Hopi Mesas & Navajo Lands of Canyon de Chelly & Monument Valley

Gain a deeper understanding of Hopi and Navajo cultures as you visit their reservations to experience the landscapes, artifacts and traditions that have shaped their ancient story.
Rating (4.89)
Program No. 18591RJ
7 days
Starts at
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7 days
6 nights
18 meals
6 B 6 L 6 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun
Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport

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

Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the hotel meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: 5:30 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. On the Road programs are journeys that take participants to multiple study sites in a region with a number of overnight stays. Lectures, talks, discussions, field trips, and on-board commentary amplify the program theme. Some journeys involve great distances and may take hours, others are much shorter. Long or short, On the Road journeys are learning experiences that make the most of our time together. Field trips will be conducted by our Group Leader, a seasoned and experienced naturalist who will also function as our Study Leader, unless noted otherwise. Depending on the size of the group, we will travel via full-sized motorcoach or comfortable passenger vans, which will be announced during the Orientation session. 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: In the hotel restaurant, the dinner buffet offers an entrée (including vegetarian and gluten-free choices for those who requested when registering) and a non-alcoholic beverage of lemonade, coffee, tea, or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night's rest for the day ahead. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Heard Museum, Travel to Hopi Mesas
Hopi Indian Reservation (Second Mesa)
Hopi Cultural Center

Activity note: Driving approximately 250 miles to the Hopi Reservation; about 4.5 hours total, with stops along the way. Walking less than 1 mile total; approximately 1.5 hours at Heard Museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the hearty breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs to order, breakfast meats, cereals, muffins, whole grain breads, fruit, juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Once checked out, we’ll load our luggage and set out for the Heard Museum in Phoenix where a docent will lead our exploration. Dwight B. Heard (1969-1929) was one of Arizona’s leading ranchers as well as a newspaper publisher. He and his wife Maie Bartlett Heard (1868-1951) were enthusiastic collectors of Native American arts, crafts, and prehistoric Indian artifacts. Their collection grew to such an extent that in 1929 they founded a museum to hold it, though Dwight passed away a few months before it opened. The Heard Museum today is dedicated to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures, and is internationally recognized for the quality of its collections, educational programs, festivals, and partnerships with American Indian artists and tribal communities. There are more than 40,000 objects ranging from Hopi Katsina dolls to Zuni jewelry, textiles including Navajo weaving, ancient and modern Southwestern ceramics, beadwork and quillwork, baskets, and works of fine art from the 20th century to the present.

Lunch: We’ll have a sack lunch en route to the Hopi mesas.

Afternoon: Leaving Phoenix, we’ll ascend from the Basin and Range region towards the San Francisco Peaks and the Colorado Plateau where we’ll enter the Navajo Reservation just outside Flagstaff. Enjoying the unparalleled views of these sweeping Arizona landscapes as we listen to commentary given by our Group Leader, we’ll ride until we reach the mesas of the Hopi Reservation.

Dinner: At the Hopi Cultural Center restaurant, we’ll order plated meals from the menu featuring regional American favorites and Hopi dishes. A non-alcoholic beverage is included; alcohol is prohibited on the Hopi Reservation.

Evening: Gathering after dinner, we’ll enjoy a presentation on Hopi culture given by a member of the Hopi Tribe. Topics may range from the Hopi's creation story and how they came to reside on their present day lands, to the Hopi ceremonial cycle, to land issues, as well as art and culture presentations.

Hopi Mesas, Cultural Talk, Local Artist, Village Field Trip
Hopi Indian Reservation (Second Mesa)
Hopi Cultural Center

Activity note: Walking about 1/2 mile total throughout the day; unpaved, uneven ground with a few steps. Driving approximately 15 miles one way; about 1/2 hour each way.

Breakfast: At the Hopi Cultural Center restaurant, we’ll order plated meals from the menu with one non-alcoholic beverage included.

Morning: In the Hopi Cultural Center meeting room, a Hopi artisan will give a demonstration of traditional crafts such as pottery, basket weaving, Kachina (Katsina) Doll carving, or silversmithing depending on which artist is available to speak.

Lunch: Hopi Cultural Center plated meal.

Afternoon: We’ll take a field trip with a Hopi expert to explore either Oraibi or Walpi village, depending on local circumstances and conditions. Each is one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the country. Oraibi, also referred to as Old Oraibi, is on Third Mesa on the Hopi Reservation and has been a place of habitation since c. 1100 C.E. The way of life here has changed little over the centuries. Orabi is not typically open to tourists. Walpi dates from c. 900 C.E. It also has changed little since moving to its present location higher up on the mesa in 1680. The community embodies traditional lifestyles and preserves Hopi architecture, history, and rituals. In spite of some structural “improvements” in the 1970s, Walpi offers an excellent sense of what life was like here centuries ago evidenced by its lack of electricity and running water. Also as it has been for centuries, the Hopi are organized into matrilineal clans, and home ownership passes from mother to daughter. Visiting a Hopi community is a privilege. As anywhere else in the world, we will be polite and sensitive to the surroundings, the people, and their beliefs. Photography is not permitted.

Dinner: Hopi Cultural Center plated meal.

Evening: At our dinner location, we’ll have a Q&A session with a member of the Hopi community and talk over our experiences. Then be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Hubbell Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly South Rim
Chinle, AZ
Holiday Inn Canyon De Chelly (Chinle)

Activity note: Driving approximately 110 miles to Canyon de Chelly; about 2 hours, with stops. Walking less than 1 mile total during short group walks to rim viewpoints at Canyon de Chelly. Elective independent hike on White House Ruin Trail is approximately 2.5 miles; about 2 hours; up/down about 600 feet elevation.

Breakfast: Hopi Cultural Center plated meal.

Morning: After checking out and loading our luggage, we’ll make our way from the Hopi Reservation to Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “CAN-yon deh SHAY”) on a journey that will take us through some of the wildly stark and expansive lands of the Hopi and Navajo Reservations. En route, we’ll visit the Hubble Trading Post National Historic Site in Ganado, Arizona. Until they sold it to the National Park Service in 1967, the trading post had been in the hands of the Hubbell family since 1878, serving the Navajo/Diné and others. “Don” Lorenzo Hubbell (1853-1930) promoted the finest quality textiles and helped Navajos/Diné become economically self-sufficient through their weaving skills. The museum contains more than 350,000 individual items, many of which are business records, in addition to nearly everything the Hubbell family had on the premises.

Lunch: In the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated meal featuring local Native American and regional cuisine, plus one non-alcoholic beverage; alcohol is prohibited on the Navajo Reservation.

Afternoon: Arriving at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument Visitor Center, we’ll watch a short orientation video, then take an expert-led field trip to the canyon's South Rim via our vehicle. At one of the overlooks, we’ll see Spider Rock, a formation with great symbolism in Navajo/Diné cosmology. We’ll also stop at several other overlooks including Tseyi Overlook, and White House Ruins overlook. The eager and energetic may choose to hike the White House Ruin Trail independently while the rest of the group visits other stunning viewpoints. We’ll then return to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, we’ll have plated meals featuring local Native American and regional cuisine with nightly selection of entrées, salad, and dessert. A non-alcoholic beverage is included; alcohol is prohibited on the Navajo Reservation.

Evening: The evening is at your leisure as you rest from the busy day!

Canyon de Chelly North Rim & Inner Canyon
Chinle, AZ
Holiday Inn Canyon De Chelly (Chinle)

Activity note: Driving approximately 40 miles total for the day; about 7 hours altogether. Driving approximately 30 miles on rim exploration; about 3.5 hours, with frequent stops for short walks to rim viewpoints. Getting into/out of four-wheel drive vehicles; driving about 10 miles; approximately 3.5 hours; bumpy terrain. Walking less than 1 mile total throughout the day. The National Park Service may limit access into the canyon in case if hazardous conditions or for resource protection.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the breakfast buffet offers an alternating variety of choices such as eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, hot and cold cereals, breakfast meats, and fruit, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel via our regular vehicle, we’ll drive to the starkly beautiful North Rim of Canyon de Chelly and make stops at multiple viewpoints, take some short walks, and enjoy vistas over Canyon del Muerto. We’ll then return to the hotel.

Lunch: Hotel plated meal.

Afternoon: Picking us up from the hotel, we’ll board four-wheel drive trucks for a field trip into Canyon de Chelly with certified Navajo/Diné experts. During our adventure, we’ll see stunning scenery with sandstone cliffs, canyons, petroglyphs, and ruins. Compared to the millions of years it took for natural forces to create the landscapes we see today, humans have lived here only a relatively short 4,000 years. There are people today who continue to make a living as the “Ancient Ones” did by planting crops within the national monument’s 84,000 acres. The National Park Service works in conjunction with the Navajo Nation to manage Canyon de Chelly. Of the more than 2,700 archaeological sites, some 700 are standing ruins and only about a dozen of these have been protected. At the end of our adventure, we’ll get dropped off back at the hotel in time for dinner.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: In the hotel meeting room, we'll settle in for an expert-led presentation on one or more fascinating aspects of Dine' (Navajo) history and culture, such as the special connection between the people and Canyon de Chelly, or a demonstration by a native artisan accompanied by a discussion of inspiration and technique.

Monument Valley, Goulding's, Cameron Trading Post
Cameron, AZ
Cameron Trading Post Motel

Activity note: Driving approximately 212 miles total to Cameron, Arizona; about 3.5 hours, with a stop in Monument Valley for our field trip. Getting into/out of four-wheel drive vehicles; ride is approximately 10 miles; about 3 hours, with frequent stops for short walks to viewpoints in Monument Valley. Walking less than 1 mile total throughout the day.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out, we’ll load our luggage and set out for Cameron via Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post in Monument Valley. In 1938, Harry Goulding got movie director John Ford to visit here by showing him evocative photographs of Monument Valley. It started a lifelong friendship and Monument Valley served as the iconic backdrop for Ford's western movies. While here, we’ll also have a look around the Trading Post Museum independently. We’ll then get picked up for a field trip aboard four-wheel drive vehicles with Navajo/Diné experts, during which we’ll see famous monuments including The Mittens — red sandstone buttes seen in countless movies and TV shows. We’ll also have a special visit to the Monument’s restricted area. This area contains many rock windows and arches of unique shapes and sizes, which make for unparalleled photo opportunities in one of the American West’s most photographed destinations.

Lunch: At historic Goulding's Lodge and Trading Post, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase. As we eat, large picture windows will offer magnificent views of Monument Valley's red rock splendor.

Afternoon: Carrying on, our journey will move through a scenic section of the Navajo Reservation past Comb Ridge, Tsegi Canyon, Black Mesa, the Elephant Feet, Tuba City, The Little Colorado River Canyon, the northern end of the Painted Desert, and wide open sweeping vistas. Upon arrival at historic Cameron Trading Post, we’ll check in to our hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In the Cameron Trading Post restaurant, we’ll enjoy our farewell dinner with our plated meals ordered from a select menu, plus salad, dessert and one non-alcoholic beverage; alcohol is prohibited on the Navajo Reservation. The restaurant is decorated with beautiful Navajo rugs, baskets, pottery, antique cabinets, and stained glass — all topped with a pressed tin ceiling.

Evening: We’ll then have a final wrap-up session for reflections on our adventures. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Be sure prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

To Phoenix, Program Concludes
Phoenix & The Valley of the Sun

Activity note: Driving approximately 200 miles to Phoenix; about 3.5 hours, with stops. Expected arrival at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by approximately 12:30 p.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with choices such as eggs, breakfast meats, pancakes, oatmeal, and toast, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll load our luggage and depart for transfer back to Phoenix.

Lunch: A sack lunch will be provided during transfer to Phoenix for those who would like it.

Afternoon: The program concludes with drop-offs at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport, followed by drop-offs at the starting hotel. 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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