8731
Utah
National Parks With Your Grandchild: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon
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
1,199
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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 Hotel Las Vegas

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 enjoy a Welcome Dinner featuring an entree, salad, vegetables, iced tea and water.

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 by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total for the day; mostly paved, some uneven terrain, sand, rocks, about 100 stairs. Elevations range from approximately 2,000 feet to about 4,000 feet above sea level. Driving approximately 50 miles to Valley of Fire State Park and an additional 130 miles to Zion National Park; 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: 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 a plated dinner 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 by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park

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 wheelchair accessible. Driving approximately 10 miles; about 1 hour total aboard motorcoach.

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: 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. We will return to the trailhead and board a Zion Park shuttle for the short ride back to Zion Lodge for lunch.

Lunch: We will gather on the front lawn at Zion Lodge under a large Cottonwood tree or on benches and rocking chairs in front of the building and enjoy box lunches that include a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

Afternoon: Next, we will gather for a short walk to 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. Back at the hotel, we’ll be visited by a federally licensed eagle falconer who will bring live birds of prey native to the Southwestern United States! See up close and personal a live falcon, hawk and golden eagle as our expert will teach us about these beautiful and fascinating animals.

Dinner: At a local lodge with rustic furnishings and a panoramic views from 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 approximately 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 upper 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.

Afternoon: Bryce Canyon is famous for “hoodoos” – tall, skinny, irregularly shaped spires of rock. They are more abundant 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 and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: 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 approximately 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: 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 horses or mules that best suit each person. The wranglers will accompany and lead us on a 2-hour loop 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 by motorcoach to Sunset Point.

Lunch: At Sunset Point, we’ll have our boxed lunch that includes a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

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 called the Grand Staircase, where the layers are described by the predominant color of each step of the staircase. This viewpoint is located on the Pink Cliffs, the top step of the Staircase, and looks 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. We’ll then return via motorcoach to the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet dinner with soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea and 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 Nat'l Mon., Grand 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 approximately 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: 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 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 east and south from Bryce Canyon to the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It is so large that it includes four visitor centers. Numerous world-class 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 viewpoint where 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, soda and water.

Afternoon: We’ll then drive through the Kaibab National Forest to the lodge at the Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim where our Instructor will point out geologic features of the Grand Canyon and lead the group on a steep, paved one-half mile round trip hike to Bright Angel Point, a promontory at an elevation of 8,148 feet. Here you will have panoramic views of Roaring Springs, Bright Angel and Transept Canyons, as well as the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon. The South Rim is visible about 10 miles away. We’ll then check into our cabins.

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. The remainder of the evening will be free time for you to enjoy a variety of free programs at the lodge led by park rangers including a geology talk and a lecture about condors.

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 approximately 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, biscuits, gravy, French toast, pastries, fruits, yogurt, plus milk, soft drinks, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: We’ll gather at the lodge and begin our hike along the rim of Transept Canyon. The Transept Trail allows magnificent glimpses of the canyon as it winds through rolling hills of mixed pine, aspen and oak forest. About midway we’ll pass an Ancestral Puebloan ruin and watch for Mule deer as well as the elusive Kaibab squirrel, which is unique to the North Rim. 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 Point Imperial. At 8,803 feet above sea level, Point Imperial is the highest North Rim overlook and provides a panoramic view of 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 box lunch that includes a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

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 (1.5 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. Coffee, tea, lemonade and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You may wish to attend the evening ranger-led programs in the lodge. Details about the specifics of the program will be determined the week prior. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure 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 approximately 150 miles; about 3 hours. Afternoon drive to Las Vegas is approximately 125 miles; about 2 hours.

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

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 and water included.

Afternoon: We’ll then continue our transfer via motorcoach 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. 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!






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