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Thanksgiving in Historic Prescott

Program Number: 6371RJ
Start and End Dates:
11/19/2012 - 11/23/2012; 11/21/2016 - 11/25/2016;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Prescott, Arizona
Price starting at: $775.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays; Train Treks
Meals: 11; 4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Celebrate Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season in historic and beautiful Prescott, Arizona’s first territorial capital. Enjoy a train journey through the wild and beautiful Verde River Canyon as you wind along stunning red rock cliffs and scan for bald eagles. Visit Montezuma Castle National Monument and uncover Arizona’s early pioneer history. Get to know historic Prescott with visits to Courthouse Square and Whiskey Row. Hear Western ballads and tales of local pioneers, and sit down to a traditional Thanksgiving Feast at the historic Hassayampa Inn.


• Expert-led presentations include a look at Arizona territorial history with a noted Prescott historian and an exploration of the Sharlot Hall Museum.
• Visit Montezuma Castle National Monument, site of 600-year-old Sinagua cliff dwellings high above Beaver Creek.
• Ride the scenic Verde Canyon Railway beneath red rock cliffs and along the wild and scenic Verde River while keeping an eye out for herons and bald eagles.

Activity Particulars

All activities on level terrain, all paved surfaces; some stairs unavoidable. Elevation 5,300 feet.

Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.


Mile-high Prescott is nestled in a scenic valley at the edge of the Bradshaw Mountains. In addition to archaeological digs and a wealth of pioneer history, the city boasts a premier flight training center and an annual gathering of cowboy poets.

Luxury hotel on Prescott's historic Courthouse Square, built in 1927 and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Melissa Ruffner

Melissa Ruffner is a member of an Arizona pioneer family who arrived in the Arizona Territory in 1867 and left a rich and colorful legacy. In 2003, Melissa received the Sharlot Hall Award for her contributions to the awareness of Arizona history, and was honored with the Arizona Culture Keeper designation. She has authored three books on Arizona history, and as official storyteller for the Arizona Jamboree and later the Arizona Revue, Melissa performed for over a decade at Prescott’s Elks Opera House. She has been coordinating and teaching for Road Scholar programs for over 30 years.
Garrett Roberts

From the historical to the cinematic to the dust-on-your-brow trail, Garrett Roberts knows the American West. His lectures invoke intrigue and humor to dispel the myths created by Hollywood’s western genre. Garrett replicates museum-quality 19th century leather equipment for theater, is an avid hiker, and enjoys singing jazz. He has also worked for Emmy award-winning wardrobe designer Michael Boyd and was the key costume designer for Stephen Spielberg’s “Into the West.”
Meals and Lodgings
   Hassayampa Inn
  Prescott, AZ 4 nights
 Hassayampa Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: Prescott's first luxury hotel, opened in 1927. The Hassayampa, built in mission style, has been lovingly restored and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The original stencils used in decorating the lobby ceiling were found in a basement storeroom and used to recreate the original design. The hotel is half a block from the historic town square.
  Contact info: 122 East Gurley
Prescott, AZ 86301 USA
phone: 928-778-9434
  Room amenities: Cable tv; telephones; air-conditioning.
  Facility amenities: Beautiful lobby sitting area with piano. Lots of meeting rooms. Lounge with regular live entertainment. Outdoor patio area.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: call for rates Price includes breakfast.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: call for rates Price includes breakfast.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in after 3:00 PM. Program registration 4:30 - 5:15 PM. You will be staying at Hassayampa Inn that night.
  End of Program:
10:30 AM Program ends after morning presentation. Hotel check out at 12:00 PM. You will be staying at Hassayampa Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free for the length of the program.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Prescott, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Prescott
  Nearest highway: Arizona 69 and Arizona 89
  Nearest airport:  Phoenix (100 miles)
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details

Phoenix - Prescott, AZ & Return


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Van Go
phone: 866-448-2646
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$35 approx
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


1 hour 45 minutes 




100 miles


Van Go works exclusively with Road Scholar programs and times shuttles to arrive in conjunction with program start/end times. Best to arrive into Phoenix airport by 12:30 PM and book departures after 3PM. If you have questions, call shuttle company PRIOR to booking flights to aid in ease of travel transfers. Van Go picks up from all terminals at Phoenix airport, as well as nearby airport hotels, and drops off at program hotel. Return shuttle departs immediately upon conclusion of program.


Prescott, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Shuttle U
phone: 928-442-1000


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $40
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2 hours 




110 miles


Shuttle U offers many shuttles per day. For questions on their schedule and best flight arrival/departure times, call shuttle company PRIOR to booking flights to aid in ease of travel transfers. Best pricing is attained by booking on line at After booking, will need to call office at 928.442.1000 to request being dropped off at Chapel Rock. At conclusion of program, participants will be dropped off at the Shuttle U office in Prescott for return shuttles to Phoenix airport.

Driving Directions
  Prescott - Hassayampa Inn from I-40 Eastbound Take exit 146 off I-40 to Arizona 89 South at Ash Fork. Travel about 50 miles, passing through the towns of Paulden and Chino Valley. At junction with Arizona 69, stay in the thru traffic lane and follow signs for Gurley Street. The Hassayampa will be on your right in about a mile at the junction with Marina Street (stoplight). Turn right on Marina. The hotel (on your left after turning) has a loading zone under a portico facing Marina Street and a private parking lot across the street.
  Prescott Hassayampa Hotel from I-17 On I-17, take exit 262 for Cordes Junction and Arizona 69. Follow 69 about 35 miles (passing through Spring Valley, Mayer, Humboldt, Dewey, and Prescott Valley) to junction with Arizona 89. Keep in the left lane approaching junction, continuing straight and follow signs for Gurley Street. The Hassayampa will be on your right in about a mile at the junction with Marina Street (stoplight). Turn right on Marina. The hotel (on your left after turning) has a loading zone under a portico facing Marina Street and a private parking lot across the street.
  Prescott Hassayampa Inn from California, via I-10 Eastbound From I-10 eastbound, take exit 31 for US 60. Follow 60 about 50 miles (passing through several small towns) to Aguila. Just beyond town turn left on Arizona 71. Follow 71 24 miles to Congress. Turn left on Arizona 89 and travel about 48 miles to Prescott (lots of winding mountain road - allow and hour and a quarter for this stretch). As you come into downtown Prescott, you will see the town square and courthouse on your right. Turn right on Gurley Street at the far side of the square and go to the second stoplight (Marina Street). The Hassayampa will be on your left. Turn left at this light. The hotel has a loading zone under a portico facing Marina Street and a private parking lot across the street.
  Prescott Hassayampa Inn from I-40 Westbound In Flagstaff, AZ take exit 195 south toward Phoenix. Stay on I-17 south for about 62 miles, take exit 278 onto AZ Hwy 169 south toward Prescott. Continue on AZ Hwy 169 for 15 miles to AZ 69 north. Turn right onto AZ 69 north. 15 miles later, on surface streets In Prescott, stay to the right to stay on AZ 69 north. (In town, AZ 69 north is Gurley St) In one mile turn right at the stoplight at N. Marina St. The hotel (on your left after turning) has a loading zone under a portico on your left facing Marina Street, and a private parking lot immediately across the street on your right.
Elevation Note: Elevation 5,300 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Orientation and Introduction
(Monday, November 19)
 Afternoon: Hotel check in after 3:00PM. Northern Arizona University Road Scholar program registration from 4:30 - 5:15 PM in the hotel meeting room.
 Dinner: Dinner in Hassayampa Hotel dining room includes southwest specialties and classic American fare.
 Evening: Following dinner your coordinator will present a complete program orientation, review the weeks schedule and answer questions. There will also be time for group introductions.
Accommodations: Hassayampa Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Early Arizona History/Sharlot Hall Museum
(Tuesday, November 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel restaurant.
 Morning: When you arrive in downtown Prescott it is not hard to step back in time and imagine life in the old west. Prescott was the Arizona Territorial capital from 1864-1867. What better way to start an exciting week and to get a sense of territorial life both geographically and socially then from a true native of the area. Enjoy a morning program on life in the Arizona Territory, presented by Melissa Ruffner a famed local historian and fourth-generation Arizonan whose great-great-uncle was the first U.S. Marshal in Arizona Territory.
 Lunch: Lunch at Gurley Street Grill. A favorite restaurant of locals and visitors alike.
 Afternoon: Afternoon field trip to Sharlot Hall Museum (two blocks walk - shuttle available) with guided tour of the museum grounds. As you prepare for your outing, remember (as we celebrate our centennial year!) that Arizona did not enter the union until 1912 as the 48th state! The museum chronicles pioneer life in the Arizona Territory and commemorates Prescott as the site of the original Arizona Territory capital. Trained docents will interpret the rich history and significance of this era with tours of the original territorial governor's mansion (constructed of rough-hewn logs) and other historic buildings on the grounds.
 Dinner: Dinner in Hassayampa Hotel ballroom.
 Evening: Enjoy a lively performance with longtime local cowboy poets and musicians, Ken and Lynne Mikell. Ken and Lynne are a wealth of information on regional cowboy music and poetry. They will have you singing along to some of your favorite western and cowboy songs.
Accommodations: Hassayampa Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Montezuma Castle National Monument/Verde Canyon Railroad
(Wednesday, November 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Hassayampa Hotel.
 Morning: Depart for the Verde Valley to spend the morning at Montezuma Castle National Monument. Montezuma Castle is a 5-story, 20-room cliff dwelling nestled in a limestone recess high above the flood plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley. It is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America, constructed 600 years ago by the Sinagua Indians.
 Lunch: Before heading to the Verde Canyon train depot enjoy lunch at "Vintages Grill" in the village of Rimrock.
 Afternoon: Ride the Verde Canyon Railroad! The Verde Canyon Railroad is often referred to as the finest train ride in Arizona and acclaimed as Arizona’s longest-running nature show. The remote wilderness of the Verde Canyon is renowned for its towering red rock pinnacles and clean, green waters. The train rolls past Indian ruins, through a 680-foot man-made tunnel, over old-fashioned trestles and under clear azure skies. This picturesque setting is further enhanced by the variety of indigenous flora and fauna and the many migrating waterfowl. Over thirty bald and golden eagles winter in this riparian respite each year. The 40 mile train trip travels at a leisurely pace and is within site of the Verde River. Passengers enjoy this four-hour scenic train ride in first-class style aboard renovated passenger coaches and open-air viewing cars pulled by vintage locomotives.
 Dinner: Dinner at Sizzler Restaurant in Cottonwood. Along with a hot entree selection enjoy Sizzler's famous endless Salad Bar with over 50 fresh items including seasonal and specialty salads, just picked vegetables and fresh fruits, soups, hot appetizers and cool desserts.
 Evening: Late arrival back at your hotel in Prescott.
Accommodations: Hassayampa Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Happy Thanksgiving!
(Thursday, November 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Enjoy a very lively and entertaining morning presentation on the Life of the Arizona Rancher presented by cowboy Karen Landis. Hands on trappings and photos bring this true western and often romanticized occupation to life.
 Lunch: Light lunch (must save room for dinner) in the Hassayampa Hotel ballroom.
 Afternoon: After lunch activities and/or free time will be adjusted and presented for your enjoyment pending our actual Thanksgiving dinner sit down time. Enjoy a social hour in the historic ballroom. A cash bar with beer, wine and soft drinks will be set up prior to dinner.
 Dinner: Thanksgiving Dinner (served late in the afternoon) with Turkey and all the trimmings graciously hosted by your coordinator and the staff of the Hassayampa Hotel. Save room for desert!
 Evening: Holiday videos and/or games will be offered after dinner.
Accommodations: Hassayampa Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Program Farewells! Happy Holidays!
(Friday, November 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Morning program titled "Holidays in the High Country" exploring historic holiday traditions celebrations in the Arizona Territory will be offered followed by a program wrap - up, reflections and farewells. Program ends by 10:30 AM in time for checkout at 12:00 PM.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Prescott, AZ general
Within 70 miles of Prescott: Former mining and ghost town of Jerome, now an arts and entertainment venue, with its 50-mile views of the red rocks of Sycamore Canyon and Oak Creek Canyon and the surrounding peaks and bluffs; Tuzigoot and Montezuma's Castle Sinagua period ruins; Fort Verde State Park; five Sedona vicinity wilderness areas; Sedona red rock formations, Sedona art galleries, boutiques and restaurants; Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti structures at Cordes Junction.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest

Author: Steve Plog

Description: The American Southwest is home to some of the most remarkable monuments of America's prehistoric past, such as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. Stephen Plog, who has spent decades working in the region, provides the most readable and up-to-date account of the predecessors of the modern Hopi and Pueblo Indian cultures in this well-received account. Chaco Canyon became the center of a thriving Anasazi cultural tradition. It was the hub of a trading network extending over hundreds of miles, whose arteries were a series of extraordinary roads that are still being discovered and mapped. Interweaving the latest archaeological evidence with early first-person accounts, Professor Plog explains the rise and mysterious fall of Southwestern cultures. 224pp.

Arizona: A Cavalcade of History

Author: Trimble, Marshall

Description: During America's first 100 years as a nation, pioneers moved ever-westward to new frontiers. When it became too crowded or the soil was mined out, they moved on to virgin land. Those days are gone forever. We have to learn to live with the problems we create. The knowledge gained from studying the mistakes of the past can help provide a better future. Will Rogers said it best: "The Indians never got lost because they were always looking back to see where they'd been." 368pp

Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy

Author: Black, Baxter

Description: A complete compilation of all the stories and poetry you've heard Baxter do on NPR, with the unforgettable flavor of Baxter's own brand of cowboy philosophy. Over 250 pages of that bizarre humor that had you laughing out loud while driving to work. Some of you even complained to us about having to pull off the road to avoid a "laughter disaster". You'll also find poignant, more dramatic pieces that brought a smile to your face, or that far away look in your eyes.

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water

Author: Reisner, Marc

Description: The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--and Eden that may be only a mirage. 608pp

Naturalist's Guide to Canyon Country

Author: Williams, David B. & Gloria Brown

Description: Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated trailside reference to plants, animals, and geology of an area that includes nine national parks and monuments. 192 pp.

Prescott, Arizona (Images of America Series)

Author: Wildfang, Frederic B.

Description: In 1864, the beautiful park-like basin under Thumb Butte was surveyed, and the town that is now Prescott was laid out along Granite Creek where gold had been panned. Twice designated the capital of the newly established Territory of Arizona, Prescott suffered a devastating fire in July 1900 that destroyed the downtown district, but the blaze afforded the town s resilient citizens the opportunity to rebuild in more durable brick and stone. Since then, the mining and ranching opportunities, the cowboy-and-Indian lore, the commercial ventures, the salubrious climate, and the picturesque landscape have characterized Prescott as one of the most desirable and livable communities in the country. The city s dedication to preserving its unique heritage has resulted in more than 600 buildings being placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the 1864 Governor s Mansion has been beautifully preserved as part of the Sharlot Hall Museum, which opened in 1927. 128pp.

Roadside Geology of Arizona

Author: Chronic, Halka

Description: The 18th printing of this book in the Roadside Geology Series offers a mini-course in geology, focusing on what can be seen from Arizona highways. Although written especially for those with little or no geologic training, there's plenty here for the professional geologist as well--a great introduction to Arizona and its past. Geologic terms are defined where first used and again in the glossary. Inside the front cover is a legend to geological symbols and abbreviations commonly used by geologists. 321pp

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