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Grand Canyon for Grandparents and Grandchildren: Exploring and Rafting in Western Grand Canyon

Program Number: 2519RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/27/2014 - 7/2/2014; 6/7/2015 - 6/12/2015; 6/17/2015 - 6/22/2015; 6/27/2015 - 7/2/2015; 7/11/2015 - 7/16/2015; 8/2/2015 - 8/7/2015;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Peach Springs, Arizona
Price starting at: $1,289.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Intergenerational; National Parks; Water Sports; Outdoor Adventures, Misc.
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Program intended for grandchildren from 9 - 12 years of age.

Share with your grandchild the thrill of whitewater rafting on the Colorado River in the depths of the Grand Canyon. With experienced river guides, navigate a number of exhilarating but safe whitewater rapids. Take part in activities and field trips in the region as you learn about the geology, natural history and native peoples of the Grand Canyon. Round out the experience by meeting local ranchers and enjoying a campfire and s'mores.


• Raft 37 wild and scenic miles of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.
• Take a spectacular flight by helicopter from the river to the rim of the Grand Canyon.
• Drive the only road to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and picnic and play on a Colorado River beach.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on uneven and sloped terrain, sometimes in hot conditions. Getting in and out of rafts require agility. Elevations up to 7,000 feet.

Raft trip requires signed liability waiver.

Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.

Peach Springs

Home of the Hualapai Nation, or "People of the Tall Pine," Peach Springs is the reservation’s tribal capital, which comprises 1 million acres along the Colorado River and Grand Canyon region.

Historic Route 66 motel, outdoor pool, underground caverns, walking trails. Quiet property set back from the highway.

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

Jennifer Beltz is a former interpretive park ranger at Phantom Ranch, located in Grand Canyon National Park. She has worked as a naturalist and national park ranger throughout the United States, was co-coordinator of a Road Scholar service program that built a health clinic in Brazil, and has worked on many intergenerational programs. Jennifer has lectured in the Department of Geography and Public Planning at Northern Arizona University and has led programs for Road Scholar since 1992.
Mike Young

Mike Young has lived in Arizona for 40 years, and taught math and geology at Yavapai College prior to his work with Road Scholar. To convey the Arizona landscape, Mike uses a broad range of topics including botany, natural history and geomorphology. He has worked as a commercial boatman, designed and constructed his own home, and conducted field exercises throughout the intermountain west. He is an accomplished hike leader who challenges hikers of all skill levels.
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.
Stewart Lasseter

After completing studies in geo-science, natural history and Spanish at the University of Arizona, Stewart Lasseter studied as the protege of a Native American healer, learning from her practices of wholeness, kinesiology, mind-body medicine and dyslexia correction. He has years of experience bringing groups in touch with the natural world, and has completed post-graduate studies in health sciences at Prescott College.
Matt Turner

Matt Turner has lived in the Southwest since 1982 and currently resides in Prescott, Ariz. He has traveled extensively in the region and has done work in field ecology and cartography. In addition, Matt is an ecological consultant and a professional photographer.
Meals and Lodgings
   Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
  Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs 5 nights
 Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
Type: Motel
  Description: Refurbished historic Route 66 motel. Has landscaped "backyard" area with shaded patio, picnic tables and convenience market adjacent to lobby. Old Route 66 landmark Grand Canyon Caverns. Spectacular night skies.
  Contact info: Route 66, 12 miles east of Peach Springs
Peach Springs, AZ 86434 USA
phone: 928-422-3223
  Room amenities: TV; telephone; alarm clock.
  Facility amenities: Wi-Fi in motel lobby area; outdoor swimming pool (seasonal); meeting room decorated like a 1950's diner, game room; air strip.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: call motel for rates Incoming commercial shuttle runs only on program start day. Participants using shuttle cannot arrive early.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: call motel for rates Incoming commercial shuttle runs only on program start day. Participants using shuttle cannot arrive early.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program registration between 4:30-5:15 PM. You will be staying at Grand Canyon Caverns Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Depart after morning program and farewells, by 9:00 AM. Due to the limited shuttle access to this location, please CHECK SHUTTLE SCHEDULES PRIOR TO PURCHASING PLANE TICKETS. You will be staying at Grand Canyon Caverns Inn the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. The river rafting company requires signatures on assumption of risk forms prior to whitewater rafting trip. Parents must fill these out for children. Parental Consent Form Intergenerational Rules and Regulations These forms should be mailed, faxed or scanned/emailed to NAU Road Scholar. Address/fax/email in Notes Section.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
  Nearest city or town:  Peach Springs
  Nearest highway: Route 66
  Nearest airport:  Phoenix (200 miles); Las Vegas (165 miles)
  From End of Program
  Location: Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Grand Canyon Caverns to/from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport


To Airport




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


Per Person/One Way:


Approximately $100 one way, $150 round trip
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


3 hours 30 minutes 




210 miles


Works exclusively with Road Scholar to depart / return to airport in conjunction with program start and end. Best to arrive into Phoenix airport by 10:30 AM and book departures after 3:30 PM. If you have questions, call shuttle company PRIOR to booking flights to aid in travel transfers. Van Go picks up from all terminals at Phoenix airport, as well as nearby airport hotels, and drops off at program hotel. Note: There is no shuttle service available from Peach Springs to Las Vegas.

Driving Directions
  Grand Canyon Caverns From I-40 Westbound Take the I-40 west and turn right in Seligman, AZ at exit 121 to Route 66. Road will pass over railroad tracks and Route 66, turning a half-circle back to a stop sign. Turn right again, heading west/northwest on Route 66. Travel 25 miles until Route 66 turns from two lanes into a divided highway. Grand Canyon Caverns is on the left, clearly visible.
  Grand Canyon Caverns from I-40 Eastbound Take the I-40 East and exit left in Kingman, AZ at exit 53 - Andy Devine Blvd/Route 66. Travel 50 miles northeast and pass through the community of Peach Springs. Continue 12 miles further and Route 66 turns from two lanes to a divided highway. Grand Canyon Caverns is on the right, clearly visible.
Elevation Note: Lodging elevation 5,500 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: Arrival & Registration/Orientation & Introductions
(Friday, June 27)
 Afternoon: Arrive and check in to Grand Canyon Caverns Inn after 3:00 PM. Road Scholar program registration between 4:30-5:15 PM in the Grand Canyon Caverns meeting room, right off the motel lobby.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant. Full salad bar always available. Dinner selections feature home-cooked entrees which appeal to both young and old.
 Evening: Introductions and orientation in the motel 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: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Nature Walk/Cave Exploration and Craft Project /Geography, Natural or Human History Presentation
(Saturday, June 28)

Note: One mile walk, primarily downhill but some uphill, over somewhat rocky terrain. Walk both on and off trail to access sites of interest during nature walk.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant with a wide assortment of hot and cold choices including granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, eggs, bacon, toast and bagels.
 Morning: Nature walk beginning at restaurant on the Caverns property (740 acres; mixed grassland and pinon juniper woodland, unique desert plants, animals and geology). The trail is rocky so remember to wear good walking shoes, bring water and dress for hot temperatures. Long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat are recommended. You may be sitting on the ground for short periods. A quick dip in the pool may be possible before lunch.
 Lunch: Buffet lunch at the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant with selections which appeal to both young and old. May include cold cuts, hot dogs, make your own tacos and always a salad bar.
 Afternoon: Walk through the Grand Canyon Caverns (210 feet underground with elevator access), a famous Route 66 landmark, with a guide who will share the Cavern's geology and its lore. Then participate in a craft project. There might be some swim time available before dinner.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant. Full salad bar always available. Dinner selections feature home-cooked entrees which appeal to both young and old.
 Evening: Evening program on the patio or indoors (depending on weather) on geography, natural history, Native American culture or star watching/astronomy.
Accommodations: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Peach Springs Canyon to the Bottom of Grand Canyon/Riverside Picnic/Diamond Creek/River Trip Orientation & Swim Time/Human History Presentation or Storytelling
(Sunday, June 29)

Note: Short walks from van to scenic viewpoints. One mile optional walk along road and in creek down to the Colorado River (some slippery rocks). Walk from parking area to picnic and beach site through soft sand in hot temperatures.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant.
 Morning: Depart after breakfast for a field trip down Peach Springs Canyon on the Diamond Creek Road to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Stops will be made along the way at various points of interest (running water and wading). This is a true "Journey to the Center of the Earth" as the walls of the Grand Canyon rise higher and higher as you drive towards the Colorado River. Pass through hundreds of millions of years of geologic history culminating in the arrival at the 1.8 billion year old rock of the Granite Gorge. A 3/4-mile walk along Diamond Creek to the river will be offered.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch at the Colorado River in the bottom of Grand Canyon.
 Afternoon: Field trip continues at the bottom of the Grand Canyon after lunch. View Diamond Creek Rapids, look for desert bighorn sheep, wild burros, hawks and lizards. At the river, look for river runners rafting the Colorado River. We'll have time to play safely in the Colorado River during the hottest part of the day. Interesting human history, facts and management issues regarding the Colorado River will be shared with the group on the beach.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant.
 Evening: Evening program of stories or fun presentation on geology, natural history, Native American culture or star watching/astronomy.
Accommodations: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: An Arizona Cowboy with Horse Riding & Roping/Hualapai Indian Culture with Stories, Songs and Dance/River Trip Orientation/Kids Only Activity /Cowboy Cookout with Campfire, S'mores & Stars
(Monday, June 30)

Note: Short periods of standing, sometimes in the sun, during the morning session.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant with its wide selection of breakfast offerings.
 Morning: Spend this morning learning about ranching, horses and the importance of cattle in the history of the west. Believe it or not, cattle have many uses today, besides just steak and hamburger! Kids will learn about a horse’s tack, how to properly saddle a horse and how to rope. All kids will have an opportunity to ride a horse at the corral. Adults might have the chance as well!
 Lunch: Lunch provided by Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, a "Kids Only" activity is scheduled. Later this afternoon enjoy a program on Hualapai culture presented by members of the Hualapai tribe. Your coordinators will have a river trip/helicopter prep session this afternoon so you'll know what to take and what to expect for the exciting Colorado River whitewater adventure.
 Dinner: Enjoy a bar-b-que picnic dinner for our final night at Grand Canyon Caverns.
 Evening: Campfire (weather permitting) and marshmallow roasting or s'mores under the stars as well as some group activities. Look up from the smoke of the fire to star-studded western skies and see the Milky Way as you spend this evening with new friends, both young and young at heart, from across the country. Note: we will have a campfire as long as the county is not under fire restrictions due to longtime drought.
Accommodations: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: River Trip through Grand Canyon/ Waterfall Hike/Helicopter Trip from River to Canyon Rim/Trip through Mojave Desert to Hualapai Lodge for Dinner
(Tuesday, July 1)

Note: Climbing in and out of rafts requires some upper body strength and agility. Cold, but invigorating, drenching during rapids. Short hike -- less than 1/4 mile -- to waterfall over sometimes slippery rocks and through sand. Optional climb using ropes and ladders to another hidden waterfall.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant.
 Morning: Depart after breakfast for Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs (12 miles) to meet Hualapai River Runner transportation to Colorado River. The Hualapai River Runners operate inflatable eight-passenger motorized (approximately 25 foot long) pontoon rafts. The group will be split between multiple rafts. Passengers will sit on top of the raft tubes on long flat metal sitting decks that are a part of the boat frame. Life jackets will be fitted to each person before boarding the rafts. For pictures of the raft and more information check out the Hualapai River Runner link at: Safety orientation and life vest fitting on the beach, then embark on river trip. The "Diamond Creek Down" Colorado River trip is about 37 miles in length. The first 16 miles you will encounter about 10 whitewater rapids. Some of these are large (5, 6 and 7 's on a 1 to 10 scale) so participants will get splashed and wet with cold water. The air temperature in summer at the bottom of the canyon will likely be around 100 degrees so the splashing is a welcome relief and keeps passengers cool. The rafts pull over at a couple of attractions (including the beautiful Travertine Falls) and at a lunch spot. After 16 miles the rapids flatten out, but the scenery remains "Grand" in all regards. Hualapai tribal members will operate rafts and, along with our staff, provide information about the canyon along the way.
 Lunch: Lunch along the river (provided by river company).
 Afternoon: Continue down river after lunch to Quartermaster Landing (37 miles downstream from starting point at Diamond Creek). Have your camera ready for the flight! Helicopter out of the canyon on a quick, but spectacular, flight to Quartermaster Point where Hualapai River Runner transportation returns the group to the Hualapai Lodge through a landscape of Joshua Trees and creosote bush through the beautiful basin and range landscape of the Mohave Desert. WIND AND SAFETY ADVISORY: PLEASE NOTE THE ABILITY TO FLY HELICOPTERS FROM THE COLORADO RIVER AT THE END OF THE RAFT TRIP IS DEPENDENT ON WIND AND/OR HEAT CONDITIONS ON THE RIM AND IN THE CANYON. ON EXTREMELY WINDY OR HOT DAYS, DUE TO SAFETY CONCERNS, HELICOPTERS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO FLY. ALTHOUGH THIS IS ALWAYS A POSSIBILITY, IT HAPPENS VERY INFREQUENTLY. WHEN THIS OCCURS THE RAFT TRIP IS EXTENDED ON THE RIVER TO A LOCATION WHERE BUSES ARE ABLE TO REACH THE PARTICIPANTS FOR TRANSPORT BACK TO THE HOTEL.
 Dinner: Enjoy a hearty dinner in the Hualapai Lodge dining room.
 Evening: Return to Caverns Inn after a late dinner. No evening activites planned as everyone will be tired after a long day on the river.
Accommodations: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Program Wrap-Up and Farewells
(Wednesday, July 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Grand Canyon Caverns restaurant.
 Morning: Enjoy a program wrap up and presentations. Then bid farewell to your new friends, both young and young at heart! Program ends by 9am with Van Go shuttle passengers departing for Phoenix airport immediately following morning activities. Van Go to depart by 9:15 am and reach Phoenix by ~1:15 pm.
Meals Included: Breakfast
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

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.

An Introduction to Grand Canyon Ecology

Author: Houk, Rose

Description: 56pp

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.

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.

Field Guide to the Grand Canyon

Author: Whitney, Stephen R

Description: This book describes and illustrates the area's plants and animals, and offers fascinating in-depth information on the natural history and geology of this dramatic region. 272pp

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.

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.

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons

Author: Powell, John Wesley

Description: Full text of Powell's 1,000-mile expedition down the fabled Colorado in 1869. Superb account of terrain, geology, vegetation, Indians, famine, mutiny, treacherous rapids, mighty canyons. 240 illustrations. 432pp

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