New Mexico
Cultural Crossroads: Exploring Chaco Canyon and the Pueblos of Acoma and Zuni
Discover traditions of pre-Columbian America in the heart of the Southwest, where you’ll learn from members of the Pueblo tribes as they share the story of their ancient culture.
Rating (4.86)
Program No. 4058RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Albuquerque, NM
Best Western Rio Grande Inn

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

Afternoon: Program Registration. 4:30 – 5:15 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table located 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, other important information, and to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions in the Hopi Cultural Center conference room. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Transportation will be provided in 10 passenger vans, unless otherwise noted. 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 Best Western Rio Grande conference room, we’ll enjoy a buffet dinner with a choice of 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 full day ahead.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center & Petroglyphs Monument
Albuquerque, NM
Best Western Rio Grande Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; approx. 1 hour; paved or otherwise level surfaces. Driving about 20 miles; about ½ an hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a hot buffet breakfast with choices featuring a variety of options including eggs, breakfast meats, French toast, hot and cold cereals, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, assorted fruit juices, water.

Morning: After an introductory "Pueblo Overview" talk at the hotel we’ll begin our exploration of the pueblo world with a docent-led field trip at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. A non-profit organization opened in August, 1976, it showcases the history and accomplishments of the Pueblo people from Pre-Columbian to current time and is considered the "Gateway to the 19 Pueblos" because the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is owned and operated by the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico. Dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Pueblo Indian culture, history and art, the Center displays the history and artifacts of traditional Pueblo cultures and their contemporary art. The permanent exhibit highlights the creativity and adaptation which made possible the survival, diversity and achievements of each of the 19 Pueblos. The center also includes a small, changing exhibit that highlights the work of living traditional and contemporary artists. We’ll then transfer to the Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center.

Lunch: At the Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center, we’ll have boxed lunches on site.

Afternoon: Next, we will have the opportunity to check out Petroglyph National Monument Visitor Center for an introduction to the park's cultural features given by a docent. Petroglyph National Monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including 5 volcanic cones, hundreds of archaeological sites and an estimated 25,000 images carved by native peoples and early Spanish settlers. From here, we will continue to Boca Negra Canyon to where we will walk led by our Group Leader to view rock art panels dating back 1,000 years.

Dinner: At Church Street Cafe in the heart of charming and historic Old Town, we’ll have plated meals with a choice of coffee, tea or water; other beverages available for purchase. Built in the 1700's and claimed to be the oldest home in Albuquerque, Church Street Cafe offers a most unique setting for their authentic delicious New Mexican fare.

Evening: We’ll then return to the hotel where our coordinator will provide an overview of tomorrow's travels and activities. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Sky City Acoma, San Esteban del Rey Mission
Gallup, NM
Comfort Inn Gallup

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; approx. 1 hour; even surfaces. Driving approx. 140 miles over the course of the day; about 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the hotel and begin our transfer to Gallup with a stop at Sky City Cultural Center where we will join a local expert for a walking field trip through the Acoma Pueblo. It’s perched atop a sheer-walled, 367-foot sandstone bluff in a valley studded with sacred, towering monoliths. Since 1150 A.D., Acoma Pueblo has earned the reputation as the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. The mesa-top settlement is known worldwide for its unique art and rich culture. Our native expert will include commentary on the history and cultural traditions of the Acoma people and we’ll also visit to the massive San Esteban del Rey Mission, a Catholic mission built in 1629.

Lunch: At the Y'aak’a Café, located within the Sky City Cultural Center, we’ll have a tasty buffet meal with a choice of soft drinks, water or iced tea.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our exploration of the Acoma people and culture with time in the Haak’u Museum, also within the Sky City Cultural Center. The museum exhibits some of the most stunning Pueblo pottery and Southwest Indian art created by renowned Native American artists. Permanent exhibits in the main hall take visitors on a historical journey of Acoma Pueblo, while special exhibits display Indian artifacts and historical Native American pottery. Take some time for independent exploration of the museum at your own pace. We’ll then continue our transfer to Gallup for a mid-afternoon check-in at our hotel.

Dinner: Arriving by van at a nearby restaurant, we’ll enjoy plated hot meals along with the large salad bar that includes over 50 fresh items such as seasonal and specialty salads, just picked vegetables, fresh fruits, soups, hot appetizers and cool desserts; choice of soft drinks, water, coffee or iced tea is included.

Evening: Back at the hotel conference room, enjoy an interesting evening presentation given by our Program Coordinator on a topic of regional significance.

Village of Zuni Mission, Traditional Lunch, Ashiwi Museum
Gallup, NM
Comfort Inn Gallup

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile; approx. 1 hour; some uneven terrain. Drive to Zuni is approximately 40 miles; about 1 hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant, we will have a buffet featuring a variety of options including eggs, breakfast meats, French toast, hot and cold cereals, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, assorted fruit juices, water.

Morning: We’ll start out by transferring to Zuni Pueblo where it has stood for over 900 years in a picturesque valley at the base of Corn Mountain. Once we arrive at the Zuni Visitor Center, we’ll enjoy an introductory talk given by a Zuni tribal member on the Pueblo as we explore the informative cultural exhibits. We’ll then head out to see the Middle Village led by a Zuni tribe member who will share the significance of the 1639 Zuni Mission, the ceremonial plaza, and aspects of local and ancient architecture as well as the yearly ceremonial calendar.

Lunch: In a "Shalako" house, we’ll enjoy a traditional lunch presented and served by local Zuni residents. Throughout our meal, we’ll have the unique opportunity to interact with our gracious hosts making this a truly memorable experience.

Afternoon: After lunch, Ava Hanaweekee, our gracious hostess and Zuni tribal member will shares her intimate knowledge of contemporary and traditional Zuni culture with the group. Later, we’ll visit some shops to see authentic Zuni crafts and goods. Return to Gallup hotel mid-afternoon.

Dinner: At King Dragon Chinese Buffet, we’ll enjoy a wide selection of Chinese and traditional items at one of Gallup's newest restaurants with a choice of soft drink, water, coffee or iced tea included.

Evening: A local expert will give a presentation on Chaco Canyon and its significance in the larger ancient Puebloan world. This will help to prepare us for our Chaco Canyon field trip tomorrow.

Chaco Canyon, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Casa Rinconada
Gallup, NM
Comfort Inn Gallup

Activity note: This is a full day program where we will leave early in the morning and return late in the afternoon. Walking about 2 miles in total throughout the day; periods of standing 1-2 hours at a time; gravel paths and minor elevation changes. Be sure to prepare to be out in the elements for the day; wear appropriate clothing and shoes, bring sun protection and a water bottle, etc.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After an early breakfast, we’ll embark on a full day field trip to Chaco Canyon. Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America's most significant and fascinating cultural and historic areas as it was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between AD 850 and 1150. As such, it functioned as a central hub for ceremony, trade, and administration for the prehistoric Four Corners area - unlike anything before or since. While here, our knowledgeable local expert will lead us on a walking field trip to Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl, 2 of the park’s “Great Houses.” First, we’ll see Pueblo Bonito which represents the zenith of Anasazi culture as it is the largest and most famous ruin in Chaco Canyon. At 5 stories in height and with as many as 700 rooms in its back wall, Pueblo Bonito was the largest standing structure in North America until the 1800s.

Lunch: At a comfortable place while out in the field, we’ll have our boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll continue on foot and visit the ruins of Chetro Ketl – one of the largest pueblos in Chaco Canyon. At one point, this pueblo contained over 500 rooms and 12 kivas including a Great Kiva within the central plaza. The walls of Chetro Ketl are embedded with ancient wooden vigas, or beams – which had to be carried from distant forests by hand and prepared with stone tools. It is estimated that over 5,000 trees were cut for Chetro Ketl alone. Chacoan banded masonry, the Mesoamerican influenced colonnade, painted room plaster and "keyhole" kivas are just a few of the architectural gems contained in Chetro Ketl. Our local expert will provide commentary throughout our field trip and point out these impressive features. Then, with a stop at Casa Rinconada, we will see the largest “Great Kiva” that stands in the southwest! Casa Rinconada is believed to be one of the most impressive venues for ceremonial activities of old. Once having a look at Casa Rinconada, we’ll check out the park’s visitor center museum, bookstore and various exhibits as a group. We’ll then return to the hotel in the late afternoon with some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At Don Diego's Mexican Restaurant, a favorite among locals, we’ll enjoy delicious plated meals for our farewell dinner together, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase. Share your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Take a well deserved rest and reflect on the events of the day. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Wrap-up, To Albuquerque, Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 8:00 a.m. Drive to Albuquerque is about 140 miles; approximately 2.5 hours. Arrival time at the airport by about 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll depart for Albuquerque. The Road Scholar vans will drop off participants at the Albuquerque airport or to the Albuquerque hotel. 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!

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