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Southwest Splendor at America’s National Parks

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This post is part of our Escapes Editor’s Picks series, where LivingSocial travel expert Nick Stafford talks about great destinations to travel and tour.

Q: Tell us about this month’s pick, a four-day tour of the American Southwest.

A: Storytelling is one of the best ways to inspire travel. This month’s Editor’s Pick is a story about some of the most iconic destinations in America… the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. You may have visited the stunning National Parks already – and want to return – or perhaps they’ve just always been on the top of your travel list. Either way, these parks are majestic, and filled with adventure.

We are featuring a four-day exploration of three national parks. Each trip has a maximum of 12 travelers, so it’s an intimate and social trip. In Utah, the vibrant vistas of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park create an otherworldly landscape so vivid and disarming, they landed on AFAR magazine’s list of Where to Go in 2015. And then there’s the Grand Canyon. The breathtaking depth and vastness of Arizona’s geological wonder attracts five million visitors every year.

Q: What kind of traveler is suited for this tour? Do they need to be skilled hikers?

A: Lovers of nature! The tours can accommodate everyone from children to seniors. You’ll typically walk/hike about three miles a day. Our partners can always make arrangements for more avid hikers who want to go off on their own.

Q: What part of the trip sounds most exciting to you?

A: For me travel is about discovery. Somewhere new. Because I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, I’d be most excited about Bryce Canyon National Park. The website description is so tempting: “There is no place quite like Bryce Canyon. Descriptions fail. Cave without a roof? Forest of stone? Even photographs strain credulity.”

Q: Tell us about the hotels included, Ruby’s Inn and Jacob Lake Inn.

A: The parks are the stars of the show. The hotels are rustic, warm, and quiet. Think of them as perfect jump-off points to the national parks that you will explore during your trip.

Q: When is the best time of year to book?

A: The date options for these tours are already the most optimal times of the year. Summer is obviously hotter, so if you like warm but not too hot, then book for the spring or fall. Note that the Grand Canyon North Rim is only open between May 15-October 15 each year, so trips before or after those dates will be visiting the spectacular Capitol Reef National Park instead.

Q: We are sold! What are the must-pack items?

A: Sturdy shoes, ideally with ankle support, and best if they are broken in. Lots of layers, sunscreen, a canteen, and of course a camera/great smartphone to document your trip, but be careful stepping backwards!