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The Best of Sedona: Natural and Cultural Landscapes in Red Rock Country

Program Number: 1062RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/6/2014 - 4/11/2014; 2/21/2016 - 2/26/2016; 3/6/2016 - 3/11/2016; 4/10/2016 - 4/15/2016; 4/24/2016 - 4/29/2016; 5/22/2016 - 5/27/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/23/2016; 10/2/2016 - 10/7/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/21/2016; 10/30/2016 - 11/4/2016; 11/13/2016 - 11/18/2016; 12/6/2016 - 12/11/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Sedona, Arizona
Price starting at: $889.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: National Parks; Train Treks; History & Culture Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 13; 5 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Discover why Sedona and the Grand Canyon are the two most awe-inspiring sites in Arizona. Go beyond the geology to uncover the natural and human histories of these color-splashed landscapes. Enjoy an exploration of Sedona’s best-loved sights and red-rock vistas. Ride the rails along the wild and scenic Verde River and beside its verdant canyon as you scan for wildlife. Journey via the towering beauty of Oak Creek Canyon to Grand Canyon National Park to explore this iconic and quintessential American treasure with time to walk along the rim while soaking in its grandeur.


• See ancient cliff dwellings while uncovering the past of the Sinagua people at Montezuma Castle National Monument.
• In Sedona, visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Airport Mesa with its magnificent 360 degree views.
• Spend a full day at Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim, complete with interpretive walks accompanied by a local expert.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one-half mile, longer hikes optional. Elevations up to 7,000 feet.

Date Specific Information

2-21-2016, 4-24-2016, 5-22-2016, 9-18-2016, 10-30-2016, 11-13-2016

The program will be based at the Hilton Sedona Golf Resort & Spa, located amidst the spectacular beauty of Northern Arizona’s Red Rock Country in the heart of Sedona. Guests enjoy stunning views surrounding the resort. Full-service spa & fitness Center, 18-hole championship golf course, three sparkling pools, 25-meter lap pool, whirlpool, deluxe accommodations and resort dining will make for a memorable trip. All other program content remains unchanged.


The program will be based at the Hilton Sedona Golf Resort & Spa. Enjoy one of Sedona's best-loved holiday traditions -- the Festival of Lights with the lighting of 6,000 luminarias, strolling carolers and holiday music in the courtyards and walkways of the Mexican-inspired Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village.Enjoy a Pink Jeep tour in place of the Verde Canyon rail journey.

Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.


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.

Modern hotel in Sedona with red-rock views, seasonal swimming pool, walking trails nearby.

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.
Dave Hall

Dave Hall worked in the environmental geology field for 25 years as a geologist for the New Jersey Geological Survey. He taught geology and general science for 13 years as an adjunct and assistant professor at the College of New Jersey, and has worked as an associate naturalist at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Dave has been retired for the last several years and currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Meals and Lodgings
   Sedona Super 8 Hotel
  Sedona, AZ 5 nights
 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

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:
On hotel premises, no charge.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Sedona, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Phoenix, AZ 120 mi S; Flagstaff, AZ 30 mi N
  Nearest highway: AZ Hwy 179
  Nearest airport:  Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl
  From End of Program
  Location: Sedona, AZ
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Sedona, AZ to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
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
Arizona Shuttle
phone: 800-448-7988
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $49; $47 (if internet reservation), price does not include driver 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 $68, price does not include gratuity. Call for special pricing.
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. Note: This shuttle company also provides service from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

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 Andante Drive 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. Proceed 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 Andante Drive traffic light. Turn right into the parking lot of the Super 8.
Elevation Note: Elevation 4,000 feet to 7,000 feet. Check with physician if you have heart or respiratory problems.

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: Arrival & Registration/Introductions & Orientation
(Sunday, April 6)
 Afternoon: Brief registration with Program coordinator anytime between 4:30 PM and 5:15 PM to pick up program schedule and materials. Conference room is adjacent to pool.
 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, fish, prime rib, meat loaf, pastas, vegetarian options, etc.
 Evening: After dinner is an orientation session to introduce participants and provide and in-depth program overview. Get ready for an adventurous week of learning and new friends!
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Geology Presentation/Visit Sedona's Best-loved Sites/Desert Critters
(Monday, April 7)

Note: Today there will be minimal walking required while enjoying stops along the trolley tour.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant. Multiple hot entrees to choose from including bacon and eggs, french toast and sausage, fruit bowl and yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
 Morning: Hear the geologic story of the Sedona area and the Grand Canyon 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."
 Lunch: Lunch at the Golden Goose Restaurant. Multiple entrees to choose from including hot and cold sandwiches (vegetarian option daily), 1/2 sandwich and soup, chef or spinach salad, etc.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, embark on an exploration of Sedona, including a stop at the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross. During the afternoon's excursion you'll receive information on the history, geology, climate, flora and fauna of the area. Stop for photo opportunities at scenic vistas.
 Dinner: Dinner at Golden Goose Restaurant, adjacent to the hotel.
 Evening: Enjoy a hands-on presentation about some of the Southwest's best-loved desert critters.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Full-Day Grand Canyon National Park Trip
(Tuesday, April 8)

Note: Today there will be required walking at the Grand Canyon of about 1 mile total, mostly on flat, paved or dirt trails. Longer walking/hiking opportunities available in the afternoon where participants have a little free time to explore rim trails or descend into the canyon along the Bright Angel Trail.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant.
 Morning: After an early breakfast, travel Hwy 89A, one of Arizona's most scenic byways, through Oak Creek Canyon, and up its famous switchbacks en route to the Grand Canyon's South Rim. Visit the southwestern corner of the Navajo Reservation and the Cameron Trading Post. Then enter Grand Canyon National Park at its east entrance where the Desert View Watchtower comes into view. This stunning stone structure was designed by Mary Jane Colter, a renowned architect and designer for the Fred Harvey Company and Santa Fe Railroad. The view of the Colorado River from here is unmatched anywhere else along the rim. A naturalist will accompany you on your journey, revealing the Grand Canyon's unique geologic, biologic and historic features while you have the opportunity to walk along the Canyon's rim. You'll see Grand Canyon Village, where you may tour historic buildings and see Native American arts/crafts and other souvenirs in village shops. Colter also designed of some the most impressive structures in the historic Grand Canyon Village including Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge and Lookout Studio. You may even see an endangered California condor soaring overhead as you gaze into the Canyon's depths below.
 Lunch: Sack lunch at Grand Canyon.
 Afternoon: After a full afternoon exploring and learning about the Grand Canyon with some free time, you will board the motorcoach for the return trip to Sedona. Don't forget to take one last look across to the Canyon's North Rim, 10 miles away as the raven flies, before settling into your seat and recapping the 1.8 billion year layer cake of earth's history you've just seen in person!
 Dinner: Dinner back in Sedona at the Golden Goose with ample time to recount your day at the Canyon.
 Evening: Return to Sedona hotel in the late evening to enjoy some rest after your full day at the Grand Canyon.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Sedona Special Interest Presentation/Free Afternoon/Evening Entertainment
(Wednesday, April 9)

Note: A free afternoon gives participants the opportunity to explore Sedona on their own. Numerous hiking trail abound for those that want to stretch their legs out.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant.
 Morning: This morning hear a presentation on a topic of local interest. It may be a Native American speaker discussing life ways of the Hopi or Navajo or a historian retelling the early days of Sedona.
 Lunch: Enjoy a lunch on your own in one of Sedona's many eateries.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon in Sedona to explore Sedona's spectacular red rock country on your own or visit the many art galleries and attractions. Visit Sedona's unique shops and impressive art galleries. Sedona is home to over 80 galleries and several annual arts festivals that attract hundreds of recognized exhibitors from throughout the entire Southwest. You may also opt to take a short hike.
 Dinner: Dinner at Golden Goose Restaurant, adjacent to the hotel.
 Evening: Evening entertainment with Ken and Lynne Mikell's Western Ballads and Tales. Ken and Lynn are frequent performers at southwest cowboy poet festivals and have been delighting Road Scholar participants for over a decade.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Montezuma Castle and Verde Canyon Railroad
(Thursday, April 10)

Note: About one mile walking on flat, paved trails, while at Montezuma Castle National Monument.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant.
 Morning: Depart on a field trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument (cliff dwellings). 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: Lunch will be 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, located west of Sedona and below Jerome, 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 many migrating waterfowl. Over thirty bald and golden eagles winter in this riparian respite each year. The 40 mile trip travels very slowly (10-15 mph) and mostly near the canyon bottom. Passengers enjoy this four-hour scenic train ride in style aboard renovated passenger coaches and open-air viewing cars pulled by vintage locomotives. Participants have inside seats and access to outdoor observation cars.
 Dinner: After disembarking the train, have your final night dinner at Ming House in Cottonwood where the extensive buffet offers many choices, no matter what your taste.
 Evening: Tonight is unscheduled as we have spent the entire day out and about in the fresh air.
Accommodations: Sedona Super 8 Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Sedona Movies and Magic/Program Conclusion and Farewells
(Friday, April 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Golden Goose Restaurant.
 Morning: 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
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Sedona, AZ General Overview
Points of interest within two hours of Sedona: In the Flagstaff area, 30 miles north: Sinagua period ruins at Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monuments; Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument; the Native American artifacts and collections housed at the Museum of Northern Arizona, which also presents Native American performances and demonstrations; the Kachina Wilderness on the 12,600 ft high San Francisco Peaks; old downtown Flagstaff & old Route 66; Lowell Observatory, which discovered the planet Pluto. In the Oak Creek / Sedona area: Massive sandstone cliffs and riparian beauty of Oak Creek Canyon; Sedona red rock monoliths and the surrounding Secret Mountain Wilderness; Sedona’s fine art and jewelry galleries and its international cuisines; the New Age Sedona vortex offerings; Jerome, AZ a mining ghost town. In other outlying areas: Hopi & Navajo Reservations; the Mary Colter designed La Posada Hotel / Restaurant at Winslow, AZ; Grand Canyon Railroad at Williams, AZ and the Grand Canyon National Park (2.5 hours north.)
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

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

Author: Stegner, Wallace

Description: Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell's struggle against western geography and Washington politics. We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell's distinguished career, and appreciate his unparalleled understanding of the West. "Stegner's most exciting work." (San Francisco Chronicle) 496pp

Grand Canyon Geology

Author: Beus, Stanley

Description: This second edition of the leading book on Grand Canyon geology contains the most recent discoveries and interpretations of the origin and history of the canyon. It includes two entirely new chapters: one on debris flow in the Canyon and one on the impact of water flow releases from the Glen Canyon Dam. All chapters have been updated where necessary and all photographs have been replaced or re-screened for better resolution. Written by acknowledged experts in stratigraphy, paleontology, structural geology, geomorphology, volcanism and seismology, this book offers a wealth of information for geologists and general readers interested in acquiring an understanding of the geological history of this great natural wonder. 423pp

Half Broke Horses

Author: Walls, Jeannette

Description: Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, wrote this true life novel which unfolds across Northern Arizona from the 1920s to the 1960s. Its heroine, Lily Casey Smith, (Ms. Wall's grandmother) battled the elements, prejudices, economic conditions and politics of remote frontier Arizona. Many of the locations described - Peach Springs, Seligman, Flagstaff, the Navajo Reservation, the Arizona Strip - are sites visited by NAU Road Scholar programs. Readers of this selection will feel the sense of heritage from this tale of life in our distant corner of America.

Sedona (Images of America Series)

Author: Heidinger, Lisa Schnebly

Description: Little more than a century ago, when only a handful of families lived in what is now Sedona, in Oak Creek Canyon, none would have dreamed it would become such a popular destination. The matchless combination of bright blue skies and red rocks has inspired artists of every medium to attempt to capture the mystic formations. Fortunately some began almost before the town was named after the wife of early settler T. C. Schnebly, who organized the first post office, at the beginning of the 20th century. From early apple growers to artists, what has united the diverse residents of Sedona over time is the conviction that they have found one of the earth's great treasures. 128pp.

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