New Mexico/Colorado/Arizona
On the Road: Four Corners Canyon Country
Learn the pre-Columbian story of America in the Four Corners region as you join experts to explore ancient architecture, visit national parks and learn about the people that live here.
Rating (4.78)
Program No. 13157RJ
8 days
Starts at
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8 days
7 nights
20 meals
7 B 6 L 7 D
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Albuquerque, NM
Best Western Rio Grande Inn

Afternoon: Hotel Check in after 3:00 PM. Rooms may be available earlier based upon demand, call hotel for request. Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table from 4:30 - 5:15 PM in the hotel meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: starting at 5:30 PM the Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. All field trips will be led by our Group Leader, a seasoned and experienced naturalist unless specified otherwise. All transportation will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may be changed due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: After Orientation enjoy a buffet dinner in the Best western Rio Grande conference room. Entrees will include a vegetarian and gluten free option for those that enroll as such. Tea, coffee and water will be served with dinner. Alcoholic beverages available at the hotel lounge.

Evening: At leisure. Take the rest of the evening to settle in, relax, and get a good night's sleep for the full day ahead tomorrow.

Santa Fe Guided Walk and Explorations
Albuquerque, NM
Best Western Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Driving distance: Albuquerque to Santa Fe - 60 miles (1 hour). Street walking in Santa Fe at 7,000 feet elevation approximately one mile.

Breakfast: Enjoy a hot buffet breakfast at the hotel including eggs, potato, meat, pastries and fruit. Coffee, tea, water and juice included.

Morning: Depart for a day trip to Santa Fe. Enjoy a walking tour conducted by a knowledgeable certified guide around the famous Santa Fe plaza. Learn about the rich history of the Pueblo, Spanish and Territorial architectural styles and the influences of a multicultural group of people that have called Santa Fe home. The Plaza and its environs have been a gathering place since the 1600's and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

Lunch: Enjoy the flexibility of exploring Santa Fe with lunch your own. The historic walking tour ends at the Santa Fe plaza - site of many dining and quick bite options. Your coordinator and walking guide will point out dining venues and be available for suggestion.

Afternoon: After lunch, begin independent explorations of Santa Fe's famous landmarks, courtyards and native American art district. Entrance to the Georgia O'Keefe Museum will also be included and offered to the group. The museums holdings of O'Keeffe works number over 1,000. It is the largest permanent collection of O'Keeffe's work in the world. Subjects range from the artist's innovative abstractions, iconic large-format flower, skull, and landscape paintings, in addition to paintings of architectural forms and rocks, shells, and trees.

Dinner: Enjoy a New Mexican themed buffet dinner at a historic downtown eatery. Water, ice tea, and coffee included. Alcoholic beverages available for purchase from your server.

Evening: Your coordinator will prepare the group for tomorrow's activities after dinner.

Visit Aztec Ruins en Route to Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Driving distances: Albuquerque to Aztec 180 miles (3.5 hours including break at appropriate times); Aztec to Mesa Verde NP 82 miles (2 hours). Aztec National Monument trails are generally level and well graded. To experience the interior of the ruins requires negotiating a few low doorways and steps. Note: Mesa Verde National Park is at an elevation of 8,000 feet. Hydration, pacing during activities and rest are required to counter balance the effects of possible high elevation symptoms.

Breakfast: Hot buffet breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Load luggage and travel through scenic New Mexico. The Rio Grande rift valley, the San Juan Basin and the San Juan River are a few of the interesting features that the group will travel past. Your coordinator guide will interpret these lands as we travel through them giving some background on the cultural and natural history that makes the Four Corners a one of a kind destination.

Lunch: Picnic box lunch picnic (sandwich, chips,fruit, cookie and drink) on the grounds of Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Afternoon: Before heading out for independent explorations of Aztec Ruins, your Group Leader will orient the group to the special features of the monument and distribute a park trail guide that is keyed to stops throughout the ruins. There will be an opportunity to explore the well preserved Ancestral Puebloan ruins including the centerpiece of the monument - the spectacular reconstructed Great Kiva. The Visitor Center includes a park video, bookstore and an excellent museum. Depart Aztec Ruins and continue traveling along the flanks of the La Plata Mountains Mesa Verde National Park. Climb thousands of feet to the top of the "Mesa Verde" where the group will check in to the Far View Lodge.

Dinner: Dinner in Mesa Verde National Park at the famed and much acclaimed Far View Lodge Metate Room Restaurant. Multiple plated entree selections along with soup or salad and dessert will be available each night. Water, ice tea and coffee will be included. Alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase from you server or brought in from the upstairs lounge.

Evening: Your coordinator will prepare the group for tomorrow's activities after dinner.

Mesa Verde: Chapin Mesa, Spruce Tree Museum, Far View Ruins
Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Far View Lodge

Activity note: Prepare for multiple stops in the morning at prehistoric ruin sites on Chapin Mesa. Short walks on established paths to ruins for interpretation by guide. At Far View Ruins walking up to 1/2 mile to view various sites and features on gravel paths.

Breakfast: Hot breakfast at the Far View Terrace. Selection of entrees, sides and beverages available. Note that the Far View Terrace Restaurant is 1/2 mile away from our lodging. The Road Scholar vehicle will offer shuttles to breakfast for those interested.

Morning: Mesa Verde is the only World Heritage site in the United States that is dedicated to the works of mankind and is often referred to as our countries greatest archaeological wonder. Before we head out into the park, we will meet our "step on" guide who will lead the group on a tour of the prehistoric sites on Chapin Mesa including pit houses and pueblo-style dwellings including picturesque Square House and Sun Temple. The Chapin Mesa sites provide an excellent chronology of architectural styles and development of the Mesa Verde inhabitants. Enjoy spectacular views of Cliff Palace Ruin from Sun Point.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch at Spruce Tree Cafe in the heart of Mesa Verde National Park's historical district. Lunch will include a plated sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie. Water, ice tea or coffee will be included. Alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.

Afternoon: NOTE: Due to recent rock falls on the Spruce Tree Trail and the potential for more the National Park Service has closed the trail to Spruce Tree Ruin. Excellent views of the ruin are afforded from the overlook a short way below the rim. After lunch visit the Spruce Tree Ruin Overlook and Spruce Tree Museum with its comprehensive exhibits and bookstore. Travel to "Far View Ruins" for a guided visit. Far View was one of the most densely populated parts of the mesa from A.D. 900 to about A.D. 1300. Nearly 50 villages have been identified within a half square mile area, and were home to hundreds of people. Today, several excavated and stabilized sites are linked by a trail system within a short walking distance. These surface sites include Far View House, Pipe Shrine House, Coyote Village, Far View Reservoir, Megalithic House, and Far View Tower.

Dinner: Dinner in Metate Room Restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy an optional video night after dinner in the Far View Lodge meeting room.

Navajo Reservation, Canyon de Chelly, South Rim Vistas
Canyon de Chelly, AZ
Holiday Inn Chinle

Activity note: Driving distance: Mesa Verde National Park to Chinle 180 miles (4 hours with appropriate stops). South Rim Canyon de Chelly driving tour makes numerous stops at scenic overlooks, up to 1/4 mile walks on paved paths with some uneven sections.

Breakfast: Full hot breakfast at the Far View Terrace.

Morning: After breakfast, load luggage and depart for Canyon de Chelly (180 miles), traveling past towering Ute Mountain and scenic Four Corners country of the Colorado Plateau. En route, the group will enter the Navajo Reservation. Traditional hogans, herds of sheep and goats grazing along the road, mysterious dirt roads and wild hoodoo rock formations will spark the imagination and remind you that you have entered another land.

Lunch: Experience a traditional buffet lunch at the hotel restaurant. Selections will include a build your own Navajo Taco, a variety of traditional stews, blue corn mush, salad and more! Water, ice tea, lemonade, coffee and sodas will be included.

Afternoon: After lunch, explore Canyon de Chelly's scenic south rim with your group leader. Highlights will include scenic stops at White House Ruin Overlook and Spider Rock Overlook. Your Group Leader will interpret and orient the group to the many cultural and natural features encountered throughout the afternoon. Return to Holiday Inn Chinle for a mid-afternoon check-in.

Dinner: Dinner will be served the the hotel restaurant. Choose from a nightly selection of plated entrees (some with a southwestern flare), a trip through the salad bar and dessert. Water, ice tea, lemonade, coffee and sodas will be included. Note that no alcoholic beverages are served on the Navajo Reservation. Non-alcoholic beer and wine is available for purchase.

Evening: An evening of Navajo entertainment. Your performer, William Yazzie, has been delighting Road Scholar participants for many years and loves to share his passion for Navajo music, culture, and dance. Enjoy traditional flute and drum music and come prepared to join in a group Round Dance and hear a traditional Navajo blessing.

Morning Presentations or Hike and Canyon de Chelly 4X4 Trip
Canyon de Chelly, AZ
Holiday Inn Chinle

Activity note: White House Ruin Trail 2.5 mile round trip, 600 feet elevation gain/loss, 2 hour hiking time. The upper part of the trail is a sandstone surface - traction is good overall. The lower part of the trail becomes more sandy. The trail ends at the White House Ruin. Bathrooms are available. On the 4 wheel drive Canyon de Chelly trip, be prepared for getting in and out of vehicles multiple times at points of interest. Travel will follow a route through stream, sand, and uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, enjoy an alternating breakfast buffet including an egg dish, pancakes or biscuits and gravy, breakfast meats, cream of wheat, a variety of cereals, fresh fruit, juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: Enjoy select morning presentations on topics of regional significance. Past topics have includes: Southwest Archaeology, Navajo Rug Weaving, Navajo Pottery, Modern Navajo Challenges and Jewelry making demonstrations. ***OR*** For those looking for a challenge - a hike on the White House Ruin Trail will be offered. This two hour - 2.5 mile (round trip) hike descends 600 feet to the base of White House Ruin and Chinle Wash.Your Group Leader or a local guide will transport the hikers to the trailhead and will lead the hike on this outing. Note that the entire group will see and experience the White House Ruins after lunch on the 4 wheel drive trip.

Lunch: Buffet lunch at hotel restaurant with salad bar, entree and sides. Water, ice tea, lemonade, coffee and sodas will be included. Note that no alcoholic beverages are served on the Navajo Reservation. Non-alcoholic beer and wine is available for purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch, the group will loaded into 4 wheel drive vehicles for a trip into Canyon de Chelly National Monument with certified Navajo guides. Travel along the Chinle Wash to the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto. We will explore both canyon forks and make select stops at various picturesque ruins and petroglyph sites. Historical and cultural commentary will be provided by our Navajo guides. Highlighted ruins in Canyon del Muerto will include First Ruin, Junction House and Antelope House to name a few. The highlight of Canyon de Chelly proper is the White House Ruin. A rest stop will be provided half way through our journey where restrooms, refreshments and native jewelry vendors will be available.

Dinner: Dinner at Garcia's Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Take the rest of the evening to relax after our very full day.

Visit Goulding's Lodge and Monument Valley Jeep Trip.
Canyon de Chelly, AZ
Holiday Inn Chinle

Activity note: Driving distance: Chinle to Goulding's Lodge 90 miles (1.5 hours). Monument Valley (Goulding's Lodge) "Jeeps" are 4 - wheel drive pickup trucks with a rear platform bed and bench seats that can accommodate up to 20 people per vehicle. There are clear plastic side covers that are employed in case of adverse weather. For more information and photos check out www.gouldings.com.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel restaurant.

Morning: Board and travel through Kayenta to Goulding's Lodge en route to Monument Valley Tribal Park (90 miles). A rest stop will be made at the Kayenta Burger King - site of an unlikely yet famous Navajo Code Talker exhibit. Adjacent to the Burger King is a Navajo demonstration village and excellent museum. Continue to Goulding's Trading Post and museum which includes memorabilia from many John Ford and John Wayne westerns as well as prehistoric artifacts and items from the early trading post days.

Lunch: Lunch will be served at historic Goulding's Lodge and Trading Post Restaurant.Select a plated lunch entree from a large group of menu items while enjoying sweeping views of red rock mesas and vistas out the restaurant window. Water, ice tea, sodas, lemonade and coffee are included. Note that no alcoholic beverages are served on the Navajo Reservation.

Afternoon: After lunch, board Goulding's Lodge "jeeps" for the Monument Valley 3.5 hour excursion through towering rock spires and monoliths including the famous Mittens and John Ford Point. Navajo Guides will provide narration and insight to the natural and cultural features. This tour provides the quintessential scenery of the southwest! See ancient petroglyphs and unparalleled scenery -- a photographer's dream! Following a return to Goulding's, board the motor coach for a relaxing return to Chinle and the Holiday Inn.

Dinner: Dinner at Garcia's Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Take the rest of the evening to relax, get packed, and prepare for your next mornings departure back to Albuquerque.

Travel to Albuquerque Airport via Window Rock and Gallup.

Activity note: Driving distance: Chinle to Albuquerque 235 miles (4 hours). Drop offs at Albuquerque Sunport by 12:00 pm followed by drop offs at Day 1 starting hotel by 12:45 pm.

Breakfast: Breakfast at Garcia's Restaurant.

Morning: Check out of hotel by 7:45 AM, load luggage, and settle in for a scenic return trip to Albuquerque. Program wrap up and farewells will be conducted en route to Albuquerque.

Lunch: Box lunch en route to Albuquerque.

Afternoon: Participants who have departing flights will be dropped off at the Albuquerque (Sunport) Airport by 12:00 PM. Participants not needing an airport drop off will be transported back to our starting Albuquerque hotel by 12:45 PM. 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!

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