Get on the bus! Join fall tour of geological wonders

Judi Brauns

Two iconic national parks— Arches and Mesa Verde— are the featured destinations on a seven-day/six-night bus tour to the Four Corners region sponsored by the Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries.

The trip begins at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff which serves as an introduction to Native American cultures of the Southwest. The first night’s accommodations are at the Cameron Trading Post on the Navajo Reservation.

Moab, Utah is the destination for the second day. Along the way, the tour stops at Navajo National Monument to view Betatakin, a cliff dwelling occupied by Ancestral Puebloan people a thousand years ago. The journey continues through the spectacular buttes and spires of Monument Valley. The day culminates with a jet boat excursion on the Colorado River in Moab and a cowboy buffet dinner.

A full day of exploring Arches National Park is on the schedule for day four. Over 2,000 stone arches have been preserved in this park, and the tour offers the opportunity to view and photograph these geological wonders. Optional short hikes and a picnic lunch fill the day. Dinner at the Sunset Grill overlooking the Moab Valley ends the day as the sun goes down.

Mesa Verde National Park is the next destination. The park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archaeological heritage of the Ancestral Puebloan people who made it their home for over 700 years. An expert local guide explains the history and cultural development as depicted in numerous ruins during a full day of exploring the park. Accommodations are at the Far View Lodge in the center of the park.

The journey back to Tucson goes through Flagstaff with a stop for lunch in Tuba City on the border of the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. A stay at Little America offers a relaxing evening for all. On the last day of the tour, a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix is planned with a final luncheon to celebrate the new friendships made along the way.

The on-board guides for the tour are James Cowlin and Barbara Kemp Cowlin. James is a well-known landscape, nature and travel photographer. Barbara is an artist whose paintings have been exhibited in many local and national galleries. Together they have lived in Arizona for 45 years and have traveled extensively throughout the Southwest, giving them a deep understanding of the history, culture and geology of the region.

The fee for the tour is $1,790 per person, double occupancy. The tour fee includes transportation, accommodations, meals as specified on the itinerary, on-location tour guide services, tour directors’ services and gratuities for food and lodging services. Reservations are on a first come, first served basis and are limited to 50 people.

Additional information and the registration form are available at