Colorado & Utah Trip Overview
Explore 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. Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, Breckenridge, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Moab are the jewels of this trip that highlight just how diverse and stunning the landscape in the United States really is!
Boulder is one of the best outdoor enthusiast hot spots in the country. Starting there we head west to Rocky Mountain National Park. With wildflowers, mountains, and a plethora of hiking trails to explore, we will hit the ground running, setting the tone for the adventures ahead. We will then head to Breckenridge to chase an adrenaline rush, setting out on horseback riding and white water rafting excursions. On our way towards Utah, we will get to explore one of the most underrated National parks, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and also stop along the way for a hot spring soak in Ouray, otherwise known as “The Switzerland of America.” We will then make one last stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park before crossing over into the desert dreamland of Utah!
During our time in Utah, we will be based in the outdoor enthusiast’s paradise of Moab. Perfectly positioned between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, it is the perfect destination to finish the program strong. Watch the sunrise over the horizon of the otherworldly landscape at Canyonlands, hike to the iconic delicate arch and catch a glimpse of the milky way at the certified dark-sky park, Arches National Park, and try your hand at some of Moab’s best outdoor adventure activities such as zip lining. Moab is sure to leave an impression and leave you wanting to come back for more.
Choose your own adventures as we hike, soak, swim, raft, 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.
During this program, you will…
- 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
- Stay in the hip outdoor paradise of Boulder, Colorado
- 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
*This is an optional add-on
DAY 1: ARRIVE DEN
Welcome to Colorado! Meet your Travel For Teens staff and new friends at the airport and head to Boulder!
DAYS 1 & 2: BOULDER, COLORADO
Enjoy a walking tour where will check out lively Pearl Street which is the heart of this uniquely outdoors-focused town. We’ll have dinner downtown and spend the evening playing games to get to know each other and head to sleep dreaming of the next day’s events.
Start the morning exploring the dramatic landscapes around Boulder with the first hike of the trip. Check out the iconic flat iron formations and get a sweeping view of the whole town. Afterward, take the scenic drive from Boulder to Estes Park through the charming town of Nederland where we also have the option to go for our morning hike or stop at one of the many unique shops like the Colorado gem store! We’ll end up at the base of the wildly impressive Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park which will serve as our home base to the park for the next two days. We will spend the evening exploring everything that makes Estes a true Coloradan mountain town.
DAY 3: ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Here we will explore Rocky Mountain National Park! Hike to pristine alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and drive the Trail Ridge Road! With elevations up to 14,259 ft, we will feel like we are on top of the world as we make our way through the sweeping vistas of the namesake Rocky Mountains and exposed roads that make this park so incredible.
We make our way through Rocky Mountain National Park and onto the small ski town of Breckenridge. While it is one of the best ski destinations in the country, Breckenridge is far from just a winter town. Spend your evening in Breck strolling the magical village, shopping in the local boutiques, and catching 360 views of this mountain town from the gondola.
DAY 4: BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO
Our beautiful road trip continues as we make our way through Rocky Mountain National Park and onto the small ski town of Breckenridge. While it is one of the best ski destinations in the country, Breckenridge is far from just a winter town. Spend your first afternoon & evening in Breck strolling the magical village, shopping in the local boutiques, and catching 360 views of this mountain town from the gondola.
Making the most of our time in Breckenridge, this morning we’ll head over to Lake Dillion for a paddleboard session in the Colorado summer sun. Afterward, we will channel our inner cowboys and cowgirls and hop on horseback to explore the expansive backcountry this area is so well known for. We will end our day at the Breckenridge adventure park with a thrilling ride down the alpine slide and then we will hit one of the many great restaurants in town to wrap up our time in this unforgettable town.
DAY 5: BUENA VISTA, COLORADO
From Breckenridge, we make our way towards Buena Vista for an adrenaline-pumping whitewater rafting adventure you will never forget. Rush down class III-IV rapids with our professional guides on the Arkansas River, one of the best rafting locations in the country. We’ll have lunch on the water as we gaze in awe at the towering 14,000ft peaks of mountains all around us known as the Collegiates.
From Buena Vista, we will head towards Alamosa for the night – stopping at the natural wonder that is Great Sand Dunes National Park. Channel your inner surfer and try your hand at sand-surfing down the dunes!
DAYS 6 & 7: OURAY, COLORADO
It’s truly all about the journey today — Alamosa to Ouray is one of our country’s most spectacular drives. We’ll make a detour to explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. One of the deepest canyons in the country, we will hike the rim and peer down nearly 3,000ft to the twisting Gunnison river.
After exploring the canyon, wind through the stunning San Juan Mountains down the Million Dollar Highway and arrive at our home for the next 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
DAYS 8 & 9: MOAB, UTAH
Wake up and hit the road to where our Utah adventure begins, the great town of Moab. Positioned perfectly between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks; Moab is one of the area’s most beloved adventure playgrounds. Once we get into Moab we will head to the most famous hike in the area and make the trek to Delicate Arch at sunset to avoid the crowds and desert heat!
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! Explore the countless Arches that make this area so amazing.
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 10: SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Enjoy a slow morning in Moab as you get ready hit the road to Salt Lake City, where we’ll be spending our final evening together.
DAY 11: DEPART SLC
After 11-days exploring some of the best gems in the USA, it’s time to say goodbye. Head to the airport to catch our flights home. We will never forget the incredible experiences we had or the new friends we met along the way!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do.
Eat, stay, and travel like a local. Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded top youth travel organization year after year!
"A HUGE THANK YOU to you to the trip leaders for providing an extraordinary travel experience for our group of middle school students! My husband and I have been blown away by the numbers and depth of activities -- and extremely appreciative to you for your extraordinarily thoughtful (and detail packed) emails and photos/videos! We have looked forward to your updates every day. It is clear how invested you are, and how much you care. Thank you!"
"Thank you for giving Kat such a great experience. She had a wonderful time. You guys are terrific. The great parental bonus -- and I'm sure you hear this all the time -- is the photographs and the daily email. We get to see what the kids are seeing and we get to see the group and we get to see our teen. What could be better? Viewing the pictures became our evening ritual: out on the deck overlooking suburbia, sipping cold drinks, and oohing and ahhing over the photos, feeling almost like we were there. I'm sure you're awash in praise like this -- as you should be. Kat had such an enriching trip. Thank you very much! With any luck she'll be back next summer."
"I can not tell you how much she truly loved it!! I can not tell you how much you and your staff to say thank you for keeping my baby safe and allowing her to experience once in a life time event in her life. Marissa is so emotional, expressing how much she will miss everyone. To think before she hopped on the plane she was so nervous that she will not make any friends. I am truly amazed the beautiful things you guys accomplished. Marissa is hooked and she is already saving and planning for next year. We thank you again for the experience."
Travel with us and discover why we are consistently winning awards for Top Youth Travel Organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is unique about the USA for Middle School: Colorado & Utah National Parks Adventure trip?
Participants of the USA for Middle School: Colorado & Utah National Parks Adventure love the opportunity to explore two of America’s greatest national parks. From the Rocky Mountains to Boulder, you will experience nature’s finest views and trails!
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 7th and 8th and are approximately 12 to 14 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
What do students like most about the USA for Middle School: Colorado & Utah National Parks Adventure trip?
This program is a road trip designed with teens in mind. USA for Middle School: Colorado & Utah National Parks Adventure has intimate sized groups which make this an incredible experience for everyone on board. You’ll see cities and spend time outdoors in some of the greatest places North America has to offer while building lifelong friendships with like-minded peers.
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 13 and 24 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 within the calendar year 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.
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. For Specific questions pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
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.