21 best USA Desert holidays

1 Canyon escape

Travelbag Adventurers (tel: 01420 541 007) offers 14-day canyon hiking tours ending at the Grand Canyon. From pounds 999 per person, including flights, camping and hotel accommodation.

2 Mountain biking

Exodus (tel: 020 8675 5550) does a 15-day mountain and desert excursion to Colorado, the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico. From pounds 1,450 per person, including flights, accommodation and transport. Bike hire is extra.

3 Trail-blazing

Canter the high desert routes of the Wild West with Outlaw Trails (tel: 01892 619 000). From 5 to 11 days, from pounds 950 per person, including accommodation, meals, horse and equipment hire. Flights are extra.

4 Creature comforts

Explore the wilds from the comfort of a resort with North American Holidays (tel: 01892 619 000). Single rooms cost from pounds 30 per night. Return flights to Phoenix cost from pounds 200.

5 Native American lands

Explore Worldwide (tel: 01252 760 000) offers 16-day tours of Native American reservations in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona from pounds 1,135 per person, including flights, transport, most meals and hotels and camping.

6 Ranching

Try ranching in Arizona with Ranch America (tel: 01509 891 305). A week costs from pounds 435, including activities, accommodation and meals.

7 Sunset railway

The Sunset Ltd superliner is the way to travel the deserts of Texas, Arizona and California. Great Rail Journeys (tel: 01904 521 900) offers a 17-day trip from pounds 1,750 per person, including flights, taxes, rail travel and accommodation.

8 Coach tour

Spend 16 days being driven around the South Western tourist circuit (from Disneyland to Yosemite) from pounds 895 per person with Jetsave (tel: 01342 327 711), including flights, transfers, accommodation, coach travel and sightseeing.

9 Rock art

Go on a dig in Utah with Earthwatch (tel: 01865 311 600) to record the Indian rock art of the Moab Canyonlands. A 15-day trip costs from pounds 740, including transfers, meals and accommodation.

10 Winter trekking

See the sights of the south-western deserts without tourists and the heat on this 21-day winter tour by Trek America (tel: 01295 256 777). From pounds 749 per person, including some accommodation, camping equipment and hiking excursions.

11 White-water rafting

Run the rapids of the Colorado river with the North America Travel Service (tel: 0113 246 1466). Four-day trips run every Sunday from 23 April to 8 October 2000, from pounds 579 per person, including camping and rafting equipment, guides, food, and panoramic flight.

12 Student budget

Greyhound Buses does a 15-day "Ameripass", which includes unlimited travel and 15 nights in hostels. Low-season prices are from pounds 265. Book through The Independent Traveller (tel: 01509 261 810).

13 Winter city break

Archers Direct (tel: 0870 7512000) offers a 10-day winter itinerary coupling Las Vegas and LA from pounds 529, including all flights, transfers and hotel accommodation.

14 Desert wildlife

Discover the flora and fauna of the deserts with Naturetrek (tel: 01962 733 051). One expedition lasts 17 days and costs pounds 2,295 per person, including flights and three-star hotel.

15 Fly-drive

Cover over 1,000 miles of Arizona's deserts in a 20-night package with North American Holidays (tel: 01902 851 138). A winter price of pounds 1,922 per person covers a return flight to Phoenix and tax, insurance, car hire, accommodation, and 11 breakfasts.

16 Desert spirit

Find your inner self in Death Valley with Roger Huston (tel: 001 415 945 0952), or David Crosweller (tel: 01225 722 973). For pounds 760 per person, the first night is spent in a five-star hotel then it's five nights camping on a mountain. Includes food, accommodation, transport and camping equipment.

17 Californian cruise

Virgin Holidays (tel: 01293 617 181) is running a five-day Carnival Cruise on a superliner, sailing out of LA every Monday after 10 January 2000. A cabin sleeping two costs from pounds 295. Flights are extra.

18 Riding a Harley

H-C Travel (tel: 01256 770 775) organises a 16-day desert tour on Harley- Davidsons for pounds 2,290 per person, including nine nights accommodation, bike hire, unlimited mileage, guide, insurance, and taxes.

19 Desert footie

Fan Fare Events (tel: 0161 437 0002) offers two-night American football excursions to home games of the Arizona Falcons for pounds 499 including return flights to Phoenix, two nights B&B, game tickets and party.

20 Golfing oases

Play golf with the Arizona desert as backdrop with Destination Golf (tel: 0181-891 5151). From pounds 599 a week, including flights and tax, and car hire. Food and green fees are usually extra.

21 Hot-air ballooning

Go ballooning in Albuquerque on a nine-day tour with North American Holidays (tel: 01902 851 138) from pounds 612, including inn-style accommodation. Return flights from pounds 404.

ANTHONY SPITTELER

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