6117
Arizona
Hiking in the Desert: Arizona’s Valley of the Sun and Superstition Mountains
Join wilderness experts to hike Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, where you’ll learn about plant identification, desert ecology and the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine.
Program No. 6117RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
995
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
D
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. If you wish to check-in early, please contact the hotel and inquire about room availability.

Afternoon: Program Registration. 5:00 p.m. 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, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. 5:30-7 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone 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 questions. All field trips will be led by our Group Leaders, seasoned and experienced naturalists, unless specified otherwise. All transportation will be via vans or on foot. This program has a Road Scholar Activity Level of "Moderately Challenging." Typical hiking distances are 4-8 miles with 600-1500 feet of elevation change and on both established trails and “off trail” routes with uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas. Hikes are usually conducted as one group with a hike leader and a sweep. Come prepared to hike with proper equipment. Periods in the schedule labeled “Free Time and “At Leisure” offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable while going out to explore on your own, engaging in available activities independently, 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 circumstances/conditions and participant abilities. As such, scheduled activities may change to other days of the week or include alternate destinations. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet dinner with coffee, hot tea, iced tea, lemonade and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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

DAY
2
Hike Sonoran Desert in Phoenix's South Mountain Park
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North

Activity note: Hiking about 7 miles throughout the day; elevation changes of approx. 1,000 feet. Driving approximately 12 miles total; about ½ hour one way.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a hearty breakfast buffet including eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, muffins, whole grain breads, fruit, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We’ll board the vans at the hotel and drive to Phoenix's South Mountain Park & Preserve for our hike. At 16,000 acres, it is the largest municipal park in the country and has over 51 miles of trails. Our first hike will serve as an introduction to the rich and diverse Sonoran Desert. Our naturalist Group Leader will interpret the often iconic plant species including the saguaro cacti, barrel cacti, mesquite, creosote and ocotillos. Animal sightings (if luck is on our side) may include lizards, beetles, songbirds, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoise, coyote, fox, desert night lizards, Gilbert's skinks, golden eagles, and several species of hawks.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: Continue hiking in Phoenix's South Mountain Park & Preserve. Upon getting back to the vans, we’ll return to the hotel.

Dinner: Hotel buffet.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a presentation given by a local expert, which will focus on the geology, human history or natural history of the Superstition Mountains and the surrounding area.

DAY
3
Hike in Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
B,L,D
Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport North

Activity note: Choice 1: Bell Pass Trail hike is about 7 miles throughout the day; uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 1,500 feet. Choice 2: Gateway Loop Trail is about 4.5 miles throughout the day; uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 800 feet. Driving approximately 25 miles; about ½ hour one way. There will be no sweep on these hikes. Participants will have to keep up with their chosen group.

Breakfast: At the hotel each morning, we’ll have an extensive hot breakfast buffet.

Morning: We’ll drive to the trail head via vans for the day's hike in Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve on the northwest edge of the metropolitan area. This 17,000 acre preserve in the McDowell Mountains is pristine Sonoran Desert. Participants will have a choice to hike 1 of 2 hikes: the longer Bell Pass Trail or the shorter Gateway Loop Trail. Each will be led by a Group Leader.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: Continuing our hikes, we’ll regroup at the end and return to our hotel.

Dinner: Plated dinner at a local restaurant, with one non-alcoholic beverage. other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
4
To Superstition Mountains & Apache Lake, Hike Garden Valley
Superstition Mountains
B,L,D
Apache Lake Resort

Activity note: Hiking about 5 miles; approx. 3-4 hours; uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 350 vertical feet. Driving approximately 65 miles total, about 2 hours, with a stop in the middle for our hike.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After loading our vans, we’ll begin our drive to Apache Lake, stopping on the way for a hike along the Garden Valley Loop surrounded by the beautiful Superstition Mountains.

Lunch: Sack lunch on the trail or in the vans.

Afternoon: After finishing the Garden Valley Loop, we’ll continue by van to the hotel for afternoon check-in.

Dinner: At the hotel, our plated dinner will include an entree, salad, desert and a non-alcoholic beverage; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: In the meeting room at the hotel, we’ll watch the classic Hollywood movie, Lust for Gold, which was filmed in the Superstition Mountains and is about the Lost Dutchman Goldmine.

DAY
5
Hiking Sonoran Desert in Fabled Superstition Mountains
Superstition Mountains
B,L,D
Apache Lake Resort

Activity note: Hiking about 5.5 miles throughout the day; uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 700 feet. Driving approximately 16 miles; less than 1 hour one way.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated breakfast with juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Morning: We’ll drive from the hotel to the trail head of the Boulder Canyon Trail. Spectacular views await us on this trek into the expansive wilderness of the Superstitions.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: Continuing our hike, we’ll finish up and return to hotel in the mid to late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: In the hotel restaurant meeting room, our Group Leader will discuss desert wildlife, plants or geology.

DAY
6
Tortilla Flats, Salt River Canyon, Fish Creek Overlook
Superstition Mountains
B,L,D
Apache Lake Resort

Activity note: Hiking about 5 miles throughout the day; uneven terrain, high steps, desert vegetation and rocky areas; elevation change of approx. 700 vertical feet. Driving approximately 10 miles; about ½ hour one way.

Breakfast: Hotel plated meal.

Morning: We’ll drive from the hotel to begin another full day hike beginning at the Tortilla Flats Trailhead. Shortly thereafter, we’ll descend down into the Salt River Canyon before taking a side trip on foot to the Fish Creek Overlook. Breathtaking vistas from atop the canyon will stretch in front of us and offer a lovely view to send us on our way.

Lunch: Sack lunches along the trail.

Afternoon: We’ll continue hike and, upon completion, return to the hotel in mid to late afternoon.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll enjoy a tasty farewell plated meal and standard beverages with fellow participants; other beverages available for purchase. Share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At the hotel, we’ll gather for a program wrap-up session to recap our adventures and address any last questions. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Farewells
Departures
B

Activity note: Driving approximately 65 miles; about 2 hours. Hotel departure by 7:45 a.m.; expected arrival at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport by 10:30 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated breakfast with juice coffee and tea. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll load our luggage the vans and drive to the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport and the starting hotel for drop-off by 10:30 a.m. This concludes our program. 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!