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Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Pueblo Ruins of Chaco and Mesa Verde Country

This trip is FULL. Call 800.422.8975, ext. 141, to get on the waiting list.

Great houses, cliff dwellings, and ritual centers

September 14–19, 2014

Mesa Verde images


$1,895 (member*)
$2,020 (nonmember)

Deposit: $400
Balance due: July 16, 2014

*Minimum $100 level
(see Membership)

Join us on a journey of discovery: an exploration of the archaeology, cultural history, and landscapes of southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. In this region of sculpted canyons and sweeping sage plains, ancient ruins reveal new evidence about the ancestral Pueblo people, commonly known as the Anasazi. Trip highlights include Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Aztec Ruins, as well as sites in Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. We also tour Crow Canyon's current multiyear excavation, featured on the PBS series Time Team America. This trip is designed for travelers who are new to exploring the Four Corners region. In just one week, you'll immerse yourself in these remarkable places—while enjoying easy-to-moderate hikes in some of the country’s most spectacular canyons.

Educational Focus

The Chaco phenomenon (10th through mid-12th centuries A.D.)

Connections between Chaco and the Mesa Verde world

Recent findings about ancestral Pueblo architecture


This tour will be led by a select group of Crow Canyon archaeologists and educators.


View enlarged map.

Sunday, September 14: Arrive in Durango, Colorado, by 4 p.m. for introductions and dinner in the historic district of downtown Durango. Overnight, Durango. (D)

Monday, September 15: This morning we drive south (2½ hours) to Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico. We begin our exploration of ancestral Pueblo culture here, in Chaco Canyon. In the 12th century, this was the center of the region's most complex culture; Chaco influenced trade, ceremonial life, and politics throughout the region. We learn about Chaco's great kivas and multistory great houses, as well as the roads that linked Chaco physically and symbolically to other regional centers. This afternoon, we drive north to one of those centers, at Aztec Ruins National Monument, where we explore a beautifully reconstructed great kiva. Overnight, Aztec, New Mexico. (B, L, D)

Tuesday, September 16: Continuing our journey north, we return to Colorado, to the less visited side of Mesa Verde—the part of the mesa within Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park. A hundred years after construction ceased in Chaco Canyon, the Mesa Verde region teemed with activity as Pueblo people built cliff dwellings tucked into natural rock alcoves. Expect a morning of adventure as Ute tribal member (and longtime Crow Canyon educator) Rebecca Hammond leads us on a hike to cliff dwellings. We'll also look for rock art panels—ancient images pecked into the cliffs. Our day concludes with a visit to Notah Dineh Trading Company in Cortez. Our hosts inform us about traditional styles of rugs, pottery, and other American Indian arts—and we get a tour of their beautiful museum-style showroom. Overnight, Cortez. (B, L)

Wednesday, September 17: We spend a full day at Mesa Verde National Park—a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to magnificent Cliff Palace. After an orientation at the visitor center, we tour the mesa-top ruins and take in the spectacular views. You'll learn how people came to settle and thrive in this rugged place—and why they constructed such elaborate cliff dwellings. In the afternoon, we'll take a hike and experience the architecture up close. (Hike: 1 mile roundtrip, with ladders.) We finish our day with drinks, appetizers, and a sunset view from the patio at Far View Lodge. Overnight, Cortez. (B, L)

Thursday, September 18: Today we head off the beaten path to Canyons of the Ancients,* a national monument south and west of Cortez that preserves a rich concentration of archaeological sites. We'll visit one of the sites where the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center conducted research into the last years of Pueblo occupation of the Mesa Verde region. We move on to Crow Canyon's rural campus, where we enjoy a special lunch prepared by chef Jim Martin. In the afternoon, we get a firsthand view of archaeological research. We tour the Center's laboratories and visit Basketmaker III (A.D. 500–750) sites currently being excavated by Crow Canyon archaeologists—with the help of members of the public who take part in our weeklong research programs. A farewell dinner awaits us at The Farm, an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant in Cortez. Overnight, Cortez. (B, L, D)

*All or part of this operation is conducted on public lands under special permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Friday, September 19: Shuttle to Durango. Schedule departure from Durango for any time after 10 a.m. (B)

Itinerary subject to change

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner


Tuition: Tuition is per person and based on shared hotel accommodations. Tuition includes accommodations, meals listed, entry fees and permits, gratuities, and group transportation from arrival in Durango, Colorado, on Sunday, September 14, 2014, until departure from Durango on Friday, September 19, 2014. Transportation to and from Durango is your responsibility.

Accommodations: Comfortable four-star hotels (double occupancy); single accommodations available for an additional fee of $425.

What to Expect: This program begins and ends in Durango, Colorado (elevation 6500 feet). The entire trip takes place at elevations between 5000 and 8000 feet. All travel is by van on rural roads, with long sections of gravel and dirt road in Chaco Canyon. Our pace will be somewhat leisurely, and assistance will be given, but you must be comfortable hiking and standing for several hours at a time. If you have any questions about your ability to take this trip, please contact us.


The following penalty schedule applies: On or before July 16, 2014: $200 handling fee; after July 16, 2014: forfeiture of all payments. For complete cancellation and refund policy, see Terms and Conditions.



The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's programs and admission practices are open to applicants of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation.

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California
CST 2059347-50

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