SOLD OUT! Chaco to Mesa Verde

Durango, CO


Be Curious, Be Brave… Join us on an exploration of the archaeology, cultural history, and high desert landscapes of southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. The remarkable preservation of ancestral sites, paired with the unbroken continuity of descendent communities that continue to thrive, makes for an unparalleled experience. Immerse yourself into the deep cultural and archaeological past while enjoying easy-to-moderate hikes in and around UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Aztec Ruins. Gain an appreciation for the ingenuity and resilience of past and present cultures, and learn how multivocal, multidisciplinary approaches influence cutting-edge research and education.


  • Visit three UNESCO World Heritage sites in one week—Chaco Canyon, Aztec Ruins, and Mesa Verde!
  • Gain an understanding of the cultural landscape that continues to be important to Indigenous people.
  • Make connections from ancient ancestral sites to contemporary Pueblo communities and practices.

What to Expect

Meals, lodging, and transportation provided

Sunday, April 23: Opening Night

Travelers who are driving will meet in Cortez, CO at 3:00 p.m. Travelers who are flying will need to arrive in Durango by 3:00 p.m. Both groups will be transferred to Farmington, NM by Crow Canyon staff. Gather in the evening to meet the group and have an evening talk to set the stage for the week ahead.

Overnight: Farmington, NM (D)

Monday, April 24: Chaco Canyon National Historic Park

We begin our Southwest journey with a full day in Chaco Canyon. Orientating to the greater Chaco landscape sets the foundation for understanding the rich culture we’ll learn about throughout the week. Stops at Fajada Butte, Casa Rinconada, BC Small Sites, and the grand Pueblo Bonito will highlight the day.

Overnight: Farmington, NM (B, L, D)

Tuesday, April 25: Aztec Ruins National Monument and Salmon Ruins

Due North of Chaco Canyon are the great community centers of Salmon and Aztec. These sites tell fascinating stories of change, growth, and deep connections to Chaco and its influence. Get a sense of the scale and splendor in the reconstructed great kiva in Aztec.

Overnight: Farmington, NM (B, L, D)

Wednesday, April 26: Chaco Outlier

Head west to a Chaco village on the edge of the rugged Mesa Verde escarpment. This is a unique opportunity to view a rarely visited site inside the well-protected boundaries of the Ute Mountain Ute Nation.

Overnight: Cortez, CO (B, L, D)

Thursday, April 27: Crow Canyon and Yellowjacket Pueblo

In Montezuma Valley, small communities dotted the landscape for centuries and then coalesced into massive villages, Yellowjacket Pueblo being the largest. Discuss the changing culture, landscape, and ways of living in the late 1200s. A visit to Crow Canyon’s campus will illuminate the scope and breadth of 40-years of archaeological education and research.

Overnight: Cortez, CO (B, L, D)

Friday, April 28: Mesa Verde National Park

Our final day is spent in the world-renowned Mesa Verde National Park. Explore mesa-top villages and cliff dwellings while over the lands that we traveled and point to the great communities of the past and present.

Overnight: Cortez, CO (B, L, D)

Saturday, April 29: Departures

Vehicle departures anytime from Cortez. Durango airport shuttles as needed. (B)

*(B, L, D) indicates meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Is this program right for me?


The entire trip takes place at elevations between 5000- and 8000-feet. All travel is by van on rural roads, with long sections of gravel and dirt road in Chaco Canyon and Ute Tribal Park. Our pace will be somewhat leisurely, and assistance will be given, but you must be comfortable hiking and standing for several hours at a time.


All nights are spent in comfortable hotels. Hotel accommodations are double occupancy; single accommodations are available for an additional fee.


- How strenuous is the program? This program consists of easy hikes, less than a mile per site, on gravel or paved paths. Most sites allow for easy access to a vehicle. Plan to be on your feet for two or more hours at each location.

- How long are the hikes on the trip? Most hikes are short, less than one mile.

- How much elevation gain do the hikes have? Most hikes involve an elevation gain of 50- to 200-feet.

- What time does the program start on the first day? Travelers will meet Crow Canyon staff by 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 23 and will rendezvous at our hotel in Farmington, NM.

- What time does the program end on the last day? Travelers who drove may depart anytime. Airport shuttles will be determined based on flight times.

- Will airport transfers be provided? Crow Canyon provides transport to/from the La Plata county airport in Durango.

- Can I drive myself? No, we will travel as a group in Crow Canyon vehicles each day.

- What if I have a dietary restriction? We will do our best to accommodate dietary restrictions to your satisfaction.

Program Details