Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

The Grand <strong>Circle</strong>

The Grand Circle

Nevada - Nevada

We devised this sensational US road trip for anyone who thinks deserts are just full of sand. Okay, the deserts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona do have plenty of sand - but they also have some of the most amazing landscapes in the world. Get your camera ready because this route will take you in a circuit from Las Vegas that includes wonders of the world like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and a one-mile-wide meteorite crater.

The Grand Circle

Stop 1: Springs Preserve 1/13

Springs Preserve

Las Vegas is full of surreal sights but we’ve chosen a more thoughtful attraction to start your road trip. Springs Preserve is as close to a verdant garden as you can find in the Nevada desert. It’s a natural 180-acre site around water springs on the outskirts of the city. Discover botanical gardens showcasing colourful desert flowers and nature walking trails, and learn amazing facts about the desert environment inside the museum building. (Image credit: Springs Preserve)

333 S Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89107

https://www.springspreserve.org/

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Stop 2: Zion National Park 2/13

Zion National Park

Zion’s colourful and dramatic rock formations, canyons and jagged cliffs look like the backdrop to a classic cowboy film. Visitors soon discover that this huge patch of Utah desert is a protected wilderness that encourages outdoor adventures. The energetic should try hiking, biking or kayaking; the less enthusiastic can take a shuttle bus ride round the scenic loop, sleep at the Zion Lodge or eat at the Red Rock Grill within the park.

Zion National Park, Utah

https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

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Stop 3: Bryce Canyon National Park 3/13

Bryce Canyon National Park

Prepare to see one of America’s great natural wonders. Bryce Canyon may not be the best-known National Park but its landscape is extraordinary. Discover a massive array of red rock pillars, arches and amphitheatres in this wild and wonderful spot, high in the mountain plateau of Utah. Explore deep canyons on foot or drive around the high elevation loop road and look out for Bryce’s bristlecone pines, the world’s oldest trees that date back 5,000 years.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

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Stop 4: Torrey 4/13

Torrey

Drivers often find Utah’s stunning scenery just gets better and better. Head for the pretty little town of Torrey as a base to explore the striking landscapes of the Capitol Reef National Park. It’s a welcoming leafy spot to enjoy quirky shops and western barbecue restaurants before heading off into the great outdoors again. From here it’s easy to head out for local highlights like Thousand Lake Mountain or Boulder Mountain.

Torrey 84775, Utah

http://www.torreyutah.com/

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Stop 5: John Wesley Powell River History Museum 5/13

John Wesley Powell River History Museum

Major Powell was the one-armed Civil War veteran who was the first white man to sail down the Grand Canyon. The museum celebrating his adventures makes a fine introduction to the places Powell explored. It tells the fascinating story of this heroic explorer and the environment he conquered. It’s full of displays and artefacts about the Colorado Plateau, including its geology and native cultures, and serves as a visitor centre for the small town of Green River and the wilderness beyond.

1765 E Main St, Green River, UT 84525

http://johnwesleypowell.com/

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Stop 6: Dead Horse Point State Park 6/13

Dead Horse Point State Park

Back in the high deserts of Utah, there are yet more amazing natural views to enjoy. It’s impossible to ignore the Dead Horse Point State Park – it’s one of the best areas for viewing the wonderful Grand Canyon. At one spot the Colorado River seems to snake through a moonscape of 2,000ft red cliffs all the way to the dusty horizon. A nine-mile hiking loop takes visitors to the best lookout points.

Utah 313, Moab, UT 84532

https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/

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Stop 7: Butler Wash Archaeological Ruin 7/13

Butler Wash Archaeological Ruin

Among the sweeping great views of the state of Utah there remain many links to the past, including a former dig site which uncovered the ways in which the ancient Anasazi lived. Just off mile marker 111 on Highway 95 you’ll find the site has been partially restored to reveal a series of alcoves beneath the slopes of Comb Ridge. Hike up to the overlook across the valley for a great view into the past.

Highway 95, 14 miles south of Blanding, UT

http://www.anasazihikes.com/Upper_Butler_wash.php

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Stop 8: Oljato-Monument Valley 8/13

Oljato-Monument Valley

The ‘Monuments’ are a series of huge rock formations rising as high as 1,000ft out of the desert like giant jagged teeth. Drive through this Navajo tribal land and see the rocks that are both alien and familiar, having made appearances in dozens of films and TV shows. Stay in the Valley to shop for souvenirs and Native American artefacts, or simply just to gaze at the extraordinary views. Don’t forget the locals’ tip: everything looks even more dramatic at sunrise or sunset.

Utah 84536

http://www.utahscanyoncountry.com/monument-valley.html

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Stop 9: Lees Ferry 9/13

Lees Ferry

This is the start of the Colorado River’s journey through the Grand Canyon, a remote and barren spot where the river is relatively calm and flat. From 1872 a simple open ferry crossed the mighty river here - making it a vital strategic point for travel around the region. Today’s visitors can see the old ferry launch ramp and historic homes of those who had made their living and tried to survive in this inhospitable spot.

Lees Ferry, Marble Canyon,

https://www.nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/lees-ferry.htm

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Stop 10: Meteor Crater 10/13

Meteor Crater

Just when you thought you must have seen everything that America’s desert landscape can offer, here’s another extraordinary and unique sight. The world’s best-preserved meteorite impact crater was made by an asteroid hitting earth at 26,000mph, 50,000 years ago. The result of that direct hit on the planet is a monstrous 550ft deep and nearly two and a half miles in circumference. Learn more about this amazing spot in the visitor centre and its widescreen cinema.

Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow, AZ 86047 USA

http://meteorcrater.com/

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Stop 11: Lowell Observatory 11/13

Lowell Observatory

The desert is also one of the best environments for astronomy because there’s so little artificial light to disrupt the view of the heavens. The Victorian Lowell Observatory is one of the oldest in America - Pluto was first observed from here in 1930. Daytime visitors can observe the sun through special viewing equipment and see the Pluto discovery telescope, while evening visitors get a chance to view planets, stars and the moon through more modern devices.

1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

https://lowell.edu/

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Stop 12: Tusayan 12/13

Tusayan

Despite its remote location in northeast Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the United States. The massive gorge of the Colorado River is considered one of the world’s best natural wonders. The village of Tusayan is the gateway to the more popular south rim of the Canyon. From May to October, frequent shuttle buses run from here to the park’s visitor centre, avoiding the queues at the ticket entry booths.

Tusayan, Arizona

https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/tusayan-route-purple.htm

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Stop 13: Pinball Hall of Fame 13/13

Pinball Hall of Fame

The US desert road-trip ends back in the bright lights and round-the-clock entertainment of Las Vegas – and what could symbolise that more than the world’s largest collection of pinball machines? This is a dedicated family-friendly museum with 10,000 square feet of nothing but pinball machines from the 1950s to the present day. It’s a chance to play on more than 200 of the games that were once the coolest, high-tech devices – but are now museum pieces. (Image credit: Driph)

1610 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89119

http://www.pinballmuseum.org/

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