Chaco Culture National Historical Park
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SAMPLE 8-day Native American Indian Cultures and Ruins Tour in the Southwest USA
an itinerary that begins in phoenix, arizona and ends in las vegas, neveda
All our itineraries are custom designed for your specific tour needs. This is just a sample itinerary. Your tour can start and end in almost any location.
The Sample Tour Ininerary includes the following major sites:
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Sedona, Ariaona
- Oak Creek Canyon
- Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim
- Navajo & Hopi Lands
- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Bandelier National Monument
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park
- Monument Valley
- Lake Powell & Glenn Canyon
- Zion National Park
- Las Vegas, Nevada
Day 1 ~ Arrive in Phoenix
Meet your tour guide and check into your hotel.
Day 2 ~ Castles and Inspiration in Red Rock Country
As you travel from the Phoenix area to the Grand Canyon, you will pass through the enchanting red rocks of Sedona, the lush beauty of Oak Creek Canyon, a number of ancient Indian ruins, and the alpine beauty surrounding Flagstaff.
Between Phoenix and Sedona, you will visit the ageless ruins at Montezuma Castle, built under overhanging cliffs that are a hundred feet above the banks of the small Beaver Creek. Built by the Sinagua ("without water" in Spanish) people, this is a beautiful piece of architecture five stories high with over twenty rooms in the pueblo. Montezuma Castle is one of the best preserved Indian ruins in the Southwest.
Designated by USA Weekend Magazine as "The Most Beautiful Place in America," picturesque Sedona makes the rugged West comfortable and inviting. Situated at the mouth of magnificent Oak Creek Canyon, cooled by the enchanting flow of Oak Creek, and punctuated by dramatic monoliths in the surrounding cliffs, Sedona's exuberant beauty is irresistible. Sedona rivals the famous Grand Canyon as Arizona's second most popular tourist attraction. Sedona is distinguished by its many scenic and cultural features throughout this "Red Rock Country".
Soaring above Flagstaff, you will see the picturesque San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountains in Arizona. Rising more than a mile above the surrounding Coconino National Forest, the San Francisco Peaks are a prominent feature of the southern Colorado Plateau. Thought by some geologists to be the remains of a large strata-volcano similar to Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, the Peaks rise in dramatic isolation to over 12,000 feet. They are often visible from more than one hundred miles away.
After passing the grasslands of Northern Arizona, you will enter the Grand Canyon National Park. Worthy of its rank as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon overwhelms the senses and captivates the imagination with its spectacular combination of incredible scale, dramatic views, awe-inspiring rock formations, and untamed beauty. Over a mile deep (1.6 km) at its deepest point, 18 miles (29 km) across at its widest, and 277 river miles (446 km) long, the Grand Canyon is deemed to be one of the world's most visually commanding landscapes, an immensely majestic gorge with temple-like bluffs; plummeting depths; fiery chestnut cliffs, towering plateaus; and vibrant, labyrinthine topography dappled with deserts, plains, forests, mesas, lava flows, cinder cones, streams, waterfalls, and one of America's premier whitewater rivers.
Weather-permitting, you will have the opportunity to watch the dramatic interplay of changing lights and shadows during a Grand Canyon sunset before enjoying dinner and your accommodations inside the Park, at the Grand Canyon's South Rim.
Day 3 ~ The Compelling Grand Canyon and Navajo & Hopi Lands
After an optional sunrise viewing of The Canyon, you will travel along the East Rim Drive on the way to the Hopi Mesas on the Hopi Reservation.
Not only is the Grand Canyon a crowning gem in America's national park system, but as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Canyon is considered to be of outstanding significance to the common heritage of the entire human race. John Wesley Powell, the one-armed Civil War veteran who took three months to explore the Grand Canyon by boat in 1869, described its stunning vastness as "the most sublime spectacle in nature," saying of it that, "the glories and the beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon - forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span the diapason from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain."
We usually make planned stops at Grandview Point and Desert View overlook. Our regular stop at Desert View overlook is on the edge of the eastern entry to Grand Canyon National Park. The Watchtower at this location has a winding staircase inside the stone tower that takes you past traditional Indian paintings and windows through which you can view the Canyon. At the top you will appreciate vistas of the Painted Desert, the eastern entry the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding forested hillsides.
We Will be following a route through portions of the Painted Desert and the Navajo Indian Reservation. We usually stop at one of the Little Colorado overlooks and Native Indian Outdoor Markets. At the Little Colorado River Gorge overlook, Native American artisans display a variety of crafts including rugs, pottery, and jewelry. They will gladly pose for photographs along with their works. The view into the Little Colorado Gorge is particularly spectacular and unusual. The Gorge itself will take your breath away as you look hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the steep, narrow canyon.
Continuing on, you will relish the serenity, open spaces, and ever-changing colors of the Colorado Plateau and the Painted Desert. On the Hopi Reservation, which sits in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation, you will visit The Hopi Cultural Center
Hopi Mesa villages will be visited with stops and walking tours (unless closed to the public for religious ceremonials). You will have opportunities to talk with the local Native Americans and view their personal arts and crafts.
The Hopi people have lived in the southwest for thousands of years, maintaining their mesa-top villages for a longer period of time than any other dwellings, villages, towns or cities in North America. An attempt will be made to arrange special cultural activities and guide, along with a traditional Hopi meal. Hear stories of their ancestral travel to and from the "Center of the Earth" and information about their ancient trails to Ancestral Puebloan villages.
Day 4 ~ A Blending of Indian and Spanish Cultures
After an early morning departure, we will continue east in the state of New Mexico, arriving in Santa Fe around noon.
New Mexico is known as the "Land of Enchantment", and fabulous Santa Fe represents the best example of this "enchanted" land and culture. Historic Santa Fe's unique culture and ambiance are a peculiar blend of the Native American Indian, Spanish and Old West Cowboy influences. The afternoon's activities will include your choice of a walking tour of Santa Fe's historic old town or the Canyon Road Fine Arts District.
OPTIONS: Below is a list of some of the sites that we will try to visit, as time allows:
Day 5 ~ Bandelier National Monument
A tribute to the memory and the mystery of the Ancestral Puebloan culture, Bandelier National Monument preserves hundreds of their ancient cliff houses and pueblo dwellings. The hauntingly empty ruins are fascinating in their structure and precarious placement, yet even more fascinating when one considers that 10,000 years ago families lived behind these yawning cave doors. Echoes of this enigmatic past, while shrouded in anonymity, still reverberate through the rough-hewn log and adobe construction of this testament to the Ancients.
Day 6 ~ The Great Houses of Chaco Culture National Historical Park
During the middle and late 800's AD, the great houses of Chaco were built. Many of these structures were oriented to lunar, solar and cardinal directions. The areas around these structures contained special communication features, water control devices, formal earthen mounds and sophisticated astronomical markers. Communication was more easily allowed through their lines of sight construction.
In addition to the above features, Chaco is unique in many other ways. The largest structure of the Chacoan system is Pueblo Bonito at four stories high and containing more than 600 rooms and 40 "kivas". Many roads to over 150 other great houses throughout this San Juan Basin region connected these great houses in Chaco Canyon. All these unique features seem to indicate that they were used for ceremonies, commerce, and trading when large temporary populations came to the area for these events.
Day 7 ~ Mingle with Monuments of Nature
We will travel from Farmington to a tour of Monument Valley.
A highlight of this area will be a backcountry tour in Monument Valley Navajo Nation Park with a Navajo guide that includes over 25 miles (40 kilometers) through the valley with stops at many of the historic and scenic views. Some of the very best photographic views will be pointed out for memorable picture taking, including natural arches, petroglyphs and ancient Anasazi dwellings.
Monument Valley is instantly recognizable as the sweeping backdrop of the classic Southwest. A striking panorama of windswept desert punctuated by immense sandstone monoliths ascending some 1,000 feet (304 meters) above the earth, this desolate countryside evokes a timelessness that few others can. Monument Valley has been chosen for the setting of over 16 major motion pictures, including the unforgettable John Wayne films Stagecoach and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, as well as countless commercials, making it easily one of the most recognizable, beautiful, and legendary landscapes in the world.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Hampton Inn, Kayenta, AZ, near Monument Valley Navajo Nation Park
Day 8 ~ Variety in Stone & Water with a Tour through Antelope Canyon
A highlight for the day will be a tour through Antelope Canyon with a Navajo guide. Casual tourists often overlook Antelope Canyon because it is not a national or state park. However, Antelope Canyon is instantly recognizable as one of the most-photographed slot canyons in the American Southwest. Its narrow passages, intricately carved sandstone, gently undulating curves and hollows varying from 3 to 9 feet (1 to 3 meters) wide, and occasional shafts of radiating sunlight piercing through the soft colors and shadows are unsurpassed in breathtaking tranquility.
After your tour through Antelope Canyon, you will travel through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which encloses one of nature's most inspirational settings. Behind the Glen Canyon Dam, the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries are backed up into the ravines and gorges of Glen Canyon, forming Lake Powell. With nearly 2,000 miles (3,218K) of stunning red-rock shoreline, Lake Powell is not only one of the largest man-made lakes in the USA, but also one of the most scenic. This contrasting assortment of captivating, water-filled canyons has become one of America's premier destinations for outdoor water sports. Lake Powell and Glenn Canyon, viewing the contrasting variety of narrow and water-filled canyons that result from a man-made monolith, Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Powell is one of the largest and definitely one of the most scenic man-made lakes in the world. Its coastline is longer than the entire west coast of the United States. In addition to the walk through Antelope Canyon, an additional short, optional hike will be park of the day's activities.
Other areas traveled through include Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the Arizona Strip, a release area for the California Condor, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, and Navajo Nation Indian Lands
Evening colors are especially vibrant, so a late afternoon entry into the east entry of Zion National Park will be another highlight of the day, with stops at unique scenic overlooks and passage through a mile-long tunnel.
Day 9 ~ Explore Zion National Park
As Utah's oldest and most visited national park, Zion's topography is an exquisite spectacle of canyon-mesa country. Encompassing one of the most scenic cliff-and-canyon landscapes in the USA, Zion's 229 square miles (593 km) are internationally known for their dramatic canyons, towering rock faces, overhanging cliffs, sparkling waterfalls, hanging valleys, high plateaus, rock formations, dripping springs, shaded pools, and particularly for the Virgin River Narrows - one of the premier hikes on the Colorado Plateau. The word Zion is ancient Hebrew meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary, and Zion National Park is just that - an exquisite respite from the surrounding world. Two optional hikes will be part of this day's activities.
If time allows, we will also take a tour of Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park on the way to Las Vegas Nevada. You will be traveling through the Virgin River Gorge and view some Joshua Trees on your way to Las Vegas.
Day 10 ~ Departure Day