Las Vegas, Nevada
This was the last tour of our 9 days in Vegas, and was definitely one to save for the end. We had an absolutely wonderful tour guide from Adventure Photo Tours - Charlene. We were in a group of 4 which made for an excellent private tour in the end; a German couple who were supposed to join us absolutely lambasted Charlene in the morning for being delayed by traffic for all of 10 minutes, and complained the vehicle was not what they were expecting. Despite being abused, Charlene kept her composure, calmly informed us what happened, and then got us on our way.
First stop was the lost city - so named because the construction of Hoover Dam meant Lake Mead flooded the area. However, with the water level in the lake dropping, the city was unearthed once again and became a prime site for investigating ancient cultures. There were pristine example of underground houses, as well as on-land dwellings, with a museum of thousands of artefacts excavated from the site. These ranged from pots and pottery to weaponry and even dinosaurs bones.
The Valley itself was the highlight of the trip though - stunning from every angle, pictographs scattered on rocks everywhere. Charlene was excellent in going above and beyond for the trip, stopping at many unscheduled locations to allow us to get the very best photos. She also knows the area inside out and can point out many things other guides would miss. We spent a good few hours driving around the valley, before heading back to the hotels for around 3pm.
Could not recommend this tour any higher for people interested in the Valley and ancient history - there's so much to see and do and if you get a guide like Charlene it'll be even more amazing!
Las Vegas, Nevada
This was our second tour with Casino Trips and Tours - and again it was absolutely excellent. Our tour guide was Owen, who was again exceptionally knowledgeable about the history of Red Rock and the sights we saw on the way.
We stopped many times for photos in prime locations, as well as being taken to the best viewpoints in the park - there are many places to stop on the 13 mile ring road in the park, but several of them offer similar views. We were taken to the best viewpoints and given more time at these, rather than stopping at every point and not having as long.
Red Rock itself is beautiful - if you're interested in geology and rock formations, or just beautiful scenery, I'd highly recommend this tour. It's super cheap compared to some of the other tours out there, and CTT was definitely one of our favourite tour companies (do NOT go on an Airbridge tour - see my Hoover Dam review for more info).
Las Vegas, Nevada
This was our tour with Pink Jeep Tours, who are aptly named - a 6.7L monster all-terrain hummer turned up to get us at the time confirmed by the company, which was super comfortable on top!
Our tour guide for the day was Bob - who was very knowledgeable about Zion despite only doing that tour once every 6 weeks or so. He allowed us many stop to take rest breaks and water breaks, as well as allowing us to jump out of the vehicle for quick photos.
Once at the park, we used the actual park shuttle bus to get to the top of Zion, where we were allowed just over an hour to follow the river trek and take in some of the amazing scenery Zion has to offer. An hour was a little too short (90 minutes would have been ideal), but for most people it was enough to make it 3/4 of the way along the trail and turn back. We all ran into little squirrel type things, which must be used to humans as they had no fear about coming up to you and searching you for food! However, we were warned in advance not to touch as they have a nasty bite (there's a timely reminder on the bus that 13 stitches were needed in a visitor's hand after being bitten twice in under a second by one of them).
The scenery is incredible - tall, multicoloured rocks, green trees, running rivers and waterbeds... hanging cliffs (and much more for those of you who will trek at Zion). After the river trek, we were taken down the mountain to "weeping rock", an overhang with a spectacular view of a valley with a constant stream of dripping spring water from high above (that was most welcome on a hot day!).
Bob was excellent in making the most of our time there and being as informative and supportive as possible - taking photos for our group (which was a great size of 7 - nice and intimate) whenever people asked.
I'd definitely recommend Pink Jeep to anyone wanting a tour to Zion!
Las Vegas, Nevada
This was probably our favourite tour of the holiday. We were picked up EARLY (5.30am) and taken to the airport where, even though we waited for an hour, we were excited to board a little Cessna plane for a turbulent ride to Big 10 Ranch. There were only 7 people on our tour, which made this even better as it was a very friendly and intimate group - and it turned out we were the only people at the North Rim at all! Amazing!
Here, we met up with our wonderful host for the day (though I forget his name, apologies!). He set us up with orientation for the ATVs before letting us test our manoeuvrability on them; once everyone was happy we were on our way. Riding the quad bikes on the dirt tracks and off road trails was an incredible experience, being surrounded by stunning scenery. Our host stopped regularly to make sure we were all keeping up ok (only 4 of us were biking, the rest were in a jeep with him), and pointing out interesting things in the distance, explaining the formation of the Canyon and history of people who lived there.
Coming over a slight hill and getting the full view of the Canyon and river within was a mesmerising experience, words cannot do it justice. We were allowed a huge amount of time to take photos, learn some more history, go on small hikes to look at fauna and more viewpoints and seeing another dry canyon nearby.
On the way back, we were allowed to open up the ATVs a bit more (we were getting up to around 38mph on open roads, averaging about 22 on the much rockier trails) as we'd demonstrated we weren't clowns by following instructions on the way there. This was really appreciated by us all and was a great experience.
After lunch at the ranch, we saw some wildlife, handled some snakes, and then took the jeep back to the "international" airport (a landing strip in a field) for the Cessna ride back, which gave us stunning aerial views of the Canyon as well.
All in all, I'd rate this higher than 5* - simply amazing.
Las Vegas, Nevada
This was our first trip of the holiday - and it set the bar so high we thought no other trip could possibly match it!
We were picked up on time by an excellent tour guide named Ralph (or, as he preferred to be called, Franklin... "it's more exotic"). He explained to us the history of Las Vegas on the way to Death Valley, what we could expect to see, the history of the Valley and more. I believe he was a geologist but had such in depth knowledge of the rocks, plants, wildlife, culture, history and people you'd think he'd been allive for 10,000 years and experienced the whole thing from its inception!
We were given the option of the "advertised tour" (the trip to the manufactured Scotty's Castle) or the "scenic" tour, which had an additional 15 or so stops at different points in the Valley. Our group of 8 was agreed on the scenic tour, so off we went; what an excellent decision this turned out to be.
We saw so many things - the Badlands, Dante's view, the salt flats, the Devil's golf course, the Devil's corn field, Badwater Basin, sand dunes, the wasteland, and more. At each stop we were given ample time to explore, take photos and learn more from Ralph himself about history, rocks and fauna.
This was an incredible trip - even though the day turned out to be quite long (6am start, got back at 7pm), it was worth every minute and you didn't even notice the time fly by. Ralph was a wonderful host, also providing a huge cold box of water for the group up front (which was necessary, it was 42C outside!).
I'd highly recommend this trip to anyone with limited time wanting to see the most of Death Valley possible in a day - and make sure you ask for Ralph as your guide, you will be blown away by his knowledge and his willingness to go the extra mile to make your day memorable!
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