2011 Canyons & Deserts of the Southwestern United States

  • Grand Canyon Nat'l Park
  • Santa Fe • Taos
  • Durango & Silverton Rail
  • Bryce & Zion Nat'l Parks
  • Monument Valley
  • Colorado River Float Trip
  • Sedona

  • If the thought of marveling at Monument Valley, floating down the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon, or riding the Durango & Silverton Rail brings a sparkle to your eye, this may be the perfect vacation for you. With its canyons, deserts, and stone monoliths of unmatched natural beauty, the Southwestern United States has been the backdrop for hundreds of "Westerns" that dramatized the life of the cowboy & Indian nations of the West. And as an added bonus, we'll enjoy a multitude of bridge tournaments with local players throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.

    Dates: May 29 to June 12, 2011 - 15 days
    Cost: $3,736 USD per person/double occupancy (land only)

    Tour Schedule
    Day 1 Albuquerque to Santa Fe, NM

    Typical Santa Fe architecture
    Greetings! You will be met at the Albuquerque Airport by our staff and transferred to Santa Fe and our wonderful southwest hotel, the famous La Fonda. We're right here on the historic "Plaza", with remanents of its Spanish Conquistador past. So take some time to stroll and feel its rich history. Your invited to join Fred Theurkauf, our Southwest guide, and fellow travelers for cocktails followed by a Welcome Dinner at this stylish hotel.
    Hotel: The La Fonda Hotel
    Meal(s): , Dinner
    Day 2 Santa Fe, NM
      Today we’ll tour Santa Fe by an open air tram ride including the Palace of Governors built in 1610 on the famous Plaza, St. Francis Cathedral, the modern Capitol building and the Loretto Chapel, a miniature of Saint-Chapelle in Paris. Enjoy a stroll through the Indian Market to shop for native arts and crafts and buy directly from the different pueblo Indians who create them. What a delightful day here on the Plaza in New Mexico's capital city.
    Hotel: The La Fonda Hotel
    Meal(s): Breakfast
    Day 3 Santa Fe to Taos, NM

    Taos Pueblo
    After a leisurely morning in Santa Fe we drive north to visit Chimayo, the home of the Native American weavers. We continue on to visit the most famous of Indian pueblos in all the Southwest - Taos Pueblo. A Taos Indian guide will take us through this ancient structure still functioning today. Taos is a little village, which has been inhabited by pueblo Indians for over 800 years. With Taos Mountain for a backdrop and its beautiful adobe dwellings, little has changed here since the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1540.
    Hotel: San Geronimo Lodge
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

     Tonight we'll join local players right at our Lodge, who welcome us to enjoy a pot luck dinner and bridge served by our New Mexican hosts.
    Day 4 Taos, NM to Durango, CO

    Downtown Durango
    We head for Durango this morning alongside the awesome Rio Grande Gorge, plunging 600 feet into the rolling rapids of the Rio Grande River. We'll stop in Chalma at the Cumbres & Toltec Rail Depot for a hospitality break before heading over the Continental Divide into breathtaking Carson National Forest with surounding peaks above 10,000 feet before reaching Colorado. We'll enjoy a lunch stop at the Hog's Breath Saloon in Pagosa Springs before continuing on to the Old West mining town of Durango.
    Hotel: San Geronimo Lodge
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
    Day 5 Durango, CO

    We'll ride the historic Durango & Silverton Rail.
    It’s "All aboard" this morning for a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This delightful trip takes us through the Colorado Rockies between Durango and Silverton. The rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and crystal lakes take us back to the early days of the West, when mountain men searched this untouched land for beaver. Our steam engine locomotive takes us right up Main Street as we arrive in Silverton. We’ll have time to browse this wild west town and enjoy lunch on our own.
    Hotel: Comfort Inn & Suites - Durango
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

     We are guests tonight of the friendly bridge players in Durango. Barry Hillmer, local organizer & bridge star, has planned a great evening for us including dinner followed by a session of stratified duplicate here in the mountains of Southwestern Colorado.
    Day 6 Durango, CO to Monument Valley , AZ

    Mesa Verde National Park
    Our sightseeing continues today as we visit Mesa Verde National Park. A score of large canyons seam the mesa, and in the shelter of the hundreds of alcoves eroded in the cliffs are the world's largest and best preserved Indian cliff dwellings. These dwellings and pit houses were first inhabited by the Anasazi Indians, and were abandoned mysteriously in the late 1200's. After a lunch break here in the National Park, we're off for the Navajo Nation and breathtaking Monument Valley. We won't want to miss sunset here! Then enjoy supper in the Stagecoach Dining Room before retiring for the evening.
    Hotel: Gouldings Lodge
    Meal(s): Breakfast
    Day 7 Monument Valley to Kanab, UT

    Monument Valley from our 4X4 jeeps.
    After a hardy breakfast here at Goulding's, we'll head out with our Navajo guides in 4-wheel drive vehicles to see the most breathtaking part of the Navajo Nation - Monument Valley. With its brilliant red sandstones spires and monoliths, you'll stand in awe of the natural beauty. It's pillars often soar a 1000 feet above the Valley floor. We'll see many recognizable spires such as: “The Mittens"; "Three Sisters"; "North Window"; "Artist's Point." By late morning we're off for Page, AZ for a lunch stop.Then it is on to Hollywood! (Little Hollywood, that is...) Kanab, UT. This area has been the setting for 50+ major motion pictures since the 1930's.
    Hotel: Holiday Inn Express
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

     This evening we'll enjoy a session a duplicate directed by Fred. Just find a partner and join all the Finesse West players.
    Day 8 Zion National Park (Kanab)

    Zion Canyon approaching from the east
    We’ll head west this morning, through Mount Carmel Junction, before entering Zion National Park. The first amazing site to catch our eye is Checkerboard Mesa. This area of Zion is known as "slick rock" country, where the rocks are a mixture of white and varied tints of brown or orange. Anyone for a game of checkers? The next amazing feature is the Zion – Mount Carmel Tunnel. This 1.1 mile long tunnel was blasted and cut in the thick Navajo sandstone during the early 1900s. Our motorcoach must wait and be escorted through the tunnel single file. When we break out on the west side, Zion Canyon's breathtaking majesty will show before us as well as the erosion work of the North Fork of the Virgin River. During our day we’ll see such notable formations as Court of the Patriarchs, The Sentinel, Weeping Rock and more. We’ve made lunch reservations at the Red Rock Grill in rustic Zion Lodge. Then in the afternoon we’ll take a private open tram tour of Zion Canyon with a local expert. They’ll be time for an easy walk on the Grotto Trail or Lower Emerald Pool Trail before our days adventure is over and we head back east to Kanab. There’s bridge tonight.
    Hotel: Holiday Inn Express - Kanab
    Meal(s): Breakfast

     We'll enjoy a 2nd session of stratified duplicate here with just our Finesse West group.
    Day 9 Bryce Canyon (Kanab) to Lake Powell

    Bryce Canyon
    We drive north today and pass through Red Canyon before reaching mystical Bryce Canyon National Park. Time and nature have created thousands of pillars (called "hoodoos") and rocky temples, all whimsically arranged in a huge amphitheater. The Paiute Indian name for the area translates as "red rocks standing like men in a bowl-shaped canyon." We’ll enjoy many scenic stops at dramatic lookouts, as well as easy walks on the canyon’s edge. We won't miss Bryce Point, Inspiration Point and Sunset Point. Take a moment to feel the uplift of breezes from the hoodoos below or meditate and reflect on mother nature’s inspiring work. Some the best walkers may go on to Sunrise Point. We’ve made reservations for lunch at historic Bryce Canyon Lodge nestled in the fur and pine trees just a stone’s throw from the canyon’s edge. After lunch, we head for Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.
    Hotel: Lake Powell Resort
    Meal(s): Breakfast
    Day 10 Lake Powell

    Navajo Canyon

    Sunset at Lake Powell"
    Wake up this morning to spectacular views of Lake Powell. After a leisurely breakfast, we'll tour famous Glen Canyon Dam, the last dam constructed to tame the mighty Colorado River and form Lake Powell itself. This afternoon you'll have the opportunity to join a Lake Powell cruise which includes an excursion through twisting Antelope Canyon and a great view of Glen Canyon Dam. But the highlight is Navajo Canyon and its beautiful Navajo tapestry laden walls. Navajo legend tells us that the colors were formed by the blood of a monster killed in battle. Perhaps relax with a cocktail as the sun sets on Lake Powell.
    Hotel: Lake Powell Resort
    Meal(s): Breakfast

     Join Fred in the Antelope Room for a session of duplicate just with the Finesse West group.
    Day 11 Lake Powell, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park

    Our Colordao River float trip
    After a relaxing morning at the Lake Powell Resort, we board our motor coach. Our driver takes us to the staging point on the down-river side of Glen Canyon Dam. Here our river guides help us load special vehicles to descend the steep walls of Glen Canyon to base camp on the Colorado. Then we load pontoon rafts and begin our float trip down the mighty Colorado River. Enjoy the peacefulness & tranquility in this supernatural setting. Our river guides will tell us stories of the mighty Colorado and the Grand Canyon. We’ll find a sand bank to stop our pontoon rafts for lunch just for the Finesse West group. Soon we’re back on the river floating on down-river to Lee's Ferry and Marble Canyon to complete our journey.
    We reboard our motor coach here and continue on to the South Rim of awsome Grand Canyon National Park.
    Hotel: Maswik Lodge
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch
    Day 12 Grand Canyon National Park

    The awe-inspiring Grand Canyon from the Watchtower
    A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size; 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. After a relaxing breakfast at the Maswik Lodge, we’ll join our group with an expert Canyon guide for the Hermits Rest Tour of Grand Canyon National Park's West Rim. This two-hour motorcoach tour, narrated by our Park guide travels westward eight miles one way along the old wagon road built by the Santa Fe Railway. There are stops along the West Rim at several spectacular overlooks, with a glimpse of the rapids of the Colorado River below. On our return to Grand Canyon Village, the tour stops at Hermits Rest itself, a unique building of native stone created by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter in 1914.

    You’ll have free time this afternoon to enjoy lunch at perhaps the famous El Tovar Hotel or Bright Angel Lodge. Look for giant condors riding the Canyon updrafts right along the rim. They’re spectacular!
    Hotel: Maswik Lodge
    Meal(s): Breakfast

     Be prepared for fun and games tonight - the subject is bridge. Tour host, Fred Theurkauf, has planned a bridge event for Novices and Life Masters alike – right here on the Grand Canyon's South Rim.
    Day 13 Grand Canyon National Park to Sedona, AZ

    Coffee Pot Rock in Sedona
    We have a relaxing morning here at Grand Canyon National Park. Around mid-day, we'll load our coach for our final destination and the art capital of Arizona'a southwest - Sedona. We'll drive south into Oak Creek Canyon. This canyon is known for its spectacularly colored white, yellow and red cliffs dotted with foliage, as well as home to mountain lions, raccoons, ring-tailed cats, and hundreds of varieties of birds. Soon we'll break out in this upscale artist's paradise - Sedona.
    Hotel: Poco Diablo Resort
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner

     Tonight we'll enjoy dinner and bridge as guests of Sedona bridge players for a special charity event organized by the Sedona Bridge Unit and their director, Peter Wahl.
    Day 14 Sedona, AZ

    Starting the Pink Jeep Rim Tour
    Sedona is situated amid the red-hued rocks of Oak Creek Canyon and is a thriving mecca for art lovers and collectors. This morning we’ll join an optional Pink Jeep Scenic Rim tour of Sedona, off-road and on high! With our driver guides in open jeeps, we ascend an amazing 2,000 feet to the very top of the Mogollon Rim. Majestic red rock formations blaze the trail for scenic beauty and rugged exploration. These larger than life views of the lowland deserts combined with the Ponderosa Pine forests of the high mountains provide you with an array of fabulous photo opportunities. This could be your southwest highlight. We’ll drop those that want to explore Sedona downtown on their own before returning to our resort hotel for a relaxing afternoon.

    Tonight, Fred Theurkauf invites you to a Grand Farewell Cocktails & Dinner Party. This special evening will be a lively finale to a great vacation as we recount fond memories of our trip and toast to new friends.
    Hotel: Poco Diablo Resort
    Meal(s): Breakfast, Dinner
    Day 15 Sedona to Phoenix, AZ
      Fly home from Phoenix this afternoon knowing, not only that you have seen some of nature's most incredible masterpieces, but that you have made new friends with whom to share your memories.
    Meal(s): Breakfast

    Your 15-Day Package Includes

     First class air-conditioned motor coach transportation throughout

     Twin or double bedded first class hotel accommodations at every stop

     22 meals – 14 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 6 dinners

     Professional tour manager/guide throughout; all National Park entry fees

     All airport transfers, porterage, and hotel service charges

     8 ACBL stratified bridge events including card fees, quizzes & huge prizes

  • Lake Powell - Antelope & Navajo Canyon Cruise
  • Sedona Pink Jeep Canyon Rim Tour

  • Click here for a full-color brochure.