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Arizona/California

On the Road: Saguaro, Joshua Tree & Death Valley National Parks

Program No. 13480RJ
Explore the warmth of these great American deserts — the Sonoran and Mojave — and the National Parks of Saguaro, Joshua Tree and Death Valley on the journey of a lifetime.
Length
10 days
Rating (4.71)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,699

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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 4 - Nov 13, 2023
Starting at
2,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 4 - Nov 13, 2023
Starting at
3,479

At a Glance

Deserts are this nation's unexplored wilderness, harboring rare and endangered plants and animals and sheltering hidden oases. And deserts are landscapes changed by humans — to be made to bloom, to be mined for wealth, to tame its wild rivers. With stories of fortunes won and lost, conflict and controversy, these landscapes have been formed and reformed by nature's time and human struggle. Explore these great American deserts — the Sonoran and Mojave — cut by the life-giving Colorado River, and experience their warmth and richness in a journey of a lifetime.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles on varied terrain. Elevations up to 3,000 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy in-depth, expert-led exploration of Saguaro, Joshua Tree and Death Valley national parks.
  • Visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Yuma’s Territorial Prison and picturesque Zabriskie Point and Bad Water in Death Valley.
  • Ride the thrilling Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and enjoy a festive Palm Springs street fair.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Bryan Bates
Bryan Bates is an ex-officio member of the governing board for the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture. Under a NASA grant, he created a course manual for archaeoastronomy and published research on a solar calendar at Wupatki and an equinox site near Stoneman Lake. He is involved in a research project on archaeoastronomy at Mesa Verde National Park and teaches archaeoastronomy, as well as biology, environmental science, natural history and chemistry.

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

Profile Image of Bryan Bates
Bryan Bates View biography
Bryan Bates is an ex-officio member of the governing board for the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture. Under a NASA grant, he created a course manual for archaeoastronomy and published research on a solar calendar at Wupatki and an equinox site near Stoneman Lake. He is involved in a research project on archaeoastronomy at Mesa Verde National Park and teaches archaeoastronomy, as well as biology, environmental science, natural history and chemistry.
Profile Image of Kristin Hooten
Kristin Hooten View biography
Kristin Hooten has spent the majority of her life in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona. She earned a bachelor's degree in Parks and Recreation Management with an emphasis in Outdoor Education and Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Kristin has worked in the outdoor industry in different capacities and enjoys her ongoing education with the surrounding region. When not in the office or field, she is found enjoying the great outdoors either on a paddleboard or in her camper.
Profile Image of Barbara Bates
Barbara Bates View biography
Barbara Bates left the bustle of city life in California to move to Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1992, after only ten days, she married her San Juan River boatman. Working as a CPA and business analyst, she still had time to travel around the Southwest, listening and learning about ancient cultures and archeoastronomy. Barbara is an amateur travel photographer creating photobooks of her travels. She has a passion for education, and what better way to share that than with on a Road Scholar learning adventure.
Profile Image of Jim Cherry
Jim Cherry View biography
Jim Cherry was born in Michigan and has a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering from Michigan State University. He spent four years with the Peace Corps, designing and installing irrigation systems in Peru and Tunisia. He has been with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for 33 years with major responsibilities for reclamation projects along the last 275 miles of the Colorado River. In 1995 he transferred to Hoover Dam and oversees operation of the Hoover, Davis, and Parker dams on the Lower Colorado.
Profile Image of Mary Hansen
Mary Hansen View biography
Mary Hansen grew up in the Sedona/Verde Valley area and has lived in Flagstaff for more than three decades. Her childhood in Sedona was happily spent in her parents' Trading Post stores, where her love of travel took root. She has always loved showing people around Arizona and is fascinated by the stories of the people that came before and have lived on this amazingly diverse landscape. Her favorite activities include exploring, photography, hiking, kayaking, scrapbooking, and old movies.
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.
A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert
by Patricia Wentworth Comus (Editor)
"Once in a generation, a guide to understanding a major North American landscape comes along. This book is such a touchstone, sure to become a classic. The emphasis here is on biodiversity, mutualism, co-evolution, and, especially, ethno-relationships—the long history of connection between desert peoples and their homeland, on both sides of the border.
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water
by Reisner, Marc
The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecologic and economic disaster. In Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden--and Eden that may be only a mirage. 608pp
Death Valley and the Northern Mojave
by Tweed, William C. and Davis, Lauren
Features a lively interpretive text that is complimented by maps, detailed directions and 215 color photos. It is the indispensable book to help you explore and enjoy this extraordinary place.
Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy
by Black, Baxter
A complete compilation of all the stories and poetry you've heard Baxter do on NPR, with the unforgettable flavor of Baxter's own brand of cowboy philosophy. Over 250 pages of that bizarre humor that had you laughing out loud while driving to work. Some of you even complained to us about having to pull off the road to avoid a "laughter disaster". You'll also find poignant, more dramatic pieces that brought a smile to your face, or that far away look in your eyes.
Joshua Tree National Park Geology
by Trent. D. D. and Hazlett, Richard W.
This book explores the geology and evolution of the Joshua Tree National Park landscape. Includes sections on plate tectonics, regional geology and the seismic activity that continues to shape this remarkable desert setting. Written for visitors, climbers and students of geology. With many full-color photographs and more than fifty diagrams that clearly illustrate geologic events.
Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis
by Glennon, Robert
In the middle of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas casinos use billions of gallons of water for fountains, pirate lagoons, wave machines, and indoor canals. Meanwhile, the town of Orme, Tennessee, must truck in water from Alabama because it has literally run out. Robert Glennon captures the irony—and tragedy—of America’s water crisis in a book that is both frightening and wickedly comical. Unquenchable reveals the heady extravagances and everyday inefficiencies that are sucking the nation dry.





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