At the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Field Institute (www.grandcanyon.org/fieldinstitute; tel. 800/858-2808 or 928/638-2481) offers a variety of educational programs throughout the year, primarily from early spring to late fall. Examples include guided hikes and backpacking trips (some for women only) with a natural-history or ecological slant, as well as photography classes, mule-assisted treks, rafting trips, and hands-on archaeology excursions.
Through its Ventures Trips, the Museum of Northern Arizona (www.musnav.org/ventures; tel. 928/774-5213) offers educational camping, backpacking, and hotel-based tours primarily in the Colorado Plateau region of northern Arizona. Trips range in length from 1 to 6 days. The nonprofit Old Pueblo Archaeology Center organization (www.oldpueblo.org; tel. 520/798-1201) leads numerous archaeology-oriented trips around Arizona. To learn more about the Native American cultures of Arizona, contact Crossing Worlds Journeys & Retreats (www.crossingworlds.com; tel. 800/350-2693 or 928/282-0846), which offers tours throughout the Four Corners region, visiting the Hopi mesas as well as the Navajo Reservation. Journeys of self-discovery are a specialty of this company.
Guided & Package Tours
If you want to see the best of Arizona but would rather not do all the logistical planning or driving, consider a guided tour. Detours American West (www.detoursamericanwest.com; tel. 866/438-6877) specializes in small-group tours throughout Arizona and other parts of the Southwest. The British tour company Trek America (www.trekamerica.com; tel. 888/596-8719), which specializes in off-the-beaten-path, small-group adventure travel, offers tours of the American Southwest; most include the Grand Canyon and other scenic Arizona locations. To tour the most spectacular sights in the state’s Native American territory, including Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly, try the Native Voices Tour offered by High Point Tours (www.ilivehistory.com; tel. 928/445-2639). Company co-owner and guide Todd Weber, an experienced living-history presenter, highlights not only the area’s fascinating geology, but also its colorful historical characters.
Volunteer & Working Trips
If you want to get more involved in wilderness preservation, consider a Sierra Club service trip, which lets you help build, restore, and maintain hiking trails in wilderness areas. Contact the Sierra Club Outings Department (www.sierraclub.org; tel. 415/977-5522). The Sierra Club also offers hiking, camping, and other adventure trips to various Arizona destinations.
Thirty years or so ago, a Flagstaff school teacher dreamed of connecting various north-south trails in the state into a unified trail from Utah to the Mexico border. Those dreams are now a reality. You can join a work crew organized by the Arizona Trail Association (www.aztrail.org; tel. 602/252-4794), spending 1 or 2 days building and maintaining various portions of the trail. The group also organizes a spectrum of runs, some of them up to 50 miles long!
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.