DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. -- Mayflower Tours' 10-day National Parks of
the Southwest itinerary begins and ends in Las Vegas.
"People like that; it makes it more diverse," said Jill Hanert,
the firm's marketing manager, explaining why a company that has
specialized in national parks tours for 20 years would want to mix
neon with nature.
Although some people may like diversity, as Hanert said, the
immutability of the national parks leaves little room for changing
That is what makes Las Vegas, with its proximity to the Grand
Canyon and Zion National Park as well as its excellent air service,
a convenient add-on for many Southwestern national parks tour
operators and an attractive one to some tour groups.
Like many of the operators, however, Mayflower Tours' owners
appear reluctant to promote Las Vegas along with the national parks
except as a convenient jumping off point and a gateway home.
"People really want to be involved with nature. [They] want to
see these parks," said Molly Stachnik, who runs Mayflower Tours
with her parents, John and Mary.
According to Stachnik, the firm has been guiding people to
national parks in the U.S. and Canada for two decades with hardly a
change in itineraries.
That, she said, is because the natural monuments sell
themselves. "They're a constant good seller for us. Some of the
tours we've been doing for 20 years. They've changed so little
because they're the national parks. "Maybe others [tour operators]
change their itineraries; ours just sell every year."
Mayflower Tours' brochure, "National Parks of the Southwest
featuring Las Vegas," offers a splendid photo of Zion National Park
on its cover and a one-column shot of the exterior of the Fremont
The tour begins at the casino, where guests arrive in time for
dinner and the neon and laser magic of the Fremont Street
Experience. The Fremont is located next to the Golden Nugget, where
they will stay the night.
Next day, the motorcoach heads south into the desert and the
Kaibab Indian Reservation, home of Pipe Spring National Monument.
That afternoon and the next two days are spent at the Grand Canyon,
with two-nights' accommodations at Grand Canyon Lodges, a few yards
from the rim of the canyon.
The schedule for succeeding days includes boating on Lake
Powell; a tour of Monument Valley; rafting on the Colorado River;
sightseeing at Utah's Deadhorse Point State Park and Capitol Reef
National Park, and tours of the Anasazi Indian Village State Park,
Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.
On day 10, the bus follows the Virgin River back toward Las
Vegas for an afternoon flight home.
The per-person rates, which do not include air fare to Las
Vegas, are $1,498, twin room, double occupancy; $1,929, single, and
Also included are six dinners, two lunches, nine breakfasts,
park fees, roundtrip airport transfers and $50 in future travel
credits. For those clients who want to spend more time in the
casinos, rooms for the night before and after the tour are
available for $129, tax included.
Mayflower Tours pays agents a commission of up to 15%, according
Departure dates are June 10, 17 and 24; July 15 and 22; Aug. 12
and 19, and Sept. 9, 12, 14, 19, 21, 24 and 27.
Mayflower Tours covers all of the national parks in the U.S. and
Canada. These include such sites as Ellis Island and Gettysburg,
which Stachnik noted most people do not identify as national parks.
"The national parks are not all trees and forests," she said.
Although tourists can drive through any of the parks themselves,
motorcoach tours guarantee admission. This is an advantage,
Stachnik noted, because at some parks, a limited number of visitors
are admitted each day to protect the pristine nature of the
Phone: (800) 728-0370 or (630) 435-8500
Fax: (630) 960-9886