Northern Arizona’s Cultures and Canyons and Western Grand Canyon Rafting
Come discover the many wonders of Northern Arizona as you raft the Colorado River, explore Meteor Crater, learn about native cultures and ride a helicopter above the Grand Canyon!
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 1076RJ
7 days
Starts at
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 4 L 6 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Flagstaff, Ariz.
La Quinta Inn and Suites Flagstaff

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

Afternoon: Hotel Check in after 3:00 PM. Rooms may be available earlier based upon demand, call hotel for request. Northern Arizona University Road Scholar program registration from 4:30 - 5:15 PM in the hotel meeting room. Meet your program coordinator and receive your program folder, name tag, the up to date schedule and other important information we will review during Orientation. Beginning at 5:30 PM in the hotel meeting room, your coordinator will provide an in-depth program orientation, review the schedule and lead group introductions. Come prepare for an adventurous week of learning and new friends! Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Walk to a nearby local restaurant for a choice of hot entrée and an endless salad bar featuring seasonal and local specialties, fresh produce and fruits, soups, appetizers, and cool desserts, plus coffee, tea, water. There is no alcohol served at this restaurant.

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

Museum of Northern Arizona, Walnut Canyon Nat’l Monument
Flagstaff, Ariz.
La Quinta Inn and Suites Flagstaff

Activity note: Walking at elevations of 6,700 feet. Island Trail is approximately 1 mile round trip with an elevation change of 185 feet in a series of 240 steps. The Rim Trail is 3/4 mile is paved, level trail with easy access to a series of pueblo ruins and interpretive signs.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a buffet including waffles, eggs, bagels, cereal, muffins, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, juices, milk, water.

Morning: We will load our vans to begin our adventure and better acquaint ourselves with the native cultures and natural history of the Grand Canyon region we will engage in a docent lead exploration of the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA). The museum was founded in 1928 to honor the natural and cultural heritage of northern Arizona and the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau. At the end of our visit, we will have some time to explore independently.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will have a choice of entrees including soup, salads, pasta, burgers, and more, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, lemonade, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Returning to the vans, we will ride 20 minutes to Walnut Canyon National Monument for a field trip to the Sinagua ruins, visitor center, and museum. At Walnut Canyon, our naturalist will provide the group with an overview of the monument’s features followed by a choice of two hikes. Descend into the canyon proper on the Island Trail to come face to face with ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings. For those who choose not to go into the canyon, enjoy a lovely walk along the rim with excellent views from where the Sinagua Ruins are accessible. Walnut Canyon is a spectacular scenic attraction in its own right and contains diverse plant and animal communities to be enjoyed from all vantage points. We will return to Flagstaff in the mid-afternoon with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a festive local Greek restaurant, enjoy a selection of entrees for all palates, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we will have an introduction to the region’s geology with an emphasis on the Grand Canyon presented by a local expert. Gain a background on the forces that created this world wonder which will then make your next day’s field trip to the Grand Canyon even more meaningful.

Desert View Tower, Grand Canyon South Rim Field Trip
Flagstaff, Ariz.
La Quinta Inn and Suites Flagstaff

Activity note: Drive is about 110 miles each way, approximately 2 hours with stops along the way. Approximately 5 flights of stairs to the top of the Desert View overlook.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Depart for a full day field trip to Grand Canyon National Park. During our journey, we will be accompanied by a naturalist who will reveal the unique geologic, biologic, and historic features of the Grand Canyon. En route, visit the southwestern corner of the Navajo Reservation and Cameron, site of the Cameron Trading Post. We will enter Grand Canyon National Park at Desert View overlook where we can enjoy sweeping views of the Colorado River, the North Rim and Mary Jane Colter's Watchtower. The Watchtower is an interpretation of a prehistoric "tower kiva" with lavishly painted interior walls by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. We will visit the Grand Canyon Village, where you may see historic buildings and numerous Native American influences. We may even see an endangered California condor soaring overhead as you gaze out at the Canyon. This is a big long day - worthy of one the worlds grandest natural wonders!

Lunch: Enjoy a prepared sack lunch in the field.

Afternoon: Your coordinator will plan and discuss afternoon activities depending on group interest and weather conditions. Return to Flagstaff in the mid-afternoon.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Flagstaff, enjoy a meal with some southwestern flair popular with locals and visitors alike, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Rest and relax at the hotel following a long day’s exploration.

Meteor Crater, La Posada Hotel
Flagstaff, Ariz.
La Quinta Inn and Suites Flagstaff

Activity note: Drive is approximately 1 hour to Meteor Crater; drive 1/2 hour further to La Posada. Walk approximately 1 mile along the crater’s rim.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Drive to Meteor Crater, the Earth’s best preserved meteorite impact site. With an experienced local expert, walk along the rim of the crater that has been used by both Hollywood and Nasa for training of the Apollo Astronauts. Along with fantastic crater views, there will be time to explore the adjacent museum with excellent displays on exhibits on discovery, exploration, and ongoing research. It is the most heavily studied impact crater, crucial to our modern understanding of the science of impact craters. Depart the crater for our drive to La Posada Hotel.

Lunch: In the Turquoise Room in the La Posada Hotel, enjoy a selection of items from a creative group menu featuring the finest and freshest ingredients, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, water; other beverages available for purchase. The Turquoise Room is one of the Southwest’s unique restaurants, describing itself as Regional Contemporary Southwestern with an occasional tribute to the great days of the Fred Harvey Company.

Afternoon: Enjoy some time on your own to explore the historic and fascinating interior and environs of the La Posada Hotel. La Posada was one of the many sites where the Harvey Girls worked through the first half of the 20th century. These waitresses changed the perception of waitressing thanks to their excellent service and moral character in restaurants established throughout the Southwest by Fred Harvey while assisting the still-developing tourism industry. In the mid-afternoon, we will return to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Flagstaff.

Evening: Join our program coordinator for a preparation session for our river trip. We will discuss logistics, river conditions, and what to wear.

Native American Culture, Historic Flagstaff
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Walking in Flagstaff of approximately 1 mile/90 minutes. Drive is about 140 miles, approximately 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: At the restaurant adjacent to the hotel at your leisure, order from the menu with a choice of beverage.

Morning: Enjoy a morning presentation centered on the Native American cultures of the region. The Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai and Havasupai are but a few tribes that call the Grand Canyon home. A tribal member of one of the area tribes will share with the group their culture and heritage. Mid-morning we will check out of the hotel and load luggage into a trailer and depart for downtown Flagstaff. Once downtown, set out for a walking field trip through downtown Flagstaff that will bring to life the unique charms of this mountain town.

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

Afternoon: Depart Flagstaff for Grand Canyon Caverns. We will travel a historic stretch of the historic Route 66. Along the way, look for Burma Shave signs and enjoy the wide open view. Check in to the Caverns Inn - mid-afternoon. The Caverns Inn provides comfortable accommodations and access to a more remote and western end of the Grand Canyon.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant approximately 1 mile from the rooms, which we will reach via program vans, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner featuring a full salad bar and home-cooked entrees. Soft drinks, iced-tea, coffee, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy an evening presentation on a subject of local interest. Depending on availability of speakers - subjects may include Arizona ranching history, Hualapai Culture, Black Footed Ferret re-introduction or Colorado River History and issues to name a few.

Grand Canyon White Water Rafting and Helicopter Trip
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: See Activity Details and Raft Logistics Above. Drive is approximately 20 miles/1 hour over bumpy dirt road to get to bottom of Grand Canyon for river trip. Drive home approximately 3 hours over paved surfaces. Raft trip requires hand strength to hold on to boat frame while in rapids, as participants will get very wet with splashing water. Side hike during raft trip of .5 mile over rocky, sometimes steep terrain. Helicopter flight is about 10 minutes.Dress for cold weather, regardless of season.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we will have a hot buffet featuring a variety of options, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Depart Caverns Inn and travel to Hualapai Lodge where we will check in with the rafting company and travel down to the bottom of the Canyon aboard the Hualapai River Runners bus on Diamond Creek Road, the only road to the bottom of the Canyon. The Diamond Creek road is a 21 mile dirt road so prepare for a bumpy ride. Once at the (Colorado River) beach, the Hualapai river guides give us a safety orientation and life vest fitting. Then we load the inflatable motorized (approximately 25 feet long) pontoon rafts and head downstream on the Mighty Colorado! The "Diamond 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 1-10 scale). YOU WILL GET WET! The air temperature at the bottom of the canyon will likely be around 80 - 90 degrees so the splashing is welcome relief and keeps everyone cool. BUT as everyone knows the weather can do strange things so in the event of cooler than normal temps, be prepared by having adequate rain gear for warmth. The rafts pull over at a couple of attractions (including the beautiful and hidden Travertine Grotto where you'll have an opportunity to climb on the rocks and splash in the water) and at a lunch spot. After 16 miles the rapids flatten out, but the scenery remains "Grand" in all regards.

Lunch: Lunch on a Colorado River beach

Afternoon: Continue down Colorado River after lunch to Quartermaster Point helicopter landing zone. After disembarking rafts the group will check in with the helicopter flight crew and queue up for loading. When you're called, get buckled into a helicopter for a short (8 minute) but spectacular ride from the river to Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Reservation. Don't forget your camera for this once in a lifetime experience! In late afternoon, travel via bus through the starkly beautiful Joshua Tree forest and basin and range topography of the Mohave Desert to a late dinner at the Hualapai Lodge. WIND AND SAFETY ADVISORY: Please note that 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 Pearce Ferry (1.5 hours) where buses/vans are able to reach the participants for transport back to the hotel. For pictures of the raft and more information, see White Water Rafting link at www.grandcanyonwest.com

Dinner: Enjoy a well deserved dinner buffet back at the Caverns Inn.

Evening: We will have a short program wrap-up following dinner and then spend the rest of the evening at leisure, preparing for our morning departure the next day.

Program Concludes

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: On the last day of the program the Road Scholar van will transport (for free) participants back to the starting hotel in Flagstaff and/or the Arizona Shuttle terminal for transfers back to Phoenix. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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