The Best of Color Country National Parks: Zion, Bryce & 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, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Las Vegas, NV
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Las Vegas Airport

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

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the hotel lobby 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: We will enjoy a dinner buffet catered by the hotel restaurant, plus coffee, iced tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. 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. Transportation will be provided by motorcoach unless otherwise specified. Be sure to bring a daypack, refillable water bottle, sun protection, sturdy walking shoes, and anything else you think you will need during our hikes in the desert. Durations of hikes vary depending on the group. This program has a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics, an instructor who lead most field trips and lectures, and a bus driver who will accompany us throughout the program. Some days offer choices in the length of hikes. 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 change 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 full day ahead.

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

Activity note: Drive about 165 miles, about 2.5 hours. Hike is 1 mile roundtrip with a 70 foot elevation change on paved but sometimes uneven or muddy trails.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will enjoy a buffet including fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, cereal, pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee, assorted teas, juice and milk.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel we'll board the motorcoach for our trip north toward Zion National Park. Along the way, our instructor will enhance our travel time with insights into the geology, plants, animals, and human history of the region. We’ll travel through the Basin and Range Province, the upper Mojave Desert, and the Virgin River Gorge, en route to the Colorado Plateau and Zion National Park.

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

Afternoon: We will travel by motorcoach into the park with a short stop at the visitor center to orient ourselves to the park and the trails we will hike. We’ll then proceed to Zion Lodge, where we’ll hike to Lower Emerald Pools to view waterfalls cascading over sandstone cliffs to shallow green pools. We'll check in to the Zion Lodge and have time to rest before dinner.

Dinner: We'll board the motorcoach for a short drive to Springdale for dinner at a local restaurant. We will enjoy a plated meal from a select menu of main and side dishes, vegetables, and rolls, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Consider attending ranger lectures in the lodge on various topics related to the park's ecology, geology and human history.

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

Activity note: Elective pre-breakfast walk of 1 mile one-way; Weeping Rock is 1/2 mile roundtrip on a paved trail with 100 foot change in elevation; Temple of Sinawava walk is 2 miles round trip on a paved trail with little change in elevation.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we will enjoy a buffet including fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, cereal, pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, with coffee, assorted teas, juice, water, and milk included.

Morning: There is an elective pre-breakfast sunrise nature walk on the PaRus Trail, with an emphasis on the natural environment we see along the trail. The motorcoach will drop us at one end of this one-mile-long, paved pedestrian/bike thoroughfare that travels along the banks of the North Fork of the Virgin River, with excellent views of the Streaked Wall, Alter of Sacrifice, the Beehives, the Watchman and Bridge Mountain. We will return by motorcoach for breakfast at the lodge. After breakfast, we will ride the park shuttle to Weeping Rock, where we will hike a short but steep half-mile round trip trail to view natural hanging gardens and the verdant spring lines of Weeping Rock. We'll then take the park shuttle to Temple of Sinawava. The Temple of Sinawava is a natural amphitheater, which is the trailhead for the Riverside Walk. From here, we walk on a fairly level, paved trail that follows the course of the Virgin River deep into the heart of Zion Canyon, viewing spring lines that provide water for lush hanging gardens and the home of the endangered Zion snail. Our instructor will provide information about the Virgin River and Zion Canyon’s geology and plant habitat along the way. We will return to Zion Lodge via the park shuttle for lunch.

Lunch: On the lawn at the lodge, we will enjoy our box lunch that includes a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll travel by motorcoach to the Zion Human History Museum and enjoy an instructional video on the park. From here, there are great views of the Towers of the Virgin and the Bridge on Bridge Mountain. We’ll return to the lodge to relax and get cleaned up before dinner.

Dinner: On your own in the quaint town of Springdale, where you can enjoy a variety of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and more. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Take an evening stroll from the lodge and enjoy the quiet of the park when tourists leave and the wildlife comes out at night. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

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

Activity note: We will travel by motorcoach 75 miles, about 1.5 hours, to Bryce Canyon National Park. Walk about 1 mile, with a 100 foot change in elevation, along an unpaved trail along Bryce Canyon rim to Sunset Point. Elevation is approximately 8,000 feet at Bryce Canyon.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach and travel to Bryce Canyon National Park, one of America’s smaller national parks, covering only 56 square miles. Bryce is renowned for its unique geological features, carved by nature into hoodoos and pinnacles of an amazing palette of colors. Along the way we will travel through the one mile long Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel and stop at Checkerboard Mesa.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a buffet with coffee, iced tea, soda, and water included.

Afternoon: We will take the motorcoach to Inspiration Point for a walk to Sunset Point. This one mile, unpaved trail winds along the rim through bristlecone, spruce and fir trees with great views of the Bryce amphitheater and the hoodoos, fins and spires of red, pink and yellow rock. We’ll then check in to the Bryce Lodge and relax before dinner.

Dinner: We'll board the motorcoahc for a short drive to dinner and entertainment at Ebenezer's Barn and Grill. We will enjoy a dinner of pre-selected choices from a buffet, plus coffee, tea, soda or water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: During dinner, we will enjoy a western music show before returning to the lodge for relaxing evening.

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

Activity note: Sunrise walk is 1/4 mile round trip on a paved trail to Bryce Point; 1.8 mile round trip Queen's Garden walk; 1/2 mile round trip paved walk to Yovimpa Point.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: Before breakfast there will be an elective motorcoach trip to Bryce Point where early risers will be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise over the richly colored hoodoos of Bryce amphitheater. After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a short walk to Sunrise Point, where we will begin our 1.8 mile round trip hike below the canyon rim to Queen’s Garden and experience an entirely different view from the canyon floor, looking up at the hoodoos.

Lunch: At Rainbow Point, we’ll enjoy a boxed lunch of sandwiches, chips, fruit and cookies.

Afternoon: After lunch we'll take the motorcoach to Yovimmpa Point for a 1/4 mile round trip walk on a paved trail to enjoy expansive views of the Grand Staircase and Navajo Mountain to the east and the Kaibab Plateau to the south. After returning from Yovimpa Point, we’ll board the motorcoach for the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center to view the award-winning park video, have independent exploration of the natural history museum, and learn about the amazing night sky at Bryce. We’ll then drive to the Bryce Canyon Lodge, built in the 1930s, for a meal in the dining room surrounded by a majestic Ponderosa pine forest, and with inspiring views of Bryce Canyon.

Dinner: In the Bryce Canyon Lodge dining room, we’ll enjoy dining in rustic elegance. This certified green restaurant serves up an environmentally-sustainable menu with regional specialties as well as organic and all-natural food choices. Coffee, iced tea and soda provided; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

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

Activity note: Walk 1/2 mile paved trail to Bright Angel Point with 100 foot change in elevation. The drive from Bryce Canyon to the north rim of the Grand Canyon is 155 miles, about 3 hours.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: After check out, we’ll board the motorcoach for the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Our first stop will be Kanab, UT, where we'll visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante Visitor Center for independent exploration of the exhibits on the geology of the National Monument. We’ll then cross into Arizona, climb the Kaibab Plateau and stop at the LeFevre overlook for a panoramic view of the multi-colored rock layers of the Grand Staircase.

Lunch: At the Jacob Lake Inn, a pine-surrounded log structure with a fireplace and a wonderfully homey feel, we will enjoy a plated meal of home-cooked fare, with coffee, tea, soft drinks, water included.

Afternoon: We’ll continue southbound across the Kaibab Plateau, through forests of Ponderosa pines, spruce, fir and quaking aspen. We’ll learn why fire is important to the health of Ponderosa pine forests and what happens when fires are suppressed for 100 years. Upon arrival, we'll take a half-mile round trip hike on a steep paved trail to Bright Angel Point, a promontory at an elevation of 8,148 feet that offers panoramic views of Roaring Springs, Bright Angel, and Transept Canyons, as well as the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon. After our walk, we’ll check in at our next lodge.

Dinner: In the historic Grand Canyon Lodge auditorium, we’ll enjoy a buffet meal, including coffee, iced tea, lemonade, and water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

North Rim Nature Walk, Point Imperial
North Rim, Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim

Activity note: 1.5 mile round trip on unpaved Transept Trail, 1/2 mile round trip on very steep unpaved north Kaibab Trail, 2 mile round trip unpaved trail to north Kaibab trailhead.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach to Point Imperial, the highest point on the north rim at 8,803 feet. Point Imperial overlooks the Painted Desert and the eastern end of Grand Canyon.

Lunch: At Point Imperial, we’ll enjoy a boxed lunch of sandwiches, chips, fruit and cookies.

Afternoon: We’ll board the motorcoach and return to the lodge through the Kaibab forest for an afternoon of free time. Take this opportunity for 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.

Dinner: In the historic Grand Canyon Lodge, we will enjoy a truly memorable experience with spectacular views of the sunset over the canyon. Regional as well as foods popular in the 1930s are featured throughout the extensive menu. Coffee, iced tea, soda and water are included. Other beverages are available for purchase.

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

Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out 7:30 a.m. Driving from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas is 265 miles, approximately 4.5 hours.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We will depart by motorcoach from the North Rim by 7:30 a.m. sharp for our return to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

Lunch: At a restaurant in St. George, UT, on the way to the Las Vegas airport, we will enjoy a buffet featuring an extensive soup and salad bar, fish, chicken and beef entrees, a carving station, vegetables, assorted breads and desserts. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, water included.

Afternoon: We will complete the final portion of our drive to Las Vegas, dropping participants at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport by 1:30 p.m., followed by the starting hotel. This concludes our program. 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 another rewarding program 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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