Driving approx. 21 miles each way to Chaco Canyon on a bumpy dirt road; about 1 hour. The Road to Chaco Canyon becomes impassable during heavy rain. In this rare instance, we will substitute Chaco Canyon with another interesting destination. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; periods of standing; gravel paths with minor elevation changes to Great House ruins. Be sure to bring sun protection; wear comfortable walking shoes.
At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes an egg dish, breakfast meats, green chili, assorted breads, cereals, fruit, and pastries, plus milk, juices, coffee, tea, water.
After an early breakfast, we’ll set out on a full-day field trip to Chaco Canyon within Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which preserves one of America's most significant and fascinating cultural and historic areas. As it was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between 850 and 1150 C.E., 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, two of the park’s “Great Houses.” First, we’ll see Pueblo Bonito which represents the zenith of Ancestral Puebloan culture as it is the largest and most famous ruin in Chaco Canyon. At 5 stories in height with as many as 700 rooms, Pueblo Bonito was the largest standing structure in North America until the 1800s. If weather conditions do not allow us to safely visit Chaco Canyon, our Group Leader will arrange for us to venture to an accessible alternative destination of historical and cultural significance.
On the grounds of the Visitor Center, we’ll enjoy a sack lunch. Bathrooms and drinking water are available.
Next, we’ll continue on foot and visit the 500 room Chetro Ketl Great House. Chetro Ketl contains an abundance of unique and stylish architectural features that belies its sophisticated design and its connections to Meso-American cultures to the south. An elegant great kiva, a tower kiva, 900-year-old interior plastered and painted walls, colonnade archways, T shaped doorways and a 500-foot-long back wall are just a few of the features that makes this “old house” an engineering marvel. Our local expert will provide commentary while exploring the site, pointing 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 the impressive venue for ceremonial activities of old. Once having a look at Casa Rinconada, we’ll independently check out the park’s visitor center museum and various exhibits. We’ll then return to the hotel in the late afternoon with some time to freshen up before dinner.
At a local Mexican restaurant, a favorite among locals, we’ll enjoy delicious plated meals for our farewell dinner together, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.
We’ll then gather at the hotel for a program wrap-up, impressions from the week, and final reflections. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.