaks jutting into the sky, you won’t be able to decide where to look.
After our day hiking the North Rim, we return to our Unbound Camp. There, relax from the full day with a cold drink and a hearty dinner.
Hiking Distance: Widforss Trail—5-10 miles round trip
Activity Level: Intermediate
FRIDAY: Zion National Park
We return to Zion to experience a greater scope of the park. Our activities today will be adapted to the group’s abilities and preferences with an emphasis on exploration.
We plan to start the day with a brief hike to the Canyon Overlook Trail, which takes you up winding sandstone steps through Pine Creek Canyon and Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. With hoodoos, views of Zion Canyon and wildflowers, it’s a great way to start the day.
Next up, we either hike to Angels Landing (depending on Day 1’s activities) or Observation Point. Observation Point’s zigzagging trail leads up a mountainside and through the red sandstone Echo Canyon with its stunning White Cliffs.
For those who seek a more moderate hike with less bluff overlooks, we also have two shorter, easier options. One option is the Grotto Trail, which leads through a wooded meadow and runs alongside Zion Canyon Road. We also have the option to hike the Emerald Pools Trail, which takes you through a desert oasis. These short trails take you past a stream that rushes down cliffs and collects in calm pools.
After our day exploring more of what Zion has to offer, we return to camp for a final dinner together out in nature. Enjoy the stars and the great company before heading to bed.
Hiking Distance: 5-8 Miles
Activity Level: Intermediate to Easy
SATURDAY: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Pipe Springs National Monument, and Return to St. George
It’s your final coffee wakeup call. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast prepared by our guides and the refreshing morning air throughout the morning. It may be our last day, but there’s still adventure to be had.
As we begin to make our return journey, we stop at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The sand dunes here form an ever-shifting sea of sand over 10,000 years old. With the wind, the mountain can literally come to you (if you have several years to wait) as the sand shifts the massive dunes every year. Enjoy a tasty lunch on the “beach” before we continue on our way.
We continue our drive to our next stop, the Pipe Springs National Monument. This historic pioneer fort was home to Mormon missionaries and Kaibab Piutes. Explore the museum, fort, cabins, and surrounding orchard and gardens as you learn about the people who built their lives in the area.
Afterwards we continue on our way back to St. George. Settle into your room and relax before our farewell dinner together!
Dates & Rates
Images & Videos
FAQ & More
Direct flights are available to St. George from Denver and Salt Lake City. Delta offers direct flights from Salt Lake City, Utah approximately 5 times a day. United offers direct flights from Denver, Colorado approximately 2 times a day.
The St. George airport is located about 20 minutes from the downtown area. The Wingate by Windham, our recommended hotel for this trip, provides a free shuttle from the St. George Airport. Simply call when you land to arrange a pickup!
If guests choose to drive, St. George is about a 2hr drive from Las Vegas, Nevada (keeping different time zones in mind). There are multiple shuttle companies available with the ride costing approximately $40 per person. It’s also about a 4hr drive from Salt Lake City.
The southwest is generally warm and dry. August to September is the Monsoon season, where the region does get more rain, which often comes in short bursts. We currently have trips planned for May through July, where the weather is more temperate and predictable. Late July and August are the hottest months, and we do not currently have trips planned during this time. See links at right for average temps in each park. Zion Unbound Camp is located at a higher elevation than Zion National Park so it is often cooler than the the park.
We have an exclusive arrangement with the Wingate at Wyndham in St. George and will book rooms for guests. We have a block of rooms booked for Day 0 arrivals and Day 6 departures.
The quality of our food reflects the quality of the wilderness environment in the southwest. We hand-select the freshest fruits and vegetables we can find and pack them carefully in huge ice-coolers. Likewise, these coolers carry fresh dairy products and meats. From these ingredients we prepare bountiful, healthy meals. Our meals might look like this: sustainably harvested wild Alaskan Salmon served with a fresh garden salad; Prime Rib combined with a fresh Chilean salad and Idaho mashed potatoes or lasagna. Big salads of vegetables and fruit add color and variety to every meal.
Desserts are made each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from authentic cobbler and pineapple upside-down cake. We serve juice and coffee each morning and moderate amounts of bottled wine with dinner. We also provide two beers and two sodas or juices per person per day. There's always plenty of cold water, lemonade mix, tea, coffee and cocoa. You're welcome to bring your own beverages or alcohol as well. We always have plenty of ice to keep your drinks cold.
Meals from Day 1 Lunch to last day Lunch are provided.
Each guest is provided with a packing list before the trip. We supply sleeping bags, liners, sleeping pads and waterproof bags.
If you have a medical condition, severe allergic reaction, or special dietary needs, please inform our staff prior to the beginning of the trip. Please complete the section regarding “Medical Information” on your trip application form completely and we will note your reservation accordingly. If you use medications it is recommended to bring two supplies packed in separate, watertight containers. If you carry an insect sting kit, be certain to bring it in your day pack. If it is critical that you use a CPAP, please plan ahead and purchase an independent battery pack. You can find these at www.cpap.com.
We encourage people to disconnect on vacation and get away as that is part of the charm. However the cell phone reception in the area is good. Most days there will be reception and our first camp has cell reception. Our last two nights are outside of cell reception. For this situations give our office phone number - (800) 451-6034 - to the individual(s) who would be responsible for notifying you in an emergency. While we cannot guarantee we will be able to contact you, we will use all our resources to reach you. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pm.
We are very proud of our guides. Their hard work, dedication, local knowledge and attention to detail truly sets them apart from the others. If you feel your guides have gone above and beyond the call of duty in providing you with a very special trip, a gratuity may be left at the end of the trip. You can leave the tip with the team leader—they can be counted on to share the trip with all the trip guides. A tip ranging between 7-12% of your trip cost per guest is typical.
We call it luxury camping. In order to make your trip run as smoothly and comfortably as possible, we have an additional vehicle to carry camping gear, food and supplies ahead of the main group. The vehicle arrives at camp early to setup the kitchen and spacious 4-person tent, cot and pad that we supply for you. All you have to do is carry your personal gear to the tent of your choice and roll out your sleeping bag, flannel liner and thick, self-inflating foam sleeping pad (all of which is provided by us and stored in a waterproof bag).
Here is sample of the camp settings on this tour - Zion Unbound Camp Photo
We do. The heart of who we are is our ground operations. On any trip, the guides are the most important factor for your enjoyment and the success of the trip. Our guides are exceptional people with years of experience. We maintain a tobacco-free policy and most of our guides have taken interpretation courses from certified instructors. We look for guides who are willing and eager to share, teach, listen, learn, laugh, play, discuss and, above all, work hard to provide a safe, relaxed and spontaneous adventure. Our guides are the main reason many of our guests return to us time and time again. (References gladly provided.)
We primarily use 15-passenger Ford Transit vans. These vehicles provide a bucket seat for each passenger with a shoulder seat belt. We do not provide any child seats or booster seats, but we are happy to accommodate one if you need to bring one for your child. Your equipment will be transported in an open bed truck, with your belongings safely stored in our provided waterproof bags. Sometimes guests will ride in our trucks as they are newer Ford F-250’s. We always ensure that every passenger has a seatbelt.
Our Zion Unbound camp has two flushing toilets and sink (cold water only) for our group (max group size is 12). We also provide a propane powered shower available for use, this shower is more for rinsing up and washing off the day’s grime as it is an outdoor shower and does not provide full privacy. Keep in mind that during the day we are often in the parks where either pit toilets or flushing toilets (at the major destinations) are available for use.
Each day’s hike is decided by the group and the day’s destination. On some days, we have the opportunity to hike further if the group is interested. We can also divide the group up as needed if there are different interests. Often faster hikers have the opportunity to explore a short spur off a trial or another view point while waiting for the entire group to arrive. Some days allow for self-exploration which can allow more avid hikers to cover further distance. There is always more opportunity to hike and explore around our camp in the evenings.
Every adventure travel company takes a little different approach to running trips. Our philosophy is to provide you with the kind of trip you want, so let us know if you have any special interests or requests. If you like to hike a lot, we'll make extra stops and provide that opportunity. If you have something special you want to bring - a cello? A case of your favorite wine? Whatever it is - we will make room. Our aim is to please, and we do our best, while maintaining a lively, fun atmosphere in camp and on the trail.