The Best of Color Country National Parks: Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon
Discover the colorful and ancient landscapes of three iconic national parks as you explore geological monuments, visit historic lodges and marvel at scenic wonders with a naturalist.
Rating (4.99)
Program No. 11573RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
20 meals
7 B 7 L 6 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Las Vegas, NV
DoubleTree by Hilton

Afternoon: Program Registration: From 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. after you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table outside of the meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where dinner and the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: Catered by the hotel restaurant, plus coffee, tea, water; Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation led by our Group Leader will begin after dinner in the hotel meeting room. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Finally, everyone will introduce themselves. We will be accompanied by a Dixie State University naturalist who will serve as our Study Leader, leading hikes and field trips unless specified otherwise. Please bring a refillable water bottle on the program and on all hikes. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always 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.

Basin & Range, Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Zion Lodge

Activity note: Drive about 165 miles. Hike today is 1.2 miles RT/69 ft. elevation change on paved but sometimes uneven or muddy sidewalk.

Breakfast: Buffet in hotel which includes fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, cereal, pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee, assorted teas, juice and milk.

Morning: Bring your luggage out to the coach and board the coach for the AM departure. Travel with your Dixie State University Naturalist/Guide who is knowledgeable and experienced in the region. While the Geology of these three Parks are important and the most obvious topics, your Naturalist/Guide will enhance your travel time with insight into the Geology, Plants and Animals, Human History and Pre-History of the of the area. Travel through the Basin and Range Province and the upper Mohave Desert, and the Virgin River Gorge, to the volcanic edge of the Colorado Plateau. En route hear a lecture on basic geology and discuss how it relates to the Color Country we are traveling through and to.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Springdale, Utah, just outside of Zion National Park, we will have a buffet, plus coffee, tea, lemonade, water.

Afternoon: Board the coach and travel to the Zion National Park entrance and the Visitor Center. The center has a large scale relief map of the park, where you can overview what you will be seeing the next day and a half. You'll enjoy a pass through the bookstore at the center as well. Afterwards, Enjoy a short walk to the Lower Emerald Pool.

Dinner: Plated dinner at local restaurant with assorted side dishes of potatoes, rice, and vegetables, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, and water. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After dinner there will be a presentation on local natural history or orientation to/overview of Zion National Park.

Zion Human History Museum, Weeping Rock, Temple of Sinawava
Zion National Park
Zion Lodge

Activity note: 3 walks today: 1 mile/ early morning nature walk;0.5 mile/100 vertical foot walk; 2.2 mile/57 vertical foot walk.

Breakfast: Breakfast in the Red Rock Grill of the Zion Lodge.

Morning: There is an optional pre-breakfast sunrise nature walk on the PaRus Trail, with an emphasis on the natural environment we see along the trail. The PaRus trail is lovely in the early morning - it is quiet and mostly paved (with one short uneven gravel section) along the banks of the N. Fork of the Virgin River, with good views of the Streaked Wall, the Beehives, the Watchman, Bridge Arch and Bridge Mountain. Along the Trail we can see and discuss native plants and their uses. It is slightly over 1 mile, with 50 ft. elevation loss. Following breakfast, travel to the Zion Human History Museum with its 22 minute multi-media presentation on Zion. From here, there are great views of the Towers of the Virgin and the Altar of Sacrifice. After the museum stop, shuttle on to lunch.

Lunch: Sack lunch on the trail with a variety of sandwich, chips, fruit, and dessert.

Afternoon: The shuttle will bring us to Weeping Rock where we will hike a short but steep trail. - about half a mile round trip, and about 100 feet of elevation change. En route, along the steep canyon walls are natural hanging gardens. View the Weeping Rock seep, and return to the shuttle to travel higher into the canyon. Ride up to the Temple of Sinawava stop where we will begin the trail approaching the Narrows, hiking the down and back Riverside Trail. Then walk back to the shuttle for our return to the lodge

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

Evening: Ranger Presentation by a Zion National Park Ranger in the lodge auditorium.

Checkerboard Mesa, Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon

Activity note: 0.9 mile walk down 100 feet along the Bryce Canyon Rim, unpaved and somewhat rocky trail.

Breakfast: Breakfast in the Red Rock Grill of the Zion Lodge.

Morning: Board the motor coach for the northbound trip to Bryce Canyon. You'll travel through the Zion Switchbacks and Tunnels, with their "Galleries" (windows) looking onto some of Zion's most vertical rock faces. Stop at Checkerboard Mesa, and hear why it has horizontal layers and vertical cracks. We then turn north on US 89, heading up Long Valley to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Lunch: Sack lunch on the trail with a variety of sandwich, chips, fruit, and dessert.

Afternoon: Board the motor coach, travel into Bryce Canyon National Park and head for Inspiration Point. The unpaved trail there takes you in .9 mile 100 ft. down through bristlecone pines and all along the way you'll have great views of the pinnacle rock hoodoos with their diagonal scour markings. You'll love the contrast between the exposed rock hoodoos and the spruce, fir and bristlecone pine surroundings. Inspiration Point is post-card photogenic.

Dinner: Board our motorcoach to Ebenezer's Barn and Grill for dinner and a western music show. We will pick up our preselected choice of entrée from a buffet line, plus coffee, tea, soda or water. Alcohol available for purchase.

Evening: After dinner enjoy a western music show.

Bryce Point, Queen's Garden Trail, Rainbow Pt, Yovimpa Pt.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The Lodge at Bryce Canyon

Activity note: 1/4 mile RT sunrise walk to Bryce Point, 1.8 mile RT Queen's Garden Walk, 1/2 mile RT walk to Yovimpa Point

Breakfast: Bryce Lodge Breakfast Buffet including a full assortment of hot and cold items including eggs, assorted breakfast meats, seasoned potatoes, freshly baked biscuits and country gravy, french toast casserole, pastries, fruits, and yogurt, plus coffee, tea, juice, mike and water.

Morning: Before breakfast is the optional trip to Bryce Point. Early risers will be rewarded for their discipline when they ride our motor coach out to Bryce Point well before sunrise. Here we can watch both the brightening eastern horizon and the hoodoos change below you in Bryce Amphitheater. In the horizontal light of dawn, the colors there are wonderfully rich. After breakfast enjoy the walk to Sunrise Point. There, you'll see the famous Twinkle Toes tree, and learn about the forces of erosion. For those who want to make the hike, there is the .9 mile trail one way down 320 feet amongst the hoodoos and see Queen Victoria surveying the Queen's Garden. Participants are also welcome to hike just part of the trail. For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, there are excellent views of the garden from the rim walk. Then we'll take our motor coach on the spectacularly scenic drive to Rainbow Point.

Lunch: Sack Lunch enjoying the view at Rainbow Point at the Park's southern end at 9115 feet above sea level.

Afternoon: After lunch, there are photo opportunities at Rainbow Point. Then you'll walk .25 mile one way through a high woods (9115 ft) of many types of conifers to Yovimpa Point, with its expansive views of the Grand Staircase and Navajo Mountain to the east and the Kaibab Plateau to the south. After returning from Yovimpa Point, you'll board the motor coach and ride to the Bryce Canyon NP Visitor Center, and the return to the hotel.

Dinner: Surrounded by the majestic Ponderosa Pine Forest, the Bryce Canyon Lodge dining room is a wonderful place to relax and take in the inspiring beauty of Bryce Canyon. Enjoy dining in the style of rustic elegance from the 1930s. This certified Green Restaurant serves up an environmentally sustainable menu with regional specialties as well as organic and all natural food choices.

Evening: National Park Ranger presentation, or walk out to the rim and watch the Hoodoos change color as the sun sets behind you.

Grand Canyon North Rim & Bright Angel Point
North Rim, Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Lodge

Activity note: 1/2 mile walk down 150 feet to Bright Angel Point

Breakfast: Bryce Lodge Breakfast Buffet including a full assortment of hot and cold items including eggs, assorted breakfast meats, seasoned potatoes, freshly baked biscuits and country gravy, french toast casserole, pastries, fruits, and yogurt, plus coffee, tea, juice, mike and water.

Morning: Board the motor coach for the southbound trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Travel on down several steps of the Grand Staircase to Kanab, UT where we'll visit the Grandstaircase Escalante Visitors Center. Then on into Arizona (Change to Mountain Standard Time) where the road climbs up the Kaibab Plateau. You'll stop at the LeFevre overlook where there is a larger than panoramic view of the Grand Staircase. Here you can look north and see the southern end of Bryce Canyon National Park atop the Staircase, and the tops of the Towers of Zion National Park. After nearing 8,000 ft elevation, you'll arrive at Jacob Lake for lunch at the Jacob Lake Inn.

Lunch: The Jacob Lake Inn, a pine-surrounded log structure with a fireplace and a wonderfully homey feel, will serve some of its home-cooked fare. Be sure to leave room for the baked-right-there cookies, on sale near the door as you leave.

Afternoon: After lunch you'll continue southbound across the upper reaches of Kaibab Plateau, through forests of pines, spruce, fir and quaking aspen. Learn why fire is important to the health of Ponderosa Pine forests and what happens when you suppress fires for 100 years. These are incredible woods which, with their huge meadows, give more of a feel of Montana than Arizona. Along the way you may see the unique Kaibab squirrels, wild turkeys and deer. When you arrive at Grand Canyon National Park, you have the option to walk out to Bright Angel Point. The half mile roundtrip out the spine of the ridge to the point is paved and is a little steep in places, but worth it. From the point you'll be treated to impressive colorful views stretching well down into Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons. After our walk, we then check in at the Grand Canyon Lodge for our stay in the rustic cabins near the main lodge building and the canyon views on the back porch of the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Dinner: Buffet Dinner in the historic Grand Canyon Lodge Auditorium.

Evening: Presentation from a Grand Canyon National Park ranger, or go for a walk out to one of several view points overlooking the canyon to watch the stars rotate over your head.

North Rim, Nature Walk, Point Imperial, N.Kaibab Trail Hike
North Rim, Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Lodge

Activity note: 1 mile nature walk in morning. 1.4 mile RT/ 500 Vertical Foot hike down N. Kaibab Trail.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet including a full assortment of hot and cold items including eggs, assorted breakfast meats, seasoned potatoes, freshly baked biscuits and country gravy, french toast casserole, pastries, fruits, and yogurt.

Morning: Start your morning with a nature walk along and near the rim. Then board the motor coach and ride out to Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet. From the vista point here you can see the winding, narrow slash of Marble Canyon just upstream of where it breaks out into the wider Grand Canyon. The rocks of the Canyon walls are especially colorful here, offering both black and red stripes of the ancient rock.

Lunch: Sack lunch with the eastern Grand Canyon as a backdrop.

Afternoon: Board the motor coach and travel back through the N. Kaibab forest to the Grand Canyon Lodge, arriving around 2:00 PM. Here your afternoon provides you with several options. You may want to hike down the N. Kaibab trail, which drops 600 feet in 3/4 of a mile. If you're feeling less athletic but still would enjoy a good hike, try the Transept Trail from the Lodge to the ancestral puebloan ruin. Or catch an afternoon Ranger Program, or take the afternoon to relax at the coffee bar, the bookstore or saloon, or sit out on the Lodge patio and drink in the views.

Dinner: Dining in the historic Grand Canyon Lodge is truly a memorable experience. Regional as well as 1930's themed foods are featured throughout the menus. We take pride in utilizing only the freshest and healthiest ingredients. The "all natural" beef and poultry products are free of any antibodies or hormones. Salmon is wild Alaska caught. Additionally, we offer organic products such as salad greens and pastas.

Evening: Evening at leisure.

Program Concludes

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet including a full assortment of hot and cold items including eggs, assorted breakfast meats, seasoned potatoes, freshly baked biscuits and country gravy, French toast casserole, pastries, fruits, and yogurt.

Morning: Load into the motor coach to depart from North Rim by 7:30 AM sharp. Return to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport via St. George, UT and Mesquite, NV, to arrive at the airport by 1:30 PM and the starting hotel shortly thereafter.

Lunch: Lunch on way to airport.

Afternoon: Complete the final portion of our drive to Las Vegas, dropping participants at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport by 1:30 PM, followed by the starting hotel. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future.

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