America the Beautiful
As travelers continue to seek private journeys close to home, the pristine wilderness landscapes of our national parks have never been more desirable.
Abercrombie & Kent:
California to Wyoming
The biggest name in luxury tours runs more than 55 local offices around the world to coordinate client trips on all seven continents. This nine-day charter flight journey begins in Fresno, California, for its proximity to Yosemite National Park. Private guides walk guests through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (the largest grove in the park) and to photo ops of the gushing waterfalls and iconic rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan. Overnight at Château du Sureau, the grand, castle-like boutique hotel on the outskirts of the park. Then, it’s a quick flight to the Grand Canyon, where guides lead guests along lesser-trodden trails. A stay at Utah’s ultramodern Amangiri desert retreat is followed by a morning boat ride around the inky Lake Powell. An off-road adventure leads to a secluded slot canyon. In Moab, Utah, there’s a private tour of the impossible stone formations at Arches National Park and a three-night stay at the hilltop Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In the morning, a naturalist guide shuttles guests to Grand Teton National Park for a sleigh ride, a private, curator-led tour of the Museum of Wildlife Art, or a sunrise photography tour to capture images of the many elk, bison, and moose. Guests then make the pilgrimage to Yellowstone in search of more wildlife and bubbling geysers, and fly out of Jackson the following day. From $32,000/person for four people; abercrombiekent.com
TCS World Travel:
Eight National Parks
The world leader in private-jet travel, Seattle-based TCS World Travel has spent the past 25 years routing clients between destinations at an unprecedented pace. This tour connects a remarkable eight national parks in 10 days. For the first three days, travelers check into Wyoming’s Amangani and have the options of going on private safaris in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, having lunch on a historic cattle ranch, or taking a sleigh ride to Granite Hot Springs. Then they fly on a chartered private plane to Moab’s Sorrel River Ranch to stay in a snug, custom-built cabin. Spend two days hiking and horseback riding through the magnificent red and ochre terrain of Moab, Arches National Park, and Canyonland National Park. A 45-minute jet ride fast-tracks guests to their next stop, a private ranch house on the outskirts of Zion, where guests explore both Bryce Canyon and Zion. Here, activities range from UTV tours to stargazing to rappelling down canyons. The final stop is Utah’s Amangiri, a base for exploring the Grand Canyon by helicopter and foot. If weather permits, an al fresco desert dinner, surrounded by the towering canyons, is one of the itinerary highlights. From $47,500/person for six people; tcsworldtravel.com
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The American West
Based in the Cotswolds in England, 30-year-old outfitter Steppes Travel has built a worldwide network of travel experts to organize its international tours. The company recommends a self-drive expedition highlighting the American West. This trip sends travelers out at their own pace with complete independence—as well as with 24/7 support from local Steppes Travel teams and private guides. The itinerary is entirely customizable with recommended highlights, including a night of stargazing in the Utah desert, a helicopter ride over Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend, a heli-ski expedition in Utah, a private snowmobiling tour in Colorado, and a stay in a ghost town in the Colorado Rockies. Hotel recommendations depend on the traveler’s route, with options like Under Canvas, Dunton Hot Springs, The Lodge at Blue Sky, and Zion Mountain Ranch. steppestravel.com
Montana and Wyoming
This boutique tour company does all trip planning and much of its guiding in-house. A custom, seven-day itinerary could begin in Big Sky, Montana, with a private dog sled tour around the Moonlight Basin resort and then a helicopter flight to the remote, wood-clad Grey Cliff Ranch for two nights. Explore Yellowstone by snowmobile, on a tour to the Old Faithful geyser, and helicopter—flying to the park’s wildlife-dense Lamar Valley in search of bison, birds, and bears. Fly back over the park to Jackson Hole and check into the swank Caldera House in Teton Village. Local activities include a snowshoeing tour at the base of Teton Range, a rodeo experience on a working cattle ranch, and a sunset sleigh ride to a campfire dinner of salmon and Wagyu beef along the winding Snake River. From $25,000/person for four people; expjourneys.com
This 20-year-old Canadian company plans trips exclusively to the Arctic region and works with indigenous guides to ensure the authenticity of its recommendations. An exploration of Alaska’s lesser-known parks and reserves is a photographer’s nirvana. Accessing Cape Krusenstern, Kobuk Valley, and Bering Land Bridge, this trip can be tailored and offers intimate encounters with animals such as caribou and grizzly bears. Aerial transfers and tours are done by charter jet or long-range helicopter and can include kayaking alongside whales, heli-skiing, riding in a hot air balloon, driving on ice roads, dog sledding, and snowmobiling. Due to the various remote locations, accommodation is either on private yachts, in luxury RVs, or at private camps. From $500,000; arctickingdom.com