Exploring & Rafting the Western Grand Canyon With Your Family

Explore the Western Grand Canyon with your family as you whitewater raft the Colorado River, learn about the life of a cowboy and ride a helicopter above it all!
Rating (5)
Program No. 9878RJ
6 days
Starts at
1,699 / ADULT
1,199 / CHILD
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

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 the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant approximately 1 mile from the rooms, which we will reach via program vans, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner featuring a full salad bar and home-cooked entrees, which will appeal to both young and old. Soft drinks, iced-tea, coffee, water included; 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. Transportation will be provided primarily by passenger vans, unless otherwise noted. 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 full day ahead. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Nature Walk, Caverns Exploration, Tie Dye, Arizona Wildlife
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; uneven and sometimes rocky ground; paved and sloped surfaces with stairs in Grand Canyon Caverns. Participants may choose to walk to/from the restaurant 1 mile from the motel; transportation always provided. We recommend bringing a water bottle, good walking shoes, sun protection, long sleeves, and perhaps a walking stick.

Breakfast: At the restaurant on-site, the breakfast buffet features a wide assortment of hot and cold choices including granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, eggs, breakfast meats and breads, plus juice, coffee, tea, milk, water.

Morning: Beginning at the restaurant on the Caverns property (740 acres; mixed grassland and pinon juniper woodland, unique desert plants, animals and geology), we’ll set out on a nature walk with our naturalist Group Leaders. Along our walk, we’ll learn about some of the common plants of this high desert area, how they have adapted to limited rainfall, and how the prehistoric peoples of the region utilized them in their daily lives. We may also venture off trail at times to explore further and we may also sit on the ground for short periods.

Lunch: At the restaurant on the Grand Canyon Caverns grounds, we’ll enjoy a buffet lunch featuring selections that will appeal to both young and young at heart. Selections will vary daily and always include a salad bar. Soft drinks, coffee, iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Afterwards, we’ll walk to the other side of the building and the caverns entrance to set out on a walk through the Grand Canyon Caverns (210 feet underground with elevator access), a famous Route 66 landmark, with a Grand Canyon Caverns expert staff member who will share the Cavern's geology and its lore. Following our exploration of the Caverns, we’ll take a short transfer down to the inn for our mid-afternoon check-in before gathering on the patio for our tie-dye shirt project. Our intergenerational groups have been making these colorful shirts together for over 20 years!

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant approximately 1 mile from the rooms, which we will reach via program vans or on foot depending on personal preference, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner featuring a full salad bar and home-cooked entrees. Soft drinks, coffee, iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll then join our Group Leader for a ‘walkabout’ on the Grand Canyon Caverns property, which begins just outside the restaurant. We’ll learn a little bit more about this western Arizona ecosystem and about each other. Afterwards, we’ll make our way back to the inn.

Bottom of Grand Canyon, Diamond Creek Walk, Colorado River
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Driving approx. 62 miles total for the day; about 4 hours: approx. 12 miles on paved road, then about 20 miles on an unpaved and rough road to reach the bottom of the Canyon; about 3 hours, with stops; return drive is approx. 32 miles; about 1 hour. Walking about 2 miles total throughout the day; additional elective walk of 1 mile along road and in creek down to the Colorado River; some slippery rocks. Short walks to scenic viewpoints; some sandy terrain and possible hot temperatures.

Breakfast: At the restaurant on-site, the breakfast buffet features a wide assortment of hot and cold choices including granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, eggs, breakfast meats and breads, plus juice, coffee, tea, milk, water. Transportation to and from provided as desired.

Morning: We’ll then board our vans for a field trip down Peach Springs Canyon on the Diamond Creek Road to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Our Group Leaders will provide commentary in the vans and make stops at various points of interest along the way as opportunities to describe the wonders of the Canyon. During this “journey to the center of the Earth," the walls of the Grand Canyon rise higher and higher as we drive towards the Colorado River past hundreds of millions of years of geologic history, all of which culminates with our arrival at the 1.8 billion-year-old rock of the Granite Gorge. You may wish to join one of our Group Leader naturalists for a 1 mile walk along Diamond Creek and to the river. Alternatively, those who require it can continue to the picnic site via van where we will rendezvous with the walkers for lunch.

Lunch: At picnic tables in the shade, we’ll have sack lunches featuring a sandwich, chips, snack, fruit, and a drink.

Afternoon: Our field trip will continue at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. As we view Diamond Creek Rapids, look for desert bighorn sheep, wild burros, hawks and lizards. At the river, look for river runners rafting the Colorado River. We'll have time to play safely on the beach and in the Colorado River during the hottest part of the day. Interesting human history, facts and management issues regarding the Colorado River will be shared with the group on the beach. Especially for kids: Upon our return to the Grand Canyon Caverns, we’ll finish the tie-dye project by rinsing the dye from our shirts and displaying them on the clothes line.

Dinner: Restaurant buffet.

Evening: In the meeting room at the inn, we will participate in a kid-focused presentation given by a local expert about the natural and biological environment of Arizona. Exact topics are dependent on availability of presenters who travel long distances to reach the inn.

Horse Riding & Roping, River Trip Orientation, Kids Only
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Short periods of standing, sometimes in full sun, during the morning session. We will have a campfire as long as Coconino County is not under fire restrictions due to drought conditions.

Breakfast: Restaurant buffet.

Morning: At the riding arena a short walk from our rooms, we’ll spend this morning learning about ranching, horses, and the importance of cattle in the history of the west with a real cowboy who has cowboy-ed in northern Arizona for over 40 years. Believe it or not, cattle still have many uses today, besides just steak and hamburger! Kids will learn about a horse’s tack, how to properly saddle a horse and how to rope. All kids will have an opportunity to ride a horse at the corral. Adults will too!

Lunch: Restaurant buffet.

Afternoon: We’ll gather for a secret "Kids Only" activity led by our Group Leaders! Shhhhh! While the kids are engaged, the adults may wish to take a breather, a dip in the pool or engage in purely adult conversation for a short time. Following this activity, we’ll assemble in the inn’s meeting room to learn everything we need to know for the river trip and helicopter flight coming up the next day through an in-depth orientation to the day’s activities. We'll go over how to dress for the river, how to pack your daypack, and what to take so you'll be well-prepared for a Colorado River raft trip – and helicopter flight – to remember!

Dinner: On the screened-in porch of the restaurant, we’ll enjoy a delicious BBQ meal, plus iced-tea, soft drinks, coffee, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Adjacent to the restaurant and weather permitting, we’ll have a campfire complete with marshmallow roasting under the stars and some group activities like river or ghost stories, joke-telling, skits, and shared fun. Look up from the smoke of the fire to star-studded western skies and see the Milky Way as we spend this evening with new friends, both young and young at heart, from across the country.

Grand Canyon River Raft, Waterfall Hike, Helicopter Ride
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn

Activity note: Driving approx. 145 miles total. Morning about 20 miles; approx. 1.5 hours; unpaved, rough road. Afternoon approx. 125 miles; about 3 hours, with stop. Rafting approx. 37 miles; 5-6 hours total. Climbing in/out of rafts, assistance provided as needed. River temperature about 50 degrees F – air can be 100+ degrees F. Hiking about 1/2 mile total for the day; some slippery rocks, sand. Elective climb using ropes & ladders to hidden waterfall. Getting in/out of helicopter; flight is about 6 minutes.

Breakfast: Restaurant buffet.

Morning: Boarding our vans, we’ll transfer to a lodge in Peach Springs (12 miles) to meet our connecting transportation to our drop-in point on the Colorado River. Upon arrival at our destination, we will go through a safety orientation with our river leaders and get fitted with life jackets before embarking on our river rafting trip. We will divide up into multiple groups to fit on 8-passenger motorized pontoon rafts (approximately 25 feet long), each with a certified rafting expert. The Diamond Creek trip down the Colorado River is about 37 miles in length. During the first 16 miles we will encounter about 10 whitewater rapids, some rather large (5, 6 and 7’s on a 1 to 10 scale), so we will get wet. The air temperature in summer at the bottom of the canyon will likely be around 100 degrees so the splashing is a welcome relief and will keep us cool. We’ll pull the rafts over at a couple of attractions including the beautiful Travertine Falls and a lunch spot. While stopped, our rafting experts will lead some short walks to stretch our legs and explore the area. After 16 miles the rapids disappear, but the scenery remains "grand" in all regards. Hualapai tribal members will operate rafts and, along with our staff, provide information about the canyon along the way.

Lunch: Along the river, we’ll have sack lunches provided by the river company including a sandwich, chips, and cookie, plus a soft drink, juice or water.

Afternoon: Continuing downriver, we’ll reach Quartermaster Landing where we will get off our rafts and climb up to the landing pad in order to board the helicopter that will fly us out of the canyon on a quick but spectacular ride. Have your cameras ready! The helicopter will drop us off at Quartermaster Point where we will board our transportation and transfer back to the lodge in Peach Springs. On our way we’ll travel through a landscape of Joshua Trees and creosote bush as we cross the beautiful basin and range landscape of the Mohave Desert. Upon arrival in Peach Springs, we’ll board our vans for the short transfer back to the inn. Note: Helicopters cannot fly in excessively hot and/or windy conditions for safety reasons. Although this happens very infrequently, it remains a possibility. In that event, the raft trip will be extended to a location where ground transportation can reach the group.

Dinner: In the restaurant at the inn, we’ll enjoy a hearty buffet farewell dinner with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

Program Concludes
Grand Canyon Caverns/Peach Springs

Activity note: Hotel check out in 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Restaurant buffet.

Morning: We’ll gather for a program wrap-up to share some of our favorite memories from our week together before saying farewell. 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!

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