Chaco Canyon Pre-Tour

Living Heritage & Sacred Spaces: A Contrast in Time and Cultures

September 22 - 25, 2022

The pre-tour has been postponed. Please contact us for more information.


We invite you on a three-night, two-day journey as we explore the ancient dwellings and living pueblos of Native New Mexico. This will be an exclusive opportunity to further explore the region's sacred heritage and the juxtaposition of rich cultures that truly make New Mexico 'The Land of Enchantment'. Alexandra DelGaudio will lead us on an adventurous, immersive tour of the sacred kivas and hollowed, lava caves of Bandelier and Tsankawi, to the multi-story adobe pueblos of Taos Pueblo, a continuously inhabited village for 1000 years!

Itinerary Overview

Santa Fe Lodge‘Home base’ will be the Southwestern-styled hotel, “The Lodge at Santa Fe’. Located a short shuttle transfer to the quaint, Spanish-style main plaza of Santa Fe, and a comfortable and convenient setting for our trip. Join us for a welcome orientation dinner and presentation hosted by Alex, our guide for the trip.

After an early breakfast and departure from the hotel, day one will take us on a full day’s exploration to the Bandelier National Monument and its sister site, and best-kept secret, Tsankawi.

Chaco CanyonFollow the footsteps of the ‘Ancient Ones’, the Anasazi Native Americans, who walked this land before us. These Ancient Puebloans who lived here left deep, rutted paths in the limestone cliffs and used stone tools to hollow out beautiful ‘cavates’ (caves) in the limestone walls of the canyon in which to escape the harsh climate of the New Mexican winters and the hot, dry summers. They clad the caves in plaster and paint and the ceilings were blackened by fire smoke to seal the finish for durability. The result is a fairy-tale-like system of earthy dwellings with magical views of the canyon below.

Santa Fe LodgeMany of these spaces are accessed only using long, wooden ladders, which we will climb to visit the perched ‘Alcove House’, a ceremonial kiva nestled high in the cliffs overlooking the canyon and accessible only by 4 wooden ladders and a series of stone stairways. We will enjoy a group lunch under the shade trees at Bandelier.

Chaco CanyonUpon our arrival at the hotel this evening, you will have the opportunity to freshen up before a free evening in Santa Fe. Dinner will be on your own tonight as you have the chance to walk the adobe building lined plaza and discover the rich flavors of the local cuisine scene in this beautiful and unique little town.

Santa Fe LodgeDay two will offer a unique insight into the living history of New Mexico, steeped in ancient tradition. After an early breakfast, we will visit the historic ‘El Santuario de Chimayo’, an important pilgrimage site and trusted place of power and healing. The Spanish-Colonial adobe church here is a wonderful example of the fusion of cultures that make New Mexico so unique. The juxtaposition between traditional worship styles of contemporary Native Americans contrasts the Catholicism practiced here since the Spanish occupation of the 1500’s.

Chaco CanyonWe make our way North to the historic Taos Plaza, where we will savor the regional flavors of New Mexico at a locally owned restaurant, before continuing to the indigenous Taos Pueblo, home to the Taos-speaking (Tiwa) Native American tribe of Puebloan people.

Santa Fe LodgeWe will participate in a private, guided tour by a member of the community, before exploration of the homes and central grounds of the village. Climb inside the cool, earthy homes and experience the living history of the descendants of the Anasazi, now referred to as Taos Puebloans or the Red Willow People. The residents here create jewelry, pottery, and woven textiles, available for purchase to the public. This site is truly a wonder, sitting at the base of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountain range.

Chaco CanyonOn our return to the hotel, we will take a brief photo opportunity stop and walk the impressive, ‘Rio Grande Gorge Bridge’. Due to its incredible location, you may have seen this steel deck arch bridge in many a film over time. It is today, the tenth highest bridge in the United States. As you cross over the bridge spanning 1,280 feet and look down, you will have the most breathtaking views down over the gorge and Rio Grande River 600ft below!

Santa Fe LodgeOn the way back to our hotel, we gather this evening at a beautiful, locally owned and operated restaurant for our final, farewell dinner.

Journey Leader: Alexandra DelGaudio

Way-Finder. Star Gazer. Truth Sharer. Tree Hugger. Seeker.

Santa Fe LodgeAlex is a retired Firefighter-Paramedic who hung up her Hero's cape after 25 years and turned the reins over to her inner-nine year old. By surrendering to the dreams and visions of her younger Self she was taken on a three- year adventure in the desert Southwest that re- awakened her to the joy in her heart and re-kindled her dedication to serve others.

Alex is a student and practitioner of the Polynesian philosophy of HUNA, Native American Earth Medicine and the Shamanic practices of Central and South America.

As a wilderness guide for girls ages 10-18 with the Women's Wilderness Institute, Boulder, CO, Alex combined her love for nature with a passion for empowering young girls and women through heart centered and adventurous exploration of the outdoors.

A life-long student of story, mythology and archetypes, she combines her love of Nature, the wisdom of the Ancients and her personal experience with joy and sorrow, shadow and light, to assist others on their path of discovery.

Alex lives in Colorado Springs with her wife, Jennifer and their Adventure Pug, Haole.

What's Included

  • 3 nights’ accommodation at Lodge at Santa Fe September 23, 24, 25
  • Parking if required
  • Hotel room taxes
  • Transportation by Air-Conditioned Passenger Van
  • Entrances to Bandelier & Tsankawi. Taos Pueblo (guided tour/camera fee), and El Santuario de Chimayo
  • Gratuities for Guide at Taos Pueblo
  • Welcome Dinner/presentation/orientation September 23
  • Breakfast September 24, 25, 26
  • Boxed lunch September 24
  • Restaurant lunch September 25
  • Farewell Dinner September 25
  • Meal taxes and gratuities
  • Snacks & Water on tour days
  • Private transfer to and from Santa Fe plaza September 24
  • Private transfer to Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on September 26
  • Private guide

Trip Prices & Dates

Note: This journey is available exclusively to ‘The Mystery & Meaning of Chaco Canyon’ participants on a first-come, first-served basis.

$1,170 * - Double Share per person
*Payments via payments via check, money order, bank draft, bank wire or credit card. (There is no cash price for this tour.) GLJ accepts American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover.

$300 - Add for Single Room Supplement

$500 - deposit holds your space. Final payment due by June 9, 2021.*
*If you register for this trip, you are agreeing to the trip Terms & Conditions provided with this document.

Hotel (or similar):
Santa Fe, NM: The Lodge at Santa Fe
750 N St Francis Dr, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: (505) 992-5800

Not Included: Airfare or airport transfers, items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks and telephone calls, meals not included in the itinerary, as well as any item that is not specifically detailed in the final trip itinerary, tips to your bell staff, room service or housekeeping.

Site Summaries

Bandelier and Tsankawi National Monument: Ladders and Lava - what sets Bandelier-Tsankawi National Monument apart from other ancient, sacred sites.

From a period between 600 CE to 1550 CE, the ancestors of the contemporary Cochiti and San Ildefanso people hand carved cavates (small alcoves) into the tuft of canyon walls formed long ago by the lava and ash of the ancient flows of the Jemez Volcano.

On this adventurous, all-day exploration of Bandelier/Tsankawi we will re-trace the footsteps of the ‘ancient ones’, as we travel back in time, up ladders and over rutted lava flows to marvel at the spectacular ingenuity of the Ancestral Puebloans.

  • Climb to a kiva in the sky. Amazing views await you as you ascend a series of four ladders 140 feet off the ground to Alcove House, a kiva constructed 600 years ago high above the canyon floor.
  • Travel the footpaths of Frijoles Canyon to view the ancient ruins of ‘Tyuonyi’ below. Pronounced ‘Qu-weh- nee’, this village, once a four hundred-room pueblo, arranged around a central plaza, that was home to one hundred people. There is a striking similarity here to the grand structure of ‘Pueblo Bonito’ at Chaco Canyon.
  • Climb ladders and enter the cavates (CAVE-eights) that make Bandelier so unique. Carved from tuft, or lava ash, these structures are unique to the region. Inside some of the cavates you will see the remnants of pictographs as well the blackened ceilings created by hearth fires from long ago. Feel the stillness and presence of the people who inhabited these spaces long ago.
  • View the petroglyphs and ruins of Long House and marvel at the hundreds of carvings that detail the migrations of the Ancestral Puebloans and their relationships with nature, spirit and their surroundings.
  • Walk the rutted-volcanic pathways of Tsankawi and visit the un-excavated ruins of Tsankawi Village. Enter the cavates, view petroglyphs and search for pottery-sherds that detail the exquisite artistry of the ancient Anasazi people.

Bandelier National Monument is situated at an altitude 6,000 – 7,000 feet. Its ancient dwellings are surrounded by the towering Ponderosa pine ridges of the Jemez Mountains. El Rito de los Frijoles (bean creek), runs along the canyon floor, supporting an abundance of biodiversity and a constant water source for the original inhabitants.

In stark contrast to its neighbor, the village of Tsankawi is located high atop a sparsely vegetated mesa, with spectacular views across the Pajarito Plateau and canyons below. Its exposure to the elements and lack of water would have made for a harsh living environment, however, views stretching far toward the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Jemez Mountains, and the serrated Sandia Mountains, would have offered a valuable outlook across the land.

El Santuario de Chimayo: An Adobe Church with a Miraculous History

For over two centuries, Hispanic and Native American pilgrims have sought Divine intervention for illness and afflictions at the El Santuario de Chimayo, a quaint adobe church in Chimayo, New Mexico.

Declared “the most important pilgrimage site in North America” by the National Park Service, it is considered “The Lourdes of America” by many, and is known for the miraculous curative powers of its “Tierra Bendita”, the holy dirt found in a small hole in an alcove off the main altar.

The founding of the church is rooted in stories of the miraculous.

In 1810, a Chimayo friar was performing penances when he saw a light bursting from a hillside. Digging, he found a crucifix. A local priest brought the crucifix to Santa Cruz, but three times it disappeared and was later found back in its hole in Chimayo.

By the third time, everyone understood that this crucifix, named El Senor de Esquipulas, wanted to remain in Chimayo, and so a small chapel was built on the site. It was then the miraculous healings were reported and the mass pilgrimages to the little adobe church began.

To this day, on Good Friday, tens of thousands of people make the journey to Chimayo. Some walk for hundreds of miles, some walk burdened with heavy crosses, while others approach the church on their knees. They come with hopes of healing, to offer prayers or in search of divine intercession.

Once there, they take a small handful of dirt from the hole and rub it on their bodies or take it home in a small jar to place on their home altars. Proof of both devotion and of the miraculous exists throughout the chapel in the form of discarded crutches, shoes, and photos of loved ones “cured” by the mysterious powers of the holy dirt.

Regardless of personal faith traditions, El Santuario de Chimayo (The Sanctuary of Chimayo), is an important cultural reference point for the divergent cultures that exist in New Mexico as well as a beautiful example of Spanish Colonial architecture.

Taos Pueblo: Over 1,000 years of Tradition. A living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

Set against the backdrop of the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountains, explore the thriving, 1000 year old village of Taos Pueblo, considered the oldest, continuously inhabited community in the USA. The rich brown adobe homes, with their turquoise painted doors are stacked high atop each other around a central plaza. Ladders interconnect dwellings and roofs. There is no need to imagine what life was like here long ago, it has remained largely unchanged since ancient times.