I'm writing this on the plane ride home while it's fresh. I debated the three over the two stars, and in the end the sights are spectacular and I didn't pay full price otherwise I'd be at a one. Ultimately I DID do many of the things I wanted and those parts I rate highly as memorable, but the overall trip experience was not very enjoyable. So, a three is all I can do.
The "mightiest" thing about this trip is the incredibly EPIC amount of time you spend inside a cramped, semi-climate-controlled bus driving from park to park; but also curiously WITHIN the parks themselves just hopping from one short photo op to the next. During the entire trip there was only one day that didn't contain a VERY long drive and two days were almost entirely driving. I'd estimate that about 70-80% of the TOTAL time is spent inside the bus. So be warned. Perhaps you care to exercise your meditation abilities or care to practice conversational skills with strangers for six days but otherwise it's long and difficult and tiring and a substantial portion of the entire trip. This takes away most of the time that I'd expected for the parks themselves. I realize there of course must be travel time but the design of the trip itself is flawed beyond repair due to this time factor, and I think shows a remarkable lack of experience at planning reasonably-paced tours and/or a disregard for the experience of the passengers that must endure HOURS of mind-numbing and tedious riding.
The time issues above lead into my second biggest issue with the design of this trip: much of what is proposed or offered or mentioned in the descriptions and itineraries is simply impossible to fit in time-wise. Longer hikes are virtually impossible unless an entire group of 14 people decide this what they ALL want to do. Without transportation, the guide is basically forced to choose only the options that are least strenuous (Zion is the exception with its shuttle system but even then time is limited and I had to insist on doing a hike beyond the two shortest available). So your actual experience of the parks is limited to the scenic views and short walks. To some degree this situation always applies to a group tour ... I understand this. However, these other items should NOT appear on the descriptions and the itinerary. The itinerary itself should be tightened up a LOT so that people know what they are buying. If certain trails cannot be done due to time and ability of all members then they should be noted that way. If optional activities completely remove your time at a specific park that needs to be noted. Again, this seems to me a lack of experience in designing a tour, and properly designing the itinerary. Leaving this open promotes conflicts within the group and with the guide. Again, we're back to the fundamental design of the trip.
The actual implementation leaves a lot to be desired as well. First, it wasn't terribly well organized. The itinerary we received had the wrong order of parks, as well as the wrong dates. More importantly, the guide herself wasn't terribly communicative about where we were going or what was next (are sandals ok or boots a better choice?). Typically, guides give more information on what's on the agenda. Probably the most important thing though was there was only the one guide for everyone and that is FAR below the ratio I've ever experienced. I mean, she had no help at all at any point in the trip. Now, consider that she was up late, starting early and then DRIVING about half the day, every day. This seems so insanely over-taxing to expect out of one person that by the final, 5 1/2-hour drive to SLC I was more than a little concerned about fatigue on the roads - that isn't a small thing. She drove fine the whole trip, don't misunderstand, but again we come back to the design of the trip and experience of the planners.
So, the above is why I can't rate the trip more highly. Hopefully you know what you're getting now.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.