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