Native American Pueblos
The ancestral Pueblos of the American Southwest left us an extraordinary archaeological legacy in their magnificent dwellings, cliff palaces, towers, shrines, and petroglyph panels.
Once the hubs of an expansive civilisation, these sites were already abandoned when the Navajo peoples moved in after 1300, and so they simply described them as the ‘ancient ones’ or Anasazi, and left the deserted ruins well alone. Their civilisation continues today in the Native American Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona, stretching across the so-called ‘corner states’. Our tour of these pueblos includes exclusive special access affording us real insight.
- Spend an evening listening to a Navajo storyteller
- Visit the largest archaeological preserve in the USA
- Travel by boat along the San Juan river
- Journey to Chaco Canyon, a veritable city state
- Marvel at ancient rock art, towers and shrines
- The New World
- Rock Art
- Special Access
- All Inclusive
On our first day, we fly to Albuquerque from London. We arrive in the evening and from here we check in to our hotel.
In the morning, we drive out from Albuquerque to visit the Petroglyph National Monument. Here over a hillside littered with volcanic boulders are hundreds of petroglyphs dating from the 13th to 16th century. There are examples of marks here made by both indigenous inhabitants and early Spanish settlers. In the afternoon there is free time to relax and explore the town.
Today, we visit the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque town, part of the university. The museum houses and displays artefacts from Ancestral Puebloan cultures from over 11,000 years of history and our Guide Lecturer was once the curator. After lunch, we drive out to visit Acoma Pueblo, the Sky City. This is one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the United States, the site has most likely been inhabited for over 2000 years. The community is organised in a completely decentralised fashion secured on top of a rocky bluff. It is famed for the ceramics which it produces. We return to Albuquerque.
Our next day of adventure, we drive out to Chaco Canyon. This city was one of the great centres of civilisation in the south west and was the epicentre of a wide-ranging cultural polity between AD 900 and 1200. We will visit the sites of Pueblo Bonito, the largest great house surviving from the Chaco Culture, and the other great houses of Chetro Ketl and Casa Rinconada. Later on, we continue into Colorado to Durango, which is our base for the next two days. Durango was once a mining town and is still the terminus of the Durango and Silverton steam railroad.
A morning drive to Chimney Rock, which is a world-famous and truly remarkable natural rock formation that is a key landmark for some Native American communities. A settlement on h summit is positioned to observer the lunar transits that occur between the rocky pinnacles. Later on to Aztec Ruins: the remains of a 900-year-old Ancestral Puebloan town with great houses containing over 400 masonry rooms and a reconstructed a monumental Great Kiva. We return to Durango.
Today we visit the famous Mess Verde with its cliff dwellings built in caves and massive rock shelters in the sides of the mesa. For millennia Ancestral Puebloans occupied the plateau and a variety of settlements are to be seen. From 1100 to 1300 AD they built the famous cliff palaces. We will visit a number of sites depending on what is accessible on the day, including Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House. Later, we drive on to the town of Cortez.
We drive out to Crow Canyon, where we have special access to the laboratories of the research centre. The centre is famous for its experimental archaeology and ongoing research. Here we can talk to archaeologists and visit excavations if they are taking place. After lunch at the centre, we drive on to Hovenweep, which is a complex of villages of towers and stone houses, constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries. These were the very last ecological niches occupied by Ancestral Puebolans in the 13th and 14th centuries before they were forced to abandon the area in the face of environmental change. We drive on to the town of Bluff
This morning we have a very special scenic river boat ride down the San Juan River to admire the magnificent views and appreciate the waterway that was the lifeblood of the region for the prehistoric people. We will stop to see some of the rock art and ruins along its banks. After a picnic lunch, we continue our drive onto Monument Valley, whose scenery is world-famous for featuring in many western films. This marvel of nature site is characterised by its sandstone buttes, looking like a ruined city in the distance, some of which reach to over 1000 feet! We return to Bluff.
This morning, we drive into the Navajo state to Canyon de Chelly, the heartland of the Navajo people. After lunch, we have a special tour in off-road vehicles to explore the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. People have lived in the canyons here for over 5000 years leaving behind traces in legends, buildings and rock art. The modern Navajo still live in the canyon. We stay nearby.
A long drive through New Mexico to Santa Fe, with plenty of rest stops at points of interest. Arriving in the early afternoon, there is some free time to relax or explore Santa Fe town.
Today we visit the beautiful town of Santa Fe. A Spanish colonial capital its architecture is influenced by the traditional adobe of the southwest. From the main square to the Spanish style cathedral regional motifs abound. In the morning we visit the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and then in the afternoon there is free time to explore the beautiful town or rest in the hotel.
We have a very special morning visiting the petroglyphs of Mesa Prieta. The volcanic rocks here served as the perfect canvas for rock art drawings as well as other archaeological features including shrines, water control system and gardens. This site's remote location means it is little-frequented by tourists. In the afternoon, we drive on to tour Taos Pueblo, which has multi-storied structures, in fact a great house, that has been continually inhabited for 1000 years.
On our final day, we drive to Albuquerque where, time permitting, we can visit the Albuquerque Museum, which displays finds from across the region. Later on, we travel to the airport for our flight back to London.
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
- Field Notes
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