Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any 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.
Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a buffet meal including entree, salad, vegetables, iced tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Orientation 7:00 p.m. 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. Please remember to bring your National Park Pass, hiking poles, a small backpack and a refillable water bottle. Periods in the daily 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.
Activity note: Driving approximately 50 miles; about 1 hour. Hiking up to 2-4 miles total throughout the day; most trails in Valley of Fire are unpaved; roundtrips of about 1 mile each; little change in elevation.
Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, the breakfast buffet includes fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, cereal, an egg dish, French toast, oatmeal, breakfast potatoes and meats, coffee, assorted teas, juice, milk and water.
Morning: We’ll transfer by motorcoach to Valley of Fire State Park for a full day of hiking. Dedicated in 1935, Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park and gets its name from the captivating formations of red sandstone throughout. The park is home to a vast array of desert creatures, most of them nocturnal due to blistering summer temperatures, and many floral species including indigo bush and a variety of cacti. We will begin our day with a hiking field trip to Atlatl Rock to view fascinating petroglyphs that have endured for over 3,000 years. At the petroglyph stop, our instructor will conduct a lecture on the wildlife and desert ecology of Death Valley.
Lunch: On the trail, we’ll find a spot to rest and eat our boxed lunches that includes a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookies. Water provided by the motorcoach.
Afternoon: Continuing, we’ll enjoy the brilliant landscape on short hikes and walks that include White Domes, Mouse's Tank and Fire Wave. At the conclusion of our hikes for the day, we’ll transfer back to the hotel.
Dinner: At the Bellagio Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, we’ll enjoy the award-winning dinner buffet with coffee, iced tea, sodas and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Driving approximately 140 miles from Las Vegas to Death Valley; about 2.5 hours. Hiking up to 2 miles roundtrip at Badwater Basin; easy terrain on hard packed salt flats.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Setting out by motorcoach, we’ll travel to Death Valley National Park where our instructor will provide en route commentary on the geology, ecology and human history of the area. Death Valley is North America’s hottest, driest and lowest location. Snow-capped mountains surround the sun-parched basins, colorful badlands, beautifully carved canyons and rolling sand dunes. Despite its foreboding name, Death Valley has almost 400 species of native wildlife and more than 1,000 plant species.
Lunch: At a scenic location within the park, we’ll stop and have our boxed lunches including a sandwich, chips and cookie.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll explore Badwater Basin, noted as the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. Our instructor will lead a walking field trip from the parking lot and across the hard pan of the salt flat of the basin. Along the way, they will discuss the geology of the overall basin, the formation of the salt deposit, and give us time to experience the vastness of this desolate location. After the Badwater Basin stop, we’ll continue by motorcoach to Devil’s Golf Course, an immense area of extruded and weathered salt deposits that have been eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires and rounded knolls. The area is so incredibly serrated that "only the devil could play golf on such rough links." We’ll then proceed to Furnace Creek Ranch to check into our hotel that is nestled in an oasis against the Funeral Mountains in the heart of Death Valley.
Dinner: At Wrangler's Steakhouse, a short walk from our hotel rooms, we will enjoy a plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Minimal driving throughout the day; multiple short transfers. Hiking approx. 6.5 miles total during group activities throughout the day: hiking about 4 miles roundtrip at Titus Canyon, relatively easy uphill grade on a gravel road in a narrow canyon; walking at Mesquite Sand Dunes according to personal preference; deep sand during independent exploration; Mosaic Canyon Trail is about 2.5 miles roundtrip, moderately difficult terrain.
Breakfast: At Furnace Creek Ranch, the breakfast buffet includes an egg dish, breakfast meats and potatoes, fresh fruit, yogurt, hot and cold cereals, biscuits, gravy, breads and pastries, plus coffee, tea, milk, juice, water.
Morning: We’ll then transfer by motorcoach to Titus Canyon, one of the most visited sites in all of Death Valley National Park, for a field trip along a narrow gravel road within towering canyon walls that will take us through an area of fractured, cemented and polished rock. The canyon narrows to less than 20 feet in some sections. Proceeding to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, we will have some time to explore the landscape independently. These iconic dunes have been used as a backdrop for film scenes for several movies throughout the years, including the Star Wars series. Afterwards, we’ll transfer by motorcoach to Stovepipe Wells for lunch.
Lunch: At the restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated meal with soft drinks, coffee, iced tea, and water.
Afternoon: Transferring by motorcoach a short distance to the trailhead for Mosaic Canyon, we’ll go for a hike through walls of polished dolomitic conglomerates and breccia, composed of tiny angular fragments of various types of rock locked within a natural cement. Formed over millions of years of geologic faulting and erosion, Mosaic Canyon is a beautifully sculpted canyon of unique natural art showcasing stratified sedimentary and conglomerate rock formations. After our hike, we’ll return to the hotel.
Dinner: At 49’er Café, a short walk from our hotel room at Furnace Creek, we’ll enjoy a plated meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Driving approx. 130 miles total for the day; about 55 miles to Ubehebe Crater, approx. 1.5 hours; short morning drive to Golden Canyon trailhead. Hiking about 6 miles total throughout the day: approx. 2 miles roundtrip at Ubehebe Crater, moderate terrain with some loose footing; approx. 4 miles roundtrip at Golden Canyon, moderate terrain; approx. 1/2 mile roundtrip at Salt Creek Marsh Trail is, primarily boardwalks.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After transferring by motorcoach from the hotel, we’ll set out on a hike along the rim of Ubehebe Crater, a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and one-half mile across. Ubehebe Crater was formed by steam and gas explosions when hot magma came in contact with groundwater. We’ll then proceed via motorcoach to Salt Creek Marsh for a walking field trip along the boardwalk to view the elusive and endangered Death Valley Pupfish that lives in the spring-fed pools along Salt Creek. We’ll then return to the hotel for lunch.
Lunch: At Furnace Creek Ranch we’ll enjoy a hot buffet meal with soft drinks, coffee, iced tea, and water.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll proceed via motorcoach to the Golden Canyon Trail where we’ll join our instructor for a hike through this canyon full of fabulous colors and rock formations at each turn and twist. We’ll then return to Furnace Creek Ranch for dinner.
Dinner: 49’er Café plated meal.
Evening: We’ll then board the motorcoach and head to a location near the hotel for star gazing where we'll look to the skies as our instructor will help identify stars and constellations in the unique dark skies of Death Valley. The International Dark-Sky Association has designated Death Valley National Park as a "Gold Award Dark Sky Park."
Activity note: Driving approx. 20 miles throughout the day. Hiking approx. 4.5 miles total throughout the day: Gower Gulch hike is about 2 miles roundtrip; Natural Bridge hike is about 2 miles roundtrip, easy, gravelly terrain within a narrow canyon.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We'll transfer by motorcoach to Zabriskie Point for a spectacular view from Telescope Peak at 11,331 feet, down to Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level. Then we’ll drive to the trailhead for Gower Gulch for our first of two morning hikes. This canyon is made up of red mudstone and colorful mosaic conglomerates. Afterwards, we’ll transfer to the Natural Bridge Canyon trailhead for a 2-mile round trip hike that ascends a gravelly wash trail, which is actually an ancient flood channel as evidenced by the large boulders strewn along the way. This is the largest of 14 natural bridges found in the park. We’ll then return to the hotel by motorcoach for lunch.
Lunch: Furnace Creek buffet.
Afternoon: Then we’ll drive to the nearby Harmony Borax Works where our instructor will lead a short walk and describe the history of borax mining in Death Valley, how it was processed, and the arduous journey it took by a 20-mule team to the railhead at Mojave, California. With this knowledge, we’ll return to Furnace Creek for independent exploration of the outdoor mining and transportation exhibits, and the interpretive history center.
Dinner: Arriving after a short ride by motorcoach to the up-scale Furnace Creek Inn, we’ll enjoy a special plated farewell dinner, with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. The Inn’s dress code requires “resort attire”; T-shirts, tank tops and jeans are not appropriate. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by approx. 8:30 a.m. for transfer. Driving approx. 142 miles from Death Valley to Las Vegas; about 2.5 hours. Drop-offs at McCarran International Airport and the starting hotel will be at approximately 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 Noon, respectively.
Breakfast: Furnace Creek buffet.
Morning: Once checked out of the hotel we’ll board the motorcoach for transfer back to Las Vegas for drop-off at McCarran International Airport and the starting hotel. This concludes our program. 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!