Natural Wonders of Utah's Canyons: Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon
Rock out in the Grand Canyon and Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks as you learn about the colorful rocks, ancient geology and fossilized dinosaur tracks of this stunning region.
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Program No. 8726RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
St. George, Utah
College Inn

Activity note: College Inn check-in 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. 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.

Dinner: We will transfer by motorcoach to Dixie State University for a delicious buffet dinner; coffee, tea (iced/hot), water included.

Evening: Orientation. Returning to the College Inn, the Group Leader will greet everyone, lead introductions, review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures and answer questions. Unless specified otherwise, the majority of field trips and lectures will be led by our expert instructor who will be accompanied by our Group Leader. Afternoon thunderstorms and lightning are common at higher elevations in summer months. Be sure to stay hydrated and dress appropriately for the weather. Refillable water bottles will be provided at the beginning of the program for everyone to keep. Sun protection is recommended throughout. 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. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

About the Parks, Snow Canyon Park, St. George, Birds of Prey
St. George, Utah
College Inn

Activity note: Driving distance is approximately 15 miles. Hiking up to 1 mile; flat unpaved trail, paved city sidewalks. Elevations range from 2,500 feet in the city to 4,500 feet at Snow Canyon.

Breakfast: At the College Inn, the breakfast buffet includes choices such as hard boiled eggs, hot oatmeal, cereal, fruit, yogurt, pastries, toast, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will gather in the College Inn meeting room for a presentation by our instructor on the geology, ecology, flora and fauna of Southern Utah's parks. The presentation will highlight geologic forces of deposition, uplift and erosion that shape these landscapes: Zion's precipitous canyon walls and massive monoliths, Bryce's thousands of spires and hoodoos, and the spectacular chasm of the Grand Canyon. Hiking field trips, trailside talks, and on-board motorcoach discussions will provide deeper knowledge of these compelling natural wonders. We will then board our motorcoach for a 15-minute ride to Snow Canyon State Park. As we walk with our instructor on nature trails among red sandstone formations, we will have an introduction to local geology: red rock cliffs, rolling mounds of petrified sand dunes, and lava (basalt) rock formations.

Lunch: At a café on the campus of Dixie State University, choose from an expansive selection from the food court including a fresh salad bar, home cooking, pizza, Asian and Mexican grill, and BBQ; fountain drinks, coffee, iced tea, water included; pre-packaged meals and bottled drinks available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we will visit the Dinosaur Discovery Museum in St. George, one of the top ten dinosaur track sites in the world. Uncovered in 2000, it’s considered one of the most important discoveries in Early Jurassic paleontological history. Thanks to the owner of the site who donated it for scientific study, paleontologists have been able to reconstruct the ecosystem of nearly 200 million years ago. We will return to the College Inn for a presentation by a local historian who will then narrate a motor coach tour of restored pioneer buildings and homes in Saint George.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, choose what you like from the extensive buffet with a variety of menu and beverage choices.

Evening: We will gather in the College Inn classroom with a federally licensed eagle falconer for a presentation on birds of prey and see a live falcon, hawk and golden eagle. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning. Please have luggage on the curb beside the motor coach 15 minutes before departure time.

Zion National Park
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kanab

Activity note: We will travel approximately 42 miles by motorcoach to Zion National Park. Hiking up to 3 miles for the day; mostly paved trails, some uneven and slippery terrain. Elevation of the park is approximately 4,000 feet.

Breakfast: College Inn buffet.

Morning: Setting out from the College Inn, we will travel a short distance via motorcoach to Zion National Park. At the Lodge, we'll board a Zion Park shuttle and continue up canyon to the final stop, the Temple of Sinawava and the Riverside Walk trailhead. From there, we will walk on a fairly level, paved trail that follows the course of the Virgin River deep into the heart of Zion Canyon, past lush hanging gardens and soaring weeping walls. Our instructor will provide information about the Virgin River and Zion Canyon’s geology and plant habitat along the way. We will return to the trailhead and board a Zion Park shuttle for the short ride to the Zion Lodge.

Lunch: At the historic Zion Lodge, we will gather and enjoy box lunches on the front lawn under a large Cottonwood tree or on rocking chairs in front of the building.

Afternoon: Next, we will gather for a short walk to the Lower Emerald Pools on a paved trail. The trail crosses a bridge over the Virgin River and is in full sun for a short time as it follows the bank of the Virgin River. The trail ascends about 80 feet through a mixed, lushly-forested side canyon to a small waterfall, hanging gardens, and green pools of water. Here, water seeps out the porous sandstone and provides a year-round water supply feeding abundant vegetation which grows on vertical rock walls known as hanging gardens. We will then return to the motor coach for a short transfer to the Zion Human History Museum. The exhibits here display the diverse human history of the Zion National Park area, specifically showcasing American Indian culture and pioneer settlement. After viewing the National Park Service video about Zion National Park, take some time to explore independently. Our instructor and park rangers will be available to answer questions. We'll then return to the motor coach, continue to Kanab, Utah and check in to our hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we will have a plated dinner; beverage choices of coffee, iced tea, water included, other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: We will gather in the hotel meeting room for a presentation by our instructor regarding tomorrow's field trip to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kanab

Activity note: Driving approximately 76 miles to Bryce Canyon National Park, approximately 1.5 hours. Hiking up to 2 miles for the day; uneven, unpaved trails with steep inclines and declines of about 350 feet. Elevation is approximately 8000 feet at the rim of Bryce Canyon.

Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers an extensive variety of hot and cold options.

Morning: We will travel to Bryce Canyon National Park for a full-day field trip. One of America's smaller national parks covering only 56 square miles, Bryce is located at 8,000 feet in elevation, is one of the most scenic and exceptional natural wonders. Bryce is renowned for its unique geological features, carved by nature into hoodoos and pinnacles of an amazing palette of colors. Upon arrival, we will hike from Bryce Point to Sunset Point with your instructor.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy a variety of menu and beverage choices from an extensive buffet including a salad bar, soup, a variety of meats, vegetables, potatoes, and dessert bar; sodas, milk, coffee, tea (iced/hot) included; other beverages are available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue exploring Bryce Canyon on a hiking field trip below the rim on the Navajo Loop trail from Sunset Point connecting to the Queen's Garden trail and ascending to Sunrise Point. This hike descends through the slot canyon of Wall Street, where 500- to 700-year-old Douglas Firs reach upward toward the sunlight at the top of the canyon, and reaches the Canyon floor at Queen's Garden. We’ll then return to Kanab.

Dinner: At a local restaurant featuring homemade, Western-style cooking, we’ll have a plated meal; beverage choices of sodas, coffee, tea (iced/hot) included; other beverages available for purchase.

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

Grand Canyon North Rim
St. George, Utah
College Inn

Activity note: Driving approximately 80 miles to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, approximately 1.5 hours. Hiking up to 3.5 miles for the day, including 1/2 mile roundtrip on a paved, wheelchair-accessible trail to Bright Angel Point and 1 to 3 miles on unpaved, relatively flat Transept Trail in a forested area. Elevation approximately 8,300 feet.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board the motorcoach and travel to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Upon arrival, we’ll take a short hike with our instructor to Bright Angel Point, a promontory at an elevation of 8,148 feet that offers panoramic views of the Grand Canyon from its north side. Only by seeing it in person can we grasp the enormity of the Grand Canyon: an average of 10 miles wide, one mile deep, and 277 miles long. It is also a challenge to wrap our heads around its geologic history — almost 2 billion years of geologic history has created what we see today. The North Rim is almost 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim. Fewer than 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors have this experience.

Lunch: In the historic Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, we’ll have a buffet lunch; beverage choices of sodas, coffee, tea (iced/hot) included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we will hike the Transept trail along the rim through a majestic Ponderosa Pine Forest with multiple Canyon overlooks. We will return to St. George and check back in to the College Inn with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In one of Dixie State University's banquet rooms, we will have our farewell dinner, a buffet with beverage choices of coffee and iced tea. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We’ll have a short farewell meeting in the classroom at the College Inn. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
St. George, Utah

Activity note: College Inn check-out by 10 a.m. Please talk to the desk if you need to store luggage.

Breakfast: College Inn buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: 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!

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