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Arizona

Best of Sedona: Natural & Cultural Landscapes in Red Rock Country

Immerse yourself in the story of Sedona as you join local experts to learn about and explore ancient cliff dwellings, iconic Red Rocks, a heritage railway and the majestic Grand Canyon.
Program No. 1062RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,449
Arizona

Best of Sedona: Natural & Cultural Landscapes in Red Rock Country

Immerse yourself in the story of Sedona as you join local experts to learn about and explore ancient cliff dwellings, iconic Red Rocks, a heritage railway and the majestic Grand Canyon.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,449
Length
6 days
Rating (4.93)
Starts at
1,449
Program No. 1062RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
Activity Level: Keep the Pace (4)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Oct 9 - Oct 14, 2022
Starting at
1,449
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Sedona, a new Marriott property with Red Rock views surrounding the property.

Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Starting at
1,449
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Sedona, a new Marriott property with Red Rock views surrounding the property.

Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2022
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Activity Level: Keep the Pace (4)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,979
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Oct 9 - Oct 14, 2022
Starting at
1,799
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Sedona, a new Marriott property with Red Rock views surrounding the property.

Oct 23 - Oct 28, 2022
Starting at
1,799
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Sedona, a new Marriott property with Red Rock views surrounding the property.

Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2022
Starting at
1,979
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Activity Level: On Your Feet (12)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 25 - Sep 30, 2022
Starting at
1,449
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Sedona, a new Marriott property with Red Rock views surrounding the property.

Dec 9 - Dec 14, 2022
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts. This date will also enjoy the ambiance of the holiday season with a visit to the Sedona Festival of Lights spectacular. Featuring luminarias, entertainment and cider for everyone.

Feb 12 - Feb 17, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Mar 5 - Mar 10, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
1,549
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Apr 16 - Apr 21, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
1,549
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Dec 8 - Dec 13, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts. This date will also enjoy the ambiance of the holiday season with a visit to the Sedona Festival of Lights spectacular. Featuring luminarias, entertainment and cider for everyone.

Activity Level: On Your Feet (12)
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 25 - Sep 30, 2022
Starting at
1,799
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Sedona, a new Marriott property with Red Rock views surrounding the property.

Dec 9 - Dec 14, 2022
Starting at
1,979
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts. This date will also enjoy the ambiance of the holiday season with a visit to the Sedona Festival of Lights spectacular. Featuring luminarias, entertainment and cider for everyone.

Feb 12 - Feb 17, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Mar 5 - Mar 10, 2023
Starting at
2,089
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
1,939
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Apr 16 - Apr 21, 2023
Starting at
2,089
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Sep 24 - Sep 29, 2023
Starting at
1,939
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Oct 8 - Oct 13, 2023
Starting at
2,089
Itinerary Note

This date stays at The Element Hotel, Marriot's new and top rated Sedona Hotel.

Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts.

Dec 8 - Dec 13, 2023
Starting at
2,619
Itinerary Note

This date stays at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s top resorts. This date will also enjoy the ambiance of the holiday season with a visit to the Sedona Festival of Lights spectacular. Featuring luminarias, entertainment and cider for everyone.

At a Glance

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 via an open trolley excursion. Ride the rails along the wild and scenic Verde River and beside its verdant canyon as you scan for wildlife. Explore Grand Canyon National Park on a full day journey to this iconic and quintessential American treasure with time to walk along the rim while soaking in its grandeur.
Activity Level
Varies by date
Walking up to 1/2 mile with longer optional hikes. Elevations up to 7,000 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

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

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Ken Zoll
Ken is the executive director of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center. He is a site steward with the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, and a volunteer docent at cultural heritage sites in the Coconino National Forest. He has conducted fieldwork in cultural astronomy of the Southwest and is a certified instructor in cultural astronomy with the Arizona Archaeological Society. Ken is the author of several books on cultural astronomy and rock art in Central Arizona, as well as several cultural astronomy articles in professional publications.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Lisa Kearsley
Lisa Kearsley View biography
The author of “The San Juan River Guide,” Lisa Kearsley inherited an appreciation for the Southwest from her father, who was a biology professor. She earned a bachelor’s in zoology from the University of California and a master’s in biology from Northern Arizona University. Lisa has worked at the Grand Canyon as an interpretive park ranger teaching natural history programs and has studied the effects of Glen Canyon Dam on area campsites.
Profile Image of Ken Mikell
Ken Mikell View biography
Ken Mikell is part of a music duo with his wife, Lynn. They 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.
Profile Image of Margaret (Maggie) Mitchell
Margaret (Maggie) Mitchell View biography
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.
Profile Image of Bill Krieger
Bill Krieger View biography
Bill Krieger is a Road Scholar educator who directed some of the earliest learning adventures during the 1970s. He has degrees from Northern Michigan University and the University of Pennsylvania. During his retirement, learning and sharing about the people and the geology of the Southwest have become his focus and his passion. Bill’s passions include biking, hiking, camping, writing, sketching, singing, and having conversations over a cup of coffee.
Profile Image of Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson View biography
Paul Johnson is a recent transplant to Sedona after retiring from a career as a CEO of a non-profit focused on community development. He is a lifelong student of history and has traveled extensively in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and elsewhere. Paul loves to share the history and culture of his adopted state of Arizona and enjoys hiking with his wife and dog, playing golf, and exploring the wonderful red rock paradise of Sedona.
Profile Image of Kristin Hooten
Kristin Hooten View biography
Kristin Hooten has spent the majority of her life in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona. She earned a bachelor's degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis in Outdoor Education and Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Kristin has worked in the outdoor industry in different capacities and enjoys her ongoing education with the surrounding region. When not in the office or field, she is found enjoying the great outdoors either on a paddleboard or in her camper.
Profile Image of Ken Zoll
Ken is the executive director of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center. He is a site steward with the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office, and a volunteer docent at cultural heritage sites in the Coconino National Forest. He has conducted fieldwork in cultural astronomy of the Southwest and is a certified instructor in cultural astronomy with the Arizona Archaeological Society. Ken is the author of several books on cultural astronomy and rock art in Central Arizona, as well as several cultural astronomy articles in professional publications.
Profile Image of Betty Johnson
Betty Johnson View biography
Betty Johnson has a passion for travel and exploration. While her professional experience is in non-profit management and Human Resources, she enjoys travel, talking about travel, and planning travel with her husband, Paul. They recently spent six weeks in Europe, training from France to Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. Betty's other pastimes include baking, crafting, and grandparenting. Her crafts include scrapbooking, photography, crochet, and quilting. Betty and Paul's daughter and her three kids all live with them and keep them on their toes!
Profile Image of Kennard Bork
Kennard Bork View biography
Kennard Bork is a former university geology professor who has found his bliss in retirement where Sedona’s red rocks and natural beauty provide the setting for great exploration and discovery. Ken is active in OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and INHIGEO (International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences), both as a speaker and as a participant.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Arizona: A Cavalcade of History
by Trimble, Marshall
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
Sedona (Images of America Series)
by Heidinger, Lisa Schnebly
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.
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West
by Stegner, Wallace
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
by Beus, Stanley
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
Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest
by Steve Plog
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.
Half Broke Horses
by Walls, Jeannette
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.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Sedona, AZ
D
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:30-5:15 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the conference room by the pool to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, COVID-19 protocols, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Field trips will be led by our Group Leader, a seasoned and experienced naturalist, unless specified otherwise. We will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In our hotel conference room, we’ll have a buffet meal with choice of entrée, the chef's dessert of the day, and a choice of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. UPDATE: Due to the fluid nature of Covid restrictions, dinner details are subject to change. Once it is determined if meals will be plated, buffet, etc., we will update this site accordingly. Thank you for your understanding.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
History, Archaeology, Sedona Beloved Sites, Desert Critters
Sedona, AZ
B,L,D
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock

Activity note: Getting on/off a trolley; riding about 15 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day; mostly flat terrain, flight of stairs.

Breakfast: In a private conference room, we will have a buffet featuring a variety of choices including eggs, breakfast meats, French toast, hot and cold cereals, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, assorted fruit juices, water.

Morning: We will be joined by a local historian for a presentation on Sedona history. We’ll also hear from an expert on archaeology and the prehistoric peoples who inhabited the Sedona and Verde Valley region.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: We will board a trolley with our Group Leader and set out for a riding exploration to see some of the town’s most beloved sites including a stop at the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross. During our exploration, we will learn about the history, geology, climate, flora, and fauna of the area. As we explore, we will have photo opportunities at some scenic vistas.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: In a conference room at the hotel, we’ll enjoy a program led by an educator focused on desert critters such as spiders, live snakes, and scorpions. We’ll have the opportunity to see, touch and have our pictures taken with our desert friends and learn about the ways they adapt and thrive in this harsh environment.

DAY
3
Montezuma Castle, Verde Canyon Railroad
Sedona, AZ
B,L,D
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock

Activity note: Activity Notes Getting on/off a vehicle with several steps up/down; driving about 70 miles throughout the day; approximately 1 hour total riding time. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; flat, paved trails. Getting on/off railroad cars; riding about 40 miles, approximately 4 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board our transport with our Group Leader for a field trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument. This 5-story, 20-room cliff dwelling is 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 approximately 600 years ago by the Sinagua Indians. While here, we’ll observe the ruins from below and take note of Wet Beaver Creek’s unique ecosystem as we walk along the paved loop trail.

Lunch: Our first-class train tickets include lunch with charcuterie items such as cured meats, gourmet cheese, fruit, fruit dip, crackers, brownies, and bottled water. It also incudes a champagne or sparkling cider toast upon boarding!

Afternoon: We’ll settle into Verde Canyon Railroad first-class cars for a scenic, leisurely ride. As we follow a 40-mile route along the Verde River, we’ll ride in comfort in renovated passenger and open air cars, journeying at a slow pace mostly near the canyon bottom. We’ll pass red rock pinnacles, cross bridges, see Native American ruins, and ride through a 680-foot tunnel. Keep eyes out for native plants and wildlife that may be present such as more than 30 eagles that winter in this scenic area. Our Group Leader will supplement expert commentary by a railroad expert.

Dinner: At a local Mexican restaurant.

Evening: Returning to the hotel in Sedona, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
4
Geology, Free Time, Western Music & Tales
Sedona, AZ
B,D
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock

Activity note: Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined by an expert on geology for a presentation on the geologic story of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding area. This will help make sense of how the stunning beauty of this area came to be and prepare us for our upcoming full day at the Grand Canyon.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. Sedona has choices from fascinating art galleries, hiking the thrilling red rock trails, or taking a “Pink Jeep” out to explore Sedona’s back country and archaeological sites.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We will be treated to a performance of western ballads and tales by musicians who are frequent guests at Southwest cowboy poet festivals, and who have been delighting Road Scholar participants for more than two decades.

DAY
5
Grand Canyon National Park Full Day Field Trip
Sedona, AZ
B,L,D
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock

Activity note: Getting on/off a vehicle with several steps up/down; driving about 230 miles throughout the day, approximately 5 hours total riding time. Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day; mostly flat, paved, or dirt paths. Elective longer hikes available.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board our transport and set out on a full-day field trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Upon arrival, we will start on a walk and learn as we explore about the Grand Canyon’s unique geological, biological, and historical features. We’ll also see Grand Canyon Village where many of the most impressive structures in the historic village were designed by Mary Jane Colter, a renowned architect and designer for the Fred Harvey Company and Santa Fe Railroad. With luck, we might even see an endangered California condor soaring overhead as we gaze into the Canyon’s depths below.

Lunch: Along the Grand Canyon’s rim, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: We will have some time for independent exploration in the historic village. Be sure to take a look across to the Canyon’s North Rim, 10 miles away as the raven flies. We’ll then begin our return ride to Sedona, settling into our seats, we’ll recap the 1.8 billion year layer cake of earth’s history we’ve just seen in person.

Dinner: At the halfway point on our ride back to Sedona, we will stop for dinner in Flagstaff. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We expect to get back to the hotel by approximately 8:00 p.m. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Departures
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.