Join Southern Utah Scenic Tours as we embark on a captivating nine-day journey through the American Southwest, where history and culture converge to create an unforgettable adventure. We’ll begin our expedition in Albuquerque and explore the rich tapestry of Native American, Spanish, and American influences. From Old Town Albuquerque to the Pueblo Cultural Center, the region’s heritage comes to life. As we venture deeper into the heart of the Southwest, we’ll marvel at the Ancestral Puebloan dwellings in Canyon de Chelly, traverse the iconic Monument Valley, and witness the ancient hospitality of the Navajo Indians in their traditional Hogans. Our journey through time continues with explorations of Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and Aztec Ruins, where centuries-old ruins offer insights into ancient civilizations. Afloat on the San Juan River, we’ll discover more ancestral Puebloan wonders, while the stunning Hovenweep National Monument will leave us in awe. We’ll cap our journey with a visit to Santa Fe’s historic downtown and a tour of Bandelier before returning to Albuquerque for a farewell dinner. With a deep historical context, this itinerary promises a profound exploration of the region’s past and present.
Day 1: Arrival in Albuquerque (c. 1706)
Our adventure begins as we touch down in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Established in 1706 as a Spanish colonial outpost, Albuquerque holds centuries of history in its streets. As we gather, let’s take a moment to appreciate the blend of Native American, Spanish, and American influences that have shaped this unique city. Tomorrow, we’ll set off on an epic journey to explore the region’s historical and cultural treasures.
Day 2: Exploring Albuquerque
Today, we immerse ourselves in the heart of Old Town Albuquerque. Stroll along cobblestone streets, lined with adobe buildings, and soak in the rich history. Old Town is a vibrant hub of local art, craft, and culture, offering a glimpse into the city’s past and its fusion of indigenous, Spanish, and American heritage.
Our next stop is the Pueblo Cultural Center, where you’ll learn about the indigenous Pueblo people, their traditions, and their history. This visit will provide essential context for the rest of our journey. After an enriching morning, we’ll enjoy a delicious lunch in Old Town, savoring flavors that have evolved over centuries.
We’ll then head to Acoma Pueblo, known as “Sky City.” This ancient settlement, believed to have been inhabited since the 12th century, is perched atop a towering mesa. As we make our way to Gallup, we’ll reflect on the day’s encounters with the rich cultural heritage of the Southwest.
Day 3: Canyon de Chelly & Kayenta
Today, we embark on a journey back in time as we explore the magnificent Canyon de Chelly. This natural wonder has been shaped by the elements for millions of years, and its Ancestral Puebloan dwellings have borne witness to countless centuries of history. We’ll be in awe of the ancient ruins and towering sandstone cliffs that have witnessed human habitation for over 5,000 years.
In the evening, we find ourselves in Kayenta, Arizona, a town with deep historical ties to the Navajo Nation. Here, we’ll enjoy a well-deserved dinner and rest, surrounded by the cultural legacy of the Southwest.
Day 4: Monument Valley & Natural Bridges
Our day begins with a visit to the iconic Monument Valley, where the Ancestral Puebloans, Navajo, and countless others have left their mark over the centuries. This area has served as a backdrop for countless films and embodies the spirit of the Wild West. Our two-hour tour inside the valley takes us to the famous Mittens and other viewpoints. We’ll delve into the history of the Navajo Indians, prospectors, and settlers who have called this place home for thousands of years.
An unforgettable highlight awaits as we stop at a traditional Hogan, a dwelling used by the Navajo for centuries. We’ll learn about their culture and experience their renowned hospitality.
In the afternoon, we travel the Moki Dugway which offers a dramatic ascent from the Valley of the Gods to the Colorado Plateau. We will visit Natural Bridges National Monument, which has been sculpted by the forces of nature over eons. Views of the three arches will be seen from the rim.
We then make our descent back to the valley where our night will be spent in the charming town of Bluff, Utah.
Day 5: San Juan River & Hovenweep
Our journey takes a serene turn today as we start with a morning float on the San Juan River, a lifeline for the indigenous people of this region for centuries. The riverbanks hold the secrets of the Ancestral Puebloans, and we’ll explore some nearby Puebloan dwellings that have withstood the test of time.
We’ll then travel to Hovenweep National Monument, where the Ancestral Puebloans left a remarkable legacy of architectural marvels from the 13th century. These ancient structures, perched on the edges of canyons and mesas, will leave you in awe. By day’s end, we’ll find ourselves in Cortez, Colorado, a gateway to further historical wonders.
Day 6: Mesa Verde & Aztec Ruins
Today is a deep dive into the history of the Ancestral Puebloans. We’ll explore Mesa Verde National Park, where these ancient people inhabited the cliffs and canyons from approximately 600 to 1300 AD. The iconic cliff dwellings, including the famous Cliff Palace, are a testament to their architectural and cultural achievements. Walking through these ruins, you’ll feel the echoes of the past.
Our journey continues to Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico, which showcases the fascinating history of the Ancestral Puebloans. This site contains a reconstructed kiva, a massive great house, and intricate stone masonry. We’ll rest in Farmington, reflecting on a day filled with incredible archaeological wonders.
Day 7: Chaco Canyon & Santa Fe (c. 850-1250 AD)
Today, we’ll visit the remarkable Chaco Canyon National Monument, a place that thrived as a major center of Ancestral Puebloan culture from the 9th to the 12th centuries. The architecture and celestial alignments at Chaco Canyon are awe-inspiring, offering insight into the cultural significance of the site. We’ll explore the ruins and gain a deeper understanding of the history of this area.
Afterward, we’ll make our way to Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in the United States, founded by Spanish colonists in 1610. Santa Fe is renowned for its art, culture, and history, and its historic downtown.
Day 8: Bandelier & Back to Albuquerque
We will then make our way to Bandelier National Monument, a site inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans from approximately 1150 to 1550 AD. The ruins of cave dwellings and the intriguing Tyuonyi Pueblo reflect their ingenuity and history. The site offers an intimate glimpse into their daily lives.
We’ll then return to Albuquerque, where we’ll share a farewell dinner and reminisce about the journey through time and history.
Day 9: Farewell
As our adventure comes to an end, we’ll bid farewell to this breathtaking region, rich in history and culture. After breakfast, we’ll make our way to the airport for your return flights home.
Thank you for joining us on this remarkable historical tour of the American Southwest. We hope you’ve enjoyed every moment, and we look forward to the next adventure together. Safe travels!