8731
Utah
Intergenerational National Parks: Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon North Rim
From stunning landscapes and ancient geology to horse-back riding and Native American art, set off on an adventure with your grandchild in the national parks of Utah and Arizona.
Rating (5)
Program No. 8731RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,099
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8 days
7 nights
21 meals
7 B 7 L 7 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Las Vegas, NV
D
DoubleTree by Hilton

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

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:30-5:15 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come 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 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 an entree, salad, vegetables, and a beverage of iced tea or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. 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. 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. This is a Road Scholar intergenerational program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. 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.

DAY
2
Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park
Zion National Park
B,L,D
Springhill Suites Marriott

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total for the day; mostly paved, some uneven terrain, sand, rocks, about 100 stairs. Elevations range from approx. 2,000 feet to about 4,000 feet above sea level. Average temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees F. Sun protection and comfortable walking shoes recommended. Driving approx. 180 miles; about 3.5 hours total throughout the day.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet will feature a variety of choices including fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, hot and cold cereals, pancakes, eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes, coffee, assorted teas, juice, milk, and water.

Morning: Especially for kids: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board the motorcoach and travel to the Valley of Fire, Nevada’s oldest state park. We will explore fascinating geological formations and view ancient drawings carved in the red sandstone walls. At Atlatl Rock, our instructor will show us petroglyphs carved by Native Americans dating back as long as 4,000 years ago. The ancient drawings give us a glimpse of the culture of people that lived and traveled in this area thousands of years ago. Along the way, our instructor will teach us about the area’s history and geology, and from displays and exhibitions at the Valley of Fire visitor center, we will learn about the area’s native plant and animal communities and other natural resources. Departing from the visitor center, we will travel to St. George, Utah for lunch. Along the way, we’ll travel through the magnificent Virgin River Gorge, a narrow canyon carved by the Virgin River between two mountain ranges.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet lunch featuring a variety of fresh salads, homemade dinner rolls, barbecue favorites, tasty sides, vegetables, and dessert, plus coffee, tea, milk, juice, soft drinks, lemonade and water.

Afternoon: We’ll then set out on a scenic drive following the course of the Virgin River upstream toward the towering cliffs and desert vistas of Zion National Park. Upon arrival, we’ll explore the Zion Visitor Center and go on a short walk along the paved Pa’rus Trail. Afterwards we will transfer to Springdale and check into our hotel, which is nestled beneath and surrounded by the soaring sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park.

Dinner: At a local restaurant in Springdale, we’ll have plated dinners ordered from a select menu, plus soft drinks, iced tea, coffee, water; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Back at the hotel, we’ll gather in the meeting room where our instructor will give us a brief introduction to the geology, flora, and fauna of the national parks that we will be visiting. The instructor and Group Leader will answer any questions and preview the schedule for tomorrow.

DAY
3
Zion National Park Hikes, Birds of Prey
Zion National Park
B,L,D
Springhill Suites Marriott

Activity note: Walking up to 3.5 miles total for the day; paved trails, elevation change of about 80 feet. The 1 mile morning trail (each way; about 2 hours total) is family friendly and wheel-chair accessible. Driving approx. 10 miles; about 1 hour total aboard motorcoach. Sun protection and a change of shoes recommended if you wish to wade in the river.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the buffet breakfast will feature an egg dish, breakfast meats, waffles, hot and cold cereals, baked goods, yogurt, juice, milk, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel, we’ll travel a short distance via motorcoach to Zion National Park. At the lodge, we will board a Zion Park shuttle and continue up canyon to the final stop, the Temple of Sinawava where we’ll find the Riverside Walk Trailhead. From here, 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. At the end of the trail, there is access to the Virgin River where we can wade in the water. We will return back to the trailhead and board a Zion Park shuttle for the short ride back to the Zion Lodge.

Lunch: Back at the historic Zion Lodge, we will gather and enjoy box lunches on the front lawn under a large Cottonwood tree or on benches 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 exposure for a short time as it follows the bank of the Virgin River. It then turns and 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’ll then return to board our motorcoach for the 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 excellent National Park System video about Zion National Park, take some time to explore independently. Rangers will be available to answer any questions you may have. Especially for kids: Back at the hotel, we’ll be visited by a federally licensed eagle falconer who will bring in live birds of prey native to the Southwestern United States! See up close and personal a live falcon, hawk, and golden eagle as our local expert will teach us about these beautiful and fascinating animals.

Dinner: At a local lodge with rustic furnishings and a superb view out its big windows, we’ll have a plated dinner with tea, soft drinks, juice, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure. You may wish to visit some of the many galleries and shops in Springdale within walking distance or via the free Springdale shuttle system, which runs frequently. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Zion Tunnel & East Zion, Bryce Canyon Hoodoos, Rodeo
Bryce Canyon National Park
B,L,D
Ruby's Inn

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles total; paved and hard-packed dirt trails at a leisurely pace. Elevation at Bryce Canyon is over 8,000 feet above sea level. Driving approx. 85 miles; about 2 hours. Be sure to bring your water bottle and stay hydrated.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll travel via motorcoach on the historic Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. Just six miles past the park entrance we’ll ascend nearly 1,000 vertical feet and go through a 1-mile long tunnel to Zion’s breathtaking east side. We’ll make a quick stop to photograph astounding Checkerboard Mesa before continuing our picturesque journey toward Bryce Canyon National Park. Our instructor will talk about the area’s geology and history along the way.

Lunch: At a local restaurant near the entrance to Bryce Canyon, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet with soft drinks, coffee, tea, and juice; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Bryce Canyon is famous for “hoodoos” – tall, skinny, irregularly shaped spires of rock somewhat reminiscent of totem poles. They are more abundant here at Bryce Canyon than anywhere in the world. Our first stop via motorcoach will be Bryce Point where we’ll walk together to the viewpoint. Our instructor will point out spectacular hoodoos and eroded grottos in the pink limestone below and other geologic formations in the distance including the sacred Navajo Mountain and desolate plateaus that make up the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We’ll then drive the short way to Sunset Point and walk along the rim to Sunrise Point and back before transferring to the hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated dinner with soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Especially for kids: We’ll walk from our hotel to the rodeo grounds for the Byrce Canyon Country Rodeo where we’ll watch cowboys and cowgirls display their skills as they compete in bronco riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, and barrel racing. For the main event, courageous cowboys will mount 2,000-pound bulls with the objective of staying atop the bucking bull for as long as possible. The exciting atmosphere and beautiful setting make for a wonderful evening for all ages.

DAY
5
Bryce National Park, Horseback Riding, Scenic Viewpoints
Bryce Canyon National Park
B,L,D
Ruby's Inn

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; paved and hard-packed dirt trails. Horse ride (about 2 hours) restrictions include 7-years of age minimum and 220-pound weight limit; long pants recommended. Elevation at Bryce is from approx. 8,000 feet to over 9,000 feet above sea level. Afternoon thunderstorms and lightning are common at this elevation in summer months. Minimal driving for the day.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a breakfast buffet featuring a variety of choices including fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, hot and cold cereals, pancakes, eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes, coffee, assorted teas, juice, milk, and water.

Morning: Especially for kids: Our first stop of the day will be at the stables where we’ll saddle up for a horseback ride among the fabulous red rocks. Local wranglers (cowboys) will give us instructions and assign us horses or mules that best suit each person. The wranglers will accompany and lead us on a 2-hour loop down into the canyon on a winding trail amongst the hoodoos. Cameras are allowed, but no backpacks. Long pants are generally preferred over shorts. We’ll stop occasionally for pictures and informative stories from our wranglers. Once we finish our ride back at the stables, we’ll transfer to Sunset Point.

Lunch: At Sunset Point, we’ll have our boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Afterwards, we’ll drive to other viewpoints in the park including the spectacular Rainbow and Yovimpa Points. Yovimpa point (elevation 9,115 feet) is one of the best places to observe the sequence of rock layers called the Grand Staircase where the steps or layers are named for the predominant color of rocks. This viewpoint stands on the top step of the Staircase, the Pink Cliffs, and looks downward across over 100 million years in geologic time. Our last stop of the day will be at the Bryce Canyon visitor center where we will see the official Bryce National Park film and enjoy some time to explore informative displays independently. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet dinner with soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to take advantage of the amenities of the hotel including the pool for a swim, or just relax. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Grand Staircase Escalante National Park, G. Canyon North Rim
North Rim, Grand Canyon
B,L,D
Grand Canyon National Park North Rim Cabins

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile total for the day; paved trails. Driving approx. 165 miles total for the day; about 3.5 hours with stops for field trips.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a breakfast buffet that will feature a variety of choices including fresh fruit, yogurt, assorted baked goods, hot and cold cereals, pancakes, eggs, breakfast meats and potatoes, coffee, assorted teas, juice, milk, and water.

Morning: Once checked out, we’ll travel via motorcoach to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah where we will focus on “traces in time” highlighting both geology and archeology. While there, we’ll watch a short informative film about the Monument, its history, geology, and wildlife. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is 1.9 million acres of sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, isolated badlands, and vast wilderness. The monument stretches eastward and southward from Bryce Canyon to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; it is so large that it includes four visitor centers and numerous dinosaur fossils have been uncovered within its boundaries. Next, we’ll transfer to the historic Jacob Lake Inn for lunch, but not before stopping along the way at LeFevre Overlook, a scenic roadside viewpoint. We’ll climb a few stairs on a short path to see magnificent views of the Vermillion Cliffs of northern Arizona and the entire cliff/rock sequence of the Grand Staircase.

Lunch: At the historic Jacob Lake Inn, we’ll have a plated lunch with coffee, tea, and water.

Afternoon: We’ll then drive through the Kaibab National Forest to the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim lodge where our instructor will point out geologic features of the Grand Canyon and lead the group on a short hike out to Bright Angel Point. The trail leads from the lodge along a ridgeline to Bright Angel Point and offers panoramic views of the Canyon’s north side. The South Rim is visible about 10 miles away. We’ll then go to our accommodations for the night and check into our cabins. The remainder of the afternoon will be free for you to do what you like. There will be programs offered at the lodge for no additional cost led by park rangers that you may attend on your own including a geology talk and a lecture about condors.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner, with coffee, tea, lemonade, ice tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to enjoy the stunning sunset over the landscape or take in an included evening program at the lodge focused on a rotating topic.

DAY
7
Transept Trail, Grand Canyon View Points, Free Time
North Rim, Grand Canyon
B,L,D
Grand Canyon National Park North Rim Cabins

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles total for the day; well-maintained trail over rolling hills, hard-packed dirt, some uneven rocky surfaces and steps. Driving approx. 20 miles total; about 1/2 hour. Grand Canyon North Rim viewpoints range between 8,000 and 8,800 feet elevation.

Breakfast: At the lodge, the breakfast buffet will feature a full assortment of hot and cold items including eggs, assorted breakfast meats, seasoned potatoes, freshly baked biscuits and country gravy, French toast, pastries, fruits, and yogurt, plus milk, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and water.

Morning: We’ll start out by gathering for a short hike from the lodge along the rim of a deep but short tributary canyon called Transept. The Transept Trail allows magnificent glimpses of the canyon as it winds through a mixed pine, aspen, and oak forest over rolling hills. About midway we’ll pass an Ancestral Puebloan ruin and watch for Mule deer as well as the elusive Kaibab squirrel, which is native to the North Rim and found nowhere else in the world. Our instructor will offer geology tips and information about the plants and animals along the way. After our hike, we’ll transfer via motorcoach to and walk up to Point Imperial at an elevation 8,803 feet above sea level. Point Imperial is the highest North Rim overlook and provides a rather different panorama looking out over the Painted Desert of the Navajo Reservation and towards Lee’s Ferry, which is 50 river miles away and the official beginning of the Grand Canyon.

Lunch: Somewhere on the eastern side of the Grand Canyon along our walk, we’ll find a nice spot to rest and have our sack lunches.

Afternoon: Once back at the lodge, the remainder of the afternoon will be Free Time. 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. You may wish to check out the visitor center, catch a ranger program, or put your feet up and soak in the view from the back patio of the lodge. You can also walk along the well-maintained Bridle Trail to the North Kaibab Trailhead (1½ miles each way). If you decide to hike down some of the switchbacks of the North Kaibab Trail, be aware that it descends 600 feet in less than a mile.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated dinner and take in the expansive evening views of the Grand Canyon as we eat. Coffee, tea, lemonade, and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to attend the evening ranger-led program beginning at 8:00 p.m. in the lodge. Details about the specifics of the program will be determined the week prior. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
8
Transfer to Las Vegas, Program Concludes
Las Vegas, NV
B,L

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:30 a.m. Morning drive to St. George is approx. 150 miles; about 3 hours. Afternoon drive to Las Vegas is approx. 125 miles; about 2 hours.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: Once checked-out of our cabins, we’ll begin our transfer back to Las Vegas. En route, we’ll stop in St. George where we’ll have lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in St. George, we’ll have a buffet lunch featuring a variety of fresh salads, entrees, sides, vegetables and desserts to please every palate. Soft drinks, lemonade, coffee, tea, milk, juice, water included.

Afternoon: We’ll then continue our transfer to Las Vegas where we will make drop-off stops at McCarran International Airport and the starting hotel at about 2:00 p.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!