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Scenic Railroads of Arizona: Sedona and Grand Canyon

Program Number: 1083RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/5/2013 - 5/10/2013; 3/13/2016 - 3/18/2016; 4/3/2016 - 4/8/2016; 4/17/2016 - 4/22/2016; 5/8/2016 - 5/13/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/23/2016; 10/9/2016 - 10/14/2016; 10/30/2016 - 11/4/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sedona, Arizona
Price starting at: $945.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Train Treks; National Parks; Natural History Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The wonders of Sedona and the Grand Canyon are well known, but few visit these locales via scenic and historic railway. In Sedona, ride the Verde Canyon Railroad through Arizona’s rim country along the wild and scenic Verde River. Later in the week, embark on an overnight adventure to Grand Canyon National Park via the historic Grand Canyon Railway. Throughout your journey gain insights into regional lore as you explore this breathtaking part of northern Arizona.


• Enjoy a narrated exploration of Sedona’s best-loved sights and red-rock vistas.
• Travel through dramatic Oak Creek Canyon en route to historic Williams for embarkation on the Grand Canyon Railway excursion.
• Stay overnight at a Grand Canyon lodge, explore historic village sites, and absorb incomparable canyon views.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on paved, sometimes uneven surfaces. Elevations up to 7,000 feet. Optional longer hike available at the Grand Canyon.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Sedona, 3 nights; Grand Canyon South Rim, 1 night; Sedona, 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.

Grand Canyon National Park

Within the borders of its 1.2 million acres, this World Heritage Site offers bikers, hikers, rafters and campers everything from breathtaking vistas to high adventure. Its 277 miles of raw rock and water continue to amaze generations of visitors.


Sedona was historically a rural ranching community in Oak Creek Canyon. Today, the sunny city attracts visitors to its red-rock cliffs and lush evergreens, international film festival, and lively art scene.

Sedona: Modern hotel with red-rock views, heated swimming pool (seasonal), walking trails. Grand Canyon: National Park lodge adjacent to Grand Canyon Village, one-half mile from rim. Free shuttle to trailheads, historic sites.

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

Rich has been director of Northern Arizona University’s highly popular Road Scholar programs since 2001. He previously spent many years in the field as a program coordinator and group leader, where he honed his skills and learned the importance of detailed, pre-trip planning. Before making his home in Arizona’s spectacular red-rock country, Rich spent 10 years in Yosemite National Park and the Santa Cruz mountains as an environmental educator.
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.”
Stanley Beus

From his early days growing up on a dairy farm in Idaho, Dr. Stanley Beus quickly became fascinated with nature. He earned a Ph.D. in geology from UCLA before beginning a career as an exploration geologist, and later became the first head of the Geology Department at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Beus has been both a field and class instructor for Road Scholar programs for over 20 years, and has enjoyed bringing geology to life for literally thousands of participants.
Ken Mikell

Ken and Lynne Mikell play a wide range of traditional music, with particular attention to the Celtic roots of cowboy music. Using harp, guitar, recorder, fiddle, and harmonica, they animate and illuminate the music that followed the trail west. From old time trail songs to the golden era of the radio and silver screen cowboy, they have an extensive knowledge of the history of Western music and enjoy sharing it with audiences.
Margaret (Maggie) Mitchell

Maggie Mitchell has spent years leading educational excursions throughout the Sedona area. Her passion lies with the study of Arizona's wild creatures, and she loves sharing her love of reptiles and spiders with students of all ages.
Meals and Lodgings
   Sedona Super 8 Hotel
  Sedona, AZ 3 nights
   GC South Rim Lodge
  Grand Canyon - South Rim 1 night
   Sedona Super 8 Hotel
  Sedona, AZ 1 night
 Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Private and quiet off-highway location; red rock views
  Contact info: 2545 W Hwy 89A
Sedona, AZ 86336 USA
phone: 928-282-1533
  Room amenities: Individually controlled heat and air conditioning, mini refrigerator, cable TV, coffee/tea maker.
  Facility amenities: Private patio area with heated (seasonal - about mid April to early October) outdoor pool; meeting room; airport shuttle; laundry facility with irons and ironing boards; free WiFi; 24 hour microwave available in lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Seasonal Call hotel for rates in effect during your stay.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Seasonal Call hotel for rates in effect during your stay.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 GC South Rim Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Just a quarter mile from the rim of the Grand Canyon in the heart of Grand Canyon Village. The village is the hub of Canyon activities for visitors from around the globe. In addition to many viewpoints of one of the world's geologic wonders, it provides restaurants, shops, museums, shuttles to other S. Rim viewpoints and trailheads.
  Contact info: Grand Canyon Village, AZ
Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023 USA
phone: 928-638-2631
  Room amenities: TV, phone, clock radio, private bath.
  Facility amenities: On site cafeteria and gift shop. Canyon shuttles pick up at the front of property. Near to coin op laundry and ATM. Refrigerators are available upon request for those participants who need them for medical reasons only.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Registration any time between 4:30 PM to 5:15 PM at the hotel conference room. You will be staying at Sedona Super 8 Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after morning class at 10:30 AM. You will be staying at Sedona Super 8 Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free for the duration of the program.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sedona, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Flagstaff
  Nearest airport:  Sky Harbor International, Phoenix. Commuter airport (connecting to Phoenix) at Flagstaff, 30 miles north of Sedona.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details

Sedona, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


From Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


Estimated $45, price does not include customary gratuity.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2 hours (from Phoenix). 






Van Go times shuttles to arrive in conjunction with program start/end times. Best to arrive into Phoenix Sky Harbor airport by 12:30 PM and book departures from PHX after 3:00 PM. Call shuttle company PRIOR to booking flights to aid in ease of travel transfers as Van Go offers just one shuttle departure time. Van Go picks up from all terminals at Phoenix airport and nearby airport hotels, and drops off at program hotel. Return shuttle departs immediately upon conclusion of program.


Sedona, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Sedona-Phoenix Shuttle Co
phone: 928-282-2066
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $45, price does not include gratuity.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:






120 miles


Many shuttles daily from Phoenix International Airport to Sedona. Pick up shuttle just outside the terminal's baggage claim. RETURN: pick up at your hotel, drop off at your terminal at Phoenix airport. For ease of travel transfers, it is recommended that participants check shuttle schedules PRIOR to booking airfare.


Sedona, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Ace XPress Shuttle Co
phone: 928-639-3357
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $60, price does not include gratuity.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2.5 hours 




120 miles


Scheduled as much as possible to your arrival in Phoenix. Pick up all terminals and nearby airport hotels, drop off at program hotel. RETURN: Scheduled as much as possible to your departure time from your hotel. Drop off at your terminal at Phoenix airport. Reservations required.

Driving Directions
  Sedona Super 8 from I-40 Take I-40 to I-17 junction, exit 195, in Flagstaff, AZ. Exit onto I-17 south in Flagstaff and travel south for 3 miles to exit 337 for Highway 89A and Flagstaff airport. Turn right and immediately left at the stop sign to 89A south to Sedona. Follow 89A 27 miles down the twisting switchbacks and along the creek through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. Go half way around the traffic circle junction with Highway 179 to continue west on Hwy 89A. Continue approximately 2 miles to the Adente Street traffic light and turn left. This is the entrance to the Super 8 parking lot.
  Sedona Super 8 from Phoenix Take I-10 to the junction with I-17. Get on I-17 north toward Flagstaff. Take exit 287 for Cottonwood. Turn west onto AZ Highway 260 and continue about 12 miles to Cottonwood, AZ. In Cottonwood, turn right at the US 89A junction and proceed about 21 miles to Sedona and the Adente Street traffic light . Turn right into the parking lot of the Super 8.
Elevation Note: Sedona is at an elevation of 4,500 feet. Grand Canyon is at an elevation of 7,000 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
(Sunday, May 5)
 Afternoon: Hotel check in after 3:00 PM. Road Scholar on site registration from 4:30 PM - 5:15 PM in the hotel meeting room.
 Dinner: Dinner at Golden Goose Restaurant, adjacent to the hotel. Participants will have multiple entrees to choose from with typical rotating selections to include Chicken Marsala, salmon/fish, meat loaf, pastas, and vegetarian options.
 Evening: The Northern Arizona University Road Scholar coordinator will conduct a program orientation in the hotel meeting room following dinner. Get to know your fellow participants and get prepared for the action packed adventure you are about to embark on.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Morning Natural History Presentation / Ride the Scenic Verde Canyon Railway!
(Monday, May 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant. Multiple hot entrees to choose from including bacon and eggs, french toast and sausage, veggie omelet and fruit, oatmeal, etc.
 Morning: Morning natural history presentation. Learn about the fascinating geology of the Sedona area and the Grand Canyon region through a presentation by Stan Beus, a noted Grand Canyon geologist, professor Emeritus of geology at Northern Arizona University and author of "Grand Canyon Geology." Find out what makes the red rocks red and explore the latest theories of how the Grand Canyon was formed.
 Lunch: Lunch at Cottonwood Sizzler before boarding the Verde Canyon Railway. Sizzler offers a famous endless Salad Bar with over 50 fresh items including seasonal and specialty salads, fresh fruits, soups, hot appetizers and cool desserts.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the afternoon riding the Verde Canyon Railway from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back (about 20 miles each way). The train travels 10-15 mph and, for much of the trip, is deep in the Verde River Canyon (up to 2,000 feet deep) traveling very close to river level. Various wildlife is commonly seen, including bald eagles, other raptors, blue herons, deer, fox, coyote, and javelina (a wild pig-like desert animal). Participants will have a seat in an enclosed car plus access to an open observation car.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Wild Orchid Restaurant. Known for its “Healthy Asian Fusion” cuisine, the Wild Orchid serves up delicious, perfectly flavored rice, noodle and mixed veggie and meat dishes family style in a friendly atmosphere.
 Evening: A select evening program on a topic of regional interest will be offered for the groups entertainment.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Morning Presentation on Southwest Prehistoric Cultures / Tour Sedona's Red Rock Country
(Tuesday, May 7)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant. Multiple hot entrees to choose from including bacon and eggs, french toast and sausage, veggie omelet and fruit, oatmeal, etc.
 Morning: Morning human history presentation. Enjoy a cultural presentation on Native American traditions of the Hopi or a presentation on the prehistory of the southwest through the archaeological record. The Hopi people trace their history in the Southwest to long before the Spanish arrived in 1540 and many villages have been occupied since the 1100s A.D.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Golden Goose Restaurant. Multiple entrees to choose from including hot and cold sandwiches (vegetarian option daily), burgers, Caesar salad, etc.
 Afternoon: Our afternoon field trip will take us on a journey to see and visit a few of Sedona's most majestic sights. Visit Airport Mesa for a geographic overview of the region, Travel on the Bell Rock Scenic Drive and see other scenic vistas in and around Sedona.
 Dinner: Dinner at Golden Goose Restaurant, adjacent to the hotel. Participants will have multiple entrees to choose from with typical rotating selections to include Chicken Marsala, salmon/fish, meat loaf, pastas, vegetarian options, etc
 Evening: Free Evening.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Ride the Grand Canyon Railroad/Explore Grand Canyon National Park
(Wednesday, May 8)

Note: Walking opportunities along the rim of the Grand Canyon or down into it's depths. Up to 2 miles or as little as 1/2 mile, depending on your preference.

 Breakfast: Early breakfast at the Cafe Jose. Multiple hot entrees to choose from including bacon and eggs, french toast and sausage, veggie omelet and fruit, oatmeal, etc.
 Morning: Check out of hotel, load luggage and depart Sedona for Williams (65 miles) and the Grand Canyon Railway depot. Enjoy the Wild West Show before boarding the Grand Canyon Railway train for a scenic and entertaining ride across the Coconino Plateau to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon Railway first arrived at the Grand Canyon in 1901. It heralded in a new age of travel, development and some might say luxury at the canyon. Experience and relish this "classic" way of travel to the "doorsteps" of the El Tovar Hotel, the historic Grand Canyon Village and to the very rim of the canyon. On board, strolling musicians will provide entertainment during the ride. Enjoy lunch as you travel.
 Lunch: Sack lunches en route to Grand Canyon aboard the train.
 Afternoon: Arrive at Grand Canyon Village. Once at the south rim the group will gather for the first views of the canyon. Your naturalist guide will point out the canyon's many features with historic and natural significance. With your guide, tour the historical Grand Canyon Village, sometimes called "downtown Grand Canyon", the site of much of the human development on the canyon's south rim. Highlights of the village include the Kolb Brothers Photography Studio and the buildings of Santa Fe Railroad designer Mary Jane Colter including the Bright Angel Lodge, Lookout Studio and the Hopi House. At the east end of the village visit the 100 year old El Tovar Hotel, one of the great hotels in the National Park System. From the village boardwalk you'll be able to see the North Rim and various spires and buttes rising from the canyon floor. There will be an option to walk part way down the famed Bright Angel Trail and time during the afternoon for exploration of rim trails, canyon vistas and shops. Check into one of the Grand Canyon south rim lodges.
 Dinner: Dinner at your leisure at the Lodge dining facility. Choices include hot entrees, soups, salads, sandwiches, Mexican specialties, and a variety of tasty desserts.
 Evening: Optional National Park Service Evening Ranger Program.
Accommodations: GC South Rim Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Continued Exploration of Grand Canyon / Return to Sedona
(Thursday, May 9)

Note: Optional hiking of up to 2 miles either along the Grand Canyon Rim or down into it's depths.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Lodge dining facility. Options include scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, fresh fruit, juices, milk, coffee and more.
 Morning: Check out of hotel and continued exploration of Grand Canyon. Your coordinator will present many guided activities as well as free time options. One of the many options presented may include riding the free National Park Service shuttle along the West Rim Drive to Hermit's Rest. The West Rim Drive shuttle offers access to numerous fantastic viewpoints (Hopi, Mohave and Maricopa points to name a few) with sweeping views the canyon and the Colorado River. Other activities may include rim walks, ranger programs, exploration of the Visitor Center or just finding a quiet spot on the rim to contemplate and gaze out at the canyon - soaking up all of its grandeur.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Grand Canyon.
 Afternoon: After lunch board vans or coach and depart for Sedona via Flagstaff and the San Francisco Peaks. Check into Sedona Hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner in Sedona at a local restaurant.
 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: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Departures /Program Wrap Up
(Friday, May 10)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant. Multiple hot entrees to choose from including bacon and eggs, french toast and sausage, veggie omelet and fruit, oatmeal, etc.
 Morning: Following breakfast, enjoy "Movies and Magic," a presentation about the film industry and its history in Sedona. Did you know that Elvis Presley made a movie in Sedona? Remember Jeff Chandler as Cochise in Broken Arrow with Jimmy Stewart? We bid one another fond farewells following the presentation. Program ends at 10:30 AM leaving plenty of time for hotel check out by 11:00 AM 
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Sedona, AZ Jeep Tours
Several Sedona companies offer rugged and scenic 4x4 tours of the beautiful red-rock country surrounding Sedona. Choose from a number of different daily tours that vary in length from approximately 1½ hrs to three hours. Ride over, around, and up the red rocks, through scenic canyons and the wild outback. Great photo opportunities. For additional information, visit For additional information, visit
  Red Rock State Park
The Red Rock State Park was opened to the public in 1991. Arizona's famous Oak Creek meanders through this scenic park, creating a diverse riparian habitat abounding with plants and wildlife. Park Facilities include: self-guided and Ranger-led interpretive walks, video and slide programs, hands-on educational exhibits, hiking trails, visitor center, Ramada, restrooms. For additional information, visit For additional information, visit
  Sedona Historical Society
The Museum is focused on the period from 1870 to 1950. Experience the stories of Sedona pioneers, how they lived and the things they used. Visit an exhibit of more than 80 feature movies made in Sedona — many during the Golden Age of westerns. Another room shows the life of the real cowboys and how they worked. There's also an interesting US Forest Service exhibit provided by the Friends of the Forest. A well-stocked gift shop offers items hand-made by Sedona artists and crafts specialists. For additional information, visit
  Sedona Trolley
See all of Sedona on two scenic and informative excursions. "The Sedona Highlights" (Tour A) itinerary visits the south side of town highlighted by Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, the Gallery District and a 20-minute visit at the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross. Tour B leaves town entirely and heads out west into the gorgeous scenery of the Dry Creek Valley with great photo opportunities and access to the Enchantment Resort. The tours are fully narrated with lots of good information on the history, geology, climate, flora and fauna of the area, as well as good tips on hiking and biking trails, where to be for sunset and the best places for shopping and dining. For additional information, visit
  Tlaquepaque Village
Tlaquepaque is an authentic re-creation of a Mexican town center, set in the old sycamores on the banks of Oak Creek in Sedona. Tlaquepaque is home to upscale galleries offering Native American arts and crafts and statuary, woven goods, jewelry, painting, photography, ceramics and hand-tooled items from other cultures. For additional information, visit
  Uptown shops/galleries/restaurants
Conveniently located in the middle of Uptown Sedona, Sedona Center is home to shopping, dining, lodging, and free parking. With stunning red-rock views, Sedona Center offers a wide array of items from jewelry and apparel to home furnishings and art. For additional information, visit For additional information, visit
  Grand Canyon - South Rim General Overview
Within 2 hours of the Grand Canyon: Kachina Wilderness, Cameron Trading Post, Museum of Northern Arizona, historic downtown Flagstaff, Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, Sunset Crater National Monument, Wupatki and Walnut Canyon (Sinagua ruins) National Monuments, Northern Arizona University. Within 3 hours: Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona redrocks and wilderness areas, Sedona galleries and restaurants, La Posada railroad hotel and restaurant in Winslow.
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

Secret Sedona: Sacred Moments in the Landscape

Author: Larry Lindahl

Description: This book provides an overview of the terrain, ancestral Indian ruins and petroglyphs found in Sedona's wilderness areas. Extraordinary photography from one of the nations most photogenic areas. 80 pages.

Sedona through time: Geology of the Red Rocks

Author: Ranney, Wayne

Description: Visitors to the towering red rock cliffs near Sedona seldom realize that the area was once a broad river floodplain that lay beyond the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. Or that this same place was later buried in a vast, Sahara-like desert, still later to lie beneath the waters of a warm tropical sea filled with ancient life forms. Sedona Through Time is an eminently readable story of the evolution of this fantastic landscape through the eons of geologic time.

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

An Introduction to Grand Canyon Prehistory

Author: Coder, Christopher M.

Description: People have inhabited Grand Canyon for the past twelve thousand years. Evidence of their lives exists throughout the canyon; but it is up to their ancestors and archaeologists to interpret those remains for us. This book provides a popular look at the architecture, art, and tools of prehistoric Puebloan peoples, as well as information about modern-day Native American tribes. With illustrations and color photographs.

Living at the Edge: Explorers, Exploiters, and Settlers of the Grand Canyon Region

Author: Anderson, Michael F

Description: A comprehensive look at the pioneer history of the Grand Canyon Region, from its earliest residents to the creation of the national park at the end of the pioneer era (circa 1920). Included are close to two hundred historic photographs, many never published before, and 12 custom maps of the region. 184pp

Carving Grand Canyon: Evidence, Theories, and Mystery

Author: Ranney, Wayne

Description: Ranney explains how rivers in general can physically carve canyons, looks chronologically at the numerous theories that have been presented by successive generations of geologists regarding the Grand Canyon's formation, and describes a plausible sequence of geologic events that could create such a landscape. Numerous color photographs, detailed illustrations, and maps are provided. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR 160pp; 2nd edition 2012.

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