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Overview

Las Vegas, Nevada’s most iconic city, might be one of the world’s best man-made spectacles, but the natural wonders found in neighbouring Arizona and Utah are just as jaw-dropping. From glittering neon lights and super-hotels, to deep canyons and soaring rock formations, this is sure to be a holiday of contrasts.

Kick start your American adventure in Vegas, a desert metropolis famous for its nightlife, pool parties and enormous casinos. After a few days, it’s time to hit the road and tick off the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon National Parks, to name but a few. You’ll see ravines that stretch for miles, red-hued waves carved out of sandstone, and become familiar with the geological lingo to describe epic rock formations, such as hoodoos, buttes and mesas. Just make sure you pack both your dancing shoes and your hiking boots to make the most of this epic trip.

Nevada

Las Vegas

Known the world over for its nightlife, casinos and luxury hotels, Vegas really has to be seen to be believed. Spend your days making the most of the sunshine and poolside offerings, before watching the city come to life after dark. Place your bets in any one of the many casinos, wine and dine at world-class restaurants, and embrace the night time entertainment on offer. When it comes to hotels, your choices are endless. You could stay at the iconic Bellagio, with its vast lake and sky-high fountains. For something a little more quirky, check out New York New York Hotel, where you’ll be surrounded by replicas of famous NYC landmarks. Or, for something stylish and modern, consider ARIA, which comes complete with state-of-the-art in-room technology and a trio of pools.

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Western America

Arizona National Parks

Everyone has heard of the Grand Canyon, but seeing this spectacle up close is something else. At 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and over a mile deep in parts, the vastness of the canyon is nothing short of epic. To get a true sense of the canyon’s scale, why not take a helicopter flight right over the top of it? Or, if you want to get a little closer, don’t miss The Grand Canyon Skywalk – a glass bottomed walkway which extends 20 metres out over the ravine below. Within the Grand Canyon National Park there are also a series of hikes and walking trails, plus rafting adventures, bike riding expeditions and 4x4 safaris. 

Another one for your Arizona bucket list is The Wave. Located at Coyote Buttes North Area, these incredible rock formations have a strict 20 people per day permit, and they’re exclusive for a reason.

The Wave is a six-mile return hike, where you’ll see out-of-this-world views. The colourful rolls of windblown sandstone look more like the surface of Mars than the USA.

If you aren’t lucky enough to get a permit for The Wave, Antelope Canyon makes a great alternative for those iconic, red-hued camera shots. This canyon is particularly magical when sunlight beams into the cavern, illuminating the swirling sandstone.

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Western America

Utah National Parks

Just over the border from Arizona, you’ll find Zion National Park. Located in the desert, this park is anything but barren, with natural pools, panoramic canyons, diverse plant life and unique wildlife. There’s a variety of hiking trails for all fitness levels, plus you can get your adrenaline fix on a canyoning expedition, trot through pine forests on horseback, and stargaze under Zion’s dark skies. The park runs a handy shuttle service which stops at locations such as the Zion Lodge – the only in-park accommodation – and trailheads for walks, including Emerald Pools, Scout's Lookout, and Temple of Sinawava.

Just a 90-minute drive from Zion lies another one of Utah’s gems, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the contrast between the two is striking. One sight not to be missed is The Bryce Amphitheatre, an ocean of irregularly eroded spires of rocks, known as hoodoos, which seemingly emerge from the ground. The park has the world’s largest concentration of hoodoos, as well a number of activities like hiking, horse-riding and, in winter, even skiing. Accommodation and camping options are both limited here, so it’s best to book early, especially in the summer months.

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