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BEGINS IN: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

On the Road: National Parks of the West

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Road Scholar
Program #19584RJ
13 Days | 12 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Active
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Elevation ranges from 1,000 feet to 9,115 feet

Itinerary for May 12 — May 24, 2013

Expand all
Type: Full Service Hotel

Contact info:
835 Airport Blvd
Burlingame, CA 94010-9949 USA
phone: 650-344-5500
web: doubletree1.hilton.com/en_US/dt/hotel/SFOAODT-DoubleTree-by-Hilton-Hotel-San-Francisco-Airport-California/index.do

Room amenities: Flat screen TV with premium cable, clock radio with MP3 connectivity, work desk, dual-line telephone with voicemail and data port, hairdryer, iron and ironing board, coffeemaker with complimentary coffee and tea, and individual climate control.

Facility amenities: Business center, fax, photocopying, printer, audio/visual equipment rental, airline desk, ATM, baggage storage, car rental desk, guest activity/recreation desk, local area transportation, lounge, room service, safety deposit boxes, restaurant and 24-hour food service, library, bayside jogging path and fitness room.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Check with hotel.
Please contact DoubleTree Hotel Reservations directly at 650-344-5500 for additional reservations.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Sunday, May 12 - Arrival & Hotel Check-in, Program Registration, P...
Arrival & Hotel Check-in, Program Registration, Pre-Dinner Wine Social, Orientation, Program Overview

Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Begins at 3:00 PM. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to register with the program staff after 4:00 PM and pick up your arrival packet that we'll review during orientation this evening.

Please be aware that local circumstances could require adjusting the schedule and/or program elements. In the event of changes, we will notify you as quickly as possible. We appreciate your understanding.

WINE SOCIAL: We'll gather in our private meeting room before dinner for a wine social to begin getting to know one another in a convivial atmosphere.

Dinner: Enjoy a plated dinner in an elegant, inviting atmosphere. Meals feature traditional American and California cuisine.

Evening: ORIENTATION: Back in our meeting room, we'll have introductions and then review the up-to-date schedule, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, any other administrative issues, and answer your questions.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW: Your study guide will provide an overview of the parks you’ll be exploring during this exciting new program. From mountain to desert, you’ll gain insights into the spectacular national parks of the West as we visit seven world-famous gems of American wilderness: Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion national parks.

Lodging: Doubletree Hotel San Francisco Airport

Meals Included: Dinner

Type: Lodge

Description: As the closest property to Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is an idyllic spot for families, group retreats and visitors seeking the comforts of a hotel after an exciting day exploring the wilderness. In 1998, the main complex was redesigned with an emphasis on glass and wood detailing to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. Landscaping of indigenous trees, shrubs and wildflowers further reflect the natural beauty of Yosemite Valley.

Contact info:
9006 Yosemite Lodge Dr
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389 USA
phone: 801-559-4884
web: www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_YosemiteLodge.aspx

Room amenities: Rooms are furnished with a desk, private bathroom, telephone and television with select programming. Yosemite Lodge does not have air conditioning in any guest accommodations.

Facility amenities: On site post office. Wireless access is complimentary to all Yosemite Lodge guests. Free shuttle service to various locations in Yosemite Valley. Heated outdoor swimming pool is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, conditions permitting.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Two: Monday, May 13 - Transfer to Yosemite National Park, Field Trip in...
Transfer to Yosemite National Park, Field Trip in the Park, Hotel Check-in, Evening Program: A Geologic Wonder

Breakfast: Enjoy a full breakfast buffet in the hotel dining room.

Morning: TRANSFER TO YOSEMITE: As we board our motorcoach, you’ll be anticipating an extraordinary experience ahead. People have been drawn to the place we now call Yosemite for tens of thousands of years. Wrote famed naturalist John Muir, “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.” The transfer should take approximately 4.5 hours.

Lunch: We'll stop en route for lunch at a popular local café in Mariposa, California.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: We begin with an introduction to America’s beloved Yosemite National Park, established in 1890 and designated a World Heritage Site in 1984.

Yosemite is known for its majestic granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Two designated “Wild & Scenic Rivers” — the Tuolumne and Merced — begin in the park and flow west to the Central Valley. Yosemite Falls, one of the world's tallest, is actually made up of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite Falls (1,430 feet), the middle cascades (675 feet), and Lower Yosemite Falls (320 feet).

We’ll meet our local guide at the Tunnel View, and travel on to Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Sentinel Bridge, and Lower Yosemite Falls, learning about various aspects of natural and human history as we go.

At the conclusion of our first field trip, we'll take the motorcoach to check in at Yosemite Lodge, the property closest to Yosemite Falls. The main complex was redesigned with an emphasis on glass and wood detailing to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. Landscaping of indigenous trees, shrubs and wildflowers further reflect the natural beauty of Yosemite Valley.

Dinner: The Yosemite Food Court offers an extensive buffet with various stations serving pastas and pizza, grilled items, salads, fruits, vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrées, desserts, and beverages.

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: Our study guide leads a fascinating examination of the park’s natural wonders, addressing aspects of park history, geology, ecology, natural and cultural history including the Native Americans of Yosemite.

Lodging: Yosemite Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Lodge

Description: As the closest property to Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is an idyllic spot for families, group retreats and visitors seeking the comforts of a hotel after an exciting day exploring the wilderness. In 1998, the main complex was redesigned with an emphasis on glass and wood detailing to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. Landscaping of indigenous trees, shrubs and wildflowers further reflect the natural beauty of Yosemite Valley.

Contact info:
9006 Yosemite Lodge Dr
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389 USA
phone: 801-559-4884
web: www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_YosemiteLodge.aspx

Room amenities: Rooms are furnished with a desk, private bathroom, telephone and television with select programming. Yosemite Lodge does not have air conditioning in any guest accommodations.

Facility amenities: On site post office. Wireless access is complimentary to all Yosemite Lodge guests. Free shuttle service to various locations in Yosemite Valley. Heated outdoor swimming pool is open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, conditions permitting.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Three: Tuesday, May 14 - Yosemite National Park, Glacier Point, Tunnel Vie...
Yosemite National Park, Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Half Dome, El Capitan, Waterfalls, Ahwahnee Hotel Historic Landmark, Evening Presentation: A Talk with “John Muir”

Breakfast: Breakfast at the Yosemite Food Court.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Entering Yosemite Valley, we pass through Wawona Tunnel and come out to see one the park’s most photographed views, looking east into the Valley towards El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Falls. We’ll stop at sites along the way to take in and learn more about this magnificent place. To round out the Yosemite experience, we’ll ride 30 miles (about an hour) from the Valley to the where the road ends at Glacier Point. This overlook has a commanding view of the Valley, Half Dome, and the High Sierra. There is a short walk to the viewpoint. Many say Glacier Point has the most spectacular views of anywhere in the park.

Lunch: We’ll have lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most impressive National Park lodges, in the very heart of the Park. The crown jewel of Yosemite dining, the award-winning Ahwahnee dining room is both magnificent and intimate. The 34-foot-high beamed ceiling with large sugar pine trestles complement granite pillars, floor-to-ceiling windows. The lunch menu typically offers options for soup, salad, sandwiches, pasta, entrées, sides, fresh cut fruit, and beverages.

Afternoon: EXCURSION: This afternoon we'll have a walking excursion through the renowned Ahwahnee Hotel to understand why it is a designated National Historic Landmark. Completed in 1927, the hotel was built in a rustic style with American Indian motif. Historic paintings of Yosemite, stunning stained-glass windows, and woven tapestries grace the walls of The Great Lounge and Dining Room. Walk back or the park shuttle may be available to take you to Yosemite Lodge after the excursion.

FREE TIME: You’ll have some free time to explore on your own. Multiple opportunities are available! Don't forget to check out the Ansel Adams Gallery!

Dinner: Dinner in the Food Court, with its many options. Share your favorite highlights of the day with new friends.

Evening: PRESENTATION: We’ll be joined this evening by none other than “John Muir” who will share perspectives on his life and his love for this special Park.

Lodging: Yosemite Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Lodge

Description: Open year-round and conveniently located within prime access to Sequoia's most popular visitor attractions, the Wuksachi Lodge is beautifully crafted of cedar and stone, highlighted by stone fireplaces, natural woods, and panoramic views of the surrounding forest and High Sierra peaks.

Contact info:
64740 Wuksachi
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, CA 93262-9604 USA
phone: 866-807-3598
web: www.visitsequoia.com/lodging.aspx

Room amenities: All 102 guest rooms at the lodge are located 100-200 yards from the main lodge building, and feature Mission-style furnishings, private baths, televisions, telephones with computer data ports, hair dryers, coffee makers, iron/boards, mini refrigerators, ski racks, central heat, and daily maid service.

Facility amenities: Built in 1999 and highlighted by a spectacular mountain/forest setting, the Wuksachi Lodge is an upscale mountain resort featuring 102 spacious guest rooms, a full-service restaurant serving sumptuous Sierra Alpine cuisine, cocktail lounge, and retail and ski shop.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Four: Wednesday, May 15 - Transfer to Sequoia National Park, Giant Forest M...
Transfer to Sequoia National Park, Giant Forest Museum, Walk Big Trees Trail, Giant Sequoia Ecology, Check in to Hotel

Breakfast: Breakfast is in the Yosemite Food Court.

Morning: TRANSFER TO SEQUOIA: We’ll board our motorcoach and say goodbye to Yosemite, turning our sights towards Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These two parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. The landscape testifies to natural beauty and diversity with huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees.

The transfer should take approximately 4 hours.

Lunch: We’ll stop for a quick lunch at Bear Mountain Pizza between Fresno and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Sequoia National Park. Upon arrival, we’ll visit the Giant Forest Museum for a basic introduction to the primary features of the Giant Forest including its sequoias, meadows, and human history. Then we’ll walk the 2/3 mile Big Trees Trail (paved/boardwalked) that circles Round Meadow, a large grassy clearing usually filled with wildflowers in spring and summer, and lined by several very large sequoia. You’ll learn about giant sequoia ecology and recent studies suggesting that natural forces should be allowed to operate freely throughout the groves, enabling the giant sequoia ecosystem to be perpetuated much as it was in millennia preceding human arrival on the scene.

At the conclusion of the field trip, we’ll drive to Wuksachi Lodge and check in at this upscale mountain resort built in 1999 amid a marvelous mountain forest setting.

Dinner: Dinner in the Wuksachi Lodge. With soaring glass windows that frame giant trees and majestic mountain peaks in the background, the dining room combines an upscale, rustic decor with forest-inspired colors. The chef likes to use fresh seasonal ingredients for a changing menu of salads, entrées, meat, fish, pasta dishes and vegetarian options, and desserts.

Evening: FREE EVENING: It's been a full day so this evening is free to explore the Lodge, get to know new friends, or just relax.

Lodging: Wuksachi Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Full Service Hotel

Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Victorville hotel in California, located about 80 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, offers comfortable accommodations, friendly service, and a relaxed atmosphere in the beautiful high desert.

Contact info:
12603 Mariposa Rd
Victorville, CA 92395 USA
phone: 760-952-1200
web: www.victorville.hgi.com

Room amenities: Guest rooms are equipped with the Garden Sleep System, microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, and plasma TV, along with a king-size bed or two queen beds, a comfortable sitting room and complimentary wireless high speed Internet service.

Facility amenities: Hotel amenities include non-smoking rooms, handicapped-accessible rooms, full-service hotel restaurant, in-room dining service (available nightly), outdoor pool and indoor whirlpool spa, workout facility, 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® convenience mart, and complimentary 24-hour Business Center. Valet and self laundry are available.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Five: Thursday, May 16 - Kings Canyon National Park, General Grant Tree, O...
Kings Canyon National Park, General Grant Tree, Overnight Rest Stop En Route to Joshua Tree National Park

Note: After departing Kings Canyon for Joshua Tree National Park, we stop to break up the drive with an overnight in Victorville, California.

Breakfast: Breakfast is in the lovely Wuksachi Lodge. The giant trees for which this park is known rise just outside your dining room windows with soaring mountain peaks in the background.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Kings Canyon National Park. A portion of what is now Kings Canyon was originally set aside in 1890 as General Grant National Park, later absorbed into the new and larger Kings Canyon National Park. The story of how this park came into existence is fascinating. Photos by Ansel Adams, hired by then Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, helped lead to Congress creating the park in 1940. Managed together by the National Park Service, Sequoia and Kings Canyon total over 863,700 acres.

We’ll begin at the Kings Canyon Visitor Center in Grant Grove Village before walking to the General Grant Grove that preserves giant sequoias including the famous General Grant Tree, second largest in the world and estimated to be more than 1,600 years old. The trail is gently-graded and paved, looping one-third of a mile through the sequoia grove.

Our natural history specialist will guide us during our Kings Canyon exploration, delving into the history of the establishment of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the re-establishment of fire in the parks and the logging history of the Giant Sequoias.

At the conclusion of the field trip, we’ll board the motorcoach and continue our journey of discovery en route to Joshua Tree National Park.

Lunch: We’ll stop for lunch at the Hometown Buffet. While there's always something new to try at Hometown Buffet, you'll also find a delicious line-up of freshly prepared comfort foods. Or create your own salad…but don't forget to leave room for dessert!

Afternoon: TRANSFER: It’s a long drive from Kings Canyon National Park to Joshua Tree National Park, so for your comfort we have planned an overnight in Victorville, California, in the heart of the high desert. After checking into the hotel and having dinner and a good night's rest, we'll resume our journey to Joshua Tree tomorrow.

Dinner: Dinner is in the Great American Grill at the hotel.

Evening: FREE EVENING: Take a dip in the hotel pool, use the fitness room, try your hand at bowling or miniature golf in the entertainment center adjacent to hotel, or relax.

Lodging: Hilton Garden Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Hotel

Description: Hotel 29 Palms is 3 miles from the Joshua Tree National Park. Amenities include a fitness center, a 24 hr business center with high-speed Cable and WiFi wireless Internet access, outdoor heated pool & spa, and a 24 hr front desk with friendly, helpful, and professional staff to assist with your needs. For your travel comfort all guestrooms are non-smoking and have high-speed DSL Internet access, iron and ironing board, coffee maker, hair dryer, 27" TV w/ HBO & ESPN, activity desk and chair.

Contact info:
71809 Twentynine Palms Hwy
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 USA
phone: 760-361-4009
web: www.hotel29palms.com

Room amenities: Color TV, desk, free internet, a refrigerator, a microwave, and free morning newspaper.

Facility amenities: Fitness Center, Business Center and Outdoor Heated Spa onsite.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Six: Friday, May 17 - Transfer to Joshua Tree National Park, Park Field...
Transfer to Joshua Tree National Park, Park Field Trip with Trail Walks, Evening Program: Astronomy of the Desert Night Sky

Breakfast: Enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast in the hotel dining room.

Morning: TRANSFER: We depart for Joshua Tree National Park.

Lunch: We’ll stop for a picnic lunch in Hidden Valley.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Joshua Tree National Park. Originally designated as a national monument, it became a national park in 1994 when Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act. The park is named for the native Joshua Tree, a member of the Yucca family.

Entering the Park at Joshua Tree Visitor Center, gain an overview of the Park as you travel along park roads. We’ll then walk along trails (paved or hard-packed sand) to see and learn about this special place shaped by forces such as strong winds, torrents of rain, and climatic extremes.

Specific stops will be determined by temperatures but we hope to visit Keys View, the highest trail in the Park accessible by a paved road. Count on a brisk breeze (and bring your windbreaker). We'll walk along a paved quarter-mile loop with (weather permitting) scenic overlooks of valley, mountain and desert from its elevation of 5,185 feet.

At the conclusion of the field trip, we’ll drive to Twentynine Palms, California. Local lore says it was so called by gold miners because of 29 palm trees surrounding an oasis. We’ll check in to our hotel.

Dinner: We'll head out to dinner at the 29 Palms Inn, an outstanding restaurant noted for its homemade breads, fruits and vegetables picked fresh from the Inn’s own garden.

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: We'll step out into the high desert to explore the universe surrounding us and have an expert-led look at the astronomy of the desert night sky using sight, binoculars, and telescopes (provided).

Lodging: Hotel 29 Palms Inn & Suites

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Lodge

Description: The South Rim lodge (Maswik or Yavapai) was built within a quarter mile of the S. Rim.

Contact info:
S. Rim Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023 USA
phone: 928-638-2631
web: www.grandcanyonlodges.com

Room amenities: Television, phone, bath. Refrigerators available upon request for medications.

Facility amenities: The lodge is convenient to all the shops, museums and restaurants within Grand Canyon Village. Free shuttle buses stop at the lodge.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Seven: Saturday, May 18 - Joshua Tree National Park, Mohave & Colorado Dese...
Joshua Tree National Park, Mohave & Colorado Deserts, Trail Walks, Cholla Cactus Garden, Transfer to Grand Canyon National Park, Sunset Excursion

Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast in the hotel's breakfast bar.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: Joshua Tree National Park. Enter the Park at the Oasis Visitor Center where we'll learn about the transition between the Mojave and Colorado deserts from our expert guide from the Desert Institute. Because the Park straddles the two deserts, an unusual variety of plants are found within its boundaries.

Travel along the road to the Cottonwood Visitor Center, stopping for walks along trails (to be determined by temperatures at the time). Our route may include the Cholla Cactus Garden, an easy quarter-mile sandy loop trail. Learn about the cholla cactus (commonly called teddy bear cholla...but don't be deceived...it certainly can sting) and the ocotillo (desert flora) amongst others.

At the conclusion of the field trip, we’ll depart via motorcoach for Grand Canyon National Park, stopping en route in Parker, Arizona.

Lunch: We'll stop for a tasty lunch.

Afternoon: TRANSFER: The coach continues along the Colorado River. Our local instructional specialist joins us in Kingman, Arizona; from here it’s approximately three hours until we reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. As we climb out of the basin and range topography of Western Arizona, we ride through the vast landscape of the Colorado Plateau — our home for the next six days. Reaching Williams, Arizona, we find ourselves in the middle of the largest continuous Ponderosa Pine forest in the world, with pines and grasslands as we approach the Grand Canyon.

Dinner: We arrive at Tusayan, just outside the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, for dinner before an excursion into the Park.

Evening: EXCURSION: We plan to arrive at the rim of the Grand Canyon in time for sunset (depending on time of the year). Your study leader will provide a brief orientation to the landscape that surrounds you and then we’ll head over to our lodge accommodations for a late check in. After a long day, enjoy a some “down time” to re-energize for another big day tomorrow.

Lodging: South Rim Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Lodge

Description: The South Rim lodge (Maswik or Yavapai) was built within a quarter mile of the S. Rim.

Contact info:
S. Rim Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023 USA
phone: 928-638-2631
web: www.grandcanyonlodges.com

Room amenities: Television, phone, bath. Refrigerators available upon request for medications.

Facility amenities: The lodge is convenient to all the shops, museums and restaurants within Grand Canyon Village. Free shuttle buses stop at the lodge.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.


Day Eight: Sunday, May 19 - The Grand Canyon: An Open Book of Earth's History...
The Grand Canyon: An Open Book of Earth's History, Geology Walk & Talk, Small Group Explorations

Breakfast: Breakfast at the Lodge cafeteria with coupons provided to select your preferred choices.

Morning: PRESENTATION: The morning begins with presentation on Grand Canyon geology to gain an understanding and appreciation of the geologic forces that created this wonder of the world. Often referred to as "the greatest open book of earth's history," the Grand Canyon provides opportunities for scientific inquiry equal to its inherently spiritual qualities.

FIELD TRIP: After the class, we’ll walk to the rim for a talk by our expert interpreting what you see in front of you and relating it to what you’ve learned.

Lunch: We'll have lunch as a group at the Maswik Lodge cafeteria.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: This afternoon we break into smaller groups so that you can experience Grand Canyon National Park according to your abilities and interests.

For robust participants who would like to take on the infamously difficult trails of the inner canyon, you'll have the option to join a naturalist who will lead a hike down the steep and twisting Bright Angel trail.

A second option for those who prefer something less demanding, is a naturalist-led walk along a canyon rim trail to some of the Park’s most inspiring overlooks which also includes a visit to the historical district of the South Rim. There we'll see a number of the Park’s human-created attractions including the Visitor Center, historic El Tovar Hotel and the Hopi House.

Dinner: We’ll have dinner in a room with a large second-storey deck that looks over the canyon to another magical sunset. There will be a bar for those who wish to purchase drinks.

Evening: Enjoy a relaxing evening after dinner. Depending on the season, there may be musical entertainment available.

Lodging: South Rim Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Hotel

Description: The Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel offers the newest luxurious accommodations for visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Contact info:
30 North 100 East
Bryce Canyon City, UT 84764 USA
phone: 866-866-6634
web: www.zionparkinn.com

Room amenities: Rooms have a flat panel color television with over 50 channels and pay-per view movies available. The room also offers an iron, ironing board, hairdryer, coffee/tea maker with complimentary coffee, data ports, wireless Internet and voice mail.

Facility amenities: Interior corridors, heated outdoor pool and spa,business center, exercise facilities and guest laundry.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Nine: Monday, May 20 - Desert View Watchtower, Marble Canyon, Navajo Ste...
Desert View Watchtower, Marble Canyon, Navajo Steel Arch Bridge over Colorado River, Vermillion Cliffs, Learning About Bryce Canyon National Park

Breakfast: Breakfast at the Lodge cafeteria with coupons provided to select your preferred choices.

Either before or just after breakfast, be sure to check out of your room and load your luggage onto the bus.

Morning: FREE TIME: There will be some free time before we depart. You may want to re-visit your favorite sights, see something new, or simply gaze out at this most extraordinary natural wonder. Options include taking the Park’s free shuttle service to viewpoints and trails on the western end for rim hikes where you can then take a shuttle back to the Lodge area, etc.

EXCURSION: After departing the lodge, we’ll travel for 30 minutes along the South Rim to the Desert View Watchtower, built in 1932 as a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower. This iconic structure commands a magnificent view of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, and the San Francisco Peaks. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the tower was designed by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter in collaboration with Hopi artisans and notable Hopi artist Fred Kabotie, whose murals adorn the interior.

Lunch: To extend our stay as much as possible, we'll have sack lunches at picnic tables on the site of the Desert View Watchtower.

Afternoon: TRANSFER: One of the most beautiful stretches we will travel lies before you. We ride down from the 7,000-foot elevation of the South Rim to the Colorado River at a 3,600-foot elevation in Marble Canyon. We now say goodbye to our Arizona instructional specialist.

EXCURSION: We’ll stop briefly to walk across Navajo Steel Arch Bridge that spans the 500-foot walls of Marble Canyon. The views will take your breath away as you gaze down at the river below and the towering 800-foot walls of the surrounding Vermillion Cliffs.

We head into Utah for the beauty of "Color Country" en route to Bryce Canyon National Park where we pick up our next instructional lecturer. We'll be staying at a hotel just outside the Park and will check in upon arrival.

Dinner: Dinner is in the dining room of our Inn just outside the Park.

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: Our study leader will discuss the unique geology of Bryce Canyon National Park. As the National Park Service notes, “What is Bryce Canyon? Words confound when nothing comparable exists. A cave without a ceiling? A forest of stone? Even 'canyon' is misleading since Bryce is carved by freeze-thaw cycles, not a river.”

Lodging: Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Hotel

Description: The Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel offers the newest luxurious accommodations for visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Contact info:
30 North 100 East
Bryce Canyon City, UT 84764 USA
phone: 866-866-6634
web: www.zionparkinn.com

Room amenities: Rooms have a flat panel color television with over 50 channels and pay-per view movies available. The room also offers an iron, ironing board, hairdryer, coffee/tea maker with complimentary coffee, data ports, wireless Internet and voice mail.

Facility amenities: Interior corridors, heated outdoor pool and spa,business center, exercise facilities and guest laundry.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Ten: Tuesday, May 21 - Bryce Canyon Field Trip, Sunrise Point Early Morn...
Bryce Canyon Field Trip, Sunrise Point Early Morning Walk, Canyon Hikes, Rainbow Point & Yovimpa Point, Western Dinner, Current Park Issues

Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We begin with an expert-led, early morning hike to Sunrise Point for views of incredible formations with evocative names such as Boat Mesa, the Sinking Ship, Pink Cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau, and the hoodoos of Fairyland Canyon. “Hoodoos” are tall, thin spires of multi-colored rock, formed into peculiar shapes by erosion and found more at Bryce than anywhere else in the world. They can range in size from the height of an average person to higher than a 10-storey building.

We continue hiking down into the canyon along the so-called Queen’s Trail. If you use your imagination, the many hoodoos may look like a garden, presided over by the “Queen Victoria” hoodoo that gives the trail its name. Those who prefer a less strenuous outing can view Bryce from above, walking the rim.

Lunch: We'll have box lunches in the canyon.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Continue after lunch to view and learn more about the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. We’ll explore Rainbow Point, where the Park stretches out before you back to the north, and the expansive view of Yovimpa Point to really appreciate the sequence of rock layers called the Grand Staircase. Different sections or steps in the Grand Staircase are named for the dominant color of rock. You’ll come away with a better understanding of the geologic forces in Bryce’s landscapes and an enhanced appreciation of its almost surreal beauty.

Dinner: We’ll eat out at a popular “barn” and grill for a delicious Western dinner accompanied by cowboy music.

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: A National Park Service ranger will talk about some of the current challenges and issues facing the park.

Lodging: Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Inn

Description: Zion Park Inn has the towering red rock cliffs of Zion National Park as a backdrop and offers spectacular views from rooms and the restaurant windows. This premier lodging choice offers stunning scenery along with excellent amenities and comfortable rooms. The Zion Park Inn is the largest facility within Zion National Park area. The comfortable guest rooms have been designed to echo the natural elegance of Zion National Park. Natural furnishings complement the creature comforts and amenities you would expect in the heart of Zion National Park lodging. Guests can relax in the "Great Room" with its soaring ceiling and roaring fireplace, take a dip in the outdoor pool, or soak in the hot tub. Whatever you choose, you'll enjoy the charm and beauty of the meticulously landscaped grounds.

Contact info:
1215 Zion Park Blvd
Springdale, UT 84767 USA
phone: 435-772-3200
web: www.zionparkinn.com

Room amenities: Desk work area, individual climate control, alarm clocks, feature data ports, televisions, pay-per-view movies, interactive games and music, coffee maker, hair dryer, refrigerator, voice messaging, and free high speed wireless access.

Facility amenities: Convenient onsite amenities include full service Switchback Grille Restaurant with patio, deli, liquor store, and guest laundry facilities, heated outdoor pool and hot tub, basketball/volleyball court, badminton, putting green, gift shop, and elevator.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Eleven: Wednesday, May 22 - Transfer to Zion National Park, Zion Human Histor...
Transfer to Zion National Park, Zion Human History Museum, Hike to Emerald Pools, Evening Program: Zion's Geology, Natural & Human History

Breakfast: Breakfast at Bryce Grand Hotel.

Morning: TRANSFER: We'll travel along Highway 89 into the East Entrance of Zion National Park, stopping to view the horizonal layers and vertical cracks of Checkerboard Mesa. This landmark is so called because the massive hill towering 900 feet above the highway is colorful, criss-crossed, and resembles (somewhat) a gigantic checkerboard. We continue through the Zion Tunnel and down the switchbacks.

Lunch: We'll stop for lunch at a restaurant in Springdale, a small community surrounded by the towering cliffs of Zion National Park.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Zion National Park in southwestern Utah comprises some of America’s most scenic canyon country, characterized by high plateaus, deep sandstone canyons and cliffs ranging in color from ivory to red, and dramatic rock towers and mesas. This showcase of natural history vividly presents the effects of geologic processes, while traces of early human activity have almost disappeared.

After lunch, we take go to the Zion Human History Museum for a short multi-media presentation providing an overview of the Park. Aftewards, we’ll make a short hike along the Emerald Pools trails to see the pools themselves — named for their green tint from algae — that characterize this delightful, secluded oasis.

Travel then to the Zion Park Inn to check in before dinner.

Dinner: At the entrance to the Park in Springdale, we'll have dinner at Switchback. They feature artfully prepared dishes with enticing flavors of the American West, France and Italy!

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: An expert will capture the essence of Zion National Park in a presentation that will include it's extraordinary geology, and may include elements of its Anasazi history, the building of the Zion Tunnel and the plants and animals resident there, as determined by your questions and interests.

Lodging: Best Western Zion Park Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Type: Inn

Description: Zion Park Inn has the towering red rock cliffs of Zion National Park as a backdrop and offers spectacular views from rooms and the restaurant windows. This premier lodging choice offers stunning scenery along with excellent amenities and comfortable rooms. The Zion Park Inn is the largest facility within Zion National Park area. The comfortable guest rooms have been designed to echo the natural elegance of Zion National Park. Natural furnishings complement the creature comforts and amenities you would expect in the heart of Zion National Park lodging. Guests can relax in the "Great Room" with its soaring ceiling and roaring fireplace, take a dip in the outdoor pool, or soak in the hot tub. Whatever you choose, you'll enjoy the charm and beauty of the meticulously landscaped grounds.

Contact info:
1215 Zion Park Blvd
Springdale, UT 84767 USA
phone: 435-772-3200
web: www.zionparkinn.com

Room amenities: Desk work area, individual climate control, alarm clocks, feature data ports, televisions, pay-per-view movies, interactive games and music, coffee maker, hair dryer, refrigerator, voice messaging, and free high speed wireless access.

Facility amenities: Convenient onsite amenities include full service Switchback Grille Restaurant with patio, deli, liquor store, and guest laundry facilities, heated outdoor pool and hot tub, basketball/volleyball court, badminton, putting green, gift shop, and elevator.

Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Twelve: Thursday, May 23 - Zion National Park, Weeping Rock, Temple of Sinaw...
Zion National Park, Weeping Rock, Temple of Sinawava, Hike Zion Narrows, Free Afternoon, IMAX "Treasure of the Gods"

Breakfast: Breakfast at Zion Park Inn.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We’ll take a shuttle to explore some of the most significant sites in the Park. Weeping Rock really appears to weep due to water migrating through sandstone and shale until seeping out onto the surface. The Temple of Sinawava was named for the coyote-spirit of the Paiute Indians and hosts small wildlife such as birds, frogs, gophers, and lizards.

We’ll hike along the Virgin River, an easy 2 mile round trip hike on paved trails, to the spectacular Zion Narrows gorge for views of the towering, vertical rock sides of the canyon. The Narrows were carved by the river in ancient times and are today characterized by soaring walls, sandstone grottos, natural springs, and hanging gardens.

Adventure awaits you as the hike ends at the entrance of the Narrows, and you have the option to hike up the river a few hundred yards to get a feel for being inside a slot canyon. The only way up is "IN" the river! You can choose to either embark on this quite difficult hike (as you can't see the river bottom and are walking on slippery rocks and boulders), or to explore the rest of the river. A little rest time is of course an option as well.

Lunch: Enjoy a box lunch in the beauty of the Park.

Afternoon: FREE TIME: The afternoon is free for you to explore the Park on your own. You may want to revisit the Park visitor centers and bookstores that offer a wealth of interpretive resources. The Zion shuttle makes your exploration simple to and from the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner will be in a local favorite restaurant in Springdale.

Evening: EVENING PROGRAM: In Zion's IMAX Theater, we'll view "Treasure of the Gods" — an original giant-screen motion picture by Academy Award Winning Director Keith Merrill. Experience the myth, magic, and drama of Zion Canyon’s history and legends, with scenes from southwest National Parks and Native American lands.

Lodging: Best Western Zion Park Inn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day Thirteen: Friday, May 24 - Program Concludes, Transfer to Las Vegas for Inde...
Breakfast: Breakfast at Zion Park Inn.

Morning: TRANSFER: After hotel check-out, we say farewell to these iconic National Parks of the West and board our motorcoach for the transfer to for Las Vegas. ARRIVAL IN LAS VEGAS: We'll arrive by 10:00 AM local time. Our drop off point will be the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. If you are planning to fly out of Las Vegas, be sure to book your flight departing AFTER 12:00 PM. We trust you have enjoyed this exciting new "Exploring North America" learning adventure and will join us for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Meals Included: Breakfast


Free Time Opportunities


San Francisco, CA
Aquarium of the BayMeet 20,000 amazing marine animals as you walk through 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels. Touch sharks and rays. It's like skin diving without getting wet. Open daily except Dec. 25.
For additional information, visit: www.aquariumofthebay.com
Pier 39There is something for everyone at PIER 39, one of San Francisco's premier Bay attractions: a festival marketplace with more than 110 stores, 14 Bay view restaurants and a variety of fun-filled attractions for all ages, including the world-renowned sea lions, street performers and live daily entertainment.
For additional information, visit: www.pier39.com
San Francisco ZooNorthern California's largest zoological park features approximately 1,000 exotic and endangered wildlife. Visit the new Grizzly Gulch (June 2007), home to two grizzly bears and stroll through the African Savannah habitat. Experience the wonders of the Children's Zoo and visit other favorites such as Gorilla Preserve, Penguin Island, Koala Crossing, Lemur Forest and the Australian WalkAbout. Ride the historical Dentzel Carousel and Little Puffer miniature steam train.
For additional information, visit: www.sfzoo.org
El Portal, CA
Yosemite National Park ActivitiesA wide variety of activities around the park provide additional photographic opportunities, ways to explore independently or simply relax.
For additional information, visit: www.nps.gov/archive/yose/trip/activities.htm

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
12 nights of accommodations
35 meals: 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 12 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
15 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences
3 Performances

Ratings

4.6
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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