On the Road: Sedona's Red Rock Country and the Grand Canyon

Set out on a larger-than-life learning adventure to experience Sedona’s Red Rocks and the Grand Canyon, joining experts for an insider’s view on these two monumental sites!
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 1088RJ
7 days
Starts at
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 4 L 6 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Sedona, AZ
Andante Inn

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:30 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 and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: At the restaurant adjacent to the hotel, we will have plated meals with an entrée that varies each night, plus a choice of coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation: 7:00 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. Transportation will be provided primarily via vans unless otherwise noted. 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 be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Geology, Sedona's Best Loved Sites, Western Ballads & Tales
Sedona, AZ
Andante Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day, with stops. Getting on/off trolley; riding approximately 15 miles; about 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the restaurant adjacent to the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, French toast, hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: At the hotel, we will be joined by a Grand Canyon geologist and Professor Emeritus of Geology at Northern Arizona University for a presentation on the geologic story of Sedona and the surrounding area.

Lunch: At the restaurant adjacent to the hotel, we will have a plated meal with a choice of entrée, plus coffee, tea, or water.

Afternoon: Setting out for a riding exploration of Sedona with our Group Leader aboard a trolley, we’ll 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 a nearby Thai restaurant, we will have a plated meal served family-style including soup, entrees, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverages; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel, we will be joined by local musicians who will perform their western ballads and tales. Our performers are frequent guests at Southwest cowboy poet festivals and have been delighting Road Scholar participants for more than two decades.

Montezuma National Monument, Sedona 4x4 Adventure
Sedona, AZ
Andante Inn

Activity note: Driving approx. 30 miles roundtrip to Montezuma Castle National Monument; about 1.5 hours total. Climbing in/out of 4x4 vehicles; assistance available as needed. 4x4 ride is approx. 15 miles roundtrip; about 2 hours, with stops; some bumpy sections of the ride. Jeeps comfortably fit 7 passengers and have seat belts and grab bars for participants to hold on to with each seat. Walking up to 1.5 miles throughout the day; mostly flat, paved trails at Montezuma with some rocky, sandy, uneven terrain.

Breakfast: Restaurant buffet.

Morning: We’ll then travel 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 the paved loop trail.

Lunch: At a local Mexican restaurant, we’ll have plated meals with iced tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll get picked up at the hotel in 4x4 vehicles by drivers who are also well-versed in the geology, flora, fauna and pre-historic details of the region, then head off on our open-air 4x4 adventure to an off-the-beaten-path location in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. Expect some sections of road where there may be jostling in the vehicle as the driver navigates dirt roads, sandy washes, and/or slick rock. Vehicles are very comfortable, seat up to 7 people, and have grab bars to hold on to with every seat. We will go on some short walks with our drivers away from the jeeps as we visit viewpoints and they provide informative commentary on the area’s ancient, modern, cultural, and natural history. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: Restaurant plated meal.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Oak Creek Canyon, Grand Canyon South Rim
Grand Canyon - South Rim
Yavapai Lodge West

Activity note: Driving approx. 115 miles; about 2.5 hours. Walking approximately 1.5 miles total throughout the day; mostly flat, paved or dirt paths.

Breakfast: Restaurant buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to the Grand Canyon via scenic Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff. As we travel, we’ll marvel at the change of life zones and scenery as we move from the Sonora Desert Colorado Plateau. Continuing, we’ll make our way past the San Francisco Peaks Volcanic Field and the site of Arizona’s highest point – Humphreys Peak – reaching an elevation of 12,633 feet. As we drive, our Group Leader will provide commentary on the regional geography and natural history. Having arrived at the South Rim, we’ll 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. We may even see an endangered California condor soaring overhead as we gaze into the Canyon's depths.

Lunch: Along the Grand Canyon’s rim, we will have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: We'll then stop at a few more amazing viewpoints, have the opportunity to walk along the rim, and visit Grand Canyon Village all led by our Group Leader. 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. Keep your eyes out for the endangered California condor soaring overhead as you gaze into the Canyon's depths below. Next, we’ll transfer to our lodge on the south rim and check-in.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant, we’ll choose plated meals featuring a variety of entrees, plus sides, desserts, and a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy a relaxing evening at the lodge, ride the park’s shuttle to a viewpoint for a Grand Canyon sunset, or transfer to a park location for an engaging elective program led by National Park Service Rangers. Programs will cover a Grand Canyon topic of interest and changes nightly. Please note this activity is dependent on national park scheduling. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Grand Canyon’s South Rim, Route 66 Nostalgia
Peach Springs, AZ
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Rise for an early morning before breakfast to witness a spectacular Grand Canyon sunrise. We’ll ride the park’s shuttle to a viewpoint that will allow for the best view. Drive to Peach Springs area is approximately 130 miles; approximately 3 - 3.5 hours.

Breakfast: After returning to the lodge restaurant from our early morning Grand Canyon sunrise excursion, we’ll use meal vouchers for a breakfast buffet that features choices including an egg dish, breakfast meats, pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, and fresh fruit, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Rising early in the morning, before breakfast we’ll take our vans to witness a spectacular Grand Canyon sunrise viewpoint. We’ll check out of the hotel and continue our Grand Canyon learning adventure with time for a walk along the canyon’s rim with our Group Leader as they discuss geology as well as natural and human history. Weather permitting, we’ll also take a short elective hike down into the Grand Canyon along the famous Bright Angel Trail with our Group Leader. For those who do not wish to hike, enjoy some time to explore independently. 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.

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

Afternoon: After rendezvousing at a predetermined time and place, we’ll board the vans and transfer from Grand Canyon National Park to our accommodation along a historic stretch of the famous Route 66. En route, we’ll keep a look out for Burma Shave signs, enjoy wide open views, and drive through a classic site of Route 66 nostalgia – Seligman – with its focus on American road touring in the 1950s. Seligman is the town which Radiator Springs, from the Pixar movie “Cars,” was based on. In late afternoon, we will arrive at our accommodation and have access to the more remote and wild western end of the Grand Canyon.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner featuring a salad bar and home-cooked entrees. Coffee, iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: In the hotel meeting room, we will hear a presentation given by a local expert about the natural and biological environment of Arizona. Exact topics are dependent on availability of presenters who travel long distances to reach the hotel.

Peach Springs, Grand Canyon, Colorado River, GC Caverns
Peach Springs, AZ
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Driving approx. 40 miles total; about 4 hours: 20 miles on a rough unpaved road to bottom of canyon, 3 hours, including stops; return drive is approx. 20 miles, 1 hour. Walking up to 2 miles on short group walks to viewpoints; sandy terrain and possible hot temperatures, depending on time of year. Additional elective walk of about 1 mile; approximately .5 hour; on road down to the Colorado River. Caverns exploration on paved walkways with some handrails, accessible by elevator, 1 hour in length.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we will have a buffet breakfast featuring a variety of hot and cold choices, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll transfer from the hotel to Peach Springs Canyon via vans on the sometimes bumpy Diamond Creek Road to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Along our journey, we will stop at various points of interest while the walls rise higher and higher as we come closer to the Colorado River. We’ll pass through hundreds of millions of years of geologic history that has culminated in the arrival to the 1.8 billion year old rock that makes up the Granite Gorge. Among our highlights will be a self-led walk along Diamond Creek down to the Colorado River. Alternatively, those who require it can continue to the picnic site via van where we will rendezvous with the walkers for lunch.

Lunch: On the banks of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, we will enjoy sack lunches amidst remarkable scenery.

Afternoon: Our field trip at the bottom of the Grand Canyon will continue with a viewing of Diamond Creek Rapids as we look for desert bighorn sheep and watch for river runners in their rafts passing by us on the Colorado River. Our Group Leader will share some of the interesting history, facts and management issues regarding the Colorado River with us as we relax on the beach. We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Before dinner, for those that wish, you will have the opportunity to explore -- on a paved trail -- Grand Canyon Caverns. Our cave expert will take us through various parts of the largest dry caverns in the United States, 200-300 feet below the surface.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet meal for our farewell dinner in the company of our fellow participants.

Evening: With our Group Leader, we will gather in the hotel meeting room for a program wrap-up and reflect on our experiences. Share some of your favorite memories from the program with new Road Scholar friends. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out and departure by 8:00 a.m. Driving approximately 130 miles back to Sedona; about 3 hours. Expected arrival in Sedona by approx. 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll load our vans and transfer back to the starting hotel in Sedona. This concludes our program. 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!

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