This trip is rated Moderate . Participants should be comfortable with daily hikes between 2–6.5 miles with elevation gains/losses of up to 2,500'. Kayaking in Lake Powell (one day) will involve paddling for up to 6 miles. Hiking trails are composed of dirt, sand, and slickrock with some steep sections and exposed overlooks. Guides will brief trip members on the vigorousness and exposure of each hike prior to setting out.
We meet our guides and fellow adventurous families in the lobby of our host hotel in beautiful Scottsdale, AZ. After introductions, we head north to Montezuma’s Castle. Leaving modern cities behind, we explore an ancient mud and stone city perched on an 80-foot-high cliff dating back to 1100 CE. We learn how the prehistoric Sinagua people not only survived but thrived here. Next, we make our way to Red Rock State Park in the heart of Sedona, the unofficial spiritual capital of the state. After a picnic lunch, we hike among the red rocks, search for tadpoles along Oak Creek, and watch the sky for a sighting of one of the many birds of prey that frequent this area. This evening we enjoy dinner in one of Sedona’s many local restaurants and check into our hotel, where sprawling grounds, unique chalets, and views of the Sedona mesas round out this special day. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 2.9 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 263’/221’; Van transfer: 2.5 hours
We rise early to make our way to Williams, AZ, a historic stop on the Santa Fe Railroad. We board a meticulously renovated passenger train and ride the special spur line that was once the only way to get to the Grand Canyon. We disembark right at the rim of the canyon and witness the same awe-inspiring first view seen by railway passengers back in 1901. 122 miles long, 14 miles wide, and a mile deep, this Natural Wonder of the World encompasses more than a million acres and seven separate biological life zones, supporting wildlife like bighorn sheep, elk, and even mountain lions. After lunch we strap on our hiking boots and follow our guides into the canyon’s depths. Used by the Havasupai Tribe, canyon explorers, and even President Theodore Roosevelt, the Bright Angel Trail is the original trans-canyon route. We enjoy the stunning vistas while learning about how the canyon was formed, then we undertake the challenge of the return climb to the rim. We are rewarded for our efforts with a delicious dinner and a cozy hotel room inside the park, where we can rest up for our next day of adventure. All meals included.
Hiking: 3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,121’/1,121’; Van transfer: 1.25 hours
After breakfast at our hotel, we take an ecofriendly shuttle to Hermit’s Rest at the far west end of the national park, an iconic and historic building designed by esteemed architect Mary Jane Colter in 1914 and named for the nearby Hermit Trail, which descends 9 miles from the rim to the Colorado River. After exploring the building, we start our hike down the Hermit Trail, where we’ll note a much more remote feel than the popular Bright Angel Trail we hiked yesterday. 1,400 feet below the rim, we leave the Hermit Trail and travel to the quiet oasis of Dripping Springs, a naturally occurring water source used by ancient humans and wildlife alike. We see fossils from creatures that existed here when it was a vast inland ocean (long before the dinosaurs), and pass old mines long abandoned by hopeful prospectors. Today’s hike is one of our most challenging, but also most rewarding. As we push through sore legs and tiredness, traveling in the footsteps of hearty miners and explorers, we learn something new about the world around us, and about ourselves. Tonight we reflect on these miles (as well as the decadent dessert tray) as we dine in the park’s premier restaurant, the El Tovar Dining Room. All meals included.
Hiking: 6.3 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1,460’/1,460’
Today we travel from the Grand Canyon to Lake Powell, a deep blue reservoir winding through desert canyons and cliffs on the border of Arizona and Utah. Written about extensively by the American author and environmental advocate, Edward Abbey, Lake Powell provides us with a beautiful landscape upon which to continue our action-packed adventure. We abandon our dusty hiking clothes for a fun and refreshing kayak trip along the lake’s colorful shores, weaving in and out of secret canyons, and picnicking on the sand of sun-soaked beaches. We tread barefoot up the eroded slickrock of the lake’s rounded cliffs, find a warm rock to kick back on, and watch a stunning sunset fade into a blue-black sky aglow with the Milky Way. We dine and camp beneath the stars, roasting s’mores and telling campfire stories. Out here, the only sounds are the crackling fire, the lapping waves, and the laughter of good times. All meals included.
Kayaking: 3–4 hours; Van transfer: 2.5 hours
We rise in our comfortable tents on a quiet piece of earth reserved solely for us. Hot coffee and a hearty breakfast await, as we spend our morning swimming and packing up camp while enjoying warm morning breezes off the lake. Our next stop on this epic journey is the famously photographed Antelope Canyon. Here, weather and time have carved a narrow slice through the warm hues of soft sandstone on the ancestral land of the Navajo People. We follow a Native guide through the canyon’s depths, using a series of ladders to reach its sandy floor, and marvel at the light show that plays out as the sun shines through the serpentine opening 120 feet above our heads. This afternoon we return to the shores of Lake Powell, where we enjoy a final celebratory dinner in a floating restaurant. We overnight here with one last chance to watch for shooting stars in the pristine desert night sky. All meals included.
Hiking: 1 mile, Elevation gain/loss: minimal; Van transfer: 30 minutes
After a wonderful breakfast overlooking Lake Powell, it’s time to pack up and begin our journey southbound, toward our host hotel in Scottsdale, AZ. On our way, we travel through multiple Native American tribal lands and skirt the Painted Desert as we make our way to the mile-high town of Flagstaff, AZ. Here we stretch our legs, enjoy a picnic lunch among the aspens and pines, and top our amazing adventure off with a high ropes challenge course. Breaking boundaries and creating lasting memories, we climb the trees and make our way through fun and challenging age-appropriate action elements. You’ll be shocked at the confidence and strength just 6 days of exploration have granted you and your entire family. We complete our whirlwind experience understanding without a doubt how transformative connecting with nature can be for the young and the young-at-heart. We return to Scottsdale with a drop-off at our host hotel, followed by a drop-off at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for those who have a flight home tonight. Breakfast and lunch included.
Ropes course: 3 hours; Van transfer: 5 hours