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BEGINS IN: TUCSON, ARIZONA

On the Road: America’s Great Deserts and Their National Parks

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Road Scholar
Program #13480RJ
10 Days | 9 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
We will visit two locations above 3000 feet. Those with heart/lung conditions should consult doctor.

Itinerary for Feb 1 — Feb 10, 2014

Expand all
Type: Hotel

Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Tucson Airport hotel is one mile from Tucson International Airport (TUS) and minutes from downtown.

Contact info:
6575 South Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85756 USA
phone: 520-741-0505
Room amenities: The Garden Sleep SystemT, Feather Pillows Non Allergenic, Complimentary WiFi access, LCD Flat Panel TV, Premium HBO,CNN,ESPN, Safe, Coffee Maker, Hairdryer, Iron/Ironing Board, Microwave, Mini Refrigerator.

Facility amenities: Complimentary 24-hour Tucson International Airport shuttle including destinations within a 5 mile radius of the hotel. 24-hour Business Center and complimentary WiFi access, Photo Copying Service and Printer. Fitness center and outdoor pool, 24 hr Pavilion Pantry Market, Baggage Storage, Lounge, Coin Laundry, Elevators.

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

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Contact Hotel for Rate
Contact Hotel for Rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day One: Saturday, February 01 - Registration and Check In/Orientation and Introdu...
Afternoon: Northern Arizona University Road Scholar program registration in the hotel lobby between 4:30 and 5:15 pm.

Dinner: Group dinner in the hotel banquet room.

Evening: Your Northern Arizona University Road Scholar coordinator will lead the program orientation session with questions and answers, followed by participant introductions. Please remember that this program begins in Tucson, AZ and ends in Las Vegas, NV. Most airlines will book flights that arrive in Tucson and depart from Las Vegas. If you drive your own car you may leave it at the hotel parking lot during the duration of the trip. Several airlines sell one way tickets between Tucson or Phoenix, and Las Vegas at affordable prices if booked far enough in advance.

Lodging: Hilton Garden Inn Tucson

Meals Included: Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Tucson Airport hotel is one mile from Tucson International Airport (TUS) and minutes from downtown.

Contact info:
6575 South Country Club Road
Tucson, AZ 85756 USA
phone: 520-741-0505
Room amenities: The Garden Sleep SystemT, Feather Pillows Non Allergenic, Complimentary WiFi access, LCD Flat Panel TV, Premium HBO,CNN,ESPN, Safe, Coffee Maker, Hairdryer, Iron/Ironing Board, Microwave, Mini Refrigerator.

Facility amenities: Complimentary 24-hour Tucson International Airport shuttle including destinations within a 5 mile radius of the hotel. 24-hour Business Center and complimentary WiFi access, Photo Copying Service and Printer. Fitness center and outdoor pool, 24 hr Pavilion Pantry Market, Baggage Storage, Lounge, Coin Laundry, Elevators.

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

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: Contact Hotel for Rate
Contact Hotel for Rate.

Check in time: 3:00 PM


Day Two: Sunday, February 02 - Saguaro National Park West / Arizona-Sonora Deser...
Note: Prepare to be on your feet for a good part of the day. The walking distance at Saguaro National Park will be about 1/2 mile on a paved trail and on a level gravel dry stream bed. There will be multiple stops to discuss desert flora and fauna. The visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum will be a self guide, self paced experience. The museum trails are generally gravel with some rolling hills. Walk as much or as little as you like.

Breakfast: Hot breakfast at the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Travel to Saguaro National Park Western District Visitor Center. Enjoy the spectacular desert video showing.This National Park is home to the world’s most recognized cactus, the majestic saguaro. Visitors of all ages are fascinated and enchanted by these desert giants, especially their many interesting and complex interrelationships with other desert life. A guided walk among the desert vegetation by your naturalist coordinator will be offered. Arrive at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum before lunch.

Lunch: Lunch at the Ironwood Terrace at the Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum

Afternoon: After lunch explore the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on your own. A museum map will help guide participants to the many fascinating exhibits, natural areas and trails. Special presentations, docent staffed exhibit tables and the famous "Raptor Free Flight Program" will be available. Stunning and often odd live desert flora and fauna are on display throughout the museum.

Dinner: Festive dinner at Macayo's Mexican restaurant.

Evening: After dinner your coordinator will discuss travel plans and logistics for the next day's travel.

Lodging: Hilton Garden Inn Tucson

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Located in Yuma, AZ, one of the warmest, sunniest locations in Arizona, close to shopping, restaurants with a wide range of cuisines, golf, hiking, fishing and sightseeing.

Contact info:
1760 Sunridge Dr
Yuma, AZ 85364 USA
phone: 928-783-1400
web: wygateyuma@mmproperties.com

Room amenities: Air conditioned, Hair dryers, coffee makers, irons and ironing boards, cordless phones, safe in room, microwave, refrigerator, cable TV and On Demand movies, 24 hour sundry shop.

Facility amenities: 100% no smoking facility, outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, wired and wireless Internet, handicap facilities, wheel chair access, indoor corridors and elevator, fitness center, guest laundromat, gift shop, free fax and copy service, pool table.

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

Elevator: Yes


Day Three: Monday, February 03 - Lower Colorado River/Yuma Territorial Prison Stat...
Lower Colorado River/Yuma Territorial Prison State Park/Colorado River Water Issues

Note: In Yuma there will be an optional one mile walk from the downtown area to the Yuma Territorial Prison along the banks of the Colorado River and Gateway Park.

Breakfast: Hot breakfast at the hotel restaurant.

Morning: After breakfast, depart for Yuma, AZ. Along the way we travel through the Sonoran Desert National Monument and follow the course of the Gila River on its route to the Colorado River. Dramatic changes in the desert landscape will be experienced on this day as we travel from the relatively lush Tucson portion of the Sonoran Desert to the dry lower Colorado River portion. Features and stories of historic and regional significance will be pointed out and discussed along the travel route.

Lunch: Lunch at Lute's "Casino". Lute's has been a Yuma landmark for generations. It is full of interesting and zany trappings and it is where the locals gather to eat lunch.

Afternoon: In Yuma enjoy a docent lead tour of the famous Yuma Territorial Prison Historic Park. Steep yourself in the history of the old west with a docent lead tour of the park museum and prison grounds. Enjoy sweeping views of the Colorado River and Yuma in the distance.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: A presentation on Western Water and the Colorado River by US Bureau of Reclamation manager Jim Cherry will be offered.

Lodging: Wingate Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: Eight pools are scattered around the property. The largest is kept at about 80 degrees. The smaller pools bubble and percolated at about 104 soothing degrees. All of the pools are fed directly from the mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs.

Contact info:
10625 Palm Dr
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240 USA
phone: 800-400-4414
web: www.miraclesprings.com

Room amenities: See web link below.

Facility amenities: A variety of massages, facials, body therapies and spa treatments in addition to the mineral water hot springs.

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

Elevator: Yes


Day Four: Tuesday, February 04 - Algodones Dunes / Salton Sea / Desert Hot Springs
Note: There will be an opportunity to walk on a sand dune at the Algodones dune field.

Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: After breakfast, load bus and travel to Desert Hot Springs. The group will travel through the Imperial Valley which lies mostly below sea level and is one of the richest agricultural areas in the US. Valley features include the Algodones Sand Dune Field, the Imperial hydrothermal area, and the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when Imperial Valley irrigators broke a levee and allowed the Colorado River to overflow its banks and fill this below sea level basin. Stops for viewing these interesting features will be made at appropriate places and times.

Lunch: Box lunch on the shore of the Salton Sea at Salton Sea State Park.

Afternoon: Continue travel to Miracle Springs Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs California. Before arriving in the Palm Springs/Desert Hot Springs area, we will travel through the Coachella Valley, the “Date Palm Capital” of the world. We will stop at the Oasis Date Garden to sample some of the many variety of dates. If you are adventurous you can treat yourself to a date milk shake!

Dinner: Dinner at the Miracle Springs Resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs.

Evening: Evening presentation on the human and natural history of the Cahuilla and Agua Caliente native people.

Lodging: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: Eight pools are scattered around the property. The largest is kept at about 80 degrees. The smaller pools bubble and percolated at about 104 soothing degrees. All of the pools are fed directly from the mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs.

Contact info:
10625 Palm Dr
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240 USA
phone: 800-400-4414
web: www.miraclesprings.com

Room amenities: See web link below.

Facility amenities: A variety of massages, facials, body therapies and spa treatments in addition to the mineral water hot springs.

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

Elevator: Yes


Day Five: Wednesday, February 05 - Joshua Tree National Park
Note: An optional one mile hike in Hidden Valley (Joshua Tree) will be offered. The trail is made up of gravel and some exposed rock surfaces. The trail is generally on gently rolling terrain but there are a couple areas that have a series of stone steps (newly reworked by the Park Service trail crew) that must be negotiated with extra care. The overall ascend up and down is about 20 - 30 feet at each location.

Breakfast: A full hot breakfast will be served at the hotel.

Morning: Depart for Joshua Tree National Park. Two deserts whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and feature creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the habitat of the Joshua tree. The park also contains many fantastic geologic formations. Fan palm groves dot the park, indicating areas where water occurs naturally and wildlife abounds. We will stop at the Twenty-nine Palms Visitor Center on our way to Keys View (5185 feet above sea level). This outstanding view point overlooks the Coachella Valley which includes the Salton Sea and the San Andreas Fault Zone.

Lunch: Picnic lunch at Hidden Valley picnic area in the park.

Afternoon: We continue our Joshua Tree NP visit with an optional one mile hike into Hidden Valley on an rough unpaved trail that winds between unique desert plants including Joshua trees, and spectacular granite boulders; and leads us through the legendary cattle rustlers hideout.

Dinner: Dinner at the Miracle Hot Springs Resort.

Evening: Evening presentation by local historian Dean Gray on the pioneer history of Desert Hot Springs, the "Colorado Desert" and Coachella Valley.

Lodging: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: Eight pools are scattered around the property. The largest is kept at about 80 degrees. The smaller pools bubble and percolated at about 104 soothing degrees. All of the pools are fed directly from the mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs.

Contact info:
10625 Palm Dr
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240 USA
phone: 800-400-4414
web: www.miraclesprings.com

Room amenities: See web link below.

Facility amenities: A variety of massages, facials, body therapies and spa treatments in addition to the mineral water hot springs.

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

Elevator: Yes


Day Six: Thursday, February 06 - Palm Springs Aerial Tramway/ Palm Springs Street ...
Note: Expect much cooler temperature and possibly snow on the ground at the Palm Spring Tram Mountain Station. An optional hike in Long Valley will be offered depending on weather and trail conditions. From the station, a 200 yard long paved walkway descends to the valley floor. The 3/4 mile Long Valley Nature Trail Loop (relatively level) and the 1.5 mile Desert View Loop (some elevation gain and uneven footing) both start from the bottom of the walkway.

Breakfast: A full hot breakfast will be served at the hotel.

Morning: Depart for the the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is truly an engineering marvel and a breathtaking experience. Starting from an elevation of 2,643 feet at the Valley Station the tram will transport the group to the Mountain Station at an elevation of 8,516 feet. At the Mountain Station enjoy sweeping views of the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree National Park. Trails lead into the San Jacinto Wilderness. Plenty of time for gazing and exploring (including a small museum and 2 videos) will be offered.

Lunch: Lunch will be at the Top of the Tram Cafe.

Afternoon: Return by approximately 2:00 pm and enjoy a free afternoon at the Miracle Springs resort and Spa in Desert Hot Springs. This is a perfect time to relax by the pools or schedule a spa treatment at the resort.

Dinner: Dinner on your own. If you choose to go to the Palm Springs Street Fair there will be numerous food and dining options.For those who decide not go to the Street Fair there is a restaurant located at the hotel.

Evening: A trip to the Palm Springs Street Fair will be offered this evening. Arts and crafts booths, food stalls and open shops all make for a festive evening of browsing and shopping.

Lodging: Miracle Springs Resort & Spa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Resort

Description: Furnace Creek Ranch is a complete resort fashioned on the grounds of the original working ranch and later the housing for the 20 mule team operation. Located in Death Valley National Park, the Ranch offers hiking in adjacent canyons, swimming, golf, tennis and horseback riding.

Contact info:
Hwy 190
Death Valley, CA 92328 USA
phone: 760-786-2345
web: www.furnacecreekresort.com

Room amenities: A/C, TV, phone, in-room coffee maker, hair dryer, phone.

Facility amenities: Three restaurants, a cocktail lounge, an outdoor, spring-fed, geothermal swimming pool - always at 82 degrees, lighted tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course (lowest elevation course in the world), a gift shop and a general store.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Additional nights after: Seasonal.
Call Furnace Creek for rates applicable to your stay.

Check out time: 11:00 AM

Day Seven: Friday, February 07 - Death Valley National Park Through The Mojave Des...
Breakfast: A full hot breakfast will be served at the hotel.

Morning: This will be our longest travel day but we will break up the miles by taking the scenic back roads en route to Death Valley National Park through the Mojave Desert. Our morning travels will take us past Amboy Crater Volcanic Field and then through the spectacular Mojave National Preserve to the Train Depot in the tiny outpost of Kelso. The newly renovated Kelso Train Depot is a National Park Service visitor center and museum with excellent exhibits and bookstore.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the grounds of the historic Kelso Depot.

Afternoon: Arrive in Death Valley National Park

Dinner: Enjoy dinner at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse.

Evening: Free Evening.

Lodging: Furnace Creek Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: Furnace Creek Ranch is a complete resort fashioned on the grounds of the original working ranch and later the housing for the 20 mule team operation. Located in Death Valley National Park, the Ranch offers hiking in adjacent canyons, swimming, golf, tennis and horseback riding.

Contact info:
Hwy 190
Death Valley, CA 92328 USA
phone: 760-786-2345
web: www.furnacecreekresort.com

Room amenities: A/C, TV, phone, in-room coffee maker, hair dryer, phone.

Facility amenities: Three restaurants, a cocktail lounge, an outdoor, spring-fed, geothermal swimming pool - always at 82 degrees, lighted tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course (lowest elevation course in the world), a gift shop and a general store.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Additional nights after: Seasonal.
Call Furnace Creek for rates applicable to your stay.

Check out time: 11:00 AM

Day Eight: Saturday, February 08 - Intro to Death Valley/Zabriskie Point/Golden Cany...
Note: The optional Golden Canyon Trail proceeds along the bottom of the canyon floor. Except for a small step- up at the beginning, the natural gravel trail is mostly level (dry stream gradient). There is a customary turn around place at one mile but further exploration up the canyon is possible, time permitting.This is an in an out the same way trail so one can go as far as one wishes and then turn around.

Breakfast: Enjoy a generous breakfast buffet at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse.

Morning: Time to explore the park! For a unique experience we will drive to and explore "Bad Water". Bad Water (salt flat lake) encompasses the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level and is the driest place in North America with an average rainfall of only 1.96 inches a year. This first excursion into the park is a perfect introduction to Death Valley’s many and varied landscapes. Make sure that you have plenty of film (or memory) in your camera. The touring continues with a stop at Zabriskie Point. A trip to Zabriskie Point for many is the highlight of the trip. The otherworldly "naked earth" scene that is exposed here dazzles the eye and has had the ability to strike fear in the heart of the hapless traveler.

Lunch: Lunch at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse.

Afternoon: Optional Hike on the Golden Canyon Trail. This trail provides a beautiful window into the heart of Death Valley. At the entrance to Golden Canyon you have a sweeping view across Death Valley toward the Panamint Mountains. The narrow, deep shape of the side canyons of Death Valley, such as Golden Canyon, indicate that the uplift of the mountains is relatively recent, consistent with other evidence that the landscape of Death Valley is quite young.

Dinner: Dinner at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse. A nightly entree will be offered. A vegetarian option will be available.

Evening: A National Park evening ranger program will be offered.

Lodging: Furnace Creek Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Resort

Description: Furnace Creek Ranch is a complete resort fashioned on the grounds of the original working ranch and later the housing for the 20 mule team operation. Located in Death Valley National Park, the Ranch offers hiking in adjacent canyons, swimming, golf, tennis and horseback riding.

Contact info:
Hwy 190
Death Valley, CA 92328 USA
phone: 760-786-2345
web: www.furnacecreekresort.com

Room amenities: A/C, TV, phone, in-room coffee maker, hair dryer, phone.

Facility amenities: Three restaurants, a cocktail lounge, an outdoor, spring-fed, geothermal swimming pool - always at 82 degrees, lighted tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course (lowest elevation course in the world), a gift shop and a general store.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Additional nights after: Seasonal.
Call Furnace Creek for rates applicable to your stay.

Check out time: 11:00 AM

Day Nine: Sunday, February 09 - Death Valley National Park/Ubehebe Crater/Scotty'...
Death Valley National Park/Ubehebe Crater/Scotty's Castle/Stovepipe Wells Sand Dunes

Note: An opportunity to walk in the Stovepipe Wells (Mesquite) dune field will be offered.

Breakfast: Enjoy a generous breakfast buffet at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse.

Morning: The entire group travels to the northern part of Park. First we visit Ubehebe Crater – a colorful geologic wonder. Then it is on to Death Valley Ranch or, as it is better known, Scotty's Castle. Nestled deep in an oasis-like canyon, this historic home showcases technological innovation and unequaled craftsmanship in a remote desert location. A place full of the mystery surrounding an incomparable friendship that resulted in the creation of a $2 million dollar vacation home. Today the site is owned and operated by the National Park Service. Guided tour of one hour is included.

Lunch: Picnic lunch on the grounds of Scotty's Castle.

Afternoon: On the return trip to Furnace Creek, we will stop for the late afternoon majesty of Stovepipe Wells Sand Dunes. A short exploratory walk on the dunes will be offered. Perfect for photos!

Dinner: Dinner at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse. A nightly entree will be offered. A vegetarian option will be available.

Evening: Program wrap-up and farewells.

Lodging: Furnace Creek Ranch

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Ten: Monday, February 10 - Depart Death Valley En Route to Las Vegas
Breakfast: Enjoy a generous breakfast buffet at the Furnace Creek Ranch Wrangler Buffet and Steakhouse.

Morning: Depart Death Valley via Pahrump Nevada en route to Las Vegas. Program ends at McCarran Airport with participant drop off by approximately 11:15am.

Meals Included: Breakfast

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 ...
9 nights of accommodations
25 meals: 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
4 Expert-led lectures
11 Field trips

Ratings

5
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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