The Best of Utah's Grand Circle of Parks and Monuments

Explore some of the most impressive geological formations in the world with experts as you discover Utah’s Grand Circle. Plus, sail Lake Powell and learn about Navajo culture.
Program No. 2814RJ
11 days
Starts at

At a Glance

With expert instruction, explore the world’s greatest concentration of national parks and monuments, known as the “Grand Circle” — Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as Dead Horse Point State Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Rainbow Bridge National Monuments, Lake Powell Reservoir and Monument Valley. Learn about the amazing geology up close, and uncover the story of the indigenous human history through a visit with the Navajo. Experience a corner of the world with landscapes and cultures unlike any other!
Activity Level
Varies by date
Varies by date. ON YOUR FEET – Walking 1 mile daily over varied terrain. KEEP THE PACE – Walking at least 1-2 miles daily over varied terrain with options for various fitness levels. Elevations up to 8,200 feet.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Discover five national parks and three national monuments, each exquisite and full of natural wonders.
  • Explore the breathtaking slot canyons and sandstone walls of Antelope Canyon or enjoy world-renowned vistas from the Grand Canyons North Rim during a short hike (varies by season).
  • Sail on Lake Powell past towering canyons to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, one of the world's largest known natural bridges.

General Notes

Transportation on this program is usually by full sized motorcoach, with about 40 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.
by See list below
Geology – a Golden Guide, by Frank H.T. Rhodes, 1991, St. Martin’s Press, N.Y. 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. Utah‘s Spectacular Geology, Lehi Hintze, 2005 The geologic story of Utah’s landscapes and how they came to be. A Traveler's Guide to the Geology of the Colorado Plateau, Don Baars, 2002. A comprehensive guide to the Colorado Plateau. 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. 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. Beyond the Visible Landscape, W. Kenneth Hamblin, 2004. A unique book that consists of a series of panoramic photographs taken from the air. Focuses on the fundamental features of the landscape. Contains excellent diagrams & descriptions of the geology in the photographs.
Books about History
by See list below
Heart of the Desert Wild, Greer Chesher, 2000. Award winning book about the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM). It covers a variety of topics from geology to history. The photography and design of this book are outstanding and remains the definitive book on the GSENM. A Roadside History of Utah, Cynthia L. Bennett. 1999. Compelling stories of Utah’s exceptional people. Utah’s History, Richard D. Poll. 1989. A more in-depth and statewide focus on history. Hole-in-the-Rock, David E. Miller, 1995. If you want to learn more about one of the epic pioneer journeys in American History this is the book. It is area related and is a good read for those interested in history. Highway 12, Christian Probasco. 2005. Popular with travelers along Highway 12. It features a unique look at the history, people and their perspectives on this very special corridor. Outlaw Tales of Utah, Michael Rutter, 2002. True stores of Utah’s most famous robbers, rustlers and bandits.
General Reference
by See list below
A Naturalists Guide to the Canyon Country, David B. Williams. 2000. A wonderful Falcon Guide that uses fine artwork and pictures to introduce the geology, flora, fauna and history of the Canyon Country. Four Corners: History, Land and People of the Desert Southwest, Kenneth A. Brown, 1996. Great information about the region. Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey. 1968. A season in the wilderness is a celebration of the beauty of living in a harsh and hostile land. Edward Abbey was a seasonal Park ranger in Arches National Monument. Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner. 1986. The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. The definitive work on the West’s water crisis.
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. Shadows of Time: The Geology of Bryce Canyon National Park, Frank Decourten, 1994 A book with breathtaking photographs, well written on the geology of Bryce Canyon N. P. and surrounding high plateaus. Water, Rock, & Time: The Geologic Story of Zion National Park, Robert Eves, 2005. This book is so nice you may want to leave it on the coffee table. Zion National Park: Towers of Stone; by J.L. Crawford; Zion Natural History Association, Springdale, Utah, Fourth Edition 2002. Carving Grand Canyon, Wayne Ranney. 2005. A synopsis of ideas and theories that geologists have developed over time about the carving of the Grand Canyon. This story is told in an engaging style that non-scientists will find inviting. Canyonlands Country, Donald Baars, 1993. Geology of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.
Wildflowers Of The Desert Southwest
by Meg Quinn
Field guide to 80 of the most common flowers of the Chihuahuan, Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

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