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Cultural Crossroads: Exploring Chaco Canyon and the Pueblos of Acoma and Zuni

Program Number: 4058RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/13/2013 - 4/17/2013; 3/28/2016 - 4/2/2016; 4/2/2016 - 4/7/2016; 9/20/2016 - 9/25/2016; 9/25/2016 - 9/30/2016;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $699.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Native American Studies; Natural History; History & Culture; National Parks
Meals: 11; 4 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Native American culture goes back two millennia in the Southwest, during a time when an ancient people called the Anasazi laid the cultural foundations for today's modern Pueblo tribes. Explore the ceremonial center of this culture at Chaco Culture National Historic Park and trace its history from ancient times to the arrival of the Spanish and into modern times at both Acoma and Zuni Pueblos.


• Explore the ceremonial hub of the Anasazi world on expert-led tour of Pueblo Bonito — the largest building in North America for 800 years — Chetro Ketl and numerous 1,000-year-old petroglyphs.
• Hear the echoes of the past on a visit to the Zuni reservation accompanied by a Zuni representative.
• At Acoma Pueblo, atop a 367-foot mesa, discover a culture continuously inhabited since A.D. 1150.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on some sandy/rocky trails. Uneven stone stairs in ruins. Travel to Chaco Canyon on dirt roads.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Albuquerque, 2 night; van to Gallup, 3 nights; return to Albuquerque, departure.

Coordinated by Northern Arizona University.


New Mexico's vast history, diversity, creativity, cuisine, beauty and art unite in this vibrant city, founded as a Spanish colonial outpost in 1706 and built in a traditional Spanish village configuration in which civic buildings surround a central plaza. “Old Town” is just one of New Mexico’s largest city’s many gems.


Gateway to several Native American pueblos and reservations including Acoma, Zuni, Hopi and the Navajo nation, historic Gallup is situated in the northwest corner of New Mexico encircled by breathtaking scenery, including red rock canyons, mesas and the Chuksa and Zuni Mountains.

Chaco Canyon

Designated a World Heritage Site, Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between 850 and 1250 A.D. The remains of the public and ceremonial buildings, preserved in Chaco Culture National Historical Park, showcase distinctive architecture and remarkable advanced engineering skills.

Albuquerque: Hotel. Gallup: Hotel with pool.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Martin Link

Martin Link is a historian, author and archaeologist who has been imparting the story of the American Southwest to Road Scholar participants for more than 25 years. He is the former director of the Navajo Museum in Arizona and the former publisher of the Indian Trader Newspaper. Martin helped to train the first Navajo tribal park rangers in the early 1960s. He is the co-author of “The Goat in the Rug,” a children’s book about the weaving of a Navajo rug and cooperation between friends.
Meals and Lodgings
   Albuquerque Best Western Rio Grande Inn
  Albuquerque, NM 1 night
   Comfort Inn Gallup
  Gallup, NM 3 nights
 Albuquerque Best Western Rio Grande Inn
Type: Hotel
  Description: 173 guest room hotel adjacent to Albuquerque's Old Town museums, galleries, shops and restaurants.
  Contact info: 1015 Rio Grande blvd NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104 USA
phone: 505-843-9500
  Room amenities: Cable TV, air conditioning, refrigerator, hairdryer, iron & board, voice mail, coffee-tea maker, desk/work area, free wifi, free parking.
  Facility amenities: Airport courtesy shuttle available 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM, restaurant on site, pool and hot tub, wifi, exercise facility, laundry facility, dogs are allowed.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Seasona Call for rates in effect during your stay.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Comfort Inn Gallup
Type: Hotel
  Description: Smoke-free facility near the Navajo Nation, convenient to Chaco Culture Historic Park, El Morro National Monument and the Pueblo of Zuni.
  Contact info: 1440 W Maloney Ave
Gallup, NM 87301 USA
phone: 505-726-2700
  Room amenities: Mini fridge, microwave, cable 32 inch flat screen TV, free local, toll-free calls, AM/FM alarm clock radio, coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, iron and board. Roll away beds available for single rooms.
  Facility amenities: Three story hotel with elevator and indoor heated pool and spa, free wi-fi or ethernet, on site coin-operated laundry, free outdoor parking with room for RVs, business center with computer, fax and printer. Buffet breakfast includes breakfast meat selection, scrambled eggs, two flavors of make your own waffles.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Seasonal, $99.00 - $130.00 Call hotel for rates in effect during your stay.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
On Site Registration, hotel meeting room, 4:30 -5:15 PM You will be staying at Albuquerque Best Western Rio Grande Inn that night.
  End of Program:
Drop off at Albuquerque Sunport by 11:00 am and starting hotel by 11:30 am. You will be staying at Comfort Inn Gallup the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking is provided by the motel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Albuquerque, NM
  Nearest city or town:  Albuquerque, NM
  Nearest highway: I-40 and I-25
  Nearest airport:  Albuquerque, NM
  From End of Program
  Location:  Departures
Travel Details

Best Western Rio Grande Hotel from Airport


From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-843-9500


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 minutes 




7 miles


Available from 7:00 a.m - 10:00 p.m. When you have retrieved your luggage, call the hotel for pick-up.


From last program destination


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Road Scholar transportation


Per Person/One Way:


Included in program fee
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


Approximately 2.5 hours. 


NAU Road Scholar transportation to drop off at Albuquerque Sunport by 11:00 AM and starting hotel by 11:30 AM on final day of program.

Driving Directions
  Albuquerque Best Western Rio Grande from I-25 Take I-25 to Albuquerque and the I-40 interchange. Take the I-40 west offramp. Continue for about 2 miles to exit 157A, Rio Grande Blvd. / Old Town. Turn left onto Rio Grande Blvd. and watch for the Best Western Rio Grande on your right within one block.
  Albuquerque Best Western Rio Grande from I-40 I-40 to Albuquerque. take exit 157A, Rio Grand Blvd, Old Town. Turn south onto Rio Grande Blvd. The Best Western Rio Grande is quickly on your right.
Elevation Note: 6500 ft elevation - those with heart/lung conditions should check with doctor before attending.

Equipment Requirements: No special equipment required.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Hotel Check in / Program Orientation and Introductions
(Saturday, April 13)
 Afternoon: Hotel Check in after 3:00PM. Rooms may be available earlier based upon demand, call hotel for request. Northern Arizona University Road Scholar program registration from 4:30-5:15 PM in the hotel meeting room.
 Dinner: Enjoy a New Mexican food buffet dinner in the hotel conference room.
 Evening: Introductions and orientation in the hotel meeting room following dinner. Get to know your fellow participants, review the schedule, and get prepared for the action packed adventure you are about to embark on.
Accommodations: Albuquerque Best Western Rio Grande Inn
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Tour Sky City Acoma
(Sunday, April 14)
 Breakfast: Hot buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Depart for Sky City Acoma Pueblo (approximately 1.5 hours). After checking in at the Sky City Cultural Center the group will join a local guide for a walking tour of the Acoma Pueblo. The Acoma Pueblo is perched atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff in a valley studded with sacred, towering monoliths. Since 1150 A.D., Acoma Pueblo has earned the reputation as the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. The mesa-top settlement is known worldwide for its unique art and rich culture. The tour will include the history and cultural traditions of the Acoma people presented by a native guide and a visit to the massive San Esteban del Rey Mission, a Catholic mission built in 1629.
 Lunch: Experience a taste of local fare at the Y'aak’a Café, located within the Sky City Cultural Center.
 Afternoon: Continued exploration of the Acoma people and culture with time in the Haak’u Museum. The museum exhibits some of the most stunning Pueblo pottery and Southwest Indian art created by renowned Native American artists. Permanent exhibits in the main hall take visitors on a historical journey of Acoma Pueblo, while special exhibits display Indian artifacts and historical Native American pottery. Depart for Gallup.
 Dinner: Dinner at King Dragon Chinese Buffet. Enjoy a wide selection of Chinese and traditional items at one of Gallup's newest restaurant.
 Evening: Enjoy an interesting evening presentation on a topic of regional significance.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn Gallup
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Village of Zuni Mission Tour / Traditional Lunch / Ashiwi Museum Murals
(Monday, April 15)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast, depart for Zuni Pueblo. The Zuni Pueblo has stood for over 900 years and is situated in a picturesque valley at the base of "Corn Mountain". Meet a Zuni guide for a presentation on Zuni culture inside the historic Mission church. The Zuni Mission, originally built in 1629, houses the fantastic katchina murals painted by Zuni artists Alex and Ken Seowtewa. The murals depict the intricate and colorful ceremonial cycle of the Zuni people. Visitors from around the world have come to gaze upon and marvel at these murals. Following the guided tour, a demonstration on Zuni jewelry making will be offered.
 Lunch: Traditional Zuni lunch presented and served in a "Shalako" house. A unique opportunity to visit and interact with Zuni residents makes this a memorable experience.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a docent lead tour of the Zuni / Ashiwi Museum. The Zuni migration story is represented and interpreted on a spectacular wall size mural. View artifacts from the relic village of Hawikuh, one of the "Seven Cities of Cibola". An opportunity to shop for Zuni crafts and goods from a reputable dealer will be offered.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant, offering a wide selection of tasty entrees and lively atmosphere.
 Evening: After dinner, a presentation on Chaco Canyon and its significance in the larger ancient puebloan world will serve as a prep for our Chaco Canyon visit the next day.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn Gallup
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Chaco Culture National Historic Park / Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl and Casa Rinconada
(Tuesday, April 16)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: After an early breakfast, embark on a full day field trip to Chaco Canyon. Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America's most significant and fascinating cultural and historic areas. Chaco Canyon was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between AD 850 and 1150. It was a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the prehistoric Four Corners area - unlike anything before or since. Please note that this will be a very full day with an early departure and late return. At Chaco Canyon your knowledgeable field guide will conduct a walking tour of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl, two of the parks "Great Houses". Pueblo Bonito represents the zenith of "Anasazi" culture and is the largest and most famous ruin in Chaco Canyon. Pueblo Bonito reached five stories in height along its back wall and may have contained as many as 800 rooms. Pueblo Bonito stood as the largest structure in North America until the 1800's. There will also be the opportunity to explore the Petroglyph Trail with its many fascinating and often whimsical rock art images.
 Lunch: Box lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: After lunch we will visit the ruins of Chetro Ketl - one of the largest pueblos in Chaco Canyon. This pueblo contained over 500 rooms and 12 kivas including a Great Kiva within the central plaza.The walls of Chetro Ketl are embedded with ancient wooden vigas, or beams - which had to be carried from distant forests by hand and prepared with stone tools. It is estimated that over 5,000 trees were cut for Chetro Ketl alone. Chacoan "banded masonry", the meso-american influenced "colonnade", painted room plaster and "key hole" kivas are just a few of the architectural gems contained in Chetro Ketl. The afternoon tour continues with a stop at Casa Rinconada, which stands as the largest "Great Kiva" in the southwest! Casa Rinconada is believed to be the impressive venue for ceremonial activities of old. A visit to the park visitor center museum, bookstore and exhibits will be planned.
 Dinner: After returning to motel around 5:30 pm, we will have a later dinner at Don Diego's Mexican Restaurant a favorite among locals. Time to enjoy and a well deserved rest and reflect on the events of the day.
 Evening: Free evening.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn Gallup
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Program Wrap up and Return to Albuquerque
(Wednesday, April 17)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: NAU Road Scholar vans will drop participants at the Albuquerque airport for return flights by 11:00 AM. Participants not needing an airport drop will be transported to the Albuquerque hotel where program ends.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Gallup, NM general
Within two hours of Gallup are the following points of interest: Canyon de Chelly Natl Mon, Hubbel Trading Post, Meteor Crater, Homolovi Ruins, Shiprock, NM, Navajo Nation Headquarters at Window Rock, AZ, Laguna Pueblo, Zuni Pueblo and Chaco Canyon NM.
  Albuquerque, NM general
Much of Albuquerque retains its Spanish Territorial appeal. Old Town, on the banks of the Rio Grande River, offers adobe village charm filled with restaurants, boutiques, and its square which is positively Old Mexico. A few miles east is the University of New Mexico. About 10 miles north of town is the Sandia Peak Tramway, which climbs over 5,000 feet above Albuquerque to provide a stunning view of the desert floor. For those who want to venture 55 miles north of Albuquerque, Santa Fe is has the feel of Old Spain, with narrow streets, adobe buildings, very upscale shopping, world wide cuisines in its restaurants, visual and performing arts, and a thriving American Indian handicrafts market stretching around the central square.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Acoma: Pueblo in the Sky

Author: Minge, Ward Allen

Description: The only official history of the Sky City sanctioned by the tribal council, Acoma: Pueblo in the Sky chronicles the social, economic, and political history of the Acoma tribe. For centuries the people of Acoma have endured newcomers on the New Mexican plains who often came at once to marvel at, and manipulate, the Acoma way of life. Through the advent of rival tribes, the Spanish, and the thousands of tourists who now visit Sky City every year, the Acomas have weathered years of such intrusions. Drawing on tribal documents, Minge traces the evolution of the pueblo and explores the ongoing struggle of the Acomas to preserve their traditions.

Native Roads : The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations

Author: Kosik, Frank

Description: Using the mile markers of the US, Arizona, and Navajo highways and routes running through the Navajo and Hopi nations as her organizing principle, the author offers a travel guide to the sites found in the area. Natural, historical, and cultural points of interest are covered, along with some information on lodging and services. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR 304pp

My Adventurers in Zuni (American Historical Reprints Series)

Author: Cushing, Frank H.

Description: Frank H. Cushing (1857-1900) was a pioneer in the study of Pueblo culture. At age 22 he left New York and lived five years among the Zuñi. There he became fluent in the language, studied the village society and Zuñi crafts intently, and was the first white man to join the Priesthood of the Bow. His work has been widely recognized among scholars, not only for its accuracy but also because it was a cornerstone in the construction of a vast knowledge of Pueblo culture carried on by historians, ethnologists, archeologists, anthropologists, and sociologists throughout the twentieth century. 79pp

Chaco Meridian

Author: Lekson, Stephen H

Description: Southwestern archaeologists have long pondered the meaning and importance of the monumental 11th century structures in Chaco Canyon. Now, Stephen H. Lekson offers a lively, provocative thesis which attempts to reconceptualize the meaning of Chaco and its importance to the understanding of the entire Southwest.. "Lekson's ground-breaking synthesis of 500 years of Southwestern prehistory - with its explanation of phenomena as diverse as the Great North Road, macaw feathers, Pueblo mythology, and the rise of kachina ceremonies - will be of great interest to all those concerned with the prehistory and history of the American Southwest.

In Search of Chaco

Author: Noble, David Grant

Description: Startling discoveries and impassioned debates have emerged from the "Chaco Phenomenon" since the publication of New Light on Chaco Canyon twenty years ago. This completely updated edition features seventeen original essays, scores of photographs, maps, and site plans, and the perspectives of archaeologists, historians, and Native American thinkers. For more than a century archaeologists and others have pursued Chaco Canyon's many and elusive meanings. In Search of Chaco brings these explorations to a new generation of enthusiasts.

People of Chaco: A Canyon and Its Culture

Author: Frazier, Kendrick

Description: Chaco Wash has cut a broad canyon through northwestern New Mexico. Its natural beauty is surpassed only by the many prehistoric ruins it contains, which were built by the Chacoan Anasazi, the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians. About 1000 years ago, the Chacoans constructed multistory residences, established an extensive road system, exercised cultural hegemony over a large region in the southwestern United States, and then suddenly left. Frazier skillfully recounts the fascinating story of Chaco Canyon. He describes its discovery and exploration, its role in the development of American archaeology, and the clues it contains about a unique cultural system. Gordon C. Tucker, Jr., Nickens and Assocs., Montrose, Col. 261pp

Warriors: Navajo Code Talkers

Author: Kawano, Kenji

Description: The American offensive in the Pacific during World War II [was] hampered by the Japanese ability to crack the most secret U.S. Codes. Navajo was virtually unknown outside the reservations, ... and [their] code proved uncrackable. Kenji Kawano's striking photographs capture the quiet dignity of the surviving veterans as they recall their actions --Los Angeles Times 128 pp

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