I always enjoy reading other people’s reviews of tours they’ve done, so here’s mine for the Globus tour I took in September 2022.
Click here to download a copy of my itinerary of the entire trip (Globus tour plus Oregon, Alaska, Washington and Vancouver which I went to after the Globus tour). More details in this post.
The Globus Itinerary
Here’s a run down of the Globus itinerary
At 6pm the day before the tour technically starts, you meet the tour director and people in your tour group for a briefing with a free drink (but no dinner which felt really stingy). Oh well, we went and had a decent, cheap meal at Denny’s afterwards.
Day 1 – Las Vegas – Grand Canyon
The tour departs Las Vegas in the early morning.
Our first stop was a Walmart which my Mum and I were quite excited about and, coming from Australia, greatly appreciated! Walmart’s are a bit far out of town and would require us to pay for an Uber (when I’d looked it up the day before to see if we go on our own it wanted to charge us $45 USD for a 20 min, one way drive!).
The drive to the Grand Canyon, south rim took about 4.5 hours total excluding the stop at Walmart and an early lunch stop at Williamstown. We’d all had a big breakfast only a few hours earlier at Treasure Island so no one wanted to have a sit down lunch. There was a lot of dead time where we were all lingering by the bus just waiting to leave.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon around 3pm. This only left about 3 – 3.5 hours of sunlight to do whatever walking trails and lookouts you wanted to see. The tour director was disorganized, and didn’t tell us what time we would arrive, what walking routes she’d recommend, she just handed us the maps you get when you paid the park entrance fee and gave vague suggestions.
I’d looked up walking trails before the trip just in case, and was glad that I did. We wasted no time jumping on the national park’s free shuttle bus to the best lookout points. We did most of them on the left side of the accommodation on the rim, then got the free shuttle bus back just before they finished running for the day. If you missed it, you had to walk all the way back along the same route you just walked on (possibly in the dark) which is what some other people in our tour group ended up having to do.
I would’ve liked a full day at the Grand Canyon, in addition to the afternoon, to do the walking trail that goes to the bottom of the canyon and comes back up, or visit some of the other viewpoints, or the small shopping area via the shuttle bus to get some things for a DIY dinner as the food options at Grand Canyon were terrible. There was only one restaurant which you had to wait more than an hour to be seat for and it was one of the worst meals I’ve ever had (and overpriced).
The accommodation was the Kachina Lodge hotel. We got lucky with a room overlooking the Grand Canyon (could’ve been a room overlooking the carpark).
Day 2 – Grand Canyon to Lake Powell
The itineraries are very brief on tour company websites. The description said free time at the Grand Canyon however we left at 8:30am. So.. not really any free time unless you want to get up at like 5am.
Next we drove to Lake Powell stopping at the Cameron trading post for lunch… which ended up being basically the only ‘activity’ on the tour for the day, apart from stopping at the visitor information centre for Lake Powell dam. We arrived at Lake Powell Resort around 3pm.
That afternoon we were supposed to do a boat tour but as we were a small group, it was moved to the next afternoon to make it more worthwhile for the tour boat company. Mum and I are not sit-around-doing-nothing-while-on-holidays type people. So we asked the bus driver, who we overhead was going into nearby Page anyway, if we could tag along and go to Walmart. He kindly obliged and the 3 of us boarded the 55 seater bus and headed into town. He got his Dr Pepper and we got our Dove chocolate 🙂
That night, a dinner in the resorts ‘rainbow room’ (where you also have breakfast) was included. It had a great view of the lake and the dinner was very nice (I ordered the salmon).
Day 3 – Lake Powell
This was a bit of a wasted day. If you did all of the optional activities on offer then you’d mostly fill in the day, but only 2 of the optional activities interested me: horseshoe bend viewpoint and antelope canyon. I didn’t want to do a helicopter tour (expensive and I question the safety of helicopters).
The antelope canyon tour left at the ridiculously early hour of 7:15am.
It was great to finally see it in person after seeing a famous photo of it occasionally pop on my Microsoft screensaver. The colours are much more impressive in person and the tour guide was very knowledgeable.
To get to the canyon requires going in an off road vehicle that was like a ute with an open cabin attached to the back of the cab with bench seating and a bar to hold onto with with a roof over the top. There was 1 seatbelt between 2 people which I didn’t like, and it only went across your lap, not a proper seatbelt. The tour guide was running late on the way back (not our fault she spent longer than we were supposed to in the cave), and was driving like an absolute maniac. There are signs stating the speed limit and she was clearly doing more than that. People were getting thrown around so much that one person hit their head and one person nearly fell off the back of the vehicle. It was only when we all started yelling at her to slow down that she actually drove the speed limit. It did not leave a good impression with the tour group and our tour director complained to her manager.
After Antelope Canyon is was back to the hotel were we sat around for half the day. You could go have lunch at the resort restaurant (not included in the Globus tour price), but we’d already had dinner there the night before and it was super expensive so we just ate snacks and wasted time waiting around for the afternoon’s optional activity: horseshoe bend viewpoint.
You have to pay to park your vehicle in the carpark at horseshoe bend so Globus though this warranted being a paid extra activity. It was only $20 USD and I get that it’s recently become a carpark with paid entry, however Globus charges more than enough money for this tour to be able to cover $20 per person. Everyone on the tour wanted to do the viewpoint too, it’s not like you’d opt out due to physical ability, the path was smooth and easy to walk on, and there are purpose built platforms at the viewpoint.
I found it odd that they dragged out the time in Lake Powell. We could’ve done horseshoe bend on the way into Lake Powell Resort (the hotel included in the tour). We literally drove past the carpark and there was plenty of time to stop. Instead we had to double back half an hour each way the next day. Alternatively, we also could’ve done Antelope Canyon the next morning, then continue onto the next place.
Horseshoe bend, Arizona
There are other attractions and rock formations near Lake Powell that would’ve been nice to visit and could’ve easily been added to the itinerary.
After Antelope Canyon we did the boat tour. It was a very boring 1 hour boat tour where all you’re looking at are the stone walls and then the dam wall itself. At least the captain of the ship had good commentary.
I’d contacted Globus before the trip to ask what was included in the boat tour as I found another one that was 2.5 hours long but included far more attractions and went both directions from the hotel, not just in one direction (to the dam wall and back) like the boat tour included in the Globus itinerary. I wish I could’ve had the option to pay the difference and upgrade to the 2.5 hour boat tour instead.
I do not understand why people care about Lake Powell as a tourist attraction. Yes for it’s functionality as a dam but as a lake… big deal. It was boring. I’m baffled that we spent more time at a boring man made lake instead of the Grand Canyon… 1 of the 7 wonders of the world.
If you do stay at Lake Powell Resort (or in the area nearby), use the hotel room alarm clock for your alarm. Because it’s on the border of Utah and Arizona there are 3 possible timezones. Depending on what phone provider’s tower your phone is pinging off, your iPhone clock was either on time, an hour ahead or an hour behind. My mum and I used our phone alarms but we didn’t realise our clocks were actually an hour behind. Plus we allowed an extra hour to make sure we didn’t miss pick up in case our iphone clocks were an hour ahead. Long story short we accidentally woke up at 3:30am instead of 5:30am.
At least we got driven into the nearby town of Page to have dinner at the restaurant of our choosing.
Day 4 – Lake Powell – Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – Moab
Glad to see the back of Lake Powell, we continued onto Monument Valley. We got our hopes up after the tour director kept saying today was going to be ‘a busy day’.. well we were disappointed. Today’s activity included a stop at Navajo National Monument information centre which by the way the tour guide was talking, sounded like it wasn’t always an included stop in the itinerary.
There were diorama’s of the caves Navajo people used to live in, and nearby caves that normally you can do tours of, to see how the Navajo people lived before modern settlers arrived which I was really interested in doing (e.g. Betatakin Cliff Dwelling Tour). Unfortunately they are temporarily suspended due to covid. They include some hiking and take 4 – 5 hours so weren’t included in the Globus tour anyway.
Navajo National Monument information centre
After driving through some dull desert scenery for a few hours, we arrived in Kayenta for a lunch stop. There was a tiny museum with some Navajo Code Talkers information beside the Burger King.. which ended up being today’s other ‘attraction’.
There isn’t much in Kayenta, it was really just a meeting place for people from the outlying towns to do their grocery shopping with a few fast food places. Not far from Kayenta was Gouldings Lodge, which was tonight’s accommodation.
There is a small museum about it’s history as a trading post and some of the movies that have been filmed in Monument Valley which takes about 30 minutes to go through, apart from that there’s nothing else to do at the hotel.
That evening we did a backcountry cookout which involved a bit of off-road driving (the tour guide was a much better driver this time. It was more of a truck this time with seats for about 20 people instead of 10), a BBQ dinner, some performance and stories about the Navajo people, told by a Navajo native. While a bit touristy / commercialised, I still enjoyed it.
You need to wear a mask when you’re on the Navajo lands (most of them are not vaccinated against covid) and note that they observe daylight savings time.
day 5 – Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – Moab
Today was finally a better day! We got taken by another Navajo tour guide for a drive through Monument Valley National park in the morning. There was lots of stops at iconic viewpoints, our tour guide was very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions. For me, this activity was one of the highlights of the tour.
View from the balcony of our room at Goulding’s Lodge – perfect place to watch the sunrise or sunset
After the Monument Valley 4WD tour, we headed to Moab. I’d seen the below photo on the internet when researching photo spots before the trip. I requested the bus driver make a stop so I could replicate the photo. I’m not sure if it was already on the Globus itinerary or not but he said it’s a very popular photo spot so I assume it was. Anyway, he had no issues with making a stop and I very much appreciated the photo opportunity! It may become the cover photo of my photobook I’m making of the trip…
Then we continued onto our accommodation at Red Cliffs Lodge which was about 25 minutes outside of Moab town. There’s a winding road beside the cliffs which opens to a flat section where the hotel is located, true to it’s name, nestled amongst the red cliffs. Each group (single person, couple or in my case, myself and Mum) got their own 2 bedroom cabin. We got super lucky because there’s an entire motel room style section of the accommodation we could’ve been placed at instead. One of the perks of only having 11 people in our tour group, we had really good accommodation (and views from that accommodation) at each place we stayed at.
Red Cliffs Lodge – felt like the set of a Hallmark movie!
Included in the Globus tour, was a BBQ dinner overlooking the river. The food was very good and I was glad it was buffet style so you could choose whatever you wanted and whatever portion size you wanted. They cooked so much food and because we were such a small tour group, everyone was able to take some leftovers for dinner the next night, to avoid paying for the expensive restaurant at the accommodation (as the tour itinerary does not include taking you into Moab for dinner, you are stranded at the hotel).
Day 6 – The Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park
This morning we headed to the Arches National Park.
Our bus driver (who wasn’t from Globus but from a bus company called All Aboard America) was very knowledgeable of Utah and Arizona having travelled to all of the places we’d been to multiple times and still living in Arizona. He had very good commentary about the places we were going to, and knew far more ‘fun facts’ than our Globus tour guide did. Anyway, he knew what time to hit the national parks to avoid peak times so right on schedule we arrived, and only had to wait 15 minutes (instead of apparently the usual 1 hr +) to enter the park.
It rained while we were driving through the park looking at the different rock formations (I know that sounds boring when you read it on someone’s blog but in person it was actually really interesting). The rain finally stopped and we were able to do some short walking trails to see the main arches in the park.
These photos don’t do a very good job of showing the massive scale of the arches.
Delicate Arch requires a hire to get there, so we only viewed it from the carpark.
Afterwards we had a lunch stop in Moab. You really only need an hour to walk the main streets of town.
Main street of Moab
Then we headed to Dead Horse Point to go to some of the lookouts.
One of the viewpoints at DeadHorsePoint, Canyonlands National Park
I was very disappointed that we missed Shafer Canyon overlook viewpoint and Mesa Arch (it’s only 10 – 15 min walk from the carpark so I thought for sure that one would be included). Especially since we literally drove past them after our stop at Island in the Sky Visitor Center on the way to Grand View Point. There was plenty of time to make quick stops at both of these places.
I felt the lookout stops that we did make, were too long. We could’ve seen more things with shorter stops at each.
Near Grand View Point, Canyonlands National Park
After this, we had a second night at Red Cliff’s Lodge. We arrived back at the hotel at the stupidly early time of 4pm. It takes so long to get to places that I don’t understand why the Globus itinerary doesn’t maximise the time spent at each place. Especially when it’s a day where people could stay at the hotel if they didn’t want to, or spend more time in Moab, or even just sit on the bus and look at the viewpoint out the window if they don’t want to do the short walks to the viewpoints. When we got lucky with such a small tour group I thought the tour guide would give us more flexibility and options, but this didn’t happen. This was really frustrating as the other Globus tour we did and the Cosmos tour, there was more flexibility with larger groups (40 people).
Day 7 – Moab – Capital Reef National Park – Bryce Canyon National Park
I wouldn’t have minded a stop at Goblin Valley on the way to Capital Reef national park but it was skipped (probably because those roads wouldn’t be accessible for a big bus).
We stopped for a picnic lunch but the only food place was one selling sweet pies, not savoury, so we just ate our snacks instead. The parking was very limited and with such a big bus it was difficult to find an available parking spot. Our bus driver attempted to park but I don’t think he realised just how deep the mud was… as the bus got bogged.
It took him just over an hour with the help of our tour guide and a couple with their ute who somehow managed to tow the bus out of the mud. We really thought we were going to be stuck there all day waiting for a tow truck, or try and use people power to push the bus out. It was probably lucky we had so few people so there wasn’t a lot of luggage to weigh down the bus.
It had rained too much to visit anything else in the park and some things were closed (or so the tour guide told us…) so after that quick stop in Capital Reef, we continued onto Bryce Canyon. Today felt like a bit of a wasted day and I could’ve done without the stop at Capital Reef. It required quite a long detour off the main highway to get to it. I did enjoy the drive through the Escalate area with massive cliff drop offs on either side of the bus but again, the timings for the day were off.
That night, dinner at Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill was included in the tour. It was cheesy and touristy but… I didn’t mind it. Would’ve been better if they played some newer country songs as I hadn’t heard many of them, however the older generation in the crowd loved whatever they were singing.
Day 8 – Bryce Canyon National Park
Today was how I expected our time at the Grand Canyon to run. In the morning the entire tour group went to lookouts, did the rim walk, then went back to Ruby’s Inn for lunch or in our case, a snack of ice cream from the shop in the town (highly recommend).
In the afternoon you had the option to go back into the national park and do whatever walking trails or viewpoints you wanted via the national parks shuttle bus, or stay at the hotel. I much prefer a combination of time spent with the tour group and then the opportunity to be independent.
One of my favorite photos of the entire trip – amazing views and no, this photo isn’t photoshopped. The orange rocks really were this bright in person
This was our favourite day of the tour! We did the peek-a boo loop which was well worth the effort (my phone said I’d done 31,000 steps at the end of that day). True to it’s name, you never knew what amazing view was around the next bend so while it was a long hike, the time passed quickly. We started the hike at 3pm and finished it at 6pm (recommended time is 3 – 4 hours). We didn’t stop for a snack break and went at a brisk pace as we wanted to finish by dark. If you wanted to go at a more leisurely pace, it would take the 4 hours.
Two deer ran across the path in front of us which was the first time I’ve seen deer in the wild!
For dinner that night we ate at the Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room. It wasn’t peak season but it was still packed. Arrive early or expect to wait at least half an hour for a table. Our waitress happened to be a great granddaughter of the original Ruby (who started Ruby’s Inn).
Day 9 – Zion National Park – Las Vegas
The last real day of the tour we had about 2 hours of free time in Zion to do whatever we wanted. Good thing I’d planned ahead (you really need to have your own itinerary for your free time pre-organized before you go on these group tours to maximise your trip). We chose to do the riverside walk which ends at the emerald pools then turn and walk back the same way you came. We then got the shuttle back to the main visitor information centre and did the lower emerald trail but there was no water to create a waterfall so it was somewhat of a waste of time.
Globus gave us a sack lunch which had heaps of food in it which we ate beside the river.
Riverside walk, Zion National Park
I think 2 hours there was enough time at Zion, the rest of the hikes seemed more challenging and would probably take half day or whole day to complete. Zion was good, but if you’re was pressed for time, this could be another national park to skip (or just spend 1 day).
For me, the best part of visiting Zion was sitting in at the front of the bus and getting a great view of all of the tunnels and hairpin turns.
The perks of a small tour group, we had multiple opportunities to sit in the front seat and get good pictures like this on our way back to Las Vegas. I love road photos and on a trip like this, there are plenty of road photos!
That night there was a 3 course dinner at one of the function rooms at Treasure Island (included in tour cost and was very good food), then you were ‘free to go’ so we hit the Strip again and went up the Eiffel Tower viewpoint.
I know the Strip doesn’t look that big in photos, but it takes so long to walk anywhere when it’s busy. The footpaths aren’t wide enough in some places, and you get redirected around buildings and overpass bridges that it may only be a few kilometres in a straight line on the map, but you actually end up walking quite a distance going around or through all the buildings and people.
View of the Strip on a quiet Monday night
Cost of the Globus Tour
The cost of organized tours varies depending on what time of year you do them. I like to do them at the start or end of the season (in the ‘off season’ when the price is cheaper and the temperature more pleasant).
If I compared the cost of the tour with the cost of hiring a car, staying at the same hotels then it would work out slightly cheaper to do ourselves (2 people). Could make it even cheaper if you didn’t stay at the expensive resorts and just picked a holiday inn hotel.
The bus driver did tell us is cost on average $300 USD for a national park approval and then when the bus (or ‘motorcoach’ as he called it) enters the park it’s another $300 USD. Plus sometimes there were extra permits like in Zion where you have to pay an ‘escort’ fee because the bus is so big, plus there’s probably parking fees in some locations. He told us it cost about $1,250 USD to fill up with fuel (we did approx. 1,800 miles / 2,900km on this tour).
I did this trip with my Mum but the trip would cost more if you paid the single supplement fee.
Got to visit locations that are impossible to visit unless you get there by road which means you have to hire a car and drive there yourself. There were long driving distances on some days which I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving for that length of time.
Seating arrangements on the bus. The tour guide was good about rotating people around in seats. Since there were so few people on the bus (11 in the tour group on a 55 seater bus), you could move around and really sit wherever you wanted. Everyone was really respectful about sharing the front seats with the best view. People did notice me taking probably an excessive amount of photos so nobody complained or really cared if I occasionally hopped out of my seat when it was my turn at the back, to sit in one of the vacant seats near the front for half an hour or so to take some photos in especially scenic sections, before returning to my seat.
The visits to Walmart.
What was wrong with the tour
The timings for almost everything on the entire tour were wrong. For a company whose entire product is planning itineraries I expect the itinerary to be perfect. The trip switched between rushing at an attraction with not enough time to properly see it, and then lingering around hotels bored and wasting time.
Stopping at a roadside petrol station that happens to have a tiny museum is not an attraction / only thing you do that day.
The only opportunities to be independent were Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. The rest of the time you are stuck with the tour group or stuck at the hotels. The hotels were nice, however they were in the middle of nowhere. It wouldn’t have mattered so much if we didn’t arrive at the hotels so dam early in the day.
The tour director was a very nice lady, I have nothing against her personally just her ability as a tour director could’ve been better. She was often frazzled by the simplest things, read notes off a slide show, couldn’t answer many questions about the area we were touring and didn’t really do anything extra. She was very ‘by the book’. With a small group there were so many simple things she could’ve done to make it a better experience – like allowing us more time at attractions instead of rushing off (even just 15 – 30 minutes at some places would’ve made a difference). She kept saying we normally do 1.5 hours here but I’ll just give you guys an hour because you don’t need to queue for the bathrooms and wait for late people to get back to the bus. I was like why are we rushing off… so we can sit at the hotel and she can put her feet up off the clock that was why!
The things I’d change
I will admit, the accommodation on this tour (where I suspect most of the tour cost went), was really nice and usually with a fabulous view. I’m just someone that prefers to have a bit more going on and staying in cities. A mix of hotels in town and hotels out of town would’ve been good.
There is another Globus ‘express’ version of the itinerary called ‘America’s Canyonlands Escape’ (a 7 day version of this itinerary that skips some things) which is too quick, but this version is too slow. Just do one afternoon at Lake Powell, add a second night at Grand Canyon and keep the full day at Bryce Canyon (which isn’t included in the express itinerary version).
There was also a Cosmos version with a similar itinerary (Cosmos is owned by the same company as Globus) which was much cheaper and stayed in the towns at places like holiday inn express, instead of the nicer hotels included in the Globus tour. Some of the included activities e.g. the backcountry cookout dinner at Monument Valley were included in the Globus tour, but were optional on the Cosmos version of the tour. The Cosmos tour was also a bit too rushed and missed some of the places that were included in the tour I ended up picking.
The advertised age group for the tour is very broad (age 5 to 80). I think it should be 40+. Not sure if it was the tour guide (who was in her 60’s, or if she’s used to the older generation taking her tours), but she kept saying things like ‘be very careful it’s a strenous hike to the horseshoe bend viewpoint’. No it’s not! There’s a dedicated track that’s well maintained, I wouldn’t even class it as a hike. And if you’re worried about the lack of shade provided by national parks service, hand out umbrellas on the tour bus.
Globus shouldn’t have charged for the entry to horseshoe bend as an ‘optional’ add on, it should’ve just been included in the tour.
Would I do another Globus tour?
I had done a Globus tour of Austria and Switzerland and really enjoyed it, but I’m very hesitant to do another Globus tour in the USA. The tours are expensive and I’ve never felt bored on a holiday like I did at times on this one. The pace of the tour felt off. We’d switch from dawdling at a gift shop in a nowhere roadside town, to rushing through the Arches National Park barely getting to see anything.
The Globus tour I did of Austria and Switzerland allowed much more independence and accommodation was in town so you could wander around at your own place and eat at whatever restaurant you like, you weren’t stuck at hotels which only had one restaurant.
I wish Globus would provide more details about their tours e.g. update the website to include physical difficult rating, is it a fast or slow paced tour? How much time approx. at each stop? Comments like ‘arrive in the afternoon’ is very vague.
While there are definitely things I’d change about the itinerary I’m still glad I did this tour. I went to places I otherwise probably wouldn’t have gone and was very glad we got lucky with such a small tour group – it really made it much more enjoyable.
In the future, If I see some tour group departures labelled ‘small group’ I’d be more inclined to book that and pay a little bit extra. Having a small group made the tour much more enjoyable. We were never waiting for stragglers to get back to the bus – everyone was very considerate and friendly. I’d been to the USA back in 2014 but that was just day trips so you don’t really talk to other people on the tour. Mum and I were the only Australians amongst the Americans so we were quite popular. We really enjoyed talking to the other people on the tour as they’d come from all over the USA, and seeing photos of their local area. I especially enjoyed talking to a couple from Boston and looking at their autumn photos – that’s the part of the USA I have my eye on next…
Organized tour versus self paced?
There were some roads (like Zion national park) which I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving, but the desert highway driving would’ve been fine. I think this itinerary is better suited to self drive at the pace that suits you.
More travel posts
- Best of Paris (1 day Itinerary with suggested timing for each attraction)
- Guide to Visiting the Isle of Capri (Itinerary & Tips)
- Best of Tasmania Road Trip (10 Day Self Drive Itinerary)
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