HOT TOPICS

Booking Your Flight (Be sure and read the "Terms" page first.)

If you have never had occasion to book a flight into one city and then return from another, you might be surprised by how easy it can be. Pick your favorite travel search engine and choose the button labeled Multi-City (or Multiple Destinations, or multi-destination). Choose your departure airport, and then El Paso (for example) as your destination. After you pick your date, enter the next city as Kalispell, and then back to your starting point.

In many or most cases, this sort of “open-jaw” booking is no more expensive than your standard round trip ticket – and is sometimes less. However, this is the airline industry, so you can also get wildly expensive flights or no flights at all. We have encountered instances in tests we conducted where flights that matched up with the Epic American West Tour schedule were cheaper if you were traveling from London than from Denver.

At times like these, knowing a good travel agent can be very useful.

If you truly get stuck with either an unavailable date or an exorbitant price, give us a call or an email, we might be able to help.

Accommodations

We appreciate unique and individually owned businesses, and hotels are no exception. Also, we make an extra effort to find somewhere special to stay in places where we will be stopping for more than one night.

However, if we just need a place to sleep before starting out again first thing in the morning, the reliability of a high quality chain is preferred. In looking through our lists of potential stopover hotels, the companies that show up most often are Hampton Inn, Doubletree and other Hilton affiliates, and Marriott. Occasionally the best available choices have names like Comfort Inn, Rodeway, and Quality Inn. We still aren’t sure about the Circle R Motel…

Included Meals

The "Value" page explains why we decided to include your breakfast and lunch in the cost of the tour, but as you look at the hotels listed above, it might appear that your included breakfast will often be the hotel continental breakfast. However, that will only be the case on those days when we really need to get an early start.

Your lead driver has a special affection for local breakfast cafes, and won’t be anywhere near the hard boiled eggs down by the lobby unless there just isn’t time for anything else. He’ll be leading breakfast expeditions whenever the pace of the day allows.

We may need to split up in shifts (or go to different establishments) to avoid overwhelming the restaurant staff, but we will be doing our best to keep the small town cafe alive.

Weather/Packing

Expect everything. Over the course of the trip we will be going from sizzling desert to below freezing mountain temperatures, with pretty good odds of encountering snow.

The suggestions below are specific to the trip, so don’t forget all the generic packing tips that go along with these.

Bring your favorite hot weather gear, but don’t dress for a warm day just before going into Carlsbad Cavern.

At the coldest end of the spectrum you can avoid the need for a very heavy overcoat by planning for a layered approach. Do bring along a good medium weight jacket, but also pack long sleeve shirts (blouses) of fairly heavy material, and perhaps a sweater. By wearing several garments over one another you will actually stay warmer than with one bulky coat, and you will have the use of the individual layers for warmer conditions.

To be absolutely certain you’ll be comfortable, include a set of long underwear. That one last layer makes a very big difference, and the material is light and compact. Don’t forget your raincoat, gloves, and a knit hat if you wear one.

Most of the time the temperatures will be in a mild middle range, so we don’t want to stress the cold weather gear too much. But there is nothing prettier than a fresh snowfall on changing leaves, so be prepared to go outside no matter what the weather.

Need we say “hiking boots”? If you only ever wear soft sports shoes, so be it, but bring along a spare pair in case the first ones get soaked.

Bring a bathing suit.

Evening wear is wasted in this part of the world, but a pair of slacks for the men and a dress or two for the ladies might be useful for dining in the more upscale communities on the route.

We will plan for an opportunity to do laundry, or have it done, about once a week.

If you have a favorite day pack, bring it, but otherwise everyone will have a simple pack that we provide for the benefit of those who don’t own any walking gear. We are big fans of the walking stick (or two), specifically the telescoping variety that fit in your luggage. If you think you might need them, you do. However, they are not recommended on the Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park unless you have rubber tips for them - because much of the time you are walking on solid rock. On the other hand, you probably shouldn't do The Narrows hike in Zion National Park (discussed on our Options page) without them.

It would be ideal if everyone could get by with a medium sized suitcase and a carry-on bag, but we do not have any actual luggage restrictions. The basic rule is, if you really need it, bring it, and we will find a place for it - within reason, of course.

Motion Sickness

We do travel on a number of winding mountain roads - that’s a big part of the fun - so please be prepared if you are susceptible to motion sickness. Also, we like to rotate seating so that everyone gets a chance to ride in the front seats. If you are someone who feels they must always sit at the front of the vehicle, we will not be able to accommodate you.

Of course, if you’re traveling entirely with your own group, feel free to work out the seating arrangements however you like.

On The Road

We don't produce the standard day-by-day itinerary until a trip is fully subscribed because things may change depending on the interests of the group. However, we do have a fairly good idea of the driving time from point to point, and thought this little graph might be interesting:

Hours on the Road / Number of Days (complete 30 day trip)

0-1 Hours = 8 Days
1-2 Hours = 4 Days
2-3 Hours = 6 Days
3-4 Hours = 7 Days
4-5 Hours = 1 Day
5-6 Hours = 4 Days

As you can see, even on our "long-haul" days we have plenty of time each day to stop and do other things.

Dietary Preferences

You may have more difficulty maintaining a strict diet than is usual while traveling, due to the lack of urban variety. We will help you bring what you need to provide yourself with basic meals during periods when your requirements are not available. We do not have refrigeration, but can usually manage to keep a supply of ice on board. At most, this may be a problem for 2-3 days over the course of the trip.

Language

Your drivers are not multi-lingual. If you have a group of 15 or more people, we will provide a half fare trip to someone in your party that you designate to act as interpreter. This person must be willing to treat this position like an actual job. If we have an emergency at 3:00 AM, we will wake them up to help deal with it.

First Aid

Your drivers do have basic first aid training. We travel with more than the required first aid kit, as well as an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). We will have a satellite phone for emergencies when we are beyond cell phone coverage. This phone is not available to the guests for their personal use.

Your Subscription Agreement specifically asks for information regarding any medical condition(s) which might require our assistance. If we know in advance what equipment, material or substance might be needed, that is the ideal situation for all concerned. Please help us to help you by volunteering this information.

Clearing the Coach

All personal effects should be removed from the vehicle each night so that the interior can receive a basic cleaning. We make a significant effort to avoid having a bus which looks like it has been lived in for a month, and we need your help and cooperation.

Hiking/Walking Tips

Hiking TipsOur well-equipped hiker demonstrates how to make a day of walking easy and fun.