Trail of the Ancients

Come explore thousands of years of culture, history, and traditions of the Ancients who dwelt in the region of the Southwest prior to the creation of the United States. Starting with the Archaic Period (North America), which occurred about 6500 to 100 BC, followed by the Ancestral Puebloan people (also known as Anasazi) who lived here until about 1400 AD, and lastly the Pueblo (including both Hopi and Zuni people), as well as the Navajo people, who all still live on these lands today.

When you take our Trail of the Ancients tour, you’ll visit and experience a large collection of ruins and ancient cities once occupied by these historic people. Some of what remains are small structures, such as those found at Hovenweep, while others are large settlements and cities, such as the ruins at Mesa Verde or Chaco Canyon. Regardless of size, they all give us examples of how these ancient ones once lived. This seven-day adventure will immerse you into these ancient cultures and give you the opportunity to follow their trails around this magical corner of the Southwest.

Tour Highlights:

  • Acoma Sky City Pueblo and Cultural Center (currently closed)
  • Canyon De Chelly & Monument Valley
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Goosenecks State Park
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Chaco Canyon National Monument
  • Bandelier National Monument
  • Santa Fe, NM


  • Services of a Southwest Adventure Tours tour director – a professional tour guide
  • Comfortable transportation
  • 8 nights hotel accommodations
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 7 lunches
  • Park entrance fees
  • Airport transfers
  • Water
  • Gratuities for included meals and activities
  • Applicable taxes and fees

Daily Breakdown:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Albuquerque
  • Day 2: Acoma Pueblo & El Morro National Monument
  • Day 3: Canyon De Chelly & Monument Valley
  • Day 4: Natural Bridges & Hovenweep National Monuments
  • Day 5: Mesa Verde National Park & Aztec National Monument
  • Day 6: Chaco Canyon National Monument
  • Day 7: Tent Rocks National Monument & Santa Fe
  • Day 8: Bandelier National Monument & Albuquerque
  • Day 9: Travel Home


  • Arrive in Albuquerque, New Mexico anytime today then transfer by hotel shuttle on your own to a pre-night hotel. Evening free on your own.

    Fairfield Inn & Suites Albuquerque Airport, Albuquerque, NM

  • Depart your Albuquerque hotel and drive the short distance to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Here you’ll learn about the culture and traditions of the Pueblo people through their cultural center and museum.

    Next, you will travel to the town of Grants where we’ll will stop for lunch before continuing towards the Casamero Pueblo. These seldomly-visited ruins are the remains of an Ancient Puebloan settlement from around 1100 AD. Your next visit will be to El Morro National Monument where you’ll walk on the same trails of the Spanish Explorers who traveled through here in the 1600s, leaving their signatures carved into the rocks.

    Afterward, you’ll travel to Gallup, where we’ll lodge for the evening.

    Hilton Garden Inn, Gallup, NM | Meals: B, L

  • Experience Canyon De Chelly on a guided tour with a local Navajo. Learn about the history and traditions of those who live in the canyon currently and those who lived here anciently, as well as the area around Canyon De Chelly being the center of the Navajo World. After lunch, travel to Monument Valley and enjoy a guided Back Country Tour of this famous, Navajo Tribal Park. Along with enjoying its timeless landscape of views and vistas, you will continue to learn more about the Navajo culture with a visit to a Hogan and a discussion with one of the locals still living inside the valley.

    Desert Rose, Bluff, UT | Meals: B, L

  • This morning you will explore Valley of the Gods and the historic Moki Dugway enroute to Natural Bridges National Monument. Here you’ll explore three of the ten largest natural bridges in the world located within one small area. After a picnic lunch, you’ll travel to Hovenweep National Monument to explore and learn about the ruins of the Ancestral Puebloan people and culture that inhabited this region around 1000 years ago. After that, it’s about an hour drive to Cortez, Colorado, where you’ll enjoy views of the Four Corners area including Sleeping Ute Mountain and the imposing San Juan Mountains.

    Holiday Inn Express, Cortez, CO | Meals: B, L

  • Today you’ll visit the grandest of all the ruins, Mesa Verde National Park. You’ll see and explore these fantastic cliff dwellings that are situated throughout the park. It also has one of the largest exhibits of pit houses in the region. You’ll learn more about the Ancestral Puebloan culture here and see how they lived in places like Cliff Palace and Balcony House.

    After exploring Mesa Verde, we’ll travel to Aztec, NM, and finish the day exploring Aztec National Monument. This site offers you the opportunity to see fantastically preserved Pueblo dwellings and a large kiva that has been restored. Along with this kiva, you will also explore inside the ruins and see the unique construction techniques for these large pueblos.

    Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Farmington, NM | Meals: B, L

  • Our next experience is another grand site, Chaco Culture National Historic Park. After leaving Farmington, we travel to this very remote park that consists of very large and mysterious structures. You’ll get to see and walk around a few of the “Chacoan” cities with their multiple square and round rooms, including Pueblo Bonito. These massive cities created the cultural center of the Ancestral Puebloan World you’ve been visiting.

    In the afternoon, you’ll travel to Santa Fe. Enjoy the rest of the day in this town full of art galleries and great food. This city played an important role in the settlement of the entire Southwest. With its influx of Spanish settlers arriving here in the late 1500s, their influences can still be found here. You will have the opportunity to visit the unique buildings and locations where the Southwest began to bloom from, all an easy walking distance from your hotel.

    La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, NM | Meals: B, L

  • This morning we take a trip over to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument to explore more unique Southwest scenery. Named for the way they look, Tent Rocks is the result of volcanic activity that helped shape this region. These unique rock formations are beautifully sculpted and are a delight to explore.

    NOTE: As of 2022, Kasha-Katuwa Tent Rocks N.M. is still closed due to various circumstances and a reopening plan is in the works. Until it is open, Southwest Adventure Tours will provide an alternative destination or activity for the first half of this day.

    After lunch, you will enjoy a driving and walking tour of the downtown Santa Fe area and learn more about what you began learning about yesterday afternoon. Explore and experience the historic buildings, plazas, chapels, and other special attractions within the downtown area.

    La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, NM | Meals: B, L

  • On our way back to Albuquerque today you’ll get to see one last Ancestral Puebloan site, Bandelier National Monument. People lived in these structures later during the Ancestral Puebloan era around 1150, and they are probably the youngest ruins from this culture. Carved out of the area’s volcanic ash, these dwellings look different than the others you’ve seen over the past week.

    Back in Albuquerque, we’ll stop for a late lunch at El Pinto restaurant for some genuine and authentic New Mexican cuisine. We’ll arrive at our hotel near the airport no later than 5:00 PM.

    Fairfield Inn & Suites Albuquerque Airport, Albuquerque | Meals: B, L

  • Transfer to the Albuquerque Airport on your own by hotel shuttle. Thank you for traveling with us and best wishes for a safe trip home!

    Meals: B

Tour Details:

Not included:

  • Items of a personal nature (alcohol, room service, etc.)
  • Meals (other than listed in the itinerary)
  • Optional activities
  • Airfare
  • Gratuities for the tour director

Arrival / Departure Information:

  • Arrival Location: Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ)
  • Arrival Time: Any time on day 1
  • Departure Location: Albuquerque International Airport (ABQ)
  • Departure Time: Any time on day 9

Physical Requirements:

  • Guests should be comfortable walking on uneven terrain for an average of 1 to 3 miles at a time.
  • Elevation gain and loss averages between 50 to 300 ft over the course of the areas visited during this tour.
  • Touring and overnight locations are above 6,000 to 8,000 ft above sea level
  • Deboard and board van each time at a viewpoint – a portable step will be available
  • Please let us know if you have any other physical/health limitations or requirements

Other Details:

  • Comfortable transportation in Mercedes Sprinter vans or similar
  • Solo Travelers: $250 Single Occupancy Fee.
  • Accommodations: Double Occupancy Hotel, 2.5 to 3 Star Hotels

Similar Tours:


  • $2,999.00 Per Person Double Occupancy
  • $3,329.00 Per person Single Occupancy
  • $2,859.00 Per person Triple Occupancy
  • $2,699.00 Per person Quad Occupancy

A minimum of 6 passengers is necessary to operate this tour.

2022 Departure Dates:

September 10 September 17 
September 24 October 1
October 8 October 15
October 22  


2023 Departure Dates:

April 29 May 6
May 13 September 9
September 16 September 23
October 14  




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