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New Mexico/Colorado/Arizona

Ancient Puebloans: Mesas, Monuments, Canyons and More

Program No. 11010RJ
Delve into the history of the Ancestral Puebloans as you learn about prehistoric villages, explore the region’s National Parks and visit important sites with a local expert.
Length
9 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
2,299

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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 12 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
2,299
May 26 - Jun 3, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Sep 1 - Sep 9, 2023
Starting at
2,299
Sep 15 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
2,299
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 12 - May 20, 2023
Starting at
2,749
May 26 - Jun 3, 2023
Starting at
2,749
Sep 1 - Sep 9, 2023
Starting at
2,749
Sep 15 - Sep 23, 2023
Starting at
2,749

At a Glance

Chimney Rock, Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, Aztec, Canyon de Chelly and Chaco Canyon — investigate these large archaeological sites in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico to better understand the early Puebloan lifestyle in the Southwest.
Activity Level
Let's Go!
Hiking up to three miles daily over varied terrain. Some hikes involve elevation gains and steep dropoffs. Elevations up to 8,000 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Address how regional climate, geology and agriculture influenced the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans.
  • Learn how indigenous people faced the challenges which presented themselves in each region, study their unique connection to the land and learn about the development of Puebloan cultural groups at each spectacular site.
  • View the remains of an incredibly complex civilization and gain perspective on how Native Americans retain ancestral traditions while adapting to the present-day.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Richard Friedman
Richard Friedman is an archaeologist with decades of experience researching Chacoan culture, who has done extensive work using state-of-the-art technology for cultural and archeological resource documentation, management, and research. He has participated in projects with the National Park Service, the Navajo Nation, the Bureau of Land Management, NASA, the Solstice Project and the University of Colorado, and has co-authored several papers on Chacoan archaeology and the use of remote sensing technology.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Richard Friedman
Richard Friedman View biography
Richard Friedman is an archaeologist with decades of experience researching Chacoan culture, who has done extensive work using state-of-the-art technology for cultural and archeological resource documentation, management, and research. He has participated in projects with the National Park Service, the Navajo Nation, the Bureau of Land Management, NASA, the Solstice Project and the University of Colorado, and has co-authored several papers on Chacoan archaeology and the use of remote sensing technology.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
People of Chaco, A Canyon and Its Culture
by Kendrick Frazier
A nicely written account of Chaco and its people. First published in 1986. Frazier interweaves ethnographic data, oral history and archaeological evidence in his classic portrait of the place.
Ancient Peoples of the American Southwest
by Stephen Plog, Amy Elizabeth Grey (Illustrator)
This illustrated introduction provides an in-depth look at the ancient cultures that first inhabited the pueblos and cliff dwellings of the American Southwest. Organized chronologically, it features hundreds of maps, mostly black-and-white photographs and site diagrams.
American Indian Myths and Legends
by Richard Erdoes, Alfonso Ortiz
An illustrated collection of 180 traditoonal stories from all over North America.
Colorado Plateau, Wild and Beautiful
by John Annerino
A coffee table tribute to the geological wonderland of "Red Rock Country." Award-winning photographer and writer John Annerino takes us through the echoing canyons, towering hoodoos and cliff dwellings of the region’s beautiful parks and reserves.
A Thief of Time
by Tony Hillerman
A mystery of stolen artifacts from an ancient Anasazi burial site set against a detailed depiction of Southwestern culture.
Anasazi America
by David Stuart
A thought-provoking, engaging account of the rise and fall of Anasazi society in the desert southwest.
Four Corners Regional Map
by G.M. Johnson Maps
This double-sided road map shows national parks, archaeological sites and attractions from the Grand Canyon to Chaco, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion.
Moon Handbook Four Corners
by Julian Smith
A slim, comprehensive guide to the sights and history of Navajo and Hopi Country, Moab and Lake Powell.
Ancient Ruins of the Southwest, An Archaeological Guide
by David Grant Noble
The third edition of Noble's indispensable guide to the archaeology of the American Southwest.
Runner in the Sun
by D'Arcy McNickle
Nickles combined his anthropology background with all the suspense of a mystery to craft this novel about pre-Hispanic Indian life in the American Southwest.
In Search of the Old Ones, Exploring the Anasazi World of the Southwest
by David D. Roberts
An exuberant, engaging account of archaeological adventures in the desert Southwest. Roberts investigates the factors that may have led to the demise of the Anasazi civilization and looks into longstanding controversies.
The Southwest Inside Out, An Illustrated Guide to the Land and its History
by Thomas Wiewandt, Maureen Wilks
An outstanding guide to understanding the geomorphology of the Southwest, featuring the author's color photographs of canyons, dunes and other landforms.
Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey
One of the great works on the value of the desert, eloquent and laugh-out-loud funny. Although Abbey writes specifically about his experiences as a ranger at Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah, his message is universal.
Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History
by Joe Sando
An expansive history of the Indian Pueblos of New Mexico from a Native American perspective. The book explores the origins of the tribe to its current struggles to maintain sovereignty, land and water rights.
Pueblo People: Ancient Traditions, Modern Lives
by Marcia Keegan
Photographer Keegan, who has studied the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico for 30 years, compiled 417 color photographs alongside personal stories and cultural insights in this stunning tribute.
Book of the Hopi
by Oswald White Bear Fredericks, Frank Waters
Thirty Hopi elders share their legends, ceremonies, history and language.
Masked Gods, Navaho and Pueblo Ceremonialism
by Frank Waters
An excellent overview of Pueblo life and their many ceremonies.
The Professor's House
by Willa Cather
Cather's accomplished 1925 novel includes a story-within-a-story of explorer Tom Outland, a character modeled after Richard Wetherill, the discoverer of Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde.
House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest
by Craig Childs
Naturalist Craig Childs uses the latest research and his personal exploration of the American Southwest to consider what happened to the Anasazi, an illustrious tribe that flourished until mysteriously vanishing in the 13th century.
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9 days
8 nights
21 meals
8 B 7 L 6 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Albuquerque
D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 3:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Remember to bring your name-tag (sent previously). Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. This program is staffed with both a Study Leader who will provide expert commentary and a Group Leader who will attend primarily to logistics. The activity level for this program is “Let’s Go!” Participants must be able to hike up to three miles daily over varied terrain. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Welcome dinner in our hotel meeting room.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Pueblo history and culture, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
Albuquerque
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour over the course of the day. Walking up to 1 mile; paved sidewalks; standing up to an hour at a time.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We will begin the day with a lecture in the hotel meeting room. Our Study Leader, an experienced archaeologist and geologist, will introduce the archaeology and anthropology of Ancestral Puebloans. We’ll then board the motorcoach and head out on a field trip to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC).

Lunch: At the IPCC, we will enjoy a private, catered lunch.

Afternoon: After lunch we will explore the exhibits at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The IPCC preserves and perpetuates Pueblo culture through tribally curated exhibits. The museum on the lower level showcases the history, culture and arts of the Pueblo people of New Mexico in two permanent exhibitions. Next, we’ll return to the hotel with our Study Leader for an introduction to the topic of archaeoastronomy. Sometimes called the anthropology of astronomy, archaeoastronomy is the study of astronomical practices and related legends and lore including religious beliefs and world views in ancient cultures. The Ancestral Pueblo people of northwestern New Mexico studied the heavens and incorporated celestial events into their lives a thousand years ago. These Puebloans had a comprehension of geometry in relation to solar and lunar cycles that helped them orient their constructions to record equinoxes and solstices. We’ll then have time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at a popular local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
3
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Arrive Farmington
Farmington, NM
B,L,D
Hampton Inn & Suites Farmington

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and a school bus; driving 230 miles, approximately 4.5 hours over the course of the day. Hiking up to 3 miles; paved and unpaved, sometimes uneven terrain with some elevation gains. Bring water bottle, sunscreen, hat, walking stick if needed.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board a motorcoach and begin our journey to Farmington, New Mexico. We’ll ride first to Nageezi, 135 miles northwest of Albuquerque. There, we’ll transfer from our motorcoach to a school bus for the 24-mile ride into Chaco Culture National Historical Park. On arrival at the Visitor Center, we’ll view exhibits and then set out on a school bus that will take us from site to site. As we walk at each site, we’ll examine some of the stacked-stone ruins with our Study Leader. Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of North America’s most significant and fascinating cultural and historic areas. Chaco was a major center of Ancestral Puebloan culture from 850-1150 CE. 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. Construction of the buildings, roads, ramps, dams, and mounds required a great deal of well-organized and skillful planning, designing, and resource gathering. The Chacoan people combined pre-planned architectural designs, astronomical alignments, geometry, landscaping, and engineering to create an ancient urban center of spectacular public architecture that continues to amaze us a thousand years later.

Lunch: We’ll have boxed lunches in the Park.

Afternoon: Our Chaco Canyon field trip will continue for most of the afternoon. We’ll then ride on to Farmington, New Mexico, and check in to the hotel for our overnight stay.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
4
Aztec Natl. Monument, Chimney Rock, Mesa Verde Natl. Park
Mesa Verde National Park
B,L,D
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 100 miles, approximately 2.5 hours over the course of the day. Hiking up to 2 miles; paved and unpaved, sometimes uneven terrain with some elevation gains. Chimney Rock hike is 2/3 mile round-trip over a rough, steep, rocky, unimproved trail on a narrow causeway with cliffs on both sides; 200-foot elevation gain, no shade. Those who prefer not to hike Chimney Rock can see some sites at the bottom of the trail or just relax in the shade.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board our motorcoach and ride to Aztec Ruins National Monument where we will view the ancient ruins with our Study Leader. Aztec Ruins National Monument preserves structures and artifacts of Ancestral Pueblo people from the 1100s through the 1200s. Although it used to be considered a Chacoan outlier, recent research indicates it may have been the second Chacoan “capital,” established and occupied after the abandonment of Chaco Canyon in the 1150s. Aztec itself was abandoned about 1275 CE, probably as a result of a prolonged drought. Some Southwestern archeologists believe the Chacoan “elites” then moved south and established Paquime, another immense site in northern Mexico. The monument was established in 1923 with the excavation and reconstruction of Aztec West by Earl Morris and designated a World Heritage Site in 1987. From Aztec, we’ll ride on to the Chimney Rock archaeological area.

Lunch: At Chimney Rock, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Our Study Leader will take us to some key sites in the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, the northeastern-most Chacoan outlier. We’ll have the opportunity to see a great kiva, pit house, and an Ancestral Puebloan dwelling. After the field trip, we’ll ride on to our lodge hotel in Mesa Verde National Park and check in.

Dinner: We will enjoy dinner in the Metate Room at the Lodge.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Mesa Verde National Park Full-Day Field Trip
Mesa Verde National Park
B,L
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 2 hours over the course of the day. Hiking up to 2 miles; varied terrain with inclines. Cliff Palace (if open) involves climbing five 8 to 10-foot ladders on a 100-foot vertical climb.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at Far View Lodge.

Morning: Today’s full-day field trip in Mesa Verde National Park will include explorations as determined by our Study Leader based on current conditions. Spanish for “green table,” Mesa Verde has a rich past going back at least 13,000 years. By 775 CE, Ancestral Puebloans lived in small villages on the mesa top. By the mid-to-late 1100s, they had moved into stone masonry houses situated in alcoves on the canyon walls, commonly known as “cliff dwellings.” 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: We will have lunch at Mesa Verde’s Spruce Tree Terrace Café.

Afternoon: Our Mesa Verde field trip will continue. We’ll then return to the lodge with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. You may choose to make a reservation at the Metate Room or take a short walk down to the Far View Terrace for dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Canyon of the Ancients Ctr, Hovenweep Natl. Monument, Cortez
Cortez, CO
B,L,D
Baymont Inn & Suites Cortez

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles, approximately 3 hours over the course of the day. Hiking up to 2 miles; paved and unpaved trails.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the Lodge, we’ll board a motorcoach for a full day exploring the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum and Hovenweep National Monument. The Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum, southwest Colorado’s leading archaeological museum, preserves and displays artifacts from Ancestral Puebloans of the Four Corners area. Outstanding permanent exhibits focus on archaeology, local history, and Native American cultures. There are two 12th-century archaeological sites, a research library of archaeology and anthropology resources, and a collection of more than three million artifacts and records. We’ll have a self-directed museum exploration to see what interests each of us most before moving on to Hovenweep National Monument.

Lunch: At Hovenweep, we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll hike to several sites within the Hovenweep National Monument based on current conditions. Situated on Cajon Mesa about 40 miles west of Mesa Verde, Hovenweep is one of the most intriguing prehistoric settlements in the Southwest. Most of the tower-kiva complexes and D-shaped structures we will see were built between 1235 and 1240 CE and used for only 70 years. By 1281, Hovenweep was abandoned. Known for its six major villages, archaeologists have found more than 300 additional sites within the National Monument. Square Tower Unit, located at the Visitors Center, covers more than 400 acres alone. The other five villages are Cajon, Holly, Horseshoe, Hackberry, and Cutthroat. After viewing the ruins, we will drive to Cortez and check in to our hotel.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Canyon de Chelly
Chinle, AZ
B,L
Thunderbird Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 200 miles, approximately 3.5 hours over the course of the day. Short walks at overlooks.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and ride to Canyon de Chelly. On arrival, we’ll drive along the north rim and stop at overlooks with commentary by our Study Leader. At the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves, there are ruins of Puebloan villages built between 350 and 1300 CE. Canyon de Chelly National Monument offers visitors the chance to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest basket makers to the Navajo who live and farm here today.

Lunch: We'll have lunch at a restaurant in Chinle.

Afternoon: Our field trip will continue along the south rim of Canyon de Chelly. We’ll then ride to Thunderbird Lodge, operated by the Navajo Nation.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like at the Lodge cafeteria.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
White House Ruin Hike, Hubbell Trading Post, To Albuquerque
Albuquerque
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 230 miles, approximately 4.5 hours over the course of the day. Hiking about 2.5 miles round-trip, approximately 2-3 hours; 600-foot elevation loss/gain on the way; bring water bottle, sunscreen, hat; walking sticks recommended.

Breakfast: Lodge cafeteria buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the lodge and loading our luggage onto the motorcoach, we’ll head out to the White House Ruin trailhead. With our Study Leader, we’ll hike into the canyon and one of the best vantage points to see the ruins. This is the only trail into the canyon. The so-called White House Ruin is one of the most impressive early Puebloan cliff dwellings.

Lunch: We'll have lunch at the Thunderbird Lodge cafeteria before departing for Albuquerque.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to Ganado and stop at the historical Hubbell Trading Post. John Lorenzo Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878 after the return of the Navajo from five years of exile at the Bosque Redondo, Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. During the time spent at Bosque Redondo, they had been introduced to items such as flour, sugar, coffee, and cloth. Trading posts like the one Hubbell ran supplied those items after they returned home. Hubbell had an enormous influence on Navajo rug weaving and silversmithing, as he promoted quality workmanship. Hubbell family members operated the trading post until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1967. The trading post is still active, operated by the non-profit Western National Parks Association. We’ll also have some time to see what interests each of us most. We’ll ride on to Albuquerque and expect to arrive at the hotel for check-in approximately 6:00 p.m.

Dinner: Farewell dinner in the hotel meeting room.

Evening: We’ll gather once more as a group for a wrap-up session in our hotel meeting room to share experiences and exchange farewells. Then prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
Albuquerque
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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