08/24/2015  | 

In 1962, Ken Hayes started his career in education, as a teacher, youth director and coach. One year later he began a journey that continues to this day — a journey that has unfolded over a half a million miles of open road and eclipses five decades. For the past 51 years, Ken has taken 14, 15 and 16 year old students on the adventure of a lifetime.

The idea came from E. Sue Cox Shore, who was a member of Forsyth Country Club when Hayes was their youth director. When she was a student she went on The Old Georgia Caravans, a group that traveled the country in a school bus, camping out in tents and cooking their own food. When she told him of her experience, they decided to start their own modern version and he began as her tour director. Since the summer of 1963 and every year thereafter, Hayes has carried out their vision and experienced the joy of discovery through the eyes of his students.

For 33 years as tour director and another 17 as owner, Ken Hayes’s company, Winston-Salem Grand Western Tours, has taken students out West for a safe, fun-filled tour de force of fun. The trips are carefully planned to give students a tour of outstanding points of historical and picturesque interest in the United States. Every effort is made so each tour is a memorable one for the students, as Hayes and his staff arrange stimulating, educational and broadening experiences for them.

Lodging facilities are carefully selected to provide variety and to include the rustic beauty of our national parks, the simplicity and relaxation of ranch life, and the comfort and luxury of some of the best hotels and motels. Students are pre-registered at all lodging facilities. Delicious meals, representative of various cultures and backgrounds, are served in selected restaurants throughout the country.

Winston-Salem Grand Western Tours staff members are carefully chosen professionals who provide the students with understanding and appreciation of each person’s individuality. At the same time, they help the group to understand and enjoy the pleasures of community living. Every effort will be made to avoid cliques and each tour member will have a personal responsibility to make the trip enjoyable for everyone.

Live the adventure with Winston-Salem Grand Western Tours:

  • Watch a horse race from the famous Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby.
  • Soar 630 feet in a capsule to the top of the Archway in St. Louis.
  • Dance and dine on the mighty Mississippi River.
  • Toss a snowball in June — 14,110 feet off of Pike’s Peak.
  • Ride America’s last narrow gauge railroad through the spectacular San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
  • Hike the original trail of the Anasazi at Mesa Verde. Find a clue to the mystery of their disappearance.
  • Shoot the Buffalo Rapids on the Flathead River in Montana.
  • Go horseback riding at 320 Guest Ranch.
  • Enjoy breakfast in the Space Needle overlooking beautiful Elliott Bay and the city of Seattle.
  • See the Golden Gate Bridge – Does it really sway in the wind?
  • Get locked up in solitary confinement in Alcatraz.
  • Identify the 4,000 species at the San Diego Zoo
  • Tour the USS Midway – the aircraft carrier in service the longest in history.
  • Walk the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Don’t miss the Alamo!
  • Eat spicy in New Orleans. Sing out when the band plays, “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

After 51 years, the Grand Western Tour has become a family tradition with students, their parents and even their grandparents all taking the trip when they were young. It is literally the thrill of a lifetime and should be experienced if possible.

For more information, visit or call 704-637-6873.
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