Arizona/New Mexico
Pueblo Heritage: The Anasazi, 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 (4.86)
Program No. 4541RJ
7 days
Starts at
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Flagstaff, AZ
La Quinta Inn & Suites Flagstaff

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 hotel 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 throughout the program will be provided primarily by 10 passenger vans. If you plan to drive to Gallup from Flagstaff in your own vehicle due to future travel plans, inform the leader at registration so that he/she can make group travel arrangements. In this case, you will follow the program vans just while we transfer from hotels on Day Three and Day Five, but otherwise will be in the vans during all field trips. 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: After walking to a nearby restaurant, we’ll enjoy hot plated meals along with access to a 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. Coffee, tea, soft drinks or water included. Alcoholic beverages are not available at this restaurant.

Evening: After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.

Museum of Northern Arizona, Walnut Canyon National Monument
Flagstaff, AZ
La Quinta Inn & Suites Flagstaff

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile on Island Trail at Walnut Canyon; approximately 1 hour with stops; paved trail; descend and ascend 185 ft. via 240 steps. Walking about 1 mile on Rim Trail; approx. 1 hour; paved and level. Elevation at 6,700 ft. Drive is approximately 15 miles; ½ an hour.

Breakfast: At the hotel, we’ll have a breakfast buffet including choices such as waffles, hard boiled eggs, fresh fruits, pastries, bagels, cereals, muffins, juices, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: To facilitate a better understanding of the pre-historic cultural development of the Southwest - we will enjoy an insightful and informative docent-led field trip at the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) after arriving by van. The MNA has evolved into a regional center of learning with collections, exhibits, educational programs, publications, and research projects. Museum of Northern Arizona is the premier museum dedicated to the cultural and natural history of the Colorado Plateau. Take some time for independent exploration in the museum afterwards.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy a nice selection of plated entrees including soup, salads, pasta, burgers and more, plus coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then travel to Walnut Canyon where we will go on our next field trip to the Sinagua Ruins, the visitor center, and museum at Walnut Canyon National Monument. A hike led by our Program Coordinator down into Walnut Canyon will bring us face to face with ancient cliff dwellings. Walnut Canyon is a spectacular scenic attraction in its own right and contains diverse plant and animal communities to be enjoyed from all vantage points with interpretive signs to supplement viewing. For those that choose not to go into the canyon, a lovely rim walk led by one of the Group Leaders, offers excellent views and access to Sinagua Ruins.

Dinner: At a festive local Greek restaurant, we’ll enjoy a variety of plated entree choices for all palates, plus a choice of coffee, tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At the hotel conference room, our NAU Road Scholar coordinator will conduct a meeting to discuss the logistics of tomorrow's travel day and provide an introduction to the Hopi Reservation and Canyon de Chelly.

Hopi Cultural Center Demo, Old Oraibi Village
Chinle, AZ
Holiday Inn Canyon De Chelly (Chinle)

Activity note: Limited walking with periods of standing up to approximately ½ an hour during visit to Oraibi. Drive to Hopi is about 100 miles; approx. 2 hours. Hopi to Canyon de Chelly is about 90 miles; approx. 2 hours. Add one hour due to time zone change in the afternoon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board our vans and begin our transfer from Flagstaff to the Hopi mesas and the Hopi Cultural Center. The Hopi trace their history in the Southwest to long before the Spanish arrived in 1540 and many villages have been occupied since the 1100s A.D. Upon arrival at the Cultural Center, we’ll enjoy a fascinating native arts demonstration (pottery making, kachina carving, or other) presented by a Hopi tribal member and artisan. We’ll then enjoy some time to explore the exhibits and photographs in the Hopi Tribal Museum independently, as well as check out the native arts and jewelry.

Lunch: At the Hopi Cultural Center, enjoy a traditional Hopi stew and choose from a selection of freshly made sandwiches, plus a choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, or water.

Afternoon: After lunch we will drive (10 miles) to the village of Old Oraibi for a tour led by a native Hopi tribal member. Our Hopi leader will provide us with insights into the rich cultural history and practices that connect the modern-day Hopi people to their ancient Puebloan ancestors. After departing Old Oraibi, and a short rest break back at the Hopi Cultural Center we will drive through the Hopi and Navajo Nations to Chinle—the gateway to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. We will arrive at the hotel and check-in with time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated dinner including a nightly selection of entrees (some with a southwestern flare), a trip through the salad bar, and dessert, plus soft drinks, coffee, tea or water.

Evening: At leisure.

Canyon de Chelly Activity Choices, 4-Wheel Drive Canyon
Chinle, AZ
Holiday Inn Canyon De Chelly (Chinle)

Activity note: Option 1: South Rim in the Van will include driving about 40 miles; approx. 1 hour; paved road. Option 2: Hiking approx. 3 miles roundtrip over a 1.5 hour time period on a well-established trail with some uneven and sandy sections; total elevation gain/loss of 600 ft. 4-Wheel Drive: Driving about 20 miles over approx. 3 hours on dirt roads with sections of bumpy travel through sandy washes; many short stops for exploration and/or bathroom needs.

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: We’ll transfer to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument where we will embark on our explorations for the day. Choices will include (1) a field trip in the vans along Canyon de Chelly's South Rim to White House Ruin Overlook and Spider Rock Overlook led by our Group Leader, or (2) a beautiful 3 mile hike on the White House Ruin Trail led by one of our group leaders. The White House Ruin Trail hike follows a well established, manageable trail that is generally wide with some exposure and some uneven terrain. The upper part of the trail is built on a sandstone surface so caution must be taken but footing is good overall. The lower part of the trail becomes sandier as the grade decreases. The trail ends at the White House Ruin canyon viewpoint. Note that the entire group will return to the White House Ruin in the afternoon on the 4 - wheel drive field trip. Before returning to the hotel for lunch, time will be alloted at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument Visitor Center where we will explore independently.

Lunch: At the hotel, experience a traditional buffet lunch including multiple stews, entrees, sides and salads, plus a choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, or water.

Afternoon: Once boarding 4-wheel drive vehicles at the hotel, we’ll embark on a scenic field trip into Canyon de Chelly with certified Navajo leaders. The afternoon will include exploring 2 canyons: Canyon de Chelly and Canyon del Muerto. En route, we will stop at cliff dwellings, homesteads and petroglyph sites for pictures and shared stories of the "Ancient Ones" as given by our knowledgeable Navajo leaders. At least 2 rest stops will offer opportunities to peruse Native American crafts and jewelry.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At the hotel conference room led by a local tribal member, we will learn more about Navajo people during a cultural presentation. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Hubbell Trading Post, Window Rock, Navajo Museum
Gallup, NM
Comfort Inn Gallup

Activity note: Walking up to 1 mile total over the course of the day. Driving about 93 miles; approx. 2 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel we’ll load the vans and begin traveling to Gallup, New Mexico. Our first stop en route will be at the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. We will step back in time to recount the important and influential trading post era on the Navajo reservation. Enjoy an informative expert-led field trip of the Lorenzo Hubbell house and, afterwards, take some time to explore the still active historic trading post independently. Continuing our transfer, we’ll arrive at Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation and the Window Rock Veterans Memorial Park. Highlights of the morning will include visits to the Window Rock geologic formation and the touching memorial tribute to the World War II Navajo Code Talkers where program staff will provide commentary. For fans of Tony Hillerman mystery novels, Window Rock is the heart of "Hillerman Country."

Lunch: At a favorite meeting place of the local population, we’ll enjoy a buffet lunch featuring an ample salad bar, a rotating hot entree theme of the day and standard beverages.

Afternoon: Then, we’ll walk to the Navajo Nation Museum for a self-led visit through its excellent exhibits on Navajo arts, culture and history. We’ll then continue to Gallup and check into the hotel in the mid-afternoon. Enjoy some time to relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy a wide selection of Chinese and traditional items at one of Gallup's newest restaurants plus standard beverages.

Evening: At the hotel conference room, a local expert will join us and supply us with useful information during an evening presentation in preparation for our field trip to Chaco Canyon tomorrow.

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

Activity note: Walking 1-2 miles total throughout the day; on our feet for 1-2 hours at a time. Access to the Great House ruins is by gravel paths with minor elevation changes; be sure to bring sun protection and wear comfortable shoes as we will be outside all day. Vehicular access to Chaco Canyon is via a 21 mile dirt road and weather permitting; in the event of heavy rains the road will become completely impassable. In this rare instance, we will substitute Chaco Canyon with another interesting destination.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet includes an egg dish, breakfast meats, green chili, assorted breads, cereals, fruit, pastries, juices, coffee, tea and water.

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. Important Program Note: In the event of significant rainy or snowy weather, the 22 mile dirt road to Chaco Canyon may become impassable to travel and our plans for going to Chaco Canyon will need to be altered. If this occurs your Group Leader's number one concern will be for the safety of the group. Your Group Leader will decide on an alternative, accessible destination for the day. Destinations may include Aztec National Monument or Sky City Acoma Pueblo or El Morro National Monument to name a few alternatives. These alternative sites are all historically significant, scenic and include cultural value to the themes of this program.

Lunch: On the grounds of the Visitor Center, we’ll enjoy a sack lunch. Bathrooms and drinking water are available.

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 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, bookstore and various exhibits. We’ll then return to the hotel in the late afternoon with some time to freshen up before dinner.

Dinner: At a local 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: 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 departure in the morning.

Transfer to Flagstaff, Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 7:45 a.m. The drive to Flagstaff is about 185 miles; approx. 3.5 hours; arrival time by about 10:15 a.m. We will gain an hour as we cross the border into Arizona and its time zone.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll load the vans and depart for Flagstaff. Drop off locations in Flagstaff include the starting hotel, the Flagstaff Amtrak Station/Visitor Center, and the Flagstaff Airport at Pulliam Field. Vans will arrive in time to connect the Arizona Shuttle at the Flagstaff Visitor Center for transport to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. 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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