Over the years, thousands of mature adults have learned about the history, culture, wildlife and natural wonders of the Rim country through the international Elderhostel program.
Elderhostel, a travel and education program that caters to adults over the age of 60 who have developed a lifelong passion for learning, offers programs throughout the year in every state and province of the U.S. and in several foreign countries.
Each program is sponsored by a university, foundation or museum and highlights the history, culture and natural environment that makes each Elderhostel location unique.
Grand Canyon University Elderhostel programs for lifelong learners ages 60 and older offer guided field trips around the Rim country from March through mid-May.
The university, located in Glendale, Ariz., charges $500 for a five-to-seven-day stay at Kohl's Ranch east of Payson that includes course-related field trips, cowboy cookouts and nightly entertainment.
This year, the following programs are available:
March 12-17 Archeology: The prehistoric cultures of the Tonto Basin and Shoofly Ruins; Arizona's panoramic history including Zane Grey and the American cowboy with guided field trips to Payson's Zane Grey Museum and the Strawberry Schoolhouse; a field trip to the Tonto Natural Bridge where a geologist/naturalist will lecture on the forest, terrain and wildlife in the area.
March 19-24 Archeology: Unearthing the lost world of prehistoric Mogollon peoples with a visit to the Mogollon Rim and a field trip to Shoofly Ruins.
Includes a demonstration on prehistoric pottery; a guided visit with a geologist to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert; a guided field trip to discover the birds, wildlife and largest stand of ponderosa pines in the world near the Mogollon Rim.
March 26-31 Ancient cultures/astronomy: An introduction to White Mountain and Tonto Apache cultures including a visit to the reservation at Whiteriver/Fort Apache and the Kinishba Ruins; a study of Arizona's night sky includes a walking model of the solar system and an evening session with an astronomer using binoculars and a telescope.
April 16-21 Astronomy/ ancient cultures: Hands-on astronomy at Kohl's Ranch with an evening session using telescopes; a guided field trip and hike to study the Tonto Basin's Hohokam and Salado cultures.
April 23-30 Archaeology/ local history: A study of the archeology and geology of the Mogollon Rim and prehistoric pottery making with a field trip to Shoofly Ruins; a field trip to a ranch and Rim Country Museum in Payson to study the myth and mystique of the American cowboy and Zane Grey's writings.
May 14-19 Natural history: A visit to the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert with a geologist; a study of the Mogollon culture and prehistoric pottery making includes a field trip to the Shoofly Ruins; study of the five climatic zones in the Rim Country and examine northeastern Arizona's birds, wildlife and stand of ponderosa pine.
For information on Grand Canyon University's Elderhostel Programs, call (623) 846-5070.