Grand Canyon National Park: Exploring the North and South Rims
Get a unique perspective of the Grand Canyon as you explore the North and South Rims, walk over the historic Navajo Bridge and fly above the Colorado River for a bird’s-eye view!
Rating (4.93)
Program No. 2804RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
19 meals
7 B 6 L 6 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the hotel 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 the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. 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. All field trips will be led by our Group Leader, a seasoned and experienced naturalist unless specified otherwise. All transportation will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. 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.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a buffet featuring salad, a entrée, and a side dish, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Montezuma Castle Natl Monument, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek
Sedona, AZ
Holiday Inn Express Sedona

Activity note: Drive is approximately 2 hour. Walking about 1/2 mile on paved, level terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a hearty meal including eggs to order, breakfast meats, cereals, muffins, whole grain breads, and fruit, plus coffee, tea, juices, water.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we will ride north from Phoenix for the Verde Valley and the Sedona area. Marvel at the change of life zones and scenery as we move from the Sonora Desert to the edge of the Colorado Plateau. Arrive at Montezuma Castle National Monument with our naturalist, we will set out for a field trip exploring the 5-story, 20-room prehistoric cliff dwelling nestled in a limestone recess high above the flood plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley. It is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America, constructed 600 years ago by the Sinagua Indians. We will then depart Montezuma Castle for lunch in Rimrock.

Lunch: At a local restaurant along the way, we will have a plentiful BBQ buffet, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Arriving in Sedona, we will visit some of its most iconic viewpoints and attractions. With our expert naturalist, some of the destinations we may visit include Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Red Rock State Park, and more. As we explore, learn about the rich human and natural history of this world class destination. A combination of natural beauty and a spiritual sanctuary, Sedona is known around the world for its orange and red sandstone forming incredible creeks, canyons, and buttes. Mid afternoon, we will check into the hotel located in the village of Oak Creek.

Dinner: At a favorite local Mexican restaurant in the Village of Oak Creek, enjoy a plated meal featuring a choice of options along with chips and salsa, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Reflect on the day and go over plans for the next day with our Group Leader.

Flagstaff, Grand Canyon South Rim
South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon South Rim Lodges - Yavapai West

Activity note: Drive is about 110 miles. Walk about 1 mile along the rim on paved paths.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a breakfast buffet featuring a variety of items including a choice of eggs, breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy, cereal, breads, muffins, bagels, and cinnamon rolls, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Our day begins by checking out of the hotel, departing to the Grand Canyon via scenic Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff. Marvel at the change of life zones and scenery as we move from the Sonora Desert Colorado Plateau. Travel past the San Francisco Peaks Volcanic Field and the site of Arizona’s highest point – Humphreys Peak reaching an elevation of 12,633 feet. As we drive, our expert naturalist will introduce us to the regional geography and natural history. We will arrive at the Grand Canyon in the mid-morning.

Lunch: In the field on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon we will have sack lunch enjoyed picnic-style.

Afternoon: At the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, we will receive an introduction and overview of the canyon at selected viewpoints including Mather Point with its famous scenic overlook. We will maximize our time on the rim with any additional time allotted to take in the grandeur and immensity of this natural wonder. Check into the hotel in the late afternoon. We will have time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the newly renovated dining facility at the Yavapai Lodge, we will order our meals from the touchscreen menu stations featuring a salads, soups, pizza, hot entrees, sandwiches, and desserts, plus coffee, tea, water. Our Group Leader and restaurant staff are happy to assist in getting the hang of the new system.

Evening: At leisure. Depending on the Park Ranger schedule, attending a presentation led by a National Park Ranger. The schedule and program topic will be announced upon arrival to the park.

Scenic Canyon Flight, Free Time
South Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon South Rim Lodges - Yavapai West

Activity note: For participants that registered for the Grand Canyon Overflight; the scenic flight aboard the “Vistaliner” lasts about 45 minutes. The aircraft can comfortably carry 19 passengers. For more information regarding the Vistaliner and a complete listing of the aircraft's safety features and amenities, check out Grand Canyon Airlines equipment page at: www.grandcanyonairlines.com/equipment.

Breakfast: At the lodge dining facility, use the new touchscreen menu stations to choose from a variety of options including scrambled eggs, pancakes, breakfast meats, oatmeal, yogurt, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, juices, water.

Morning: Following breakfast, we will divide into two groups for the morning’s activities. For participants who signed up for the scenic canyon flight when registering for the program, board the van and ride to the Grand Canyon Airstrip to board the dual engine “Vistaliner” aircraft to set off for an aerial view of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The many hued spires, buttes and temples and the Colorado River will be spread out below you in dramatic fashion. The flight will make a broad loop that will include a swing past the forested North Rim. At the conclusion of our flight, we will return to the South Rim to reconvene with the rest of the group and enjoy free time for the rest of the day. Free Time. Participants who chose to exclude the scenic flight will be able to enjoy a day of free time to spend the time as you wish. 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. A discussion and handout on free time options and activities will be included, with directions to many of Grand Canyon Village’s famous landmarks. Grand Canyon Village is home to the Kolb Brothers Photo Studio and many buildings designed by Fred Harvey designer Mary Jane Colter including the Bright Angel Lodge, Lookout Studio, and the Hopi House. To the east is the El Tovar Hotel, one of the great lodges in the National Park system. Constructed for the elite of the early 20th century, it is a National Historic Landmark and was once considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi.

Lunch: Lunch at the lodge dining facility.

Afternoon: Free Time. On your own to see and do what interests you most. The historic Grand Canyon Village, Hermit's Rest West Rim shuttle, Yavapai Point, and rim walks are all popular activities. The group will employ the free park shuttle to access various points on the South Rim.

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. If you are interested in eating at the El Tovar Lodge for dinner then reservations are required. Call 928-638-2631 and ask for El Tovar dining room. No reservations needed for breakfast or lunch.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy time to pursue sunset views or leisure time before or after dinner on your own at one of the park’s restaurants.

Desert View, Navajo Bridge, Arrive North Rim Lodge
North Rim, Grand Canyon
North Rim Lodge

Activity note: Drive approximately 5 hours with stops throughout the day.

Breakfast: In the lodge dining room.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and begin an epic day filled with surreal landscapes and other worldly views en route to the North Rim as we ride along the Grand Canyon’s “East Rim.” Our first stop will be the Desert View overlook, the location of the famous Mary Jane Colter’s Watchtower and some of the best views of the Colorado River. We will have time to explore the watchtower on our own with our naturalist available to answer any questions you may have. Known for her many works for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, Mary Jane Coulter was a rare female architect in the early 20th century and helped blend Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival architecture with Native American motifs. The Watchtower is an interpretation of a prehistoric “tower kiva’ with lavishly painted interior walls by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. After we exit the park, we will enter the western edge of the Navajo Reservation and travel through the Painted Desert. Ride north to Marble Canyon where we will cross the Colorado River.

Lunch: At the Marble Canyon Lodge at the base of the towering Vermilion Cliffs, we will have a make-your-own sandwich bar with a choice of meats, cheeses, condiments, and salad, plus iced tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Visit the Navajo Bridge and Interpretive Visitor Center. The original Navajo Bridge was completed in 1929 to allow for reliable crossing of the Colorado River. With the construction of the new bridge in 1994, the Navajo Bridge opened for pedestrian use and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During our stop, participants will be able to take a thrilling stroll across this now pedestrian bridge and marvel at the 500' chasm below and the muddy waters of the Colorado. Continue along the base of the Vermilion Cliffs and rise onto the cool, verdant Kaibab Plateau, with its spruce, fir and aspen forest at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Arrive and check in at the North Rim Lodge in the late afternoon. The Frontier Cabins on the North Rim are historic log cabins built in the 1930s. They enhance the rustic ambiance of the North Rim. Please be aware that the cabins are much smaller and cozier than modern day lodgings.

Dinner: In the dining room of the North Rim Lodge, we will have a 3-course meal featuring a choice of entrée options, plus a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase. As we dine, enjoy magnificent canyon views through huge picture windows.

Evening: At leisure. The Grand Canyon Lodge sits right on the rim of the canyon and is an easy walk from the cabins. Walk along the rim, relax on one of the lodge patios, or attend a public presentation led by a Park Ranger. Held in the large auditorium on the Grand Canyon, topics will change nightly.

Point Imperial Viewpoint, Free Time
North Rim, Grand Canyon
North Rim Lodge

Activity note: Hike the N. Kaibab Trail is about 1.5 miles, with an elevation change of about 600 feet.

Breakfast: At the lodge, we will have a buffet featuring hot items such as breakfast meats, French toast, eggs, hash browns, with granola, yogurt, pastries, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: If you would like, rise early to experience a sunrise over the canyon to the east. After breakfast, we will have some time at leisure to explore the area. If you would like, join a Ranger-led nature walk to learn more about the forested North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the flora and fauna that call this region home. Mid-morning, board the bus for Point Imperial – the highest viewpoint in the bark at 8,803 feet. The quintessential Grand Canyon view will tax the capabilities of your camera to capture it all. With a visibility of up to 100 miles, our expert naturalist will point and expound on the seemingly endless Grand Canyon and regional landmarks.

Lunch: In the field, we will have a boxed lunch including a deli-style sandwich, chips, fresh fruit, and a cookie or granola bar.

Afternoon: Following our meal at the Point Imperial Picnic Site, we will return to the North Rim Lodge. Upon our return, participants will have the option to hike along a portion of the North Kaibab Trail to the Coconino Overlook. For those who wish to remain along the rim, attend a Park Ranger presentation at the lodge.

Dinner: Dining hall meal.

Evening: At leisure. Choose to relax at the lodge, enjoy a walk along the room, or attend a presentation by a Park Ranger.

Depart Grand Canyon, Cameron Trading Post, Flagstaff
Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff La Quinta Inn & Suites

Activity note: Drive to Marble Canyon is about 80 miles; about 130 miles to Flagstaff.

Breakfast: Dining hall meal.

Morning: Today we leave the Grand Canyon behind for our return to Flagstaff. We will retrace our steps to Marble Canyon, where we will travel a short distance to Lee’s Ferry on the banks of the Colorado River where you will have the opportunity to dip a toe into the cold water. At the riverbank, watch the rigging of boats preparing to go through the Grand Canyon, discuss the western water issue, and Mormon pioneer history with our naturalist. Due to the geography of the Colorado River, this site is the only place for hundreds of miles where the river can be easily accessed from both sides, creating an ideal place for a ferry crossing. As the Mormon’s journeyed west, John D. Lee was determined to build a permanent ferry service for Mormon pioneers. Lee’s Ferry was the principal river crossing until the Navajo Bridge was constructed about 4 miles downstream. Return to the coach to drive to the town of Cameron, where we will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant across from the Little Colorado River Gorge.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, order from a standard lunch menu or sample the famous “Navajo Taco” – a light crispy fry bread loaded with traditional taco toppings – plus coffee, tea, lemonade, water. No alcohol is served on the Navajo reservation.

Afternoon: We will have some time to explore the historic 1916 Cameron Trading Post. Set on the banks of the seasonally dry Little Colorado River, the Trading Post is a welcomed rest stop. In addition to a beautiful hidden garden, an in-house Navajo rug weaver, and interesting stone architecture drawing from the various influences of the region. Return to the motorcoach to complete our transfer to Flagstaff. As we drive south, stops will be made at points of interest depending on group interest and time constraints. We will arrive in Flagstaff in the mid-afternoon.

Dinner: At a festive local Greek restaurant, we will enjoy a plated meal from a variety of entrée choices for all palates, plus coffee, tea, soft drinks, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Gather for a program wrap up and reflections. Look back at your adventures in both rims of the Grand Canyon.

To Phoenix, Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon. Drive about 150 miles, approximately 3 hours to Phoenix. Arrive in Phoenix by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we will have a buffet including waffles, eggs, bagels, cereal, muffins, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, juices, milk, water.

Morning: Check out of the hotel and depart for Phoenix, arriving in the late morning. Participants will be dropped off at the airport, followed by the program’s starting hotel. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!