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Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

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Seattle, Washington
posts: 162
reviews: 39
Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Planning a 2-person trip for this summer. Unfortunately, between our availability and what isn't sold out yet -- looks like we'll be traveling to these national parks during the hottest time of summer (July or August). My top questions are about the heat and about the tour companies.

1) What is the reality of the tour experience during these hot, hot summer days? For example, do people just go from A/C bus to outside to take quick photo and return quickly to A/C bus? Or is it bearable for short hikes and exploring? This will be my first bus tour, so I'm having a hard time picturing it.

2) I'd also like recommendations on tour companies. We're considering Caravan Tours (bigger groups, buses, looks well-organized, hotel stays, affordable), Lost Wages Tours ("glamping", smaller groups, no Trip Advisor reviews...), and National Geographic Expeditions (science/history aspect is appealing but can't figure out why the cost is 3x the others).

I promise to post a trip report in return for advice - thanks!

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,081
reviews: 320
1. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Good news on the temperature is that at Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon you will be around 8000 feet above sea level, so while it isll be warm, it will not be the reall oppressive heat of the lower elevations. Zion is at 4500 feet asl, so it will be warmer (hot in the middle of the day).

Sorry, I have no experince with tour bus tours in this area. My question to you is why not just self-tour? Touring the desert southwest is easy to do in a car. Plus it gives you the freedom to see what you want when you want, rather than traveling to the tour bus schedule.

Maybe the tour bus schedule will try to focus activites during the morning and later afternoon to avoid the heat of the day, that is what folks recommend with self-touring as well.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,081
reviews: 320
2. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Read this article, if you think that a self-tour is doable:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g28965-c177493/Utah:U…

This is a primer on touring the Grand Circle and it has a lot of good info on planning a trip; also links to other TA resources, like the UT Top Questions. Check out the item "How can I see all the parks in southern UT?" There are sample itineraries and links to maps. Easy enough to fly into the region, rent a car and hit the road.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 162
reviews: 39
3. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Thanks for the quick response about the heat. That makes me feel better :-)

Fair question about why a bus tour. Normally, I am an "independent traveler" -- planned my own Alaska trip vs. taking a cruise like most people do. In this case, there is very little planning time and the top lodgings seem booked up (perhaps blocked out by the tour companies). If I had more time to plan, I would absolutely drive and be on my own schedule. In this case, we've decided to try a tour since there's little planning on our part, and we'll use it as a way to get to know the area -- where we want to go back on a self-guided trip. The agreement is that we'll try to keep a sense of humor about the tour experience - even if it ends-up not being our cup of tea.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,081
reviews: 320
4. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

You're welcome. Understood about the tour bus option due to limited planning time. Lodging does book up well in advance (up to a year in some places). Still, there are always cancelations, so you might at least wnat to take a look. You might want to post the tour itinerary, just as a sanity check. It seems that some of the tours really pack too much into the time available.

Edited: 3:42 pm, May 04, 2013
Seattle, Washington
posts: 162
reviews: 39
5. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Great idea! When I narrow the list to 1-3 tours, I'll post the itinerary to get your input.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 162
reviews: 39
6. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Time was tight so we solidified plans without more advice. We decided to go ahead and book an early July trip. I found 7 tour companies, we compared them side-by-side, and Caravan Tours seemed the best choice on price and amount of time in the parks. I'll add a trip report afterward to let you know how it went! :-)

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,081
reviews: 320
7. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

Have a great trip, sgold_seattle. We'll all be interested in reading about your expereince with the bus tour.

8. Re: Advice on Tour Companies & Heat: Grand Canyon, Bryce & Zion

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