Exploring the Grand Canyon's North & South Rims With Your Family

Get a unique perspective of the Grand Canyon as you explore the North and South Rims, learn about Native American culture and fly above the Colorado River for a bird’s-eye view!
Rating (5)
Program No. 21290RJ
7 days
Starts at
1,849 / ADULT
1,499 / CHILD
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7 days
6 nights
16 meals
6 B 5 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix/Tempe ASU Area

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: Anytime between 4:30 – 5:15 p.m., come over to the Road Scholar desk, located in a hotel meeting room, 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 hotel, we’ll have plated meals with soft drinks, coffee, tea, 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 a combination of passenger vans and motorcoach, unless otherwise noted. Some activities en route will require family members to work together. This is a Road Scholar Family program. Adults are responsible for their children. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. 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. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Sedona 4x4 Field Trip, Grand Canyon National Park
South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Yavapai Lodge West

Activity note: Driving approx. 230 miles total; about 5 hours, with stops; approx. half morning/half afternoon. Climbing in/out of 4x4s; assistance provided as needed; bumpy roads; seat belts required. Some short walks over packed dirt and rocky terrain to attractions. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; rocky, sandy, uneven terrain; elevation of 4,500 feet. Walking short distances and periods of standing; up to 2 hours on our feet; paved paths along the South Rim of Grand Canyon (7,000 feet).

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy an extensive buffet breakfast with many choices of hot and cold items; coffee, tea, milk, juice, water available.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to Sedona and see how the Arizona landscape changes as we travel from the Sonoran desert, with its famous saguaro cactus, up to the high elevations of the Colorado Plateau region. Our Group Leader naturalist will point out the differences in plants and geography as we travel. Upon arrival in Sedona, we’ll climb into our 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. There will be some short walks from our vehicles as we visit viewpoints, historic attractions, or archaeological sites.

Lunch: At a Sedona restaurant, we’ll choose plated meals from a menu of entrees with kid-friendly selections available. Beverages include soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then travel through scenic Oak Creek Canyon on our way to the Grand Canyon. Travelling past the San Francisco Peaks Volcanic Field in Flagstaff and the site of Arizona's highest point, Humphreys Peak at an elevation of 12,633 feet, the afternoon will find us arriving at the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park and the brink of the world-famous chasm. After briefly viewing this world wonder, we’ll check in to the hotel. If you've never experienced it before, get ready for a thrill! Through activities together over the next few days, our expert leader will help us to understand this world wonder. Can you see the North Rim Lodge from the South Rim? See if you can find it! In a few days we’ll be standing there, 1,000 feet higher, and looking back towards the South Rim.

Dinner: At the lodge cafeteria, we’ll use vouchers to select plated meals from a variety of entrée choices, as well as a choice of beverages. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase at your own cost.

Evening: Depending on sunset time, we’ll rendezvous either before or after dinner for a shuttle transfer to Mather Point for a Grand Canyon sunset! Mather Point will offer late evening shadows, light in the canyon, and sweeping rim views. Following the sunset, we’ll transfer to our lodging. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

Grand Canyon South Rim Village & Trail, Overflight
South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Yavapai Lodge West

Activity note: Walking approx. 2 miles total throughout the day; wide, dirt and paved trails; elevation of about 7,000 feet along the rim with no more than a 500 foot change over 1/2 mile. Drive approx. 14 miles roundtrip to Grand Canyon's airport; about 1/2 hour total, for a scenic flight over Grand Canyon of approx. 45 minutes. Fly in a dual engine "Vistaliner" aircraft, comfortably seating 19.

Breakfast: At the lodge restaurant, we’ll have plated meals featuring a variety of selections to choose from, including eggs, pancakes, breakfast meats, oatmeal, fresh fruit, and yogurt, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll set out from the hotel for a walking field trip through the historic Grand Canyon Village with our Group Leader naturalist. During our walk along the rim, we’ll learn about the formation of this world wonder and its "layer cake of stone," as well as see famous village area landmarks including the Kolb Brothers Photo Studio and the buildings of Fred Harvey designer Mary Jane Colter - including the Bright Angel Lodge, Lookout Studio, and the Hopi House. To the east, we’ll also visit the El Tovar Hotel, one of the great lodges in the National Park system. A discussion on free time options and activities for the upcoming afternoon will be included. Next, we’ll walk down part of the famous Bright Angel Trail before lunch for those wishing to participate in this short but steep hike.

Lunch: At the Maswik café a short walk from the historic village near the Bright Angel Trailhead and Hermit's Rest shuttle interchange, we’ll use vouchers to choose from a selection of plated meals sure to satisfy every palate. An entrée, soup or salad, dessert and beverage are included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Then we’ll drive to the Grand Canyon airport to weigh in and then board a 19-passenger, fixed-wing plane for a thrilling flight over the Grand Canyon. The size of the canyon is immense and, while hiking into the canyon and standing on its rim gives great perspective, the overflight will amaze you. After returning from the flight, the remainder of the afternoon is free for independent exploration the South Rim and environs. Using the park pocket guide and map, choose from a variety of activities and viewpoints. The historic Grand Canyon Village, Hermit's Rest West Rim shuttle, Yavapai Point, bike rentals, and rim walks are all popular activities. The free park shuttle allows anyone to access various points on the South Rim. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

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

Evening: Afterwards we’ll meet up and walk or take the free park shuttle, depending on personal preference, to a nearby site for a National Park Service ranger presentation. All topics will relate to Grand Canyon themes, change nightly, and are kid friendly. Depending on the weather, it may be inside or outside in the dark, so prepare by bringing a flashlight and a jacket. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Desert View, Lee's Ferry & North Rim
North Rim, Grand Canyon
North Rim Lodge

Activity note: Driving approx. 220 miles; about 4.5 hours, with stops for field trips. Morning drive of approx. 20 miles to East Rim and Desert View; about 1/2 hour. Driving approx. 110 miles to Lee’s Ferry; about 2 hours. Afternoon drive to North Rim is approx. 90 miles; about 2 hours. Walking approx. 2 mile throughout the day; climb the fabled Watchtower; paved pathways, sandy and uneven terrain at Colorado River.

Breakfast: Lodge restaurant buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the lodge, we’ll begin an epic day by loading the vehicles and continuing our journey along the Grand Canyon's East Rim. Upon arrival, our Group Leader will lead us to the rim where we’ll marvel at the amazing canyon views at Desert View, which has some of the best vistas of the Colorado River and is the location of the famous Watchtower designed by Mary Jane Colter. Climb the Watchtower on your own – can you find the petroglyphs built into the tower? Next, we’ll exit the park and enter the western edge of the Navajo Reservation, traveling through the Painted Desert en route to Marble Canyon and Colorado River. We'll continue our transfer to historic Lee's Ferry learning from our Group Leader about Navajo Culture en route. Once we arrive on the banks of the Colorado River where, on the opposite side of the river from Lee's Ferry Beach, a vertical cliff of Grand Canyon rock 500 feet high rises up to stun the senses. We’ll take a dip in the cold water of the Colorado River after our Group Leaders and program staff discuss safety measures for playing in the 48 degree water.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Marble Canyon, we’ll make our own sandwiches and have soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll continue en route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon along the base of the Vermilion Cliffs, rising up onto the cool verdant Kaibab Plateau with its spruce, fir, and aspen forest, and point out the area along the cliffs where the California Condors are released. We’ll check in to the lodge upon arrival.

Dinner: In the majestic dining room of the North Rim Lodge with magnificent views through huge picture windows, we’ll enjoy plated meals from a select menu, Kid-friendly choices will be available and non-alcoholic beverage included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll then gather for a secret "Kids Only" activity led by our Group Leaders! Shhhhh! While the kids are engaged, the adults may wish to take a short walk on the lodge grounds, relax, or engage in purely adult conversation.

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

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles total throughout the day. Morning hike is about 1 mile; 1 hour; both paved and unpaved trails. Driving approx. 15 miles one way to Point Imperial; about 1/2 hour. Afternoon hike is approx. 1.5 miles; about 2 hours; elevation change of roughly 150 feet; unpaved trail; some stairs near lodge; maximum elevation of approx. 8,800 feet.

Breakfast: At the lodge, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold items including fresh fruit, breakfast meats, an omelet station, granola, yogurt, and breakfast pastries, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Waking up in the hotel only a short distance from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you may wish to see sunrise on your own, if you decide to get up that early! Following breakfast, we’ll take a nature walk with a National Park Ranger along the rim and through the ponderosa pine forest not far from the lodge. Mid-morning, we'll travel via motorcoach to Point Imperial, the highest viewpoint in the park at 8,803 feet. While looking out from here after a short walk, our Group Leader naturalist will point out Grand Canyon and regional landmarks, some up to 100 miles away. While here, we’ll enjoy informative commentary relating to the local area.

Lunch: Under the ponderosa pines at Point Imperial, we’ll enjoy sack lunches including deli-style sandwiches, chips, fresh fruit, and cookie, plus a water jug for refills.

Afternoon: After a little time at Point Imperial as a group, we’ll then return to the North Rim area where we'll get ready and set out for our hike on the Transept Trail led by our Group Leader naturalist. As we travel all along the rim we’ll enjoy views down into and across Grand Canyon, marveling at the steepness and differences from the South Rim. We’ll even see remnants of where early peoples lived on the rim and talk about their lifeways. Alternatively, those who would rather not hike may wish to attend a ranger program or enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the Grand Canyon.

Dinner: Lodge plated meal.

Evening: Afterwards, we’ll enjoy a presentation given by a National Park Service Ranger in the lodge auditorium. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. With an adult, you may wish to visit some of the amazing viewpoints below the lodge where the canyon's panorama is on all sides and waaaaay below as well. If the sky is clear, you may want to look at the stars and planets from the lodge deck after darkness falls. Be sure to have a flashlight as the night skies at the Grand Canyon are very dark. Can you see the Milky Way? Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Navajo Bridge, Cameron Trading Post, Return to Phoenix
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix/Tempe ASU Area

Activity note: Driving approx. 350 miles to Phoenix; about 6 hours, with scenic stops. Walking up to 1 mile throughout the day; paved surfaces.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: After breakfast, we’ll check out of the hotel and begin our transfer back from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix, with a stop at the historic Navajo Bridge. During our stop at the Navajo Bridge, we’ll walk across it to marvel at the 500-foot chasm and the waters of the Colorado River below. Led by our Group Leader, we’ll keep a look out for California condors sunning themselves or perching under the newer adjacent bridge, and we may even spot fishermen down below, giving us a real sense of the immensity of the canyon. Returning to our vehicles, we’ll continue to the historic 1916 Cameron Trading Post where we can see Native American arts and crafts, as well as some ancient dinosaur tracks hidden under the door mat at the gallery!

Lunch: At the Cameron Trading Post, we’ll have plated meals featuring standard lunch menu selections as well as their famous "Navajo Taco" – a light, crispy fry bread loaded with traditional taco toppings. It's a memorable experience! Coffee, iced tea, soft drinks, water included.

Afternoon: After lunch in Cameron, we’ll travel to Flagstaff through the Verde Valley, Cordes Junction, and onward to our Phoenix hotel.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: We’ll then gather for a program wrap-up session with our Group Leaders, including reflections and farewells to new friends of all ages from across the country. It will be a great time to share our memories of the week spent together exploring the Grand Canyon region. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. The hotel provides free shuttles to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: 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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