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1083
Arizona

Scenic Railroads of Arizona: Sedona and Grand Canyon

Experience the wonders of Sedona and the Grand Canyon via two historic railways as you join experts to learn about the local history, culture and charm of these iconic landscapes.
Rating (4.92)
Program No. 1083RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
Arizona

Scenic Railroads of Arizona: Sedona and Grand Canyon

Experience the wonders of Sedona and the Grand Canyon via two historic railways as you join experts to learn about the local history, culture and charm of these iconic landscapes.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
Length
6 days
Rating (4.92)
Starts at
1,499
Program No. 1083RJ

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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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.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
1,649
Sep 26 - Oct 1, 2022
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
1,649
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
1,649
Oct 31 - Nov 5, 2022
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This date includes a nigh at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Nov 7 - Nov 12, 2022
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

This date includes a nigh at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Feb 26 - Mar 3, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Mar 12 - Mar 17, 2023
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Mar 26 - Mar 31, 2023
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Apr 2 - Apr 7, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Apr 30 - May 5, 2023
Starting at
1,799
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 11 - Sep 16, 2022
Starting at
2,109
Sep 26 - Oct 1, 2022
Starting at
2,119
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2022
Starting at
2,109
Oct 16 - Oct 21, 2022
Starting at
2,109
Oct 31 - Nov 5, 2022
Starting at
2,119
Itinerary Note

This date includes a nigh at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Nov 7 - Nov 12, 2022
Starting at
1,849
Itinerary Note

This date includes a nigh at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Feb 26 - Mar 3, 2023
Starting at
2,279
Mar 12 - Mar 17, 2023
Starting at
2,329
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Mar 26 - Mar 31, 2023
Starting at
2,329
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Apr 2 - Apr 7, 2023
Starting at
2,279
Apr 30 - May 5, 2023
Starting at
2,279
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
2,329
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2023
Starting at
2,279
Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
2,279
Oct 1 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
2,329
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

Oct 15 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
2,279
Nov 13 - Nov 18, 2023
Starting at
2,069
Itinerary Note

This date includes a night at the iconic Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, AZ.

At a Glance

The wonders of Sedona and the Grand Canyon are well known, but few visit these locales via scenic and historic railway. Ride the Verde Canyon Railroad through Arizona’s rim country along the wild and scenic Verde River. Later in the week, embark on an overnight adventure to Grand Canyon National Park via the historic Grand Canyon Railway. Throughout your journey gain insights into regional lore as you explore this breathtaking part of northern Arizona.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to one mile on varied terrain. Optional longer hike at the Grand Canyon. Elevations of 4,500-7,000 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy a guided exploration of Sedona’s red-rock vistas.
  • Travel through dramatic Oak Creek Canyon en route to historic Williams for embarkation on the Grand Canyon Railway.
  • Stay overnight at a Grand Canyon lodge, explore historic village sites and absorb incomparable canyon views.

General Notes

Transportation on this program is by full-sized motor coach.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Paul Johnson
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.

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

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 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.
Profile Image of Kathy Farretta
Kathy Farretta View biography
Kathy Farretta is a history and science-loving bookworm who also loves hiking and taking photos. She was previously the Assistant Park Manager at Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff, where she now serves as a volunteer. She received her Master's Degree in History from Northern Arizona University and teaches U.S. History at Coconino Community College, and serves on the Board of the Flagstaff Festival of Science. When not prepping for her history classes, she most often has her nose in a science fiction book.
Profile Image of Brendan O'Brien
Brendan O'Brien View biography
Brendan O’Brien holds a Master of Science in Geography degree from Northern Arizona University and calls Flagstaff home. He has held jobs in the outdoor education field for much of the last decade with time spent as a Park Ranger in White Sands National Monument and a forest technician in Flathead National Forest. Brendan loves all the outdoor activities that Northern Arizona offers and especially its crystal clear night skies where he can enjoy his passion for star gazing.
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.
Living at the Edge: Explorers, Exploiters, and Settlers of the Grand Canyon Region
by Anderson, Michael F
A comprehensive look at the pioneer history of the Grand Canyon Region, from its earliest residents to the creation of the national park at the end of the pioneer era (circa 1920). Included are close to two hundred historic photographs, many never published before, and 12 custom maps of the region. 184pp
Carving Grand Canyon: Evidence, Theories, and Mystery
by Ranney, Wayne
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.
An Introduction to Grand Canyon Prehistory
by Coder, Christopher M.
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.
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
The Archaeology of Ancient Arizona
by Jefferson Reid and Stephanie Whittlesey
General overview of the archaeology of Arizona written by archaeologists with combined experience of over half a century of a combination of laboratory and fieldwork.
Secret Sedona: Sacred Moments in the Landscape
by Larry Lindahl
This book provides an overview of the terrain, ancestral Indian ruins and petroglyphs found in Sedona's wilderness areas. Extraordinary photography from one of the nations most photogenic areas. 80 pages.
Sedona through time: Geology of the Red Rocks
by Ranney, Wayne
Visitors to the towering red rock cliffs near Sedona seldom realize that the area was once a broad river floodplain that lay beyond the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. Or that this same place was later buried in a vast, Sahara-like desert, still later to lie beneath the waters of a warm tropical sea filled with ancient life forms. Sedona Through Time is an eminently readable story of the evolution of this fantastic landscape through the eons of geologic time.
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
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Sedona, AZ
D
Element Sedona

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 4:30-5:15 p.m. Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the hotel conference room 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, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. All field trips will be led by our Group Leader, a seasoned and experienced naturalist, unless specified otherwise. 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: 6:45 p.m.: In our hotel conference room we will have a catered meal with a choice of a non-alcoholic drink.

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
Geology, Verde Canyon Railroad.
Sedona, AZ
B,L,D
Element Sedona

Activity note: Walking approx. 1 mile throughout day; mostly paved surfaces. Driving about 15 miles; approx. 1 hour total. Getting on/off a train; ride is approx. 40 miles; about 4 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, French toast, hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Enjoy a presentation in our hotel conference room on the geologic story of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding area. The talk will help make sense of how the stunning beauty of this area came to be and prepare us for our time spent at the Grand Canyon. We will then ride to Clarkdale and board the train for our field trip up the Verde Canyon.

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: Next, we'll transfer to the railroad platform and board the train for a leisurely ride with commentary given by a railroad expert. The Verde Canyon Railroad follows a 40-mile route along the Verde River. We’ll ride in comfort in renovated 1st class passenger and open air cars, journeying at a slow pace mostly near the canyon bottom. Along the route, we’ll pass red rock pinnacles, cross bridges, see Native American ruins, and ride through a 680-foot tunnel. Keep your eyes out for native plants and animals including the more than 30 eagles that winter in this scenic area. Following our journey we will stop at a restaurant for dinner before returning to the hotel.

Dinner: Restaurant plated meal.

Evening: Evening at leisure following our late return from our days adventure. Tomorrow is a transfer day, so be sure to spend some time packing and preparing.

DAY
3
Montezuma Castle, Sedona Sights, Historic Williams, AZ
Williams, AZ
B,L,D
Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Activity note: Driving approx. 80 miles total for the day; about 2 hours total, with stops for field trips. Walking approx. 1 mile total throughout the day; flat, paved trails. Getting on/off trolley; 2 hour excursion with scenic views and historic sites. End of day driving approx. 65 miles one way to Williams Railway Station, approx. 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of our hotel, we'll set out for an all-day field trip, before ending the day in the historic railroad town of Williams, Arizona. Board our motorcoach with your 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 the paved loop trail.

Lunch: Restaurant plated meal.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to Sedona and view some of the town’s most scenic sites. During our exploration, we’ll learn about the area’s history, geology, climate, flora, and fauna. We’ll also have photo opportunities at some key vistas. We’ll then reboard the bus and ride approximately 1.5 hours to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in historic Williams, Arizona, and check in.

Dinner: We’ll walk to the Grand Canyon Railway Depot dining facility adjacent to our hotel.

Evening: We will be joined at the hotel by a local historian who will discuss railroad history in northern Arizona.

DAY
4
Grand Canyon Railway, Explore Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon - South Rim
B,L,D
Yavapai Lodge West

Activity note: Getting on/off the train; ride is 60 miles; approx. 2.5 hours. Walking about 1.5-2 miles during group activities, more dependent on personal interest; mostly paved, but some uneven surfaces; elevation of approx. 7,000 feet.

Breakfast: At the Grand Canyon Railway Depot dining facility.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll load our luggage onto the motorcoach before breakfast. After breakfast we’ll enjoy the Wild West Show before boarding the Grand Canyon Railway train for a scenic and entertaining ride across the Coconino Plateau to the Grand Canyon, narrated by the rail car attendant. The Grand Canyon Railway first arrived at the Grand Canyon in 1901. It heralded in a new age of travel, development and some might say luxury at the canyon. We’ll experience and relish this "classic" way of travel to the "doorsteps" of the historic El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon Village, and to the very rim of the canyon. On board, strolling musicians will provide entertainment during the ride.

Lunch: Aboard the train en route to the Grand Canyon, we’ll have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

Afternoon: After arrival at Grand Canyon Village and the South Rim, we’ll gather for our first views of the canyon. Our Group Leader will point out the canyon's many features with historic and natural significance. We’ll also explore historical Grand Canyon Village— sometimes called "downtown Grand Canyon" — the site of much of the human development on the canyon's South Rim. Highlights of the village include the Kolb Studio where the Kolb brothers took photos of mule riders into the canyon, the buildings of Santa Fe Railroad and Fred Harvey, and architect and designer Mary Jane Colter’s work including the Bright Angel Lodge, Lookout Studio, and the Hopi House. At the east end of the Village, we’ll visit the El Tovar Hotel, built in 1903 and one of the great hotels in the National Parks. From the village, we’ll be able to see the North Rim and various spires and monuments rising from the canyon floor. We’ll also have time to explore rim trails and admire canyon vistas. Those who are energetic can walk part way down the famed Bright Angel Trail independently. We’ll then check into the lodge.

Dinner: Currently, the lodge restaurant is not doing full service and instead preparing pre-ordered "take away meals". After distributing our meals we can then go inside the facility to enjoy the meal. In event the lodge restaurant reopens to full service prior to our program, we will then make our food selection upon arrival. We apologize for this inconvenience and can only hope that things change back to normal operations.

Evening: At leisure. Those who wish to participate may transfer to a park location for an engaging elective presentation led by National Park Service Rangers. These will cover a Grand Canyon topic of interest and change nightly. NOTE: This activity is dependent on national park scheduling and current Covid restrictions.

DAY
5
Canyon Exploration, Desert View, Program Wrap-Up
Grand Canyon - South Rim
B,D
Yavapai Lodge West

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles or more, depending on preference, either along the Grand Canyon Rim or hiking a short distance into its depths.

Breakfast: We follow the same procedure as we did for dinner the previous night unless the lodge returns to normal operations. Thank you for your understanding.

Morning: This Morning we'll meet at a predetermined time and location to travel to and explore the scenic East Rim of the Grand Canyon to Desert View. Desert View is the location of Mary Jane Colter’s famous Watchtower and some of the best views of the Colorado River. Known for her many works for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, Mary Jane Colter was a female architect in the early 20th century and helped blend Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival architecture with Native American motifs. The Watchtower is an interpretation of a prehistoric “tower kiva’ with lavishly painted interior walls by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. We will have time to explore the Watchtower with our Group Leader available to answer any questions. In late morning, return to the hotel via Mather Point for a grand look at this world wonder.

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

Afternoon: This afternoon enjoy personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most using the park's pocket guide and map. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The National Park Service includes a free shuttle along the West Rim Drive to Hermit's Rest with access to numerous scenic viewpoints (Powell, Hopi, Mohave, and Maricopa points to name a few) with sweeping views of the Canyon and the Colorado River. You might also like to go for a rim walk, hike further into the Canyon, attend an NPS ranger program, or just find a quiet spot to contemplate and gaze out at the Grand Canyon, taking in all of its grandeur.

Dinner: At a restaurant in the town of Tusayan, just outside the park boundary. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll have a wrap-up session at the restaurant before returning to the hotel. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Prepare for early check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Return to Sedona; Program Concludes
Departures
B

Activity note: Driving approx. 120 miles from Grand Canyon to Sedona.

Breakfast: Early morning lodge breakfast.

Morning: Load luggage, check out of the lodge and depart for Sedona by 7:15 am. 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.