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

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Program #13480RJ
10 Days | 9 Nights
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.
Louis from Gloucester, MA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 11/06/14 - 11/15/14
A good education about the deserts and a great experience in touring and hiking in the three deserts we visited. I would recommend the program to anyone wanting to visit the Southwest. Everything about it was outstanding.

Walter from Nashua, NH Number of programs attended: 7
Date attended: 11/06/14 - 11/15/14
This was a wonderful trip. It was our 7th Road Scholar trip, and we recommend it highly. We like the longer trips, and this one gave us enough time in each place. The tour leaders were excellent, and we learned a lot of new things.

Sharon from Dallas, TX Number of programs attended: 5
Date attended: 11/06/14 - 11/15/14
This adventure in the desert of the Southwest was my 2nd favorite of the 5 Road Scholar trips I have taken. (Sorry, but "5 Days, 5 Boroughs, a Walking Tour of New York City" was my fav.) We experienced the beauty of 3 National Parks in 4 of the 5 deserts in North America, each with its own unique features. Each was enchanting in its own way. We hiked in desert washes, to an oasis, along the Colorado River, in sand dunes, up canyons, and along the rim of a volcano. Where else can you experience all that in only 10 short days? Our guides, Matt and Dave, we so knowledgeable about the area that they made the whole desert come alive. I was particularly interested in the geological features, and they answered all my questions and more. Our evening speakers added another layer of expertise and knowledge to the adventure of touring the SW. Bring your water bottle, sun protection, walking poles, hiking boots/shoes, and sense of adventure on this trip and you will have a great time.

Sandy from San Pedro, CA Number of programs attended: 4
Date attended: 11/06/14 - 11/15/14
If you have never seen the desert and have dreamed of going to Death Valley do it at once. It is beautiful, scary, amazing, BIG and wonderful. You will not believe that you are hiking the dunes, climbing the cliffs pushing yourself and loving it!! Don't forget a great attitude, layers to wear and a water bottle. Have fun!

Nanci from Elyria, OH Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 02/15/14 - 02/24/14
I could not have been happier with my tour and my experiences. I loved everywhere we went and everything we did and saw. Our tour director, Matt Turner, was organized, knowledgeable, interesting and friendly.

John from Naperville, IL Number of programs attended: 5
Date attended: 02/15/14 - 02/24/14
An excellent tour facilitated by an excellent tour leader, Matt Turner. Matt did a fantastic job combining the desert's history, geology, botany, and biology into an easy to understand experience. The program was enhanced by the 80 degree temperatures we encountered while Chicago was in the worst deep freeze in many years!

Anne from Brownsville, WI Number of programs attended: 2
Date attended: 02/15/14 - 02/24/14
I learned about a part of the country I'd never have visited otherwise. We had nine days with a really neat bunch of people. We had insider looks at everything from Hoover Dam & the Colorado River, to Scotty's unbelievable Castle in the desert. We enjoyed natural hot tubs, we saw Joshua trees in bloom and hummingbirds nesting a foot away, we even rode an aerial tram from 230 feet below sea level to 8,000 feet above. Wow! And if you have a chance to take any tour with Matt Turner and with Ray Coin as driver, jump at it!

Nancy from Rockford, IL Number of programs attended: 9
Date attended: 02/15/14 - 02/24/14
If you have always desired a visit to the desert region of the USA, this program is a must. You will be amazed as the diversity of the desert regions. Hopefully, you will be graced with a wonderful moderator as we were in program#13480. Each detail of the program was undeniably well planned and executed.

Patricia from New City, NY Number of programs attended: 23
Date attended: 02/01/14 - 02/10/14
This program deserved a solid 5 stars. Our leaders Bruce and Dave were friendly , knowledgeable and well organized.They had lots of energy and seemed to enjoy leading us. The food and lodgings were superb. The activities were varied and the scenery was spectacular. Pat from NY

Martha from Lynn, MA Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 03/02/13 - 03/11/13
I really enjoyed my recent trip. Matt, the tour leader and Chuck, the bus driver were excellent.Everyone was friendly and welcoming. My room mate was a perfect match. The scenery was magnificent and I really enjoyed death valley and the Borax mine.

Edward from Rolla, MO Number of programs attended: 24
Date attended: 03/02/13 - 03/11/13
Best Elderhostel/Road Scholar program that we have attended out of a total of 24. Matt Turner is an excellent tour guide, he is the best. He is well organized, and extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the tour.

Elizabeth from Blue Bell, PA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
In general, I enjoyed this trip, I loved the beautiful, diverse landscape. The participants were great, the meals ok, and Furnace Creek Ranch was a great way to end the trip. The educational portion, however, was a disappointment. Our guide provided information about what we were seeing during the bus rides (sometimes by merely reading our of his extensive collection of books). However, once we left the bus, he was often nowhere to be found, except when taking his tripod to a place for photographs. I expected more reinforcement of the overview given in the bus, but this did not happen for me. Although disappointed by this part, I would not hesitate to try another Road Scholar trip in the future.

Maida from Hollis, NY Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
While any tour can provide the logistics of booking hotels, meals and transportation, what distinguishes Road Scholar from the rest is its high educational value. That was my expectation based on my wonderful trips with Road Scholar in the past. This time I was disappointed. This trip had many visual splendors: Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park, and Mt. San Jacinto State Park. In my previous Road Scholar tours, our group leader was prepared, organized, enthusiastic, interested and interesting. Sadly, all these traits were lacking in our leader this time. This program had the potential to be outstanding. Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley was the quality experience I would have liked the entire trip. Our national parks are sublime. It was grievously spoiled by the awful hotel in Tucson, bad food on many days, and a poor tour leader.

Abraham from Highland Park, IL Number of programs attended: 19
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
Dorothy's comments on photography reminded me of why Carol from Greenville ejoyed the trip so much. At almost every stop she had a private tutoring session on photography from our leader. He ignored the group and payed attention to taking photos or instructing how to take phtos to one individual.

Dorothy from Smyrna, GA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
This was my first Road Scholar program and I guess my expectations were fairly high based on comments from friends who have done many programs. Unfortunately, I don't feel the program met these expectations. The Holiday Inn was convenient but that is all. The food the first night was practically inedible. Not a good way to start a 10 day trip. The buffet in Yuma was also not a good choice. And there was no choice at the Miracle Hot Springs Resort. It was take it or leave for meals there and most of the food was tasteless with little seasoning. In contrast, I can't say enough good things about the Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley, the staff was great and the food was certainly above average with lots of choices. It seemed to me that Jeff was much more interested in increasing his photography portfolio then ensuring the safety and enjoyment of the tour participants. He often gave vague directions or no directions about meeting times and places for activities at a stop and frequently went off on his own rather than being available for questions from the group. On our hike in Golden Canyon he went off on his own and was not available for either questions or assistance. Luckily there were no problems but if there had been we would have had no way of contacting him or anyone else for help. I assume he went off on a side trail he certainly was nowhere on the main trail after the first half hour or so. I have taken other group tours and never had a guide do this during a scheduled activity. Since most of the participants were in their 60s and 70s, I think this is something that should be addressed. The scenery and itinerary were great so I am left with mixed feelings about my experience.

Gretchen from Lansdale, PA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
My experience on this first Roadscholar adventure was generally positive. The extensive area covered made for some long bus rides, but the sights were spectacular and the landscape extremely diverse: sand and rocks and basins and valleys and mountains - all very beautiful. We learned so much about our natural world and its formation. The tight schedule allowed very little free time. The norm was: breakfast at 7, on the bus by 8:15, back by about 4:30, dinner at 5:30. The trip was classified "active", and I think that would pertain more to the full schedule than the physical requirements of the offered walks or short hikes. The lodging ranged from a convenient- to- the -airport hotel in Tucson to a very nice national park establishment in Death Valley. The food kept us alive. The picnics in picturesque settings along the way were a very nice touch, and the congenial group added to my enjoyment of this trip.

Evelyn from Ashburn, VA Number of programs attended: 1
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
This was my first Road Scholar trip so I cannot compare it to other programs, however it was a wonderful experience and a fantastic value that I would certainly do again. The Southwest and its deserts are spectacular, and having a tour guide and all hotels, food, and transportation taken care of made the trip worry free. I do hope that the DVD player on the bus is fixed soon, as it would have been fun to watch educational videos about our deserts and parks before arrival. Our group leader, Jeff Strang, made transitioning from one hotel to another seamless, and for the most part, we simply picked up our luggage and walked to our rooms upon arrival. Meals were better than expected as was lodging, although I heard some complaints about noise on the parking lot side at the Tucson Holiday Inn. Jeff has a great sense of humor and tries to make things fun and interesting rather than just rattling off facts about each location. I would certainly consider another trip with Road Scholar!

Carolyn from Highland Park, IL Number of programs attended: 24
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
If you like sitting on a bus and learning nothing, this is the program for you. We had a group leader who was disinterested in the program itself and hostile to the participants. I don't know how Road Scholar could let such a disgraceful program run. I have taken over 18 programs and I guess what I learned from this one was to never trust Road Scholar again.

Jeffrey from Hollis, NY Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
This was my third Road Scholar trip so my expectations were based on my experiences. I loved the first two tours. This one was a huge disappointment. I did not expect the Ritz or three star Michelin restaurants, but did expect clean sleeping facilities and food fit for human consumption. The Holiday Inn in Tucson fell short on both. The next few days presented pabulum masquerading as meals. I have heard about seniors resorting to dog food, but I did not sign up for that. And, if you were willing to overlook all of that for the joy of a professionally lead tour, you would have been wrong. The tour leader, Jeff Strang was lazy, inept, incompetent, uncaring, disorganized and devoid of knowledge or too lazy to share any (if he had it). If this were a photography tour, which Road Scholar does offer, Jeff may have been OK. If you came to learn, tour, hike, and enjoy, you were out of luck. The deserts were spectacular. The tour was horrible. The saving grace was the participants of the tour and the beauty of the deserts and national parks.

Carol from Greenville, SC Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 02/02/13 - 02/11/13
Just returned from the Great Deserts trip and it was fabulous! It was filled with amazing excursions - Joshua Tree National Park, Saguaro National Park, Algodones Sand Dunes, Death Valley and so much more. The scenery was incredible and each day seemed to bring a new high point. Accomodations and meals were great (better than I expected). Our group leader, Jeff, was patient, knowledgeable, and flexible. His sense of humor and helpfulness really enhanced the trip. Everything exceeded my expectations! I only wish you offered a photography trip to this area - there's so much more, especially in Death Valley, that I would've liked to photograph.

Linda from Chester, NJ Number of programs attended: 3
Date attended: 01/19/13 - 01/28/13
I loved this program. The deserts are beautiful, serene, a gift of nature and our parks not to be missed. Our leader Bruce was relaxed, flexible, funny, and knowledgable. The only down side was the spa in Palms Springs, it could use a little bit of a face lift but it is still fine and the pool area is wonderful. I loved the 1 to 2 mile hikes. Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Park Nd Death Valley National Park were my favorite areas.

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"Ubehebe Crater" Uploaded By: Sharon
"Ubehebe Crater" Uploaded By: Sharon

"Saguaro Cactus at Saguaro National Park" Uploaded By: Sharon

"Wonderful geological features everywhere we went" Uploaded By: Sharon

"Algondones Dunes" Uploaded By: William

"Road to Death Valley" Uploaded By: Carol

"Algodones Sand Dunes" Uploaded By: Carol

"Keys View, Joshua Tree National Park, CA" Uploaded By: Linda

"Lunch at Kelso Depot. Loved this spot. It has a wonderful museum too." Uploaded By: Linda

"PRICELESS! My tour group looking at Zabriski Point, Death Valley National Park, CA" Uploaded By: Linda

"White gold - Harmony Borax Works, 1883-1888. The 20 Mule Train. Death Valley National Park, CA I love the vista!" Uploaded By: Linda

"Stovepipe Wells Sand Dunes, Death Valley, CA. A sand storm moving in! Very exciting!" Uploaded By: Linda

"Scotty's Castle" Uploaded By: Linda

"Golden Valley, Death Valley" Uploaded By: Linda

"Salt Flats, Badwater, Death Valley" Uploaded By: Linda

"Zabriskie Point, Death Valley" Uploaded By: Linda

"Hidden Valley Joshua Tree" Uploaded By: Linda

"Another photo of Jeff Strang at the top of the mountain" Uploaded By: Lynne

Uploaded By: Lynne

"A very large sandbox to play in or to ride your dune buggy in~!" Uploaded By: Lynne

"Jeff Strang, our tour leader for "America's Great Deserts and Their National Parks"." Uploaded By: Lynne

"Joan hiking Golden Canyon" Uploaded By: Lynne

"Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes - Death Valley" Uploaded By: David

"Ubehebe Crater - Death Valley" Uploaded By: David

"Kabriskie Point - Death Valley" Uploaded By: David

"Imperial Sand Dunes" Uploaded By: David

"Salton Sea" Uploaded By: David

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

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


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