New Mexico/Colorado/Arizona
Ancient Puebloans: Mesas, Monuments, Canyons and More
Delve into the history of the Ancestral Puebloan as you learn about prehistoric villages, explore the region’s National Parks and visit important sites with an archaeologist.
Program No. 11010RJ
9 days
Starts at
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9 days
8 nights
21 meals
8 B 7 L 6 D
Getting There
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Check In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Nativo Lodge

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

Afternoon: Program Registration 3:00-4:45 p.m.: After you have your room assignment., come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, to get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule and other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet at the front desk when you check in. Orientation at 5:00 p.m.: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Transportation for program-related activities will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Plated meal or buffet in our hotel meeting room includes soup or salad, selection of entrées, dessert, coffee, tea and water (additional beverages available for purchase.)

Evening: Take the rest of the evening to continue getting to know your fellow participants, relax, and get a good night’s sleep for the full day ahead.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Petroglyph National Monument
Nativo Lodge

Activity note: Walking up to a mile, unimproved trails, some elevation gain; standing up to an hour.

Breakfast: In our meeting room, the continental breakfast buffet includes choices such as waffles, pastries, yogurt, oatmeal, and a seasonal fruit bowl, plus coffee, juice, water.

Morning: Our Study Guide, an experienced archaeologist, will introduce us to the archaeology and anthropology of Ancestral Puebloans. After class, we’ll board the motorcoach and depart for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

Lunch: At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, order a plated meal from a limited menu, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center 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 ride to Petroglyph National Monument, one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. Four-to-seven centuries ago, the Rio Grande's Pueblo people carved symbols and images into the boulders along the volcanic escarpment known as the West Mesa. Later, Spanish and American settlers followed suit, and depictions of crosses and horses lie side-by-side with those of suns, spirals, birds, animals and figures of hump-backed flute players.

Dinner: Plated meal from a local restaurant.

Evening: Our Study Guide will introduce us 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.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Farmington, NM
Hampton Inn & Suites Farmington

Activity note: Hiking up to 3 miles; paved, unpaved, sometimes uneven terrain, some elevation gains. Bring water bottle, sunscreen, hat, walking sticks if needed.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. We’ll also pick up box lunches.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we'll depart for Chaco Culture National Historical Park, 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque. Upon arrival, we'll explore some of the ancient ruins with our Study Guide and marvel at the intact stacked-stone masonry. 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 between 850 and 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: In the park, we’ll eat our boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Our exploration of Chaco Canyon continues for most of the afternoon, followed by departure for Farmington, New Mexico, and check in for our overnight stay.

Dinner: Plated meal from a select menu at a local bistro includes coffee, tea, soft drinks, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Return to the hotel and free evening.

Aztec National Monument, Chimney Rock, Mesa Verde Nat. Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Hiking up to 2 miles; paved, unpaved, sometimes uneven terrain, some elevation gains. Bring water bottle, sunscreen, hat, walking sticks if needed. Hike at Chimney Rock is 2/3 mile round-trip; rough, steep, rocky, unimproved trail on a narrow causeway with cliffs on both sides; 200-foot elevation gain, no shade.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we'll ride to Aztec Ruins National Monument where we will view the ancient ruins with our Study Guide. 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 "capitol," 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 continue to the Chimney Rock archaeological area.

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

Afternoon: We will explore 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 before continuing on to Mesa Verde National Park. We'll check into our accommodations on arrival at Mesa Verde.

Dinner: In the Metate Room at the Lodge, enjoy a plated meal, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Mesa Verde National Park Full-Day Field Trip
Mesa Verde National Park
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Hiking up to 3 miles with inclines.

Breakfast: At Far View Lodge, enjoy a buffet including a build-your-own burrito and omelet station, yogurt bar, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: Today, we'll enjoy a full-day field trip in Mesa Verde National Park. Visits may include the Cliff Palace overlook, the Chapin Museum, Square Tower House overlook, Sun Point, and Sun Temple, depending on timing and availability. Mesa Verde, Spanish for “green table,” 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: At Mesa Verde’s Spruce Tree Terrace Café, enjoy cafeteria-style dining offering a variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, tacos, and desserts, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Our exploration of Mesa Verde continues. 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.

Hovenweep National Monument, Transfer to Cortez
Cortez, CO
Baymont Inn & Suites Cortez

Activity note: Hiking up to 2 miles; paved and unpaved trails at Hovenweep.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the Lodge, we'll depart for a full-day field trip to the Anasazi Heritage Center and Hovenweep National Monument. The Anasazi Heritage Center, 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 enjoy a self-led exploration of the museum before continuing on to Hovenweep National Monument.

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

Afternoon: We'll visit select sites within the National Monument. Located on Cajon Mesa about 40 miles west of Mesa Verde, Hovenweep National Monument 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. We’ll then depart for Cortez and hotel check-in.

Dinner: At a popular local brewpub, enjoy a plated meal, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

Canyon de Chelly
Chinle, AZ
Thunderbird Lodge

Activity note: Short walks at overlooks.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we'll board our motorcoach and depart for Canyon de Chelly. On arrival we'll drive along the north rim stopping at overlooks with commentary by our Study Guide. At the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves 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: Plated meal at a restaurant in Chinle.

Afternoon: Our field trip continues along the south rim of Canyon de Chelly. We’ll then proceed to our hotel for check in.

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.

White House Ruin Hike, Transfer to Albuquerque, Wrap Up
Nativo Lodge

Activity note: Hiking 2.5 miles round-trip, approximately 2-3 hours; 600-foot elevation loss/gain on the way; walking sticks recommended. Bring water bottle, sunscreen, hat.

Breakfast: Lodge cafeteria buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel and loading our luggage onto the motorcoach, we'll depart for the White House Ruin trailhead. With our Study Guide we'll hike into the canyon where we will have 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 Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Lunch: Lunch buffet at the Thunderbird Lodge cafeteria.

Afternoon: We’ll depart early afternoon and travel to Ganado where we'll stop at the historical Hubbell Trading Post. John Lorenzo Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878 after the return of the Navajo from 10 years of exile at the Bosque Redondo, Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. During the 4 years 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 demanded and 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. Continue on to Albuquerque, where we expect to arrive at about 6:00 p.m.

Dinner: In the hotel meeting room, enjoy a buffet meal, plus coffee, tea, water; additional beverages available for purchase at the hotel bar.

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

Program Concludes

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

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Morning: If you are departing from the hotel, please check out no later than 12:00 p.m.

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