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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.
9 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at

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

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
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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.
Profile Image of Vannetta Perry
Vannetta Perry View biography
Dr. Vannetta Perry is a retired educator and lifelong resident of New Mexico who is deeply rooted in the southwest. Her family homesteaded and ranched in Southwestern New Mexico and farmed in West Texas. As an educator, Dr. Perry worked in the university setting, teaching biology and directing science outreach programs. Her love for travel was sparked when she led research studies in developing countries. Since retiring, Dr. Perry has continued to share her love of travel and education as a travel director and leader.
Profile Image of Scott Aarestad
Scott Aarestad View biography
Since moving to New Mexico as a child, Scott Aarestad has developed a deep love for New Mexican culture, history, cuisine and landscapes. After living and working abroad with his wife for several years, he earned his bachelor's in international management and entrepreneurship from the University of New Mexico in 2015. He enjoys learning about history, spending time outside hiking and camping, volunteering with animals and playing board games with friends. Scott is thrilled to share the enchantment of the state with Road Scholars.
Profile Image of Colleen Patrick
Colleen Patrick View biography
A native of Colorado and a relative newcomer to New Mexico, Colleen Patrick has spent a lifetime visiting and learning about Pueblo culture, pottery and the movement of Native Americans and Spaniards throughout New Mexico. Colleen has been in the travel business since 2006, but has been a traveler since her childhood. She learned to appreciate new cultures and new places as a child and has loved sharing new places and cultures with guests for many years.
Profile Image of Rob Weiner
Rob Weiner View biography
Rob Weiner is a PhD student in archaeology at the University of Colorado Boulder and a research fellow with the Solstice Project. His dissertation research focuses on monumental roads associated with the Chaco culture of the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest, along the archaeology of ritual and religion more broadly. Rob earned BA and MA degrees at Brown University, where his master's thesis examined the importance of gambling in Chacoan society as reflected in gaming artifacts and Native oral traditions.
Profile Image of Sheryl Russell
Sheryl Russell View biography
Sheryl Russell was born to a farming family in Kansas. At the University of Kansas, she studied education in theatre and English literature, followed by decades of work in retail and communications systems in Dallas, New York City, and the California Bay area. Sheryl felt that she had “come home" when she moved to Santa Fe. Here she found a cultural diversity, architectural style, and historic richness that supported the next 30 years of leading explorations and study of native Southwest cultures and their history.
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.
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.
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.
11 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 10/18/2022

This is a great program to immerse yourself in the Ancient Puebloans. With so many sites and activities, you are never bored and always gaining knowledge. A must do!

(5) Review left 9/26/2022

This program exceeded my expectations and fulfilled a lifelong goal of mine to visit the sites of the ancient people of the Southwest. Our instructor was amazing and I learned so much from both the materials provided and our day to day learning. A totally inspiring and wonder-filled trip.

(5) Review left 9/25/2022

Anything and everything you wanted to know about the Ancient Puebloans in the Four Corners region - who they were, what they left behind, where they went. Or not. It turns out there is probably more we don't know and will never know than we do know about them. But it's really nice to be able to see the sites and think about what it might have been like when they were occupied. Scott was a great group leader and Rich is really knowledgeable about the region and its peoples. Ben (our bus driver) added some extra depth to the experience that is hard to get anywhere else. Scott was really good at letting us know what to expect physically at each location. And the scenery is just breathtaking at times. I highly recommend this program if you have any interest at all in the Four Corners region or the Ancient Pueblo peoples.

(5) Review left 9/23/2022

This program will take you off the beaten trail to places like Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and Hovenweep in Utah. It will take you to Cliff Palace, the grandest cliff ruin you will ever see. And you will stay overnight on Mesa Verde, sitting on the balcony of your room, gazing out at a thunder storm 50 miles away as dusk settled in. You will remember this trip for the rest of your life, and be glad you experienced this adventure!

(5) Review left 5/24/2022

The web site is attractive and easy to use. Dive into it. Search and learn about what is available. There's a lot to explore.

(5) Review left 6/17/2019

The Road Scholar program, Ancient Puebloans, was excellent in all respects: Expertise, congeniality, patience, & approach-ability of the Group Leaders; program organization, travel time, accommodations, meals, and quality of the cultural experiences. The scenery was spectacular. And there was a lot of it!

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 6/11/2019

Trip was excellent. Outstanding leaders/instructors for the trip. Daniel and Rich were truly experts on the subject matter of the trip and made it a most interesting and enjoyable week. Great landscapes, history, cave dwellings, hotels, coach with 30 participants and food.

(5) Review left 6/10/2019

Excellent educational program to learn about the archaeology, history, and culture of the Indians who lived in the Four Corners region.

(5) Review left 6/10/2019

This program was by far the best of several that I have taken...highly recommended.

(5) Review left 6/09/2019

This trip really expanded my knowledge about the ancient puebloans,the messas, monuments, canyons, and more. The leaders of were very knowledgeable.

(5) Review left 6/09/2019

Excellent program with superb educational content and leadership

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