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Albuquerque Balloon Festival & U.S. National Parks

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Discover America’s high-flying traditions and natural wonders.

You can’t help but gaze in awe as you watch hundreds of balloons fill with hot air and float gracefully upward, covering the sky with color. You’ll have the same reaction again and again on this inspiring tour, as you marvel at the Grand Canyon, see the famed Old Faithful, and stand in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. Each day displays a new destination—and with it new landscapes and adventures.

Your tour package includes
  • 11 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 11 breakfasts
  • 4 dinners with beer or wine
  • 9 guided sightseeing tours
  • Expert Tour Director & local guides
Included highlights
  • The Albuquerque Balloon Festival
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Monument Valley
  • the Grand Canyon
  • Zion National Park
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Day-by-day itinerary
Print itinerary
Albuquerque, New Mexico2 nights
Day 1: Arrival in Albuquerque
Included meal: Dinner

Welcome to New Mexico! Arrive in Albuquerque and transfer to your hotel. Then, get meet your fellow travelers at this evening’s welcome dinner.

Day 2: Albuquerque Balloon festival
Included meal: 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 Park1 night
Day 3: Mesa Verde via Durango
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Cross the Colorado border, stopping in the Old West mining town of Durango, Colorado en route to Mesa Verde.

Sit down for an included dinner this evening.

Kayenta, Arizona1 night
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

Sit down for an included dinner in Kayenta this evening.

Grand Canyon2 nights
Day 5: Grand Canyon via Tuba City & Cameron Trading Post
Included meal: Breakfast

Pay a visit to the Navajo Code Talkers Museum to meet with Navajo leader Peter MacDonald and learn about the World War II Code Talkers.

Please note: Meeting Peter MacDonald is not guaranteed.

Then, stop at 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 meal: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day at the Grand Canyon to explore its rims and plateaus on your own or add an excursion.

Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride
Excursion (additional cost)
Zion National Park, Utah1 night
Day 7: Transfer to Zion National Park
Included meal: 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, Utah1 night
Day 8: Salt Lake City via Bryce Canyon National Park
Included meal: 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 arches, spires, and bridges

• View colorful rock pinnacles known as “hoodoos”

Jackson, Wyoming3 nights
Day 9: Transfer to Jackson & Grand Teton National Park
Included meal: 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 meal: 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.

Head to a local restaurant to celebrate your trip at a farewell dinner this evening.

Flight Home
Day 12: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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Dates & prices
Choose your dates to start a quote
6 Departures
Tour prices are per person, before flights, and based on two travelers per hotel room.
Oct 2–Oct 13, 2020
Oct 5–Oct 16, 2020
Oct 9–Oct 20, 2020
Oct 1–Oct 12, 2021
Oct 4–Oct 15, 2021
Oct 8–Oct 19, 2021
4.8 average
Our reviews are authentic and unedited.
by 2nd time traveler 

The trip itinerary was set up as a very interesting trip but ended up being a disappointment. What we saw was amazing at some points but the tour director didn't know much or didn't stop at some of the things we were suppose to. Example some places we were suppose to have lunch on our own but eat to...

Read more +
Go Ahead Tours replied on 11/05/2018

Dear Tina, Thank you for your feedback relating to...

Awesome Southwest
by 2nd time traveler 

Everything about this trip was exceptional. Bus driver Ivan and tour director Phil were organized, fun and informative. We saw and learned so much. The balloon fiesta was more than I could have imagined. Dawn breaking while the multicoloured balloons lifted into the air was incredible and at night ...

by 2nd time traveler 

The trip was great! Words can't describe the Albuquerque Balloon Fest & the Nat'l Parks Tour. Every day was another wow experience. There was a lot of time spent on the bus, but we knew that from the getgo. We did stop frequently for breaks & meals. Our hotels, breakfasts & dinners included were ver...

Go Ahead Tours replied on 11/05/2018

Dear Traveler, Many thanks for taking your time to...

Magnificent and Breath-taking
by 8th time traveler 

One of the best GoAhead itineraries! Fast--paced, well-organized, moments of sheer awe and wonder. From our first meeting with our most capable and fun tour director Phil, to the very end of the tour, we were treated to a wonderous smorgasbord of sights, as well as being educated on geology,...

by 2nd time traveler 

I very much enjoyed the trip, the tour guide, Ellen, was terrific, she was knowledgeable, and if she didn't have the answer, she made every effort to find the answer, she was always there to take pictures and make suggestions. The accommodations were nice and the restaurants were tasty. One night...

Go Ahead Tours replied on 11/01/2018

Dear Dorris, At Go Ahead, we take great pride in o...

Hotels, flights & FAQ

Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.


We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.

Hampton Inn Albuquerque

This midtown hotel is located near the University of Albuquerque. Guests enjoy a fitness center, pool, and laundry service. Nearby, you’ll find the hi...

Far View Lodge

This newly renovated hotel is located outside Mesa Verde National Park. Guests enjoy traditional Western décor and delicious dining. Outside, you’ll b...

Hampton Inn Kayenta

This cozy hotel is located in Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation. Guests enjoy a fitness center, pool, and laundry service. Nearby, you’ll find...

Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn

This modern lodge hotel is located near The Grand Canyon. Guests enjoy a bowling center, indoor and outdoor pools, billiards, and an arcade. Nearby, y...

Holiday Inn Express Springdale - Zion

This rustic lodge-style hotel is located next to Zion National Park. Guests enjoy a fitness center, pool, and laundry facilities. Nearby, you’ll find ...

Salt Lake Plaza Hotel

This comfortable hotel is located in Temple Square. Guests enjoy a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and room service. Nearby, you’ll find the Family History Li...

Elk Country Inn

This western hotel is located in the Historic neighborhood. Guests enjoy a fitness room, a free ski shuttle, and a picnic area. Nearby, you’ll find Gr...


Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.

Add our airfare package and you'll get:
  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights
Local weather
Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Weather averages
High 92°F Low 73°F
Jackson, United States
Weather averages
High 84°F Low 73°F
Kayenta, Arizona, United States
Weather averages
High 87°F Low 71°F
Salt Lake City, United States
Weather averages
High 89°F Low 69°F
Print FAQ
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.
Tour pace
  • 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.
  • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special, individual mobility assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group as a whole enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing, individualized assistance to any one traveler.
  • 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.
Baggage allowance
  • Please note that our travelers are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
  • Contact your airline(s) for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flights, which may include on-tour flights in addition to your round-trip flights to and from tour. Please note that your included on-tour flights may have more restrictive baggage limits.
  • Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage or exceed baggage size and weight restrictions. Be advised that you are responsible for any baggage fees incurred on all flights.
  • 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
  • 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.
Time zones
  • 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.
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