I’m not sure if you’re reading this review because you want to know about the destination, Globus as a vacation company, or what escorted touring is about. So, I’ll cover everything, from the general to the specific! If you’d like to book a Globus tour, please ‘contact us’ from the link at the bottom of this page and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
ESCORTED TOURING via coach is when you have a Tour Director (TD) that basically acts as your concierge along a coach trip. He (could be a she, but I’m going to use he, because I just had a fabulous guy) arranges all of your hotels, arranges coordination of picking up your luggage and loading it on the bus every stop, and having it delivered to your room. He also gives great history and narration along the trip, makes dining suggestions if you’ve got free time for lunch or dinner in a location, and assists with any issues you might have. Basically, once you check in to the first hotel and get a ‘letter’ with details of your tour, you’ll never have to do that again. He will run inside and get your key packet and breakfast vouchers at every stop, and pass them out to you.
Expect escorted touring to be intense in the schedule if you’re doing a ‘classic’ tour. They do have some new tours that have a bit more free time, and they call those ‘choice touring’, but I didn’t do one of those. As we arrived at our first hotel night, we got that letter from our TD telling us that we could meet up with him on the first night to meet our fellow travelers and get some basic info. There was ONE page in our packet though that gave us the truly important stuff. On each day, it gave times that breakfast STARTED, then a time to have our one-bag-per-person big bag outside our room to be picked up by hotel staff, and then what time the coach was leaving for the day’s activity. Most of the time there was an hour between ‘bags out’ and ‘depart’, giving the TD and the bus driver time to sort and organize all the bags, count them multiple times to be sure they got them all, and load them up onto the coach. We could use that hour to have breakfast. Of course, every destination is different, but expect early starts. I will talk more about the bag sizes and number at the end in the ‘final tips’.
ABOUT MY NATIONAL PARKS TOUR SPECIFICALLY… They offer this tour in two different ‘versions’. Tour Code AN, is the 9-night standard National Parks tour that starts in Rapid City, SD and ends in Salt Lake City, UT. Curiously, every other tour company there is ALSO starts their tours in Rapid City. There were SIX coaches from different tour companies in the parking lot of the hotel we started at in Rapid City! And they were nearly all starting their tours there, as that evening each tour company had a different conference room for their ‘welcome’ presentation. It was crazy! That said, think outside the box! GLOBUS also offers tour ANQ, which adds one night to your tour at the START in Denver, CO. Flights are cheaper and more varied into Denver. If you have a flight issue, it’s easier to find an alternative to Denver. Rapid City is a tiny place. Our TD said on nearly every tour departure there is someone that misses the first night because of a flight issue. That’s so sad, because the first full day is Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial and it’s a super important day. Do yourself a favor, book the ANQ version, start in Denver the day before and get an easier and cheaper flight. I frankly think Globus should stop doing the Rapid City version and JUST do their tour starting in Denver. It seems more logical to me!
Day 1 – Arrive in Denver
We flew in on our own schedule, then took the commuter train from the Denver International Airport to Downtown Union Station. The train cost $10.50 each way, per person, and takes 45 minutes. Denver International is NOT close to town, so a taxi or Uber would cost A LOT more. You access the train from the luggage pickup level of the airport, so it was not hard. Just follow the signs.
Globus used Hotel Indigo Denver Downtown for us, which was only a few blocks from the station. It was a bit tricky to walk there, because you had to cross over the railroad tracks, but it wasn’t that hard. Step out the train, make a right, look to where you can cross over the tracks towards town, make another right along the platform, and then turn left into town when you see 18th St if you are doing the Hotel Indigo.
As we arrived, Steve our TD was having a meet-up of our group in the lobby, and he was about done. Of course, he chose to have this meeting at 5pm, but we didn’t arrive to the hotel until around 6pm, so we missed most of it. He did pop up and introduce himself, and made sure we got two separate envelopes with info for us. One was about the Hotel Indigo night specifically, breakfast, etc. and one was the packet giving the details of the whole tour.
Once we got everything to our room, we walked out to dinner on our own nearby, and had no problems with breakfast, putting the big bags out in the am, or getting onto our bus.
Day 2 – Denver to Rapid City
This day is a pretty long bus ride, from Denver to Rapid City, with a couple stops along the way at good places. However, Steve gave really interesting commentary and also showed us a few videos about Yellowstone and other future parts of our trip. We felt extra special, as ‘the rest’ of the group that joined us in Rapid City didn’t get two see those bonus videos.
Steve tried to have time between stops not be more than 2 hours so we could use washrooms and stretch our legs often. Of course, there is a washroom on the bus, but they encourage you to use the stopping points if you can. DRINK LOTS OF WATER on this tour, as you’ll be at high elevation. It’s important to stay hydrated, and don’t worry if you need to use the washroom on the bus because you drank so much water.
We got to Rapid City in the afternoon and went out to eat early. Around 6pm we had the ‘Welcome Cocktail Party’ in one of the hotel conference rooms. This is a standard thing for all Globus tours, where all of the guests get to meet each other, and the TD gives us some overall tips. Our group was 12 that started in Denver + 31 that started in Rapid City all coming together for 43 total on the overall trip. The max for a classic tour with Globus is 44 people on a coach that holds 56, FYI. If you do one of their ‘small groups’, their site says and AVERAGE of 24 people, but I think Steve said the max is higher than that.
As you arrive, the TD will give you a piece of paper that he needs back before the end of the welcome Cocktail Party. On it, you put down any special requests you have, such as if you prefer a room with one or two beds, any particular medical issues you want him to know, etc. We also had 4 group dinner meals, and three of them we had to give food selections back to him. (choose between fish, steak, chicken, etc). Note that the first group dinner is a steak house (Sheridan) and the last group dinner is a steak and seafood place (Salt Lake), so if I’d already known that, I might have made other selections.
Rapid City is interesting, because it’s the “City of Presidents” and they have bronze statues of all the US Presidents up through Obama on various street corners. There are lots of restaurants to choose from, and the downtown area is very walkable.
Globus and seemingly all the tour companies use The Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City. It’s a good mid-range hotel. The blessing of THIS stop was that we had two nights there. Of the whole 10 night tour, we only had two of those nights were we didn’t have to worry about the bags-out time in the morning.
Day 3 – Crazy Horse and Mt Rushmore
Rapid City is ‘known for’ constant changes of weather. I think also, thunderstorms in the afternoons. Therefore, our very-experienced TD had us start early and we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial first. It was about a 45-minute drive there. We learned a ton on the bus there, so we had the whole history of it before we even arrived. I think that allowed us to enjoy it more than those that just drive up to see it on their own.
Our second stop was Mt Rushmore, and that was truly awe-inspiring. We also learned about the sculptor of that enroute. When we got there, Steve took us on a brief walkabout to point out areas we might see, where we could buy lunch, and what he most suggested, and then set us free for a few hours. My husband and I really enjoyed the Presidents’ Walk, which is a loop path out right underneath the mountain. There are A LOT of steps at the end, so be ready and go at your own pace. We also had decent lunch in the cafeteria, and I got my first stamp in my National Parks Passport book.
Steve had seen rain forecasted, and we saw the clouds pour in as we were there, and, sure enough, as soon as we got on the coach the rain started.
It was a lovely day though, and we enjoyed another night around the walkable town.
I thought all the food in Rapid City was just OK. I wouldn’t specifically suggest anything.
Day 4 – Rapid City, Deadwood, Sheridan
This is a long driving day, but, again, our TD kept us entertained with interesting history and videos, and we stopped at regular intervals.
The highlight of this day is Deadwood, SD, the town where Wild Bill Hickock was shot while playing poker and having Aces and Eights in his hand. As we arrived in Deadwood, we got a fun tour of the town on a school bus, and then were set free to walk and shop and eat lunch on our own. I’d call it cheesy and historic.
We ended the day in Sheridan, WY, which is a really small town, but in a good location for our activity the next day. On this evening we had a steakhouse dinner as a group at the Wyoming Steak and Chop House – lots of tables of 4 or 6, so our group scattered around and we got to know some of our fellow travelers better. This is steakhouse, but I had really great salmon and others at my table had some really overcooked steaks. My husband’s steak was OK though. Since the town is small, we had the option to walk back to the hotel, which we did. We also stopped by The Sheridan Inn, which was a hotel owned by Buffalo Bill at one time. Really cool history there. Our hotel was the Best Western Sheridan Center.
Day 5 – Sheridan, Little Bighorn Battlefield, Cody
This morning is all about Little Bighorn National Monument, i.e. Custer’s Last Stand. We have GREAT educational videos about this before arriving at the Battlefield in Montana, which gave perspective on the troop movements, the Indian movements, and background history. It’s really in the middle of nowhere, so there was a lot of driving today. The scenery was great though, through the Bighorn Mountains.
We got to Cody, Wyoming late in the afternoon, around 2:30 or 3p, and instead of going straight to the hotel, our TD took us to the Buffalo Bill Center for the West. This is an incredible complex with about 5 different museums packed into one building. We did, in fact, learn all about Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show (just one of the museums). We were given about two hours there to enjoy the museum, so we all scattered around to different exhibits that interested us, and then our coach circled back around to pick us up and take us to the hotel.
We were on our own in Cody for dinner. We had great BBQ on the main street, an easy walk from our hotel - The Holiday Inn Buffalo Bill Village. There are a lot of tourist shops in this town, and we enjoyed the walking after a longish bus day.
Day 6 – Cody to Yellowstone Night 1
You’ll notice that the ‘official’ Globus itinerary says we’re going to go to the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in the morning of this day… but, as I mentioned above, our TD took us there the prior day so we would have MORE time in Yellowstone. Gotta love that!
It would be helpful if you looked at a map to see the incredible route our driver took us on for this day. Cody is actually pretty close to the East gate of Yellowstone, but we didn’t go the quick route. Instead, we went through some beautiful mountains again, and had a lunch stop in Cooke City, MT. Cooke City has THE BEST Huckleberry ice cream at the gas station. Lots of huckleberry stuff there, of all types. I bought a great bar of handmade soap to take home too. Anyway, we had a ‘scatter’ lunch, meaning we broke our group up and ate at all the different little places the town offered, and then piled up onto the coach to continue to Yellowstone.
We entered Yellowstone at the Northeast gate. This is one of the only roads open in Winter, because they have to give those folks in Cooke City access to get out. By our TD taking us in THIS gate, we were able to drive through the scenic Lamar Valley on the way to Mammoth Hot Springs. We got to see lots of buffalo, very close to the bus / side of the road. We were even in a Buffalo Jam (meaning, buffalo were walking down the road and they blocked the vehicles from moving).
We had a quick stop at Mammoth Hot Springs, so we could see the geothermal features there real quick, and then we finished the ‘upper loop’ road of Yellowstone by spending the first night in the park at Canyon Lodge. Canyon is a huge complex, and we were in one of the newer multi-unit buildings. It’s a 10-minute walk to where the food and visitor center are though, so be prepared for lots of walking on this day.
Our TD said that there was a hiking trail to “the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone” and it was worth checking out if any of us wanted to do a walk after dinner. He just said that he wanted us to be in groups of four if possible, and to make a lot of noise as we walked because it was bear territory. We DID do the walk, and we marveled at the canyon in sunset light. It was worth the walk, even though it was farther than we expected.
Day 7 – Yellowstone all day
On this day, we explored the lower loop road, and ended up at the Old Faithful Inn. While on the coach, our TD sent a clipboard around with dining reservation ‘slots’. Lots of tables of four, with reservations spread throughout the evening. We were lucky that some friends we’d made earlier in the week wanted to dine with us, so they were on the first side of the bus to get the clipboard, and they signed us up for a 4-top or we would have gotten the last picks. Most of the times were in the 6pm hour though, and there were plenty of options.
We stared off from Canyon Lodge going to the “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”, but at a DIFFERENT viewpoint then we hiked to the prior day. This time, we got to see the Lower Falls, and we stayed there for a bit of time. Some people hiked right up to where the water sprays you, and others did a higher platform. It was great from both spots, and great views were seen by everyone.
The next stop was the Fountain Paint Pots. This is where we learned about the bubbling water and mud and saw some smaller geysers. It was a lovely and educational stop.
We arrived at Old Faithful in the early afternoon, and had lunch in the cafeteria there, while marveling at Old Faithful. Our rooms weren’t ready, but there was plenty of geysers to see there. It’s not JUST Old Faithful. It’s many in a big thermal area, with walking trails aplenty.
Our TD Steve said he suggested we do a walking tour of the Old Faithful Inn offered by Ruth, his friend that has worked there for 30+ years. I DID want to learn the history of that, so I went to the tour around 3pm, and my husband did the walk around the geysers with Steve that started at the same time. I LOVED learning about the Inn, so I suggest you look for that if you go. As soon as the Inn tour was over, about 3:40… I went out to where the Castle Geyser was and met up with my hubby and a bunch of others in the group, and waited for that one. It was SO impressive! Better than Old Faithful. We also got to see the Beehive and the Grand and a bunch of others. It was a banner day for eruptions! Not many of them go off on such a predictable schedule as Old Faithful, so getting to see so many of the random ones was super special. Loved the Beehive!
Day 8 – Yellowstone thru Grand Teton and on to Jackson, WY
It was a beautiful drive out the south side of Yellowstone, through the John D Rockafeller Jr Memorial Parkway (which is a preserve that protects the link between Yellowstone and Grand Teton), and then we got to Grand Teton.
Grand Teton is interesting, because it’s a park that doesn’t have a lot of ‘things’ to visit. It’s those incredible mountains in the distance, and then two lakes that you can go to, but with limited parking. We started off with a stop at the Colter Bay Visitor Center on Jackson Lake. It was pretty there, viewing the lake with the Tetons in the background. Also, the place for me to get my National Parks Passport book stamped.
We stopped at a resort along Jackson Lake for an extended lunch break, shopping and leg stretching, and then continued down the parkway to Jenny Lake. Jenny is a beautiful small lake where you can take a boat ride across to do a hike up the Tetons themselves. However, it was PACKED with not a lot of parking. People were parking their cars miles from the ranger station just for the opportunity to walk in and view the lake. Our coach driver Chris was FABULOUS. We made two loops of the Jenny Lake access road, and on the second go he found a place to pull the coach over for 10 minutes so we could walk out and take pretty pics. The views of the Tetons were awe-inspiring.
Our day concluded with checking in at the Rustic Lodge in Jackson, WY. The Rustic is anything but rustic. It’s the most luxurious place we stayed along the whole route, and we got two nights there. Woo Hoo! NO packing every day! This evening we had an included event – The Bar T-5 Chuckwagon Cookout and Wild West Show. It was a hokey but fun activity. We got to ride in real covered wagons up a hill, where we then had Cookout food and western entertainment / singing. It was a fun evening!
Day 9 – Full day in Jackson, WY
Globus offers an optional ‘float’ down the Snake River here. We opted out of that, and had spa appointments at the Rustic Inn during the morning instead. The float allows you to see a lot of bird wildlife, so if you want to do that and get a little wet, it’s an option.
We have a friend that lives nearby, so we spend the afternoon with him. He came over and we walked down to the Snow King Mountain gondola and rode that up to the top of the hill for beautiful Teton and town views. This is the locals ski hill, not the more famous and expensive one that is ON the Teton mountains. Funny thing about that, is if you did the more famous resort, you couldn’t ‘view’ the Tetons because you’d be on top of them. The more famous one is also well out of town. Ours was walkable. We enjoyed lunch at the soda fountain, then the walk to the gondola, and some t-shirt shopping on the way back to the resort, and then our friend went home.
We had been eating a lot, so we went to the deli that is right north of the resort – Creekside Market. We actually went there for water and other beverages the first right, and then to their deli for takeout on the second night. It’s a great deli, and there are nice benches and a creek that run though the Rustic Inn with great views… so that was a perfect dinner.
We all got coupons for Moo Ice Cream as a treat from Globus, so we used those on our free afternoon as well. It was good, but not as good as at Huckleberry in Cooke City MT!
And to be clear – Jackson, Wy is the ‘town’ in the overall VALLEY called Jackson Hole. Hole = valley area surrounded by mountains. Of course, all the t-shirts and stuff say Jackson Hole (and there are a LOT of touristy things to buy there), but know if you were sending a letter there it would be just “Jackson”, not Jackson Hole.
Day 10 – Jackson to Salt Lake City, UT
This is just a driving day to take you from Jackson to the more cost-efficient airport in Salt Lake City. Nothing really to write home about on the route. The final hotel Radisson Downtown is OK. We walked over to the Salt Lake Temple in Temple Square and saw the Tabernacle, but most of the Temple Square is under construction, so it was less fun to see. Salt Lake City isn’t all that interesting. I enjoyed some of the statues to the 2002 Olympics, because I’m an Olympic geek, but we didn’t have all that much free time between arriving and dinner.
This evening we had a farewell dinner at a great local seafood and steak house called the Market Street Grill. I had the steak, which was really good. I ate too much, as often happens when they feed me a good meal, so my hubby and I decided to walk back to the hotel from there. Globus provided one alcoholic drink per person at this dinner, which isn’t the norm, FYI. I don’t drink, so I ordered an extra of what my tablemate was having and he had a blast. 😉
Note that in this day / evening, the TD will show you a video of the Globus product lineup to encourage you to book another tour. He’s not all that excited about being a salesperson though, so I’ll just make a note for you. Any time you book a Globus tour, they’ll give you a “Welcome Back Credit” once you get home. Basically, it’s a certificate for dollars off a future tour or trip that you take within two years of coming home from the trip you’re on. The value of your credit is based upon the cost of your trip, so it varies. I’ve seen $150 per person to $250 per person for Globus tours as an agent. And if you’ve got a credit in your bank, you can use it to book with any agent, so I encourage you to call me!
Day 11 – Everyone departs Salt Lake to go home.
Breakfast is included in the hotel this day, and then everyone is on their own to get to the airport. You can call an Uber, or if you don’t have a ton of bags, take a really cheap train ride on the local transit. The station is just a block and a half to the left of the hotel front door. It cost about $2.50 per person 1 way.
We were visiting friends in Salt Lake City after the tour, so my hubby took the train to the airport, picked up a rental car for us, and picked me and all the bags up an hour later and we went off and spent our day before flying home in the evening.
Final tips –
In multiple places of your documents from Globus they will talk about every person only being allowed ONE large bag up to 50 pounds per person 30 x 21 x 11 inches, and ONE small carry-on of 12 x 11 x 6 inches, and under no circumstances can you have more. That’s baloney. Most guests aren’t even taking to time to read all that.
Here’s what’s true – Globus will pay for each person to have one bag with those restrictions that gets BAGGAGE HANDLING included. That means, the porters at the hotel are collecting up the bags, taking them outside to the bus, and the Tour Director and the Driver are putting them in numerical order (they give us tags the first night with our names and a number), counting them four times to be sure all the bags are there, and then loading them onto the coach. We had 43 people on our coach, and there were 43 bags.
For the bag you want ON the coach with you, the dimensions of the one small carry on ARE true. The overhead in the coach is small compared to a plane, so that is a good size for the things you want access to on the coach. I’d advise you to make it a squishable duffle or backpack or tote, so you can cram it in the little space without worrying about it being firm. Wheeled things definitely don’t fit up there. And I used carabiner clips on my refillable water and my sleeping neck pillow to hang my small things onto my bus bag, making it more flexible.
HOWEVER, pretty much everyone ALSO had their normal ‘carry-on’ with wheels that they use for all trips that had their overnight bathroom stuff in. It was NO PROBLEM to wheel this up to the bus driver at loading time, and he put it in the front most under storage compartment by the door of the bus. They key here is that you the guest have to wheel it up. You can’t get baggage handling on that extra bag, and you can’t fit it up onto the bus. But knowing you can still take it is a blessing. It’s quite the hassle to have ALL your stuff, including your bathroom stuff, in your big bag that you have to put outside your hotel room door an hour before departure time. Having that larger carry-on to cram things into at the last minute would have been super helpful to us. Live and learn! And you’re learning by reading my review so you’re better prepared on your own Globus tour.
Tips for the Tour Director and Driver - Have cash ready for this on the last day of the trip. Globus suggests $7 per day, per guest for the Tour Director and $6 per day, per guest for the driver. Most good Tour Directors and Drivers are not going to talk about this much, but the driver did put small envelopes in the front of the bus on the last day for our convenience. We LOVED both of ours, and even though I had the suggested amount already in envelopes from home ready to go, I added $30 to each one and made sure they had my phone number in case they’re visiting Phoenix soon! There are some Globus tours that start here and go up to the Grand Canyon, and I’d love to see both of those guys again if they were near my home. Such good people!
Conclusion – Just like my first Globus Tour, I thought going through the National Parks with the guide and driver was THE BEST way to see everything and learn SOOO much of the history of the place I was visiting. I absolutely recommend it. If you have questions, please call or email me from the contact us on my page, because I’m enthusiastic about selling Globus as a travel advisor. I want to help you book the best vacation possible.