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Four Corners Anasazi Sacred Sites: Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, Canyon de Chelly, Chaco Canyon and More

Program Number: 11010RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/28/2014 - 5/6/2014; 4/27/2015 - 5/5/2015; 5/11/2015 - 5/19/2015; 9/7/2015 - 9/15/2015; 9/21/2015 - 9/29/2015;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Price starting at: $1,699.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks; History & Culture; Native American Studies Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, Canyon de Chelly, Aztec, and Chaco Canyon — investigate these large archaeological sites in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico to better understand the early Puebloan lifestyle in the Southwest.


• Accompanied by an archaeologist, address how regional climate, geology and agriculture influenced the lives of the Ancient Pueblo Indians.
• At each spectacular site, learn how these indigenous people faced the challenges which presented themselves in each region, study their unique connection to the land and learn about the development of Anasazi cultural groups.
• View the remains of an incredibly complex civilization and gain perspective on how Native Americans retain ancestral traditions while adapting to the present-day.

Activity Particulars

Hiking up to three miles over uneven terrain, moderate inclines. Elevations up to 7,000 feet.

Itinerary Summary

Albuquerque, N.M., 2 nights; coach to Farmington, N.M., 1 night; coach to Cortez, CO., 3 nights; coach to Chinle, Ariz., 1 night; coach to Albuquerque, N.M., 1 night.

Coordinated by Road Scholar.

Santa Fe

A cosmopolitan city famous for its world-renowned opera, chamber and choral music and for its art and artists, Santa Fe is situated at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Nearby, eight historic, continuously occupied pueblos and small Hispanic villages divulge a heritage that is impeccably preserved in this multi-cultural state capital.


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.


Located near the geographic center of the Navajo Nation, the largest tract of land reserved for American Indians in the United States, Chinle is a hub of the native Navajo community. Against a backdrop of ancient ruins at the mouth of the Canyon De Chelly National Monument, many Navajo still live in traditional hogans.


Aztec is a small city in the Four Corners region of New Mexico. Nearby is the Aztec Ruins National Monument, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that incorporates the most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. Ancient Pueblo People lived in the desert cliffs of this area beginning some time around the 12th century BCE.

Comfortable hotels and motels.

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

Dick Sandlin teaches Road Scholar participants about topics like railroading in the Rockies, archaeology of the Four Corners region and the Buffalo Soldiers. He has a background in filmmaking with a CBS-TV in Miami as well as with the U.S. Army and Pentagon motion-picture team. Dick earned a bachelor’s in mass communications from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s in Southwest Humanities from Fort Lewis College.
Meals and Lodgings
   MCM Elegante Hotel
  Albuquerque 2 nights
   Hampton Inn
  Farmington, NM 1 night
   Far View Lodge
  Cortez, CO 3 nights
   Holiday Inn Canyon de Chelly
  Chinle, AZ 1 night
   MCM Elegante Hotel
  Albuquerque 1 night
 MCM Elegante Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Large hotel with mid-town location and free parking.
  Contact info: 2020 Menaul NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107 USA
phone: 505-884-2511
  Room amenities: Data ports, irons, ironing boards, hairdryers, refrigerators upon request.
  Facility amenities: Heated pool, spa and exercise room, restaurant and lounge on premises.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: best seasonal rate Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: best seasonal rate Arrange for pre and post hotel nights directly with hotel at (505) 884-2511.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 Hampton Inn
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 1500 Bloomfield Blvd.
Farmington, NM 87401 USA
phone: 505-564-3100
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Far View Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Contact info: 1 Navajo Hill
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330 USA
phone: 800-449-2288
  Room amenities: Private balconies; no televisions
  Smoking allowed: No

 Holiday Inn Canyon de Chelly
Type: Hotel
  Description: Proximity to Canyon de Chelly
  Contact info: Bia Route 7-Garcia Trading Post
Chinle, AZ 86503 USA
phone: 928-674-5000
  Facility amenities: Fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, wifi and wired internet
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check into hotel after 3:00 PM. Registration with group leader between 4:00 and 5:30 PM. You will be staying at MCM Elegante Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after buffet breakfast between 7:00 & 9:00 AM; checkout by noon. You will be staying at MCM Elegante Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. No special documents or waivers required.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free at the MCM
To Start of Program
  Location:  Albuquerque
  Nearest highway: I-25 and I-40
  Nearest airport:  Albuquerque International Sunport
  From End of Program
  Location: Albuquerque
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



To Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


It is a good idea to let the hotel's front desk staff know the evening before your departure that you'll need a shuttle to the airport. They can let you know what time the shuttle will depart in order for you to catch your flight.




From Airport




Hotel Shuttle
MCM Elegante Hotel Shuttle
phone: 505-884-2511


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel shuttle is free
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


15 minutes 




5 miles


After picking up your luggage, call the hotel at 884-2511 from the courtesy phones in the baggage claim area.

Driving Directions
  From Interstate 25 Interstate 25 runs north and south through the middle of Albuquerque, where it crosses Interstate 40. From the north, take Exit 227 (Comanche, Candelaria, Menaul). Drive south along the frontage road until you reach Menaul (the third major intersection). Turn left on Menaul. Just after the first major intersection, with University Blvd., you'll see the hotel on the right. From the south, take Exit 225 (Lomas). Continue driving north along the frontage road until you reach Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and, just after the first major intersection (University), you'll see the hotel on the right.
  From Interstate 40 Interstate 40 runs east and west through the middle of Albuquerque. Near the center of town, it crosses Interstate 25. From the east, take Exit 159-D (University Blvd.) to the first light, which is Menaul. Turn right on Menaul and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection. From the west, take Exit 159-A (University Blvd.). Continue east along the frontage road until you reach University; turn left on University. Take a right at the second light, on Menaul, and you'll see the hotel on the right, just past the intersection.
Elevation Note: The altitude of the sites visited on this program ranges from 5,500 ft. to 8,000 ft.

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: Arrive in Albuquerque/Orientation and Introductions
(Monday, April 28)
 Arrive To: Check into hotel between 3:00-5:30 PM. Registration with the Road Scholar group leader between 4:00-5:30.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00 to 7:00 PM
 Evening: Program orientation and introductions in hotel meeting room from 7:00 to 8:30 PM
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Puebloan Archeology and Anthropology/Visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center/Archeoastronomy Class
(Tuesday, April 29)

Note: Standing at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 7:00 to 8:00 AM
 Morning: Classes on Puebloan Anthropology/Archeology from 8:00-11:30 AM (with breaks each hour)
 Lunch: Lunch at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
 Afternoon: Visit exhibits at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center from 1:30-3:30 PM.

The bus returns to the hotel by 4:00 PM.

 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel from 6:00 to 7:00 PM
 Evening: From 7:00-8:30 PM, there will be a lecture on Archeoastronomy. We'll learn how ancient peoples from Egypt to Peru to Chaco Canyon used Archeoastronomy in planting and harvesting their crops, conducting seasonal celebrations and religious ceremonies, and in planning many other aspects of their lives.
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Chaco Culture National Historic Park/Overnight in Farmington, NM
(Wednesday, April 30)

Note: Walking up to 2 - 3 miles over paved and unpaved, sometimes uneven, terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: We'll pick up boxed lunches, then depart for Chaco Culture National Historic Park at 8:00 AM. There will be an educational video on the coach en route.

On arrival in Nageezi, we will transfer to a school bus; the road into Chaco is rough and unpaved, and motor coaches are advised not to travel the road. A school bus company does most group transport into the Canyon. A bit bumpy, but it's the only way to get there!

Arrival at the Visitor Center by about 11:30 AM.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America's most significant and fascinating cultural and historic areas. Chaco was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between A.D. 850 and 1150. It was a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the prehistoric Four Corners area. It is remarkable for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings, and its distinctive architecture.

To construct the buildings, along with the associated Chacoan roads, ramps, dams and mounds required a great deal of well-organized and skillful planning, designing, resource gathering and construction. The Chacoan people combined pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping, and engineering to create an ancient urban center of spectacular public architecture, one that amazes us a thousand years later.

 Lunch: Boxed lunches at Chaco
 Afternoon: Our exploration of Chaco Canyon continues until 4:00 PM, when the bus leaves for Farmington, New Mexico.
 Dinner: Dinner at a selected restaurant
 Evening: Hotel check-in
Accommodations: Hampton Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Aztec National Monumen/Chimney Rock Hike
(Thursday, May 1)

Note: Hiking up to 2 miles over paved and unpaved, sometimes uneven terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Depart at 8:00 AM for Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves structures and artifacts of Ancestral Pueblo people from the 1100s through the 1200s.

It may have been seen as another Chacoan outlier, however, more recent research indicates it may have been the second Chacoan "capitol," established and occupied after the abandonment of Chaco Canyon in the 1150s.

Aztec itself was abandoned about A.D. 1275 as a result of the 40-year drought. Some Southwestern archeologists believe the Chacoan "elites" then moved south and established Paquime, another immense site in northern Mexico.

The Aztec monument was established in 1923 with the excavation and reconstruction of Aztec West by Earl Morris and designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.

We'll continue on to the Chimney Rock archaeological area.

 Lunch: Boxed lunches at Chimney Rock
 Afternoon: After a hike at the Chimney Rock archaeological area, we'll continue on to Mesa Verde National Park and check into the Far View Lodge.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Lodge
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Mesa Verde National Park
(Friday, May 2)

Note: Hiking up to 2 miles over paved and unpaved terrain

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Far View Terrace Café
 Morning: Today, you'll have an all-day exploration of Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table,” offers an unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural and physical landscape.

The culture represented at Mesa Verde reflects more than 700 years of history. From approximately A.D. 600 through A.D. 1300 people lived and flourished in communities throughout the area, eventually building elaborate stone villages in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls.

Today, most people call these sheltered villages “cliff dwellings.” The cliff dwellings represent the last 75 to 100 years of occupation at Mesa Verde.

In the late 1200s, within the span of one or two generations, they left their homes and moved away.

The archeological sites found in Mesa Verde are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States, offering visitors a look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Twenty-four Native American tribes in the southwest have an ancestral affiliation with the sites at Mesa Verde.

 Lunch: Lunch at the Far View Terrace Café
 Afternoon: Continue exploring Mesa Verde
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Hovenweep National Monument
(Saturday, May 3)

Note: Walking over paved and unpaved trails at Hovenweep.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Lodge
 Morning: This morning, we'll leave for an all-day field trip to Hovenweep National Monument. Hovenweep National Monument protects five prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages spread over a twenty-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border.

Multi-storied towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders lead visitors to marvel at the skill and motivation of their builders.

Hovenweep is noted for its solitude and undeveloped, natural character. The Square Tower Group is the primary contact facility with a visitor center and interpretive trail.

Human habitation at Hovenweep dates to over 10,000 years ago when nomadic Paleoindians visited the Cajon Mesa to gather food and hunt game. These people used the area for centuries, following the seasonal weather patterns.

 Lunch: Boxed lunches
 Afternoon: Bus departs for Mesa Verde, arriving back at the Lodge at about 5:00 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Lodge
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Far View Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Canyon de Chelly
(Sunday, May 4)

Note: Short walks at overlooks

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the Lodge
 Morning: Check out of Lodge and depart for Canyon de Chelly at 8:30 AM.

On arrival, we'll drive along the north rim, stopping at overlooks along the way.

At the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves are ruins of Indian villages built between A.D. 350 and 1300.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument offers visitors the chance to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest basketmakers to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here.

 Lunch: Lunch at the Holiday Inn in Chinle
 Afternoon: Excursion along the south rim of Canyon de Chelly, followed by hotel check-in
 Dinner: Dinner at the Holiday Inn
 Evening: Evening at leisure
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Canyon de Chelly
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: White House Ruin Hike at Canyon de Chelly/Travel to Albuquerque
(Monday, May 5)

Note: Moderate roundtrip hike of 2.5 miles; some inclines on return to Canyon rim

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: After checking out and loading luggage, the bus departs for the White House Ruin trailhead at 8:30 AM.

This moderate hike of 2 1/2 miles is the only one that will take visitors down into the canyon, and will take approximately 2-3 hours.

 Lunch: Lunch at a selected restaurant
 Afternoon: Depart at 1:30 PM for return to Albuquerque, arriving at the hotel at about 6:00 PM.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Program closing at the hotel
Accommodations: MCM Elegante Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Departure
(Tuesday, May 6)
 Depart From: Independent departures from the hotel. Checkout time is by 12:00 noon.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel from 6:00 AM until 10:00 AM; you may depart at any time in the morning. Check-out time from the hotel is 12:00 PM.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Santa Fe, NM General Overview
Museums and galleries, e.g., Palace of the Governors Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Art and Culture, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, Spanish Colonial Museum, Laboratory of Anthropology, Rancho de los Golondrinas (recreation of a Spanish Colonial village), Gerald Peters Gallery, Nedra Matteucchi (Fenn) Gallery, Alan Houser Sculpture Garden, Houshang's Gallery, Alene Lapides Gallery, Laurel Seth Gallery and many more. Historic buildings and churches include Sena Plaza, El Santuario de Guadalupe, the Oldest House, San Miguel Mission, St. Francis Cathedral, the Chapel of Loretto (with its miraculous staircase!) and Cristo Rey Church. During late June, July and August, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale and Santa Fe Opera are in full swing and there are many theatre productions and concerts going on in the city year round. The Santa Fe Visitors' Guide provides seasonal listings of events, as does New Mexico Magazine. A link to Santa Fe's calendar of events, web sites and telephone numbers is listed below. For additional information, visit
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

Those Who Came Before

Author: Robert H. Lister and Florence C. Lister

Canyon de Chelly

Author: Campbell Grant

People of Chaco

Author: Kendrick Frazier

New Light on Chaco Canyon

Author: David Grant Noble

Anasazi World

Author: Dewitt Jones and Linda Cordell

Digging in the Southwest

Author: Ann Axtell Morris

Anasazi: Ancient People of the Rock

Author: David Muench and Donald G. Pike

Earl Morris and Southwestern Archeology

Author: Florence C. Lister and Robert H. Lister

Book of the Hope

Author: Frank Waters

The Book of the Navajo

Author: Raymond Friday Locke

Archeoastronomy in the Americas

Author: Ray A. Williamson

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