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Utah

Canyons, Cliffs & Waterfalls: Hike the Geological Wonders of Zion

Discover why Zion National Park can only be described as “awe-inspiring” as you hike and learn about its unique geology, stunning landscapes and diverse flora and fauna.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 2276RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
Utah

Canyons, Cliffs & Waterfalls: Hike the Geological Wonders of Zion

Discover why Zion National Park can only be described as “awe-inspiring” as you hike and learn about its unique geology, stunning landscapes and diverse flora and fauna.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,499
Program No. 2276 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

The Great White Throne, Angels Landing, Scouts Lookout, Walter's Wiggles, Observation Point, Echo Canyon, Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools — the names of the rock formations and features of Zion National Park beckon to be discovered. On this hiking adventure deep in the park, learn the how, why and when of their formation. A geologist and experienced instructors accompany you on field study involving short on-site classes and hikes to breathtaking vistas, narrows and unique locations.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Hike among Zion National Park’s massive rock formations, slot canyons and graceful waterfalls.
  • Enjoy breathtaking hikes on Zion West Rim trail, Observation Point and Zion River Walk.
  • Come to appreciate the abundant plant life that thrives in this Ponderosa pine and desert habitat.

General Notes

All dates will be limited to small groups of 14 participants.
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.
Books about History
by See list below
Books about History A Roadside History of Utah, Cynthia L. Bennett. 1999. Compelling stories of Utah’s exceptional people. $18.00 Utah’s History, Richard D. Poll. 1989. A more in-depth and statewide focus on history. Soft bound text heavy. Outlaw Tales of Utah, Michael Rutter. True stores of Utah’s most famous robbers, rustlers and bandits. $10.95
Geology (specific)
by See list below
Ron Kay’s Guide to Zion National Park, Ron Kay, 1995 A complete guide of Zion National Park by one of Road Scholar’s own instructors. $14.95 Water, Rock, & Time: The Geologic Story of Zion National Park, Robert Eves, 2005 This book is Zion’s newest masterpiece. It is well written. It is so nice you may want to leave it on the coffee table. $19.95 Zion National Park – Towers of Stone; by J.L. Crawford; Zion Natural History Association, Springdale, Utah, Fourth Edition 2002. ISBN 0-915630-00-1 $9.50 (Available online at www.zionpark.org)
Books about History (more)
by See list below
Over the Rim, The Parley P. Pratt Exploring Expedition to Southern Utah, 1849-50. William and Donna T. Smart. 1999. In the winter of 1849 fifty men set out from Salt Lake City on an arduous expedition to explore Southern Utah. $19.95 Standing Up Country, Gregory Crampton. 1964. A lavishly illustrated history of the scenic beauty of Southern Utah. $16.95.
Geology
by See list below
Geology – a Golden Guide, by Frank H.T. Rhodes, 1991, St. Martin’s Press, N.Y., ISBN 1-58238-143-7. $6.95 Geology of Utah’s Parks and Monuments, Sprinkel et. al. Utah Geological Association , 2000. Contains geology papers on 25 parks and monuments of Utah (644 pages). Written for a geologist. Softbound $34.99 The Practical Geologist, Dougal Dixon, Raymond Bernor, 1992 This book is a great introductory guide to the basics of geology. Great diagrams, pictures and is well written. $16.00 Geology Underfoot in Southern Utah, R. Orndorff, R. Wieder, D. Futey, 2006 A hands on book about getting out among the rocks. Explores 33 sites in Southern Utah. Tells of ancient eruptions, deserts, seas, swamps and movements of massive rock units over eons. $18.00
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
St. George
D
University Inn

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table 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, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. We’ll transfer via motorcoach to campus for dinner.

Dinner: In our private meeting room at Dixie State University, we will enjoy a delicious welcome banquet buffet, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: Orientation. Returning to the University Inn, 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 primarily by motorcoach unless otherwise specified. Be sure to bring a daypack, 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. 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 day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
2
Geology Class, Hike Snow Canyon State Park
Zion National Park, UT
B,L,D
Springhill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park

Activity note: Travel approximately 10 miles by motorcoach to Snow Canyon State Park. Hiking 4 to 5 miles with elevation changes of 150 feet. Travel 42 miles to Springdale, Utah.

Breakfast: At the University Inn, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as hard boiled eggs, hot oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, pastries, toast, coffee, tea, milk and juice.

Morning: We’ll gather in a classroom with our instructor who will present a lecture on the geology, ecology, flora and fauna of Southern Utah. Through this presentation, we’ll gain a greater understanding of the incredible formations we will explore during the week. We’ll then check out of the Inn, and transfer by motorcoach to Snow Canyon State Park. As we hike with our instructor on trails among sandstone formations, we will have an introduction to local geology, including red and white rock cliffs, rolling mounds of petrified sand dunes, and basalt rock formations.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have box lunches including a sandwich, chips, cookie and fruit.

Afternoon: We will continue our walking field trip through the unique geologic features of Snow Canyon State Park. We’ll then proceed via motorcoach to our hotel in Springdale for time to freshen up and relax before our dinner in town.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal with a choice of main dishes such as pasta, chicken, trout, meatloaf, salad, side dishes and dessert. Coffee, tea (iced/hot), sodas and water are provided; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
West Rim trail, Birds of Prey Presentation
Zion National Park, UT
B,L,D
Springhill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park

Activity note: Hiking 4 – 8 miles, 1000 foot elevation gain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes choices such as fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, cereal, pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, sausage, breakfast potatoes, coffee, assorted teas, juice and milk.

Morning: We’ll set out to explore Zion's West Rim Trail and Scouts Lookout. Starting at the Grotto trailhead, today's hike takes us up and out of the west side of the main canyon to Scout's Lookout. From here we will continue along West Rim trail another 1 to 2 miles with incredible views of the Canyon.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have box lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll continue hiking and exploring Zion, returning to the hotel late afternoon.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal of local favorites. Coffee, tea (iced/hot), sodas and water are provided; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll be joined in the hotel meeting room by a federally licensed eagle falconer for a presentation on birds of prey and see a live falcon, hawk, and golden eagle.

DAY
4
Checkerboard Mesa, Lower and Middle Emerald Pools
Zion National Park, UT
B,L
Springhill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park

Activity note: Hiking 2 – 4 miles. Lower Emerald Pools is a 1.2 mile round trip on a groomed trail with 70 foot elevation change. Middle Emerald Pools is a 2 mile round trip on groomed trail with 150 foot elevation change.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll head via motorcoach through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel to the upper east side of Zion, with a stop at Checkerboard Mesa to observe the unique weathering patterns in the cross-beds of the White Navajo sandstone, as well as the slot canyons. We’ll keep a keen eye open for the elusive big horn sheep that call this area of the park home.

Lunch: Returning to Zion Lodge, we’ll have a box lunch on the lawn that includes a sandwich, chips, cookie and fruit.

Afternoon: Next, we'll hike the Emerald Pools Loops to lower Emerald Pools, underneath a small waterfall, and continue on to Middle Emerald Pools. This hike offers views of two tiers of natural ponds that are formed from springs, seeps, and natural runoff from the massive Navajo sandstone.

Dinner: Dinner is on your own in the quaint town of Springdale.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Riverwalk, the Narrows and Watchman hikes
St. George
B,L,D
University Inn

Activity note: Hiking up to 8 miles. Riverwalk is a 2 mile roundtrip hike on a relatively flat paved trail that takes you to the entrance for the Narrows hike. You will be walking in the Virgin River for the entirety of this 4 mile round trip hike. Hiking poles and water shoes are highly recommended. Poles will be provided if you did not bring your own. Water shoes can be rented within the park. The Watchman is a moderate 2 mile roundtrip on an unpaved trail with a gain in elevation of 450 feet.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll transfer to the park shuttle system to the Temple of Sinawava, a natural amphitheater and the trailhead for the Riverside Walk that leads to the Narrows. 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. At the end of the Riverwalk trail we will enter the Virgin River and proceed up river toward Orderville Canyon. You will be walking in the river. You will see first-hand why this area is called the Narrows as the canyon walls close to within 50 feet in some places. Poles and water shoes are highly recommended. 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 for a picnic box lunch.

Lunch: Returning to Zion Lodge, we’ll have a box lunch on the lawn that includes a sandwich, chips, cookie and fruit.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll proceed by park shuttle to the Zion Visitor Center, the starting point for the Watchman Trail hike. The Watchman Trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and completed in 1934. The trail winds along the foothills of Bridge Mountain, concluding near the Watchman, a mountain that rises to a height of 6,545 feet. Once known as Flanigan’s Peak, it was renamed because it “watches over” the park. Along the way, we’ll be able to see a number of Zion landmarks including the evocatively named Altar of Sacrifice, Beehives, Towers of the Virgin, and West Temple. We’ll then return to St. George and check into the University Inn.

Dinner: At local restaurant in Saint George, we’ll have a plated farewell dinner and share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends. Iced tea and water are provided. Other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
St. George
B

Activity note: Inn check-out by 10:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Inn buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: 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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