Escorted tours are structured group tours, with a group leader. The price often includes everything from airfare to hotels, meals, tours, admission costs, and local transportation.
Despite the fact that escorted tours require big deposits and predetermine hotels, restaurants, and itineraries, many people derive security and peace of mind from the structure they offer. Escorted tours -- whether they're navigated by bus, motorcoach, train, or boat -- let travelers sit back and enjoy the trip without having to drive or worry about details. They take you to the maximum number of sights in the minimum amount of time with the least amount of hassle. They're particularly convenient for people with limited mobility, and they can be a great way to make new friends.
On the downside, you'll have little opportunity for serendipitous interactions with locals. The tours can be jampacked with activities, leaving little room for individual sightseeing, whim, or adventure -- plus they often focus on the heavily touristed sites, so you miss out on many a lesser-known gem.
City Sights Bus Tours, 3359 S. Main St., Ste. 804 (tel. 801/534-1001; www.saltlakecitytours.org), offers several tours of Salt Lake City and the surrounding area.
Among the well-respected national companies that offer tours to Utah's national parks and other destinations is Tauck Tours (tel. 800/788-7885; www.tauck.com).
A number of companies also offer specialized tours for outdoor-recreation enthusiasts.
Adventure & Wellness Trips
Utah is an ideal destination for an adventure- or wellness-oriented trip. The national parks are perfect for both, and the spas at Utah's numerous ski resorts and in and around St. George have deservedly earned a national reputation for excellence.
Volunteer & Working Trips
Home to several thousand cats, dogs, and other animals at any given time, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, 5001 Angel Canyon Rd., Kanab, UT 84741 (tel. 435/644-2001; www.bestfriends.org), offers numerous opportunities for visitors to volunteer for a few hours or an entire vacation. Thousands of folks participate annually in such volunteer activities as feeding, walking, and cleaning up after the sanctuary's furred, feathered, and scaled residents.
Volunteer trail crews offer another great opportunity for visitors to lend a hand while visiting Utah. Many state and national parks and other recreation areas have programs for volunteer trail crews; contact a specific park or area for additional information.
Packages for the Independent Traveller
For value-conscious travelers, packages are often a smart way to go because they can save you a ton of money. Package tours are not the same thing as escorted tours. You'll be on your own, but in most cases, an air/land/hotel package to Utah will include airfare, hotel, and car rental -- and it'll cost you less than just the hotel alone if you booked it yourself.
You'll find an array of packages to Utah. Check out some of the big online travel agencies -- Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz -- which do a brisk business in packages. Remember to comparison shop among at least three different operators, and always compare apples to apples.
One good source of package deals is the airlines themselves. Most major airlines offer air/land/hotel packages, including American Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/321-2121; www.aavacations.com), Delta Vacations (tel. 800/221-6666; www.deltavacations.com), Continental Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/301-3800; www.covacations.com), and United Vacations (tel. 888/854-3899; www.unitedvacations.com).
Of course, don't forget to check hotel or resort websites for very desirable package deals, especially in the off season. No, these packages rarely include airfares, but they're packed with extra amenities (or a night free) if you book a block of vacation time, say, 5 or 7 days. These packages are often built around themes and often include meals, spa treatments, or excursions along with the lodging.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.