Call of the wild West

NICK DAL­TON looks at four tours that ex­plore the best of the US and Canada

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THE bright lights of Las Ve­gas il­lu­mi­nat­ing the desert night; the snow-capped Cana­dian Rock­ies; sun­set turn­ing the rim of the Grand Canyon a fiery red; Mount Rainier, a vol­cano that tops 14,000ft and is one of the largest in the world – that’s the Amer­ica and Canada we all know, yet can’t wait to see in per­son.

The West is alive with clas­sic images that fill movies and posters, images that sum up ev­ery­thing we love about the coun­tries and their grand land­scapes. There’s the Wild West and there are moun­tain re­sorts, glit­ter­ing cities and sun-drenched beaches, re­mote na­tional parks and rolling plains.

The trick is to put to­gether a string of spec­tac­u­lar des­ti­na­tions on one splen­did hol­i­day. Amer­ica and Canada are built for road trips but if you want the won­der of the open high­way with­out hav­ing to do it your­self, there is an­other way.

The an­swer is the ex­pan­sive col­lec­tion of hol­i­days from Cos­mos, the leader in es­corted tours and its sis­ter com­pany Globus, which of­fer pre­mium es­corted tours that un­lock even more au­then­tic lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences and come with spe­cial VIP ac­cess to top at­trac­tions. The spec­ta­cle of the two na­tions’ great West Coast is summed up in four tours.

HIGH­LIGHTS OF THE CANYONLANDS

An eight-day ad­ven­ture starts with a night in the desert city of Las Ve­gas and takes in the states of Ne­vada, Utah and Ari­zona.

There’s a stay in the Grand Canyon Na­tional Park, a four-wheel-drive tour past the huge rock tow­ers in Mon­u­ment Val­ley (stars of so many Western movies) with a visit to Lake Pow­ell and a tour of Glen Canyon Dam which holds back the Colorado River. Aside from the Grand Canyon there are two other na­tional parks – Bryce Canyon and Zion, both with breath­tak­ing vis­tas. From £1,226pp.

THE CANA­DIAN ROCK­IES

Some of the most dra­matic scenery on the con­ti­nent and there’s the chance to see it

top to bot­tom, from sea to sky, on this 14-day tour. It all starts with two nights (and a tour) in the glo­ri­ous wa­ter­front city of Van­cou­ver, where snow-tipped peaks re­flect in the glass sky­scrapers.

The hol­i­day takes in Vic­to­ria, a ferry ride away on Van­cou­ver Is­land, the win­ter sports re­sort of Whistler (a stun­ning drive with views down to Van­cou­ver’s fjords), the Columbia Ice­field glacier, the wilder­ness town of Jasper (where elk wan­der the streets) and Mount Rob­son, at 12,972ft the high­est peak in the Cana­dian Rock­ies.

There’s also Glacier Na­tional Park, with its moun­tains, glaciers, and water­falls, and Yoho Na­tional Park with ver­ti­cal rock walls and water­falls. From £2,077pp.

WESTERN WON­DERS

All the way from Los An­ge­les to San Fran­cisco (with two nights and a tour in each), the long way round! This 13-day trip heads from LA for a night in Palm Springs, the city with a 50s desert chic (it was the place where Elvis had his hon­ey­moon).

From there it’s into Ari­zona and Scotts­dale with its Western am­biance, the arty city of Se­dona and then one of Amer­ica’s most scenic drives, past Oak Creek Canyon with its red sand­stone cliffs and on to the Grand Canyon.

There’s a cruise along Route 66 with its mo­tels and quirky at­trac­tions be­fore two nights in Las Ve­gas. Then it’s into the moun­tain­ous in­te­rior of Cal­i­for­nia, pass­ing through Yosemite Na­tional Park with its famed Half Dome gran­ite peak and on to the sea­side city of Sausal­ito be­fore cross­ing the Golden Gate Bridge into San Fran­cisco. From £1,924pp.

GLACIER NA­TIONAL PARK, HELLS CANYON, & WINE COUN­TRY

The West with a dif­fer­ence, vis­it­ing some less-dis­cov­ered states: Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Idaho and Mon­tana.

The 11-day Globus tour starts in wa­ter­front Seat­tle – over wel­come drinks you learn about the tour tak­ing in both Mount Rainier Na­tional Park and the vine­yards cloak­ing the moun­tain foothills.

Head­ing east, in Hells Canyon, the coun­try’s deep­est river gorge, there’s a de­li­cious bar­be­cue lunch along the river. There’s also a cruise on huge Lake Coeur d’Alene. Amid the Rocky Moun­tains of Mon­tana there’s a three-night stay in White­fish with a day out (by vintage bus) to the wilds of Glacier Na­tional Park, plus a gon­dola ride up White­fish Moun­tain Re­sort.

The hol­i­day also vis­its Spokane (with crash­ing city cen­tre water­falls) be­fore a fi­nal night (and an in­cluded farewell din­ner) in Seat­tle. From £3,022pp.

SPEC­TAC­U­LAR LAND­SCAPES: The Cana­dian Rock­ies and, above, Mon­u­ment Val­ley in Utah

SHOW­STOP­PERS: The iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Fran­cisco and, above, the bright lights of the desert city of Las Ve­gas

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