Albuquerque Balloon Festival & U.S. National Parks with Ohio University12 days
Let us handle the details
Expert Tour Director
Sightseeing with local guides
Personalized flight options
On this guided tour, you’ll walk for about 2 hours daily across mostly flat terrain, including paved trails and dirt paths, with some hills and high altitudes.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 2 nights Hotel info
Day 1: Arrival in Albuquerque
Included meals: Dinner
Welcome to New Mexico! Arrive in Albuquerque and transfer to your hotel. Then, get together with your fellow travelers at this evening’s welcome dinner.
Day 2: Albuquerque Balloon festival
Included meals: Breakfast
Wake up early to start your day at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest hot air balloon festival in the world.
• Watch hundreds of balloons take to the sky en masse during the “mass ascension”
• Enjoy access to a hospitality tent stocked with hot drinks and light snacks
• In the evening, see the sky light up during the festival’s AfterGlow Fireworks Show
Mesa Verde National Park 1 night Hotel info
Day 3: Transfer to Mesa Verde National Park
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Cross the Colorado border, stopping in the Old West mining town of Durango, Colorado en route to Mesa Verde.
• Pass by Chimney Rock and Abiqui Reservoir
• Experience Durango’s frozen-in-time charm
Kayenta, Arizona 1 night Hotel info
Day 4: Mesa Verde National Park & transfer to Kayenta
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Take a guided tour of Mesa Verde National Park before transferring to Kayenta, Arizona through Monument Valley.
• Enter Mesa Verde National Park on a sightseeing tour, and view fascinating 800-year-old cliff dwellings that honeycomb the walls of the canyon
• Enjoy free time to visit either the gift shop or Spruce Tree House and Museum
• Pass by Monument Valley’s “Mexican Hat,” a sombrero-shaped rock formation
The Grand Canyon 2 nights Hotel info
Day 5: Grand Canyon via Tuba City & Cameron Trading Post
Included meals: Breakfast
Learn about the culture and history of the Navajo tribe during a stop at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum. Then, pay a visit to the Cameron Trading Post before arriving at the Grand Canyon. Upon arrival, take a scenic walk along the South Rim with your Tour Director.
• Marvel at the rocky formations that reflect millions of years of geological evolution
• View the Colorado River running one mile below
Day 6: Free day at the Grand Canyon
Included meals: Breakfast
Enjoy a full free day at the Grand Canyon to explore its rims and plateaus on your own or add an excursion.
Optional Excursion - Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride $199pp* Details
Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon aboard a thrilling half-hour-long helicopter ride. Soar over the massive canyon, taking in a unique perspective on the striated terrain far below. From high above the canyon rim, you can begin to fully appreciate the immense scale of this natural wonder. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent.
Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $209)
Zion National Park 1 night Hotel info
Day 7: Transfer to Zion National Park
Included meals: Breakfast
Pass by the beautiful Vermilion Cliffs National Monument before arriving in Zion National Park.
• Discover why 19th-century Mormon settlers named the park after their heavenly city
• View the yellow-and orange-hued dramatically eroded sedimentary rocks
• Take in magnificent vistas on an open-air tram ride with guided commentary
Salt Lake City, Utah 1 night Hotel info
Day 8: Transfer to Salt Lake City via Bryce Canyon National Park
Included meals: Breakfast
En route to Utah’s capital city, stop for a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park.
• Tour the park by bus and on foot
• Take in up-close views of its distinctive pink limestone and sandstone formations, including awe-inspiring pinnacles and cones often referred to as hoodoos
Jackson, Wyoming 3 nights Hotel info
Day 9: Transfer to Jackson
Included meals: Breakfast
Cross into Wyoming on a scenic drive to the resort town of Jackson. Then, set out to explore Grand Teton National Park, home to the youngest mountain range in the Rockies.
• Drive through stunning Logan Canyon and past turquoise Bear Lake
• Tour Grand Teton National Park by bus and on foot
• Try and spot elk, coyotes, black bears, wolves, and the elusive mountain lion
Enjoy a free evening in Jackson.
Day 10: Yellowstone National Park
Included meals: Breakfast
Venture out for a full day of sightseeing in Yellowstone National Park, designated as the world’s first national park in 1872.
• Drive through the park with stops for photos
• See cascading waterfalls, bubbling mud pots and the famous geyser, Old Faithful
• Keep an eye out for the bison, mountain goats, moose, and grey wolves that call the park home
Day 11: Free day in Jackson
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Enjoy a free day in Jackson to spend at your leisure.
This evening, celebrate your trip with your fellow group members at a farewell dinner.
Day 12: Departure
Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Passport & visa requirements
- U.S. citizens need valid government-issued identification for air travel within the United States.
- In order to enter the United States, Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
- If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, please be sure to have any additional required identification with you as well.
- You will walk for about 2 hours daily across mostly flat terrain, including paved trails and dirt paths, with some hills. Some activities will take place at high altitudes.
- Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
- You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times.
- If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
- Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in Albuquerque and depart from Jackson (or Kalispell on the tour extension). A representative from Go Ahead Tours will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.
- Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead Tours. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead Tours for an additional cost.
- All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.
- Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Most domestic airlines impose charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs.
- Contact your airline for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that our travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
- One carry-on bag of 45 total inches (length + width + height) is also permitted.
- Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication, and documents in your carry-on bag.
Clothing & packing tips
- We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
- A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.
- You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
- There are no major health risks associated with traveling to this region.
- Be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and personal travel requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
- Please be aware that you will be traveling to altitudes as high as 6,000 feet above sea level. These high altitudes can sometimes cause breathing difficulties for travelers who have heart problems or respiratory ailments. If you suffer from any of these conditions, please speak to your doctor regarding any potential health risks.
- If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
- During the summer months, take proper care with sun exposure and heat.
- If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead Tours at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.
- The cuisine of the American southwest combines influences from Spanish colonial settlers, Mexican staples and Native American tradition. Expect dishes spiced with chile peppers, like enchiladas, tacos, and chili con carne.
- Meals in the midwest borrow heavily from the area’s large immigrant groups, with Eastern European and Scandinavian cuisine being major favorites.
- The western region of the United States is known for barbecue, especially in the plains and mountain states of Wyoming and Colorado where the cowboy tradition lives on. Try a bison burger or a steak for a true local dining experience.
Electricity & air conditioning
- All of North America operates on 110-120 volts and uses Type A or B plugs with two flat pins or two flat pins and one round pin, respectively.
- The majority of the hotels on this tour will have air conditioning.
- Some of the hotels on this tour will provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances, but these amenities cannot be guaranteed for hotels in more remote locations.
- Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply.
- There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches.
- Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
- New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming are on Mountain Standard Time (MST), which is two hours behind Eastern Time (ET). Please note that Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time and is on Pacific Standard Time (PST) from March through October.
- When it’s noon in New York City, it’s 10am on tour.
- The U.S. dollar is the currency you will be using on this tour.
- We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees.
- Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your purchases for fraudulent charges.
- Many banks and businesses now primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
- At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in USD.
- We recommend tipping $7USD to $10USD per person per day for your Tour Director and $3USD per person per day for your driver.
- If applicable, we also recommend $2USD per local guide.
- Tips can only be paid in cash.
Purchasing excursions on tour
- Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on your tour.
- Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa, or MasterCard as payment for optional excursions.
- Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged.
- Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.
International travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable. We must therefore reserve the right to change this itinerary, without advance notice, to meet with local conditions at the time of travel. We appreciate your understanding. Please refer to our website for Terms & Conditions, dates, and prices.
See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.
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Our tour far exceeded our expectations . Nature and wildlife came together with the help of our very knowledgeable tour guide Nancy. She had so much more planned for us than was on our itinerary. I don't think she ever ate or slept because she was doing so much for us all the time. Everyday we could tell she had been up planning and doing for us, yet she was full of energy and laughter. Never a dull moment with her . Sure hope we can get her for another tour. We never expected to see so much wildlife. Our bus driver Nathan was patience and helpful. At every wildlife sighting he would drive slow so we could capture those special photos. Always helping us off the bus at stops. The National Parks were just breath-taking. America the beautiful. Hope we can protect and preserve them for our generations to come.
Hi Nancy! We’re thrilled that this tour exceeded your expectations. It sounds like your Tour Director played a major role in ensuring that your group could maximize your time and see as much as possible. We’re glad that her efforts added value and enjoyment to your overall experience. We’re also happy to learn that your bus driver did a great job getting you from A to B and even slowing down for a great photo op when animals came into sight. Thank you for your review, and we hope to welcome you on tour again!
Posted by Katie, Manager of Quality Control | October 31, 2016
A fabulous trip lead by an outstanding tour director
This was a fabulous trip! If you are looking for a restful vacation, this is not it. However if you want to see some of the best of America, this is for you. There were some long days but we saw so much! The views and sights are spectacular. Each park was so beautiful and yet can be so different. If you love to take pictures, this is the trip for you. The scenery was spectacular with some of the most beautiful, intense colors. Our tour director Nancy stopped at some spectacular spots to take pictures. We were able to do things that I don't think you could do on your own. I would highly recommend this trip.
Hi Karen! We're glad you were able to see and do so much throughout your tour. You're right that this itinerary offers some wonderful photo ops, as the scenery is breathtaking and unique. We're grateful for you recommendation, and we hope to welcome you on tour again!
Posted by Katie, Manager of Quality Control | October 20, 2016
Add this to your bucket list!
This tour was fantastic from the beginning to the end. Make no mistake, you are always on the go. I have not had much experience using tour companies, but I will tell you that Go Ahead Tours takes care of its customers. From the start of signing up, getting a phone call to see if you have any additional questions to having a knowledgeable tour guide, good bus driver and good people on tour with the same interests, does it get much better? Yes, it does! The balloon fiesta was awesome, the state parks exceeded the beauty I was expecting and the weather cooperated. The accommodations and meals were good. The only suggestion I would have is having wifi on the bus. It's always nice to have the ability to use it on some of the long drives.
Hi Susan! Thank you for your wonderful review. We're thrilled that you felt taken care of by our Customer Service team from before your tour until the very end. We appreciate your feedback, as well as your suggestion to arrange for Wifi access on the bus. We will certainly communicate that to our Operations team so that they may explore the possibility of making that happen. We hope to welcome you on tour again!
Posted by Katie, Manager of Quality Control | November 02, 2016
A lot for the $$
I found this tour simply by entering "Albuquerque Balloon Festival" in my google search. When I saw that it also included the National Parks, I was thrilled. Myself and my traveling partners could not have been more pleased with the tour, the tour director, the staff of Go Ahead, and how much we got for our money. This trip was all that we hoped it would be and more. A trip of a lifetime. Also want to give our tour director, Stevyn P., a shout out. He was so informative, knew the history of the areas, was helpful in all situations, and kept his cool under some very stressful situations involving medical needs of fellow travelers. We highly recommend this tour and tour group. In fact, we are meeting with a friend to discuss the trip as she and her husband are interested in taking the trip in 2016.
Best National Park tour ever
The Albuquerque Balloon Festival & U.S. National Parks is the best National Park tour every. Stevyn our tour guide is so knowledgeable and helpful. The Albuquerque Balloon Festival was awesome. It was a trip of a lifetime. Then the National Parks: Mesa Verde (cliff dwellers), Monument Valley, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and then Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. It was an amazing trip and I thank Go Ahead for offering it. Everyone who sees my scrapbook wants to take this trip.
Best tour director
This was an excellent trip. The balloon fiesta was amazing and the national parks we visited were truly inspiring. Best of all was our tour director Steyvn. He was energetic and had an impressive knowledge of the parks and their history. He suggested optional tour experiences that were spectacular. On one optional day we flew over the Grand Canyon at sunrise, took a jeep tour to antelope canyon on the Navajo reservation, and spent the afternoon on an eight mile river rafting trip on the Colorado river through Glen canyon. This trip should definitely be on Go Ahead list of optional experiences. Our driver Steve was amazing, able to maneuver the bus with ease. Truly an exceptional experience.
Best vacation ever!
My daughter and I planned to take this trip together last year but it was cancelled due to the closing of the National Parks in 2013! So, our anticipation and excitement when we left had built up for almost two years. The trip began with the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico which was a magical experience with hundreds of brightly colored balloons floating so quietly and graceful through the sky as far as your eye could see. There were vendors for food and gifts galore. We also had tickets to see the concert - Josh Turner! Our next stop was Mesa Verde National Park, home to the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians. Here we actually walked into the dwellings some having over 100 rooms! Monument Valley our next destination provides perhaps the most enduring and definitive images of the American West. The isolated red mesas and buttes surrounded by empty, sandy desert have been filmed and photographed countless times over the years for movies. Because of this, the area may seem quite familiar, even on a first visit, but it is soon evident that the natural colors really are as bright and deep as those in all the pictures. The valley is not a valley in the conventional sense, but rather a wide flat, sometimes desolate landscape, interrupted by the crumbling formations rising hundreds of feet into the air, the last remnants of the sandstone layers that once covered the entire region. We toured the area in a jeep driven by some of the Native Americans and were thrilled to have them play some tribal music on their flute and guitar. We saw petroglyphs drawn on the walls over 800 years ago! Our "Best Tour Director, EVER" arranged for a Navajo code talker to speak to us during breakfast the following day. Navajo code was the only unbreakable code in modern military history used during WWII and saved thousands of US lives. Peter MacDonald was raised on the Navajo Reservation and was a marine in 1944 - 1946 joining at age 15. Our next adventure was to the Grand Canon. We signed up for a plane ride, tour of Antelope Canyon and float down the river! This excursion was 12 hours but it was worth every minute. It included a picnic lunch and several stops along the river ride. You can truly understand just how vast and amazing the canyon really is when viewing it from the sky. Next stop, Zion National Park - which was my daughters favorite park! As far as your eye can see looks like giant drip sand castles. Each park was so unique and different which is what I found most interesting. Next to Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic. Salt Lake City is also headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we were able to tour their beautiful temple. We also had a nice bus tour of the beautiful buildings and state capital. Next on to Jackson Hole, home of the famous Cowboy Bar complete with saddle seats! Great shopping too. In closing I must say this is my 3rd Go Ahead trip and Stevyn Polk our Tour Director went above and beyond making sure we all had the best time and he freely shared his passion of the history, geology and natural beauty of this country with us all. This was a sold out tour and I'm sure we would all love to do it all over again thanks to him.
Awesome tour director and driver!
Everything about the tour was great. Stevyn our director was excellent. He provided us with great optionals to fill in free time, had great information about all the sites and was a lot of fun. Patrick our driver did a great job navigating the 2300 miles we covered.His daily basket of candy was a nice touch. I would highly recommend this trip especially if Patrick and Stevyn were involved.
Best Tour Director and Bus Driver!
What an amazing tour and was even better because of the Tour Director, Stevyn and bus driver, Patrick! They were both very professional, extremely well organized and a wealth of information. Needless to say, the national parks are all amazing and need to be seen and experienced to understand the natural beauty they all offer. The hotels were all very clean and accommodating. The whole experience was excellent! I highly recommend this tour!
"Balloon Fiesta" and so much more!
This was our first experience on a guided tour start to finish, It was fabulous!, Our tour Director Stevyn was terrific, Hey explained in detail what was going on that day and prepared everyone for the next days activities, To me it seemed like three vacations in one, we saw so much !, I wouldn't have been able to put this together on my own. Our driver Patrick was Great as well, they made a terrific team, Stevyn's knowledge of the sites was amazing, His expertise made the trip ,really! I'm already looking forward to the next "Go Ahead " trip! Met some great fellow traverlers Too!
Complete Tour Director
No one living in the U.S. should reach old age and not have visited the natural wonders of our Western National Parks. Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, The Tetons, Yellowstone and as well Monument Valley are all in the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, a trip offered by Go Ahead Tours. If the natural wonders weren't enough, our trip was led by Stevyn, a bright, extremely knowledgeable young man who wove a tapestry of geography, history and humor which brought this adventure to life. A must do trip.
This was our first Go Ahead Tour, so we wondered how the experience would be. Well, it was a " Grand Adventure"! Our tour director, Stevyn, made what would have been a very good tour into an excellent tour! He was informative, personable, and energetic. He offered additional experiences, if you were interested. He also watched closely over the details and prepared the tour group for each stop. Everything was taken care of, so we could relax and enjoy the National Parks and Balloon Fiesta. We extended our tour on the front end flying into Albuquerque 5 days early to explore Santa Fe. I checked into the Go Ahead option of booking our own flights but could not beat Go Ahead's prices on flights. (Good Value!) The Go Ahead staff on the phone was very helpful with this. My only question is... we could not get a hotel transfer (pick-up) from the airport even though we were returning our airport rental car the same day as the majority of our fellow tour travelers were arriving. We knew up front from Go Ahead that we would have to get a cab to the hotel- so no complaint. Maybe Go Ahead has had problems in the past with people not being at an assigned luggage pick up time-when others are being picked up- understandable. We were happy with the hotels and lodges on this trip. Everyone on the tour was cooperative and friendly. Our bus driver, Patrick, was great too. We like the way our tour director rotated the seating and who got off the bus first. The bus rides never got boring. From the scenery, frequent stops, interesting talks from Stevyn - the time went quickly. I had downloaded 2 novels on my kindle for this trip and I only read for about 40 minutes out of 12 days! I was afraid I'd miss something. Each day, you thought you had seen the best place on the trip and you were amazed all over again. We will definitely book again withe Go Ahead Tours.
Albuquerque Balloon Festival
My husband & I took our first organized tour with you. We would not hesitate to take another. Our tour director Stevyn Polk was excellent. He was very informative and very caring. His sense of humor was most enjoyable. The itinerary was well planned. We saw everything listed and more. We enjoyed the beautiful parks and scenery. The hotels were very satifactory. The meals provided were very good. I should also mention that our bus driver was very good. We enjoyed our trip and wish to thank Go Ahead Tours.
Baloon Festival & Park tour
Wonderful tour. Our guide, Stevyn, was wonderful. Very helpful, wonderful background on areas visited. Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon was awesome.
What a WONDERFUL trip!!!!!!!!!!! Stevyn was very knowlegable, kind,respectful, and could tell a good joke:-) Each day was so different from the one before that I cannot say which was my favorite. The group was fun but the only suggestion would be to have a smaller group. We could not get to know everybody and they were all such interesting people. Dale, the bus driver, was wonderful and did a great job maneuvering some pretty challenging terrain. I feel we really lucked out with such a good guide and bus driver as well as a great group of people.Our accommodations were excellent as well as the food. Keep it up GO Ahead Team!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nancy