Arizona/New Mexico

Ancestral Homelands: Hopi, Navajo and Chaco Canyon

Immerse yourself in the culture and mystery of America’s Southwest as you explore ancient cliff dwellings, attend a Native-arts demonstration and visit world-renowned Chaco Canyon.
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 4541RJ
7 days
Starts at

At a Glance

The Southwest is the keeper of America’s best-preserved and most compelling archaeological treasures. That heritage continues today in the modern Hopi and Navajo culture of northeastern Arizona. Hear personal insights as Native American representatives share cultural achievements, historic struggles and modern challenges. Then journey to uncover the mystery of Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its Great Houses and Great Kivas, displaying prehistoric architectural masterpieces on a grand scale.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 1.5 miles on varied terrain. Exploration of ruins requires agility. Elevations up to 7,000-plus feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Visit cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument and, on the Hopi Reservation, experience a cultural demonstration and explore a Pueblo village that is one the oldest continually inhabited American settlement.
  • On the Navajo Reservation enjoy a 4x4 vehicle trip into the heart of Canyon De Chelly.
  • Journey to the center of the Ancestral Puebloan world — Chaco Canyon — to explore the Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl and the Great Kiva of Casa Rinconada.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Bruce Banker
Bruce Banker is a graduate of Northern Arizona University, where he studied natural sciences and geology. He lives in Flagstaff and has worked for the National Park Service as a naturalist on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Chaco Canyon National Historic Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Bruce also serves as an outdoor educator for the Grand Canyon Field Institute. Bruce has taken students to many of the far-flung corners of the Southwest and has a few good stories to share.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Erica Tucker
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Bruce Banker
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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.
In the House of Rain
by Childs, Craig
In this landmark work on the Anasazi tribes of the Southwest, naturalist Craig Childs dives head on into the mysteries of this vanished people. The various tribes that made up the Anasazi people converged on Chaco Canyon (New Mexico) during the 11th century to create a civilization hailed as "the Las Vegas of its day," a flourishing cultural center that attracted pilgrims from far and wide, and a vital crossroads of the prehistoric world. By the 13th century, however, Chaco's vibrant community had disappeared without a trace. Was it drought? Pestilence? War? Forced migration, mass murder or suicide? Conflicting theories have abounded for years, capturing the North American imagination for eons.
In Search of Chaco
by Noble, David Grant
Startling discoveries and impassioned debates have emerged from the "Chaco Phenomenon" since the publication of New Light on Chaco Canyon twenty years ago. This completely updated edition features seventeen original essays, scores of photographs, maps, and site plans, and the perspectives of archaeologists, historians, and Native American thinkers. For more than a century archaeologists and others have pursued Chaco Canyon's many and elusive meanings. In Search of Chaco brings these explorations to a new generation of enthusiasts.
Warriors: Navajo Code Talkers
by Kawano, Kenji
The American offensive in the Pacific during World War II [was] hampered by the Japanese ability to crack the most secret U.S. Codes. Navajo was virtually unknown outside the reservations, ... and [their] code proved uncrackable. Kenji Kawano's striking photographs capture the quiet dignity of the surviving veterans as they recall their actions --Los Angeles Times 128 pp
The Fourth World of the Hopis: The Epic Story of the Hopi Indians As Preserved in Their Legends and Traditions
by Courlander, Harold
Folklorist Courlander traces Hopi legends from the tribe’s search through the wilderness for its home location to its settling on the Hopi Mesas and development thereafter. 239pp
People of Chaco: A Canyon and Its Culture
by Frazier, Kendrick
Chaco Wash has cut a broad canyon through northwestern New Mexico. Its natural beauty is surpassed only by the many prehistoric ruins it contains, which were built by the Chacoan Anasazi, the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians. About 1000 years ago, the Chacoans constructed multistory residences, established an extensive road system, exercised cultural hegemony over a large region in the southwestern United States, and then suddenly left. Frazier skillfully recounts the fascinating story of Chaco Canyon. He describes its discovery and exploration, its role in the development of American archaeology, and the clues it contains about a unique cultural system. Gordon C. Tucker, Jr., Nickens and Assocs., Montrose, Col. 261pp
Diné: A History of the Navajos
by Iverson, Peter; Roessel, Monty
This comprehensive narrative traces the history of the Navajos from their origins to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Based on extensive archival research, traditional accounts, interviews, historic and contemporary photographs, and firsthand observation, it provides a detailed, up-to-date portrait of the Diné past and present that will be essential for scholars, students, and interested general readers, both Navajo and non-Navajo.
Native Roads : The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations
by Kosik, Frank
Using the mile markers of the US, Arizona, and Navajo highways and routes running through the Navajo and Hopi nations as her organizing principle, the author offers a travel guide to the sites found in the area. Natural, historical, and cultural points of interest are covered, along with some information on lodging and services. 280 pp

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