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Hiking Arizona’s Marble Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs: Off-the-Beaten-Path

Program Number: 6113RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/28/2014 - 10/4/2014; 10/19/2014 - 10/25/2014; 3/8/2015 - 3/14/2015; 4/6/2015 - 4/12/2015; 4/12/2015 - 4/18/2015; 10/4/2015 - 10/10/2015; 10/18/2015 - 10/24/2015; 11/1/2015 - 11/7/2015;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Marble Canyon, Arizona
Price starting at: $895.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

In remote and beautiful Marble Canyon, enjoy varied hiking opportunities in a geologic wonderland. Hike hidden trails and explore off-the-beaten-path locations known only to local guides. Take a smooth water river trip on the Colorado River beneath 800’ cliffs in the last stretch of Glen Canyon.




Highlights

• Hike to the Colorado River via sinuous Cathedral Wash canyon.
• Explore the Chocolate Cliffs, revealing outcrops of rare petrified wood and ancient rock art.
• Naturalists share knowledge of the canyon and interpret its geologic, natural and human histories.



Activity Particulars

Hike six miles on established trails, “off trail” routes; uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation, rocks; elevation change 1,200 feet. Elevations 3,000 to 7,000 feet.




Date Specific Information

9-28-2014, 4-12-2015, 10-4-2015

On this departure, spend 4 nights at Marble Canyon and, instead of the Colorado River raft trip, travel to Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim for 2 nights. Stay in a National Park Lodge. Hike the storied South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge or Skeleton Point.



Itinerary Summary

Marble Canyon, 6 nights. Alternate itinerary date specific: Marble Canyon 4 nights; van to Grand Canyon National Park, 2 nights. Departure. Optional van shuttle to Flagstaff, extra charge.



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.



Marble Canyon

Embraced in the Grand Canyon National Park, Marble Canyon sits between the north rim and the south rim of the park. A fly-fishing destination, Marble Canyon has a history stretching back 10,500 years when the first evidence of humans appeared in the area. Indian tribes have been living in the region continuously for the past 4,000 years.



Accommodations
Rustic lodge at Marble Canyon. Alternate itinerary: Lodge at Marble Canyon 4 nights; Grand Canyon S. Rim Lodge 2 nights.

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

Mike Masek is a wilderness skills instructor, herbalist and ethnobotanist living in Flagstaff, Ariz. In addition to his current work with Road Scholar, he is adjunct faculty at Northern Arizona University where he teaches traditional uses of native plants and outdoor survival skills. He also teaches programs at the National Parks and Coconino Community College. He has spent a lifetime exploring the canyons and deserts of the American Southwest and loves to share these treasures with others.
 
Jeff Strang

Jeff Strang's knowledge of the environment stems from over 35 years of hiking, paddling, and photography in the outdoors, his extensive experience as a naturalist, as well as from his education at the University of Oregon and Lewis and Clark Law School. In 1987, Jeff filed a precedent-setting lawsuit against Oregon polluters under the Clean Water Act. Jeff has been leading Road Scholar programs since 2002. In his free time, Jeff enjoys biking to work, hiking, kayaking, outdoor photography and studying geology.
 
Joanna Joseph

Daughter of a Montana saddle maker, Joanna Joseph is an artist, musician and interpreter of human history. At the University of Montana, she studied art, drama and classical Greek. Joanna was also program supervisor at Glen Canyon Dam, developing an appreciation for the importance of water in the Southwest. A resident of Big Water, Utah, she has worked with Road Scholar since 1994.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Marble Canyon Lodge
  Marble Canyon, AZ 6 nights
 Marble Canyon Lodge
Type: Motel
  Description: Native rock motel at the base of towering red rock cliffs.
  Contact info: US 89A
Marble Canyon, AZ 86036 USA
phone: 928-355-2225
  Room amenities: Individually controlled air conditioning, TV.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant and lounge on site, 1920's piano, SW book collection, fly fishing shop, convenience store, conin op washer-dryer.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Seasonal Call the Marble Canyon Lodge for rates in effect during your stay.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Seasonal Call the Marble Canyon Lodge for rates in effect during your stay.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Registration in dining room adjacent to Marble Canyon Lodge store between 4:30 - 5:15 PM. You will be staying at Marble Canyon Lodge that night.
  End of Program:
Program concludes after breakfast at Marble Canyon Lodge. Road Scholar van shuttles to Flagstaff Visitor Center with drop offs by 10:30 AM and connections to Van Go Shuttle to Phoenix Airport. You will be staying at Marble Canyon Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking for the length of the program at the lodge.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Marble Canyon, AZ
  Nearest city or town:  Flagstaff, AZ 120 mi S
  Nearest highway: US 89A
  Nearest airport:  Flagstaff
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details
 

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, van shuttle to Marble Canyon (FIRST DAY OF THE PROGRAM).

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

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

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$150 Round Trip
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

4.5 

 

Distance:

 

270

   

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 10:30 AM and book departures after 3:30 PM from Phoenix airport . If you have questions, CALL SHUTTLE COMPANY PRIOR to booking flights. Van Go picks up from all terminals and airport hotels. Return shuttle meets Road Scholar van in Flagstaff at 10:30 AM for express return to Phoenix airport by approximately 1:00 PM.

 

Flagstaff to Marble Canyon

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

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

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$50
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2.25 

 

Distance:

 

120 miles

   

Transportation from Flagstaff to Marble Canyon: Van Go Shuttle, after picking up at the Phoenix airport on the programs start date, will then drive 2.5 hrs. to Flagstaff and pick up any people at the Flagstaff airport or Visitor Center/Amtrak Station for arrival into Marble Canyon by 4:30PM. Arrangements need to be made in advance with Van Go Shuttle.

 

Flagstaff (and Phoenix Shuttles) from (All) Marble Canyon (LAST DAY OF THE PROGRAM).

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
NAU Road Scholar / Van Go Shuttle Combination
phone: 928-523-2359
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

No charge for Road Scholar van shuttle to Flagstaff Visitor Center from Marble Canyon
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

2.25 hours (Marble Canyon to Flagstaff) and 2.5 hours (Flagstaff to Phoenix Airport). 

 

Distance:

 

120 miles (Marble Canyon to Flagstaff) and 150 miles (Flagstaff to Phoenix Airport).

   

The NAU Road Scholar van will offer a shuttle from Marble Canyon to Flagstaff Visitor Center on last day of the program after breakfast.The NAU van will arrive in Flagstaff by 10:30 AM - connecting with Van Go Shuttle (866-448-2646) direct service to Phoenix Airport. Book your departing flights from Phoenix Airport for after 3:00 PM. Check with shuttle company before booking flights. Please fill out the attached transportation questionnaire and return with your health form.

 
Driving Directions
  Marble Canyon Lodge from I-17 Take I-17 north to the I-40 junction in Flagstaff. Go east on I-40 towards Albuquerque. Take exit 201, US 89 North toward Page. Stay on US 89 for 111 miles to the US 89A West cutoff and go left toward Kanab, UT. Stay on 89A for 14 miles to Marble Canyon, AZ. The Marble Canyon Lodge is on your right, 0.25 miles past the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River.
  Marble Canyon Lodge from I-40 Eastbound Take the I-40 and turn off at exit 201 on east side of Flagstaff and head north on Highway 89. Travel 111 miles to the junction with Highway 89A at the little community of Bitter Springs. Turn left on 89A and travel 14 miles to Marble Canyon, just across the Colorado River. The "town" and lodge are one and the same - the lodge office is on the right.
  Marble Canyond Lodge from I-40 Westbound Take the I-40 west to Flagstaff. Exit at US 89 north toward Page. Stay on US 89 for 111 miles to the US 89A West cutoff and turn left toward Kanab, UT. Stay on 89A for 14 miles to Marble Canyon, AZ. The Marble Canyon Lodge is on your right, 0.25 miles past the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River.
Elevation Note: Hikes at 3,500 - 7,000 feet. Those with heart or lung concerns should consult with physician.

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/Program Orientation and Introductions
(Sunday, March 8)
   
 Afternoon: Participants can check into the Marble Canyon Lodge after 3:00 PM. The NAU Road Scholar program registration will be between 4:30 - 5:15 PM in the Marble Canyon convenience store meeting room.
 Dinner: Marble Canyon Lodge serves a selection of American classic meals including lime chicken, pot roast and select pasta dishes plus soup and salad bar. Entrees will vary nightly and always include a vegetarian and gluten free option for those that enroll as such.
 Evening: Northern Arizona University Road Scholar coordinator will direct a program orientation and lead group introductions after dinner in the meeting room. Get prepared for the exciting adventure lays ahead and meet your fellow participants.
   
Accommodations: Marble Canyon Lodge
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Hiking Marble Canyon
(Monday, March 9)

Note: A full day of off trail hiking in a wilderness setting. Prepare for scrambling up and down hillsides with uneven footing and loose rocks at times. Helpful hiking skills and tips such as hiking techniques and foot placement through various terrain and pacing will be communicated throughout the week by your knowledgeable guides.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Marble Canyon Lodge restaurant. Hot and cold buffet items will be available.
 Morning: After breakfast, depart for a hike along the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness and the majestic Paria Plateau. Please note: what hikes are done on specific days is dependent on weather and road conditions. CHOCOLATE CLIFFS HIKE: (4- 6 miles and ~700 feet of elevation gain). Hike up the base of the Chocolate Cliffs utilizing abandoned road beds and rocky routes to discover 1000 year old petroglyphs, ancient petrified logs and jaw dropping views of the Vermilion and Echo Cliffs. The majority of this hike will be off trail with potential new discoveries and scenic vistas around every corner. This is a true "off the beaten path" adventure and a favorite of local guides.
 Lunch: Lunch on the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue our hike through incredible scenery.
 Dinner: Marble Canyon Lodge serves a selection of American classic meals including lime chicken, pot roast and select pasta dishes plus soup and salad bar. For vegetarians there will be vegetarian options available.
 Evening: Enjoy a select evening program on a regional subject. Topics may include Lee's Ferry and Mormon history, Canyon Country geology or musical entertainment.
   
Accommodations: Marble Canyon Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Hiking Marble Canyon
(Tuesday, March 10)

Note: Often called "canyoneering" - hiking in southwest canyons require some scrambling. You will encounter rock obstacles that will require one person at a time to negotiate and will necessitate maneuvering (under the direction of your guide) before the group can proceed. You will also use your hands on occasion. This is not a day of making long miles but rather the challenge of new terrain.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Marble Canyon Lodge restaurant.
 Morning: Today will be a day to tailor a hiking adventure to the group's ability and interest. There are numerous interesting and scenic destinations in the immediate Marble Canyon, Lee's ferry area, Navajo Nation and Bureau of Land Management Lands. Destinations may include canyons and mesas at the base of the Vemillion Cliffs or Marble Canyon proper.
 Lunch: Trail lunch.
 Afternoon: Continue your hiking exploration.
 Dinner: Marble Canyon Lodge serves a selection of American classic meals including lime chicken, pot roast and select pasta dishes plus soup and salad bar. For vegetarians there will be vegetarian options available.
 Evening: Learn about the challenges and successes of the California Condor reintroduction project, presented by a biologist from the Peregrine Fund - the lead organization for the reintroduction effort.The California Condor reintroduction release site (and holding pens) are located just down the road from Marble Canyon Lodge atop the Vermilion Cliffs and is at the center of this multi-agency recovery effort.
   
Accommodations: Marble Canyon Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Colorado Raft trip through Glen Canyon.
(Wednesday, March 11)

Note: Raft trip on the Colorado River. No whitewater, just motoring and floating through the last 15-mile stretch of beautiful Glen Canyon. Getting on/off rafts requires some strength and agility, assistance available. During the trip there is a short walk along the beach side up to a ancient Anasazi petroglyph panel.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Marble Canyon Lodge restaurant.
 Morning: Depart for the Lee's Ferry and the Lonely Dell Ranch Historical area. Learn about the fascinating Mormon pioneer and river running history of this colorful area before embark on the Colorado River. Load onto Colorado River Discovery (CRD) rafts. CRD utilizes inflatable, motorized pontoon rafts comfortably carrying a maximum of 10 passengers and piloted by an experienced guide. Passengers will sit on top of the raft tubes on long flat metal sitting decks that are apart of the boat frame.The rafts navigate about fifteen river miles from Lees Ferry to Petroglyph Beach and back. The time spent on the river is typically about 3.5 hours. At the half way point, the rafts will pull to shore for a restroom break. The restrooms are well maintained vault toilets. Each raft carries emergency communications and safety equipment. Cold water and lemonade will be available at all times. Because this is a smooth water stretch of river (no rapids), the wearing of lifejackets by adults is optional. Weather conditions on the river change throughout the year, so dress for the season. In general, wear layers. Spring and Fall months, we can experience cooler temps and windy days, jackets and long pants are appropriate. During the summer months, shorts and light weight clothing are acceptable. Bring a brimmed hat, sunglasses, and river shoes or tennis shoes with a good sole that can get wet.
 Lunch: Box lunch while rafting through the massive cliffs of Glen Canyon.
 Afternoon: Continue Raft Trip. While on the river keep an eye out for California Condors, Peregrine Falcons and bighorn sheep. On board narration of natural features and area history will be provided by the boatman guide. Arrive back at Marble Canyon Lodge mid-afternoon.
 Dinner: Marble Canyon Lodge serves a selection of American classic meals including lime chicken, pot roast and select pasta dishes plus soup and salad bar. For vegetarians there will be vegetarian options available.
 Evening: Free evening.
   
Accommodations: Marble Canyon Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Hiking Marble Canyon
(Thursday, March 12)

Note: Approximately 6 miles total today in an intermittent stream bed/slot canyon/mesa top.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Marble Canyon Lodge restaurant..
 Morning: Today is an "Instructor's Choice" hiking day. Possible destinations include Cathedral Butte, The Sand Crack, Lee's Backbone or Waterholes Canyon (depending on road and weather conditions). Each and every one of the listed destination hikes is a classic red rock adventure with rewarding views and memories to last a life time!
 Lunch: Trail lunch.
 Afternoon: Continue your hiking exploration of the area.
 Dinner: Dinner at Marble Canyon Lodge.
 Evening: Enjoy a presentation by a Navajo tribal member on the traditional culture and modern challenges of the Navajo people.
   
Accommodations: Marble Canyon Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Final day of hiking in Marble Canyon
(Friday, March 13)

Note: A full day of off trail hiking in a wilderness setting. Prepare for scrambling up and down hillsides with uneven footing and loose rocks at times. Helpful hiking skills and tips such as hiking techniques and foot placement through various terrain and pacing will be communicated throughout the week by your knowledgeable guides.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Marble Canyon Lodge restaurant..
 Morning: After breakfast we have our final hike in this beautiful Marble Canyon region. FALL CANYON HIKE - located on the south side of the Colorado River at the base of the Echo Cliffs. We will shuttle by boat to the mouth of Fall Canyon for the start of the hike. This 4-5 mile secluded canyon hike will take you to a spectacular red rock amphitheater formations that you will never forget.
 Lunch: Lunch on the trail.
 Afternoon: Continue hiking. This hike is another one where you will feel privileged to be on a trail that is experienced by few others.
 Dinner: Dinner at Marble Canyon Lodge.
 Evening: Program wrap up. Share some laughs and highlights as we reflect upon the weeks accomplishments with your new friends.
   
Accommodations: Marble Canyon Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Departure Day
(Saturday, March 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Lodge cafeteria. Options include scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, fresh fruit, juices, milk, coffee and more.
 Morning: Departures after breakfast. The NAU Road Scholar van departs Marble Canyon at 8:00 AM, arriving at the Flagstaff Visitor Center (Amtrak Station) by 10:30 AM. For those looking to return to the Phoenix airport, Van Go Shuttle (866)448-2646 coordinates with the NAU Road Scholar van and will immediately transfer shuttle riders to Phoenix with arrival to the airport approximately 1:00 PM. Book departing flight for after 3:00 PM.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
 
  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


Lee's Ferry: From Mormon Crossing to National Park


Author: Reilly, P.T.


Description: The Colorado River and its deeply entrenched canyons create a lengthy barrier to travel in the interior West. Here and there, ancient Indian foot trails descend canyon walls and find access to the bottoms, but one of the few places between Colorado and California where wheeled vehicles can approach the river's banks is at its confluence with the Pahreah River, between Glen Canyon and the steep drop toward Grand Canyon. Here, from the mid-nineteenth until well into the twentieth century, Lee's Ferry was a primary link between Utah and Arizona.. Mormons trying to reach potential Indian converts and new lands for colonization to the south first developed the site. John D. Lee and members of his family, seeking an inconspicuous spot after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, were the first residents at what they called Lonely Dell. In subsequent decades, many interesting and important western characters passed through this topographical and historical funnel, from John Wesley Powell to Buffalo Bill. 542pp.



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



Desert Solitaire


Author: Edward Abbey


Description: Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, the noted author's most enduring nonfiction work, is an account of Abbey's seasons as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah. Abbey reflects on the nature of the Colorado Plateau desert, on the condition of our remaining wilderness, and on the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world.



Encounters with the Archdruid


Author: McPhee, John


Description: The narratives in this book are of journeys made in three wildernesses - on a coastal island, in a Western mountain range, and on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The four men portrayed here have different relationships to their environment, and they encounter each other on mountain trails, in forests and rapids, sometimes with reserve, sometimes with friendliness, sometimes fighting hard across a philosophical divide. 256pp



Everett Ruess - A Vagabond for Beauty


Author: W.L. Rusho


Description: Everett Ruess, the young poet and artist who disappeared into the desert canyonlands of Utah in 1934, has become widely known posthumously as the spokesman for the spirit of the high desert. Many have been inspired by his intense search for adventure, leaving behind the amenities of a comfortable life. His search for ultimate beauty and oneness with nature is chronicled in this remarkable collection of letters to family and friends.



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.



Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis


Author: Glennon, Robert


Description: In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out. Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.





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