Colorado & Utah: National Parks Adventure Trip Overview
Explore eight National Parks and two of the most scenic states this summer on an authentic US road trip! Colorado and Utah are filled with unique landscapes, breathtaking mountains, bubbling hot springs, and starry night skies. Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Rocky Mountain, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks are the jewels of this trip that highlight just how diverse and stunning the landscape in the United States really is!
Rocky Mountain National Park is every nature lover’s dream with wildflowers, mountains, and a plethora of hiking trails to explore. Great Sand Dunes National Park will provide an adrenaline rush as you try your hand at sandboarding down the golden dunes. Mesa Verde National Park gives you the opportunity to visit ancestral Puebloan cliff-dwellings from the late 1190s!
Head on over to Utah and admire the stunning views from Zion, the mysterious hoodoos at Bryce Canyon, the otherworldly landscape at Canyonlands, and the thousands of arches at Arches National Park. Utah is also one of the best states in the country for stargazing!
Choose your own adventures as we hike, soak, swim, sandboard, and climb your way through these remarkable destinations!
This is a road trip style adventure and the perfect trip for travelers looking to explore the great outdoors with a small group of like-minded peers.
This program limits exposure to outside groups and the majority of our time will be spent outdoors where we can easily social distance and ensure the health and safety of our participants.
During this program, you will…
- Sand-board & sunbathe in Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Hike amongst the wildflowers in the San Juan Mountains
- Soak in natural hot springs in a charming mountain town
- Trek through wild Rocky Mountain National Park
- Paddleboard in crystal clear alpine lakes
- Hike the stunning trails in Grand Teton National Park
- Spot a variety of wildlife including bison, elk, and bears
- Discover the massive hoodoos in Bryce Canyon and wander through one of the park’s narrow trails
- Hike one of the famous trails in Zion National Park
- Go on a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure
- Catch a breathtaking sunrise from Isle of the Sky in Canyonlands National Park
- Explore the densest concentration of natural arches in the world at Arches National Park
DAY 1-2: DENVER
Welcome to Colorado! Enjoy a walking tour of this eclectic city and explore some of its colorful neighborhoods before hitting the road to make our way to our first National Park — Great Sand Dunes — where we will spend the evening playing games and dreaming of the next day’s events.
DAY 2-3: GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK & PAGOSA SPRINGS
Spend the morning discovering one of America’s coolest National Parks — the Great Sand Dunes are an incredibly unique place and a true natural phenomenon! Trek up the golden waves for an incredible view of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, test your skills sand boarding the glittering dunes, or relax on the sandy edges of the creek known as “Colorado’s Natural Beach.” This magical place is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced!
Once we’ve had our fill of our first National Park of the trip, we’ll make our way towards Pagosa Springs for the night! Soak in the natural hot springs around town or visit a waterfall before heading west!
DAY 3-5: MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK & OURAY
It’s truly all about the journey today –Pagosa Springs to Ouray is one of our country’s most spectacular drives. We’ll make a detour to check out the well preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. Wind through the stunning San Juan Mountains down the Million Dollar Highway and arrive at our home for two nights, Ouray. Ouray is known as the “Switzerland of America” and we’ll enjoy everything this fairytale town has to offer. Soak in the natural hot springs, go for a hike to an alpine lake, and peruse the shops before hitting the road again.
DAY 5-6: BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK & BUENA VISTA
The beautiful drive continues as we make our way through Gunnison and on to the small town of Buena Vista which lies on the storied Arkansas River. Explore the quaint town and fill up on a delicious dinner to ready for tomorrow’s adrenaline-pumping day.
Rise and shine, and gear up to hit the Arkansas River on an incredible whitewater rafting trip! After a fun-filled day navigating the rapids and enjoying a picnic lunch we’ll make our way through more breathtaking landscapes to famous Breckenridge.
DAY 6-8 BRECKENRIDGE
Spend your first afternoon & evening in Breck strolling the magical village, riding the alpine slide at the adventure park, shopping in the local boutiques, and catching 360 views of this mountain town from the gondola. In the morning, we’ll head over to Lake Dillion for a paddleboard session in the Colorado summer sun. Enjoy the afternoon from the top of a horse and experience a taste of the Wild West!
DAY 8-10: ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
From Breckenridge, we make our way towards Rocky Mountain National Park! Hike to pristine alpine lakes in the park, cascading waterfalls, and drive the Trail Ridge Road!
DAY 10-11 BOULDER
We’ll head to the front range to eclectic Boulder to explore lively Pearl Street, grab souvenirs, enjoy our final dinner together, and watch the sunset from the iconic Flatirons!
DAY 11-12 DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
The journey to the next state, Utah, begins! We’ll depart Boulder and road trip through the White River National Forest to the charming little town on the border of Colorado and Utah called Dinosaur to break up the drive. True to it’s name, this town is home to the vast Dinosaur National Monument which is one of the best places in the world to see fossils from the Jurassic period. Enjoy this archeologically rich area and explore some of the trails that offer the chance to see petroglyphs and incredible views.
DAY 12-13 PARK CITY & SALT LAKE CITY
We’ll then head to where our Utah adventure begins! Stop in Park City to enjoy the adventure park. Slide down one of the largest alpine slides in the world and ride the thrilling mountain coaster for a roller coaster experience winding through the mountains with incredible scenery and views. After enjoying the adventure park we’ll head to Salt Lake City and explore the surrounding landscapes and picnic at the expansive lake that gave this city its name!
DAY 13-15: ZION NATIONAL PARK
Depart Salt Lake City bright and early to head to Zion National Park. Spend your afternoon hiking one of the park’s iconic hiking trails and admire the sweeping views. As the sun goes down watch as the cliffs start to glow a bright orange before a starry night sky starts to take over. This area is home to some of the best stargazing in the country!
DAY 15-16: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
We will depart Zion in the morning and just a short drive away is Bryce Canyon National Park! Bryce Canyon is famous for its thousands of red-orange hoodoos that make up its iconic landscape. The panoramic views of this park are mind-boggling. Spires and sweeping sandstone rock give way to winding trails begging to be explored. Hike through one of the park’s many trails and experience being surrounded by these unique formations as they tower over you.
DAYS 16-20: MOAB: ARCHES & CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARKS
Moab is one of the area’s most loved adventure playgrounds. Experience adrenaline-pumping activities like rock climbing, a sunset hike to the famous Delicate Arch, and escape the desert heat and go for a swim in a local watering hole.
Moab is the perfect location between Arches and Canyonlands, which offers every desert adventure you can dream of. Make the red rocks here your playground and go on a rock climbing adventure. Escape the desert heat and go for a swim in a local watering hole that is a hidden gem.
In Arches National Park there are a plethora of hikes to choose from that will allow you to discover exactly why this park got its name! No trip to Arches would be complete without a sunset hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the park!
Catch sunrise in Canyonlands National Park and watch as the sun slowly lights up the canyon with soft pink and orange hues, unveiling the incredible landscape before you. After sunrise, enjoy one of the park’s many hikes and be amazed by the stunning vistas and panoramic views.
From the awe-inspiring red rock formations of Arches to the sprawling views of Canyonlands, you are sure to fall for this lovely part of Utah.
DAY 20-21: SALT LAKE CITY
After three weeks exploring some of the best gems in the USA, it’s time to say goodbye. We will never forget the incredible experiences we had or the new friends we met along the way!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of teen typically participates in this program? What are the requirements to join?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 12th and approximately 14 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
All accommodations on this trip have been selected to ensure quality while still maintaining character of the places we are visiting.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a trip.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, chaperones and guides, program related activities, program related activity admissions, taxes and tips.
Not included in cost (this not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; visas and visa application fees; lunches; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food is an integral aspect of the travel experience, and we make an effort to eat at authentic establishments whenever possible. There is no better way to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place than through sampling the local delicacies. We stray away from westernized restaurants and chains that cater to tourists, because every true traveler knows the best food is found where the locals are eating!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
What kind of visa do you need for this trip?
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.