The Four Corners area of the American Southwest is one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. It is an enchanting land of painted deserts, verdant forests, and towering red mesas visible for miles under the brilliant sunlight. The ancient Anasazi remains, colonial Spanish villages and Native American pueblos (villages) reflect a proud heritage intimately in tune with nature and rooted in tradition.
Join Far Horizons for an extraordinary ten-day jaunt through the spectacular Four Corners, where the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona come together. Our trip begins and ends in Albuquerque, New Mexico where we visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the University of New Mexico’s splendid Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. We spend a day in Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before moving north to Aztec, Hovenweep with its free-standing towers, and Mesa Verde, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Canyon de Chelly, Navajo guides take us on a specially arranged tour to out-of-the-way areas seldom seen by tourists. Other highlights include Acoma, the oldest continuously occupied town in the United States; Zuni Pueblo with its historic mission church, and Santa Fe, the oldest capital city of the US whose rich cultural history is ever-present.
Won’t you join this small group as we travel through a truly enchanting part of the United States!
Arrive Albuquerque by 10am. Transfer to the Best Western Rio Grande Inn. After a welcome lunch, we will enter the University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology where the director will give a talk and bring out artifacts not normally seen by the public. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner of traditional southwestern cuisine. Overnight for one night in the Best Western Rio Grande Inn, located in Old Town. (L/D)
This morning we drive to Coronado Historic Site, just north of Albuquerque. Here we will see the remnants of the ancient Kuaua Pueblo that prospered here from the late 1300s to the early 1500s, characterized by its multi-story adobe dwellings and intricate kivas.
In 1540, Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and his expedition passed through the area, marking a significant chapter in the site’s history (and namesake). We will explore the ruins of the Pueblo, and the museum and visitor center, housing 14 of the restored kiva murals and various artifacts.
In the afternoon we return to Albuquerque and visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, with time to view the exhibits displaying the history, culture and art of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, and watch a display of Pueblo dancing. (B/L/D)
An early start this morning for a long but memorable day as we explore remote Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An archaeological survey has recorded over 2,000 ancient architectural remains within the valley and nearby areas. This arid, treeless arroyo was the center for the Pueblo culture a thousand years ago, and magnificent building complexes still stand as mute testimony to its former grandeur.
An important hub for commerce, the immense road system branching out from Chaco Canyon shows the importance of trade to the area. In complexity of community life, in social organization and architecture, the inhabitants of Chaco Canyon reached heights rarely matched and never surpassed by their kindred in the Four Corners Region. Overnight for one night at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Aztec, New Mexico. (B/L/D)
Begin today at the multi-storied Aztec National Monument, situated on the north bank of the Animas River. We will walk through this five-hundred-room complex built almost 1,000 years ago. A highlight will be seeing a large and beautifully restored kiva, an underground chamber used for religious rites. Additionally, this thousand-year-old village is claimed to be the terminus of Chaco Canyon’s Great North Road.
Later and if available, we will meet with archaeologist, Linda Wheelbarger, for a specially arranged private talk on her work. She’s the excavator at Point Pueblo where a great house with attached great kiva has been discovered. After crossing into southeastern Utah, stroll through Hovenweep National Monument, where prehistoric communities carefully constructed ashlar buildings. Often these edifices were accompanied by multistory towers perched on canyon rims and precariously balanced on boulders. Interestingly, these towers seemed to have protected water sources.
Continue to Cortez, Colorado where we overnight at the Holiday Inn Express. (B/L/D)
Today we go to Mesa Verde, the first national park set aside for its archaeological treasures. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural site in 1978. Around 600AD, thriving communities of Ancestral Pueblo people built elaborate stone multi-storied “apartment houses” on the mesas and in the cliffs of the towering canyon walls.
Our full day here is filled with wonder! Cliff Palace with about 150 rooms is the largest rock face dwelling in the park. To reach Balcony House, the adventurous must climb a 32-foot ladder. Spruce Tree House is the third-largest cliff dwelling in the Park and we will be able to look down on it from an adjoining nearby ridge.
In the late afternoon, we drive Chinle, Arizona and overnight for two nights at the Best Western Canyon De Chelly. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
Part of the Navajo Tribal Land, glorious and vast Canyon de Chelly lies at the junction of two immense canyons. Sheer ruddy sandstone walls rise up to 1,000 feet, towering over arroyos with white sand stream beds. Within caves and recesses, dramatic masonry dwellings were forged, some of them hundreds of feet from the valley floor and reached only by hand and foot holds carved into the rock. These cliff houses, along with exquisite rock paintings and petroglyphs recall the prehistoric culture that once existed here.
The grandeur of this countryside will be truly appreciated as we ride through remote canyons in four-wheel drive vehicles with our private Navajo guide. He will provide us with fascinating insights into the present-day life of the Navajo, or Diné, who still inhabit and cultivate the lush valley floor. After time to rest in the afternoon, we will drive the rim of the canyon and stop for stunning views of the valley. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)
An early departure takes us to Hubbell’s, the oldest, continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation lands. It offers a unique glimpse into the time when traders served as the main contact to the outside world for reservation dwellers. John Lorenzo Hubbell purchased the trading post in 1878, and the Hubbell family continued to operate it until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1965. Today, the post store still operates and there will be time to peruse the merchandise after the tour of the museum.
After lunch we drive to Zuni Pueblo to visit Hawikuh Pueblo, established in 1400 AD and the Village of the Great Kivas, considered an outlier of Chaco and replete with pictographs and petroglyphs. Hawikuh Pueblo has the distinction of being the first pueblo to be conquered by Coronado. If open to visitors, we will also enter the Zuni Mission Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, initial construction of which began in the 17th century.
In the late afternoon, drive to Gallup, surrounded by Navajo, Zuni and Hopi lands. Spend two nights at El Rancho Hotel, located on historic U.S. Route 66. This quaint inn, built in 1937 by the brother of movie magnate D.W. Griffith, became the temporary home for many Hollywood movie stars who filmed Westerns in the area throughout the 1930s to 1940s. Their autographed photos adorn the historic two-story lobby. (B/L/D)
Gallup, New Mexico is at the heart of Indian Country and renowned for Native American art. For many Native people, the most trusted non-Navajos in the last century were Lorenzo Hubbell and Bill Richardson. Navajo families would come to these merchants to pawn their most treasured jewelry and rugs, some of which had been in their family for generations. Up until the 1970s, this was one of the main functions of trading posts on reservations, to provide a safe place to keep these family heirlooms safe.
We will visit Richardson’s Trading Post, established in 1913, to peruse the fabulous array of Native jewelry, handmade rugs, and pottery on display (and for sale!). Here, we meet privately with a staff member who will tell us about the history of Richardson’s and about the vault that safeguards the most valuable pieces of jewelry for the local Navajo population.
We depart Gallup and drive to Acoma Pueblo, perched atop a striking sandstone mesa 367 feet above the valley floor. Known as ‘Sky City’ and inhabited since the 12th century, it is reputed to be the oldest continuously occupied community in the United States. In 1629, Acoma Pueblo received its first missionary, Fray Juan Ramirez, and under his direction, the San Estevan de Rey Mission, a monumental adobe structure, was built. Our guided tour of the pueblo takes us into the church and through the village. Here, we learn about the customs and way of life as well as the distinctive and famous black-and-white pottery made by the people who continue to inhabit the mesa and preserve this ancient and living site.
We return to Albuquerque and overnight for two nights in the Best Western Rio Grande Inn. (B/L/D)
Today we drive to Santa Fe, a city whose past is a tapestry of Native American traditions, Spanish colonization, American expansion, artistic expression, and cultural diversity. Led by a museum-trained docent guide, we embark on a walking tour of the downtown quarter to learn about Santa Fe’s diverse history and how it continues to shape its cultural identity.
Return to Albuquerque in the afternoon, with time for last minute shopping in Old Town. Gather this evening for a farewell dinner in one of Albuquerque’s renowned restaurants. (B/L/D)
Transfer to the airport for our return flights home. (B)
Price is based on double occupancy and includes:
Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.
Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.
As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.
Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.
A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.
International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for a mile or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging 3-4 miles of walking. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least half an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 30 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking for a mile or two every day. We feel that this preparation will increase your enjoyment of the trip. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. At times we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will not be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.