The Mystery & Meaning of Chaco Canyon

2024 Chaco Itinerary

A new and expanded program including an exclusive Dark Skies experience.

Day 1 – Monday, September 23

Tour registration, hotel check-in, introduction, orientation, welcome dinner

Check into your globally acclaimed resort and spa near Santa Fe.

This evening, enjoy introductions, orientation, and a welcome dinner.

Group welcome dinner included

Day 2 – Tuesday, September 24

Free day to acclimate, Santa Fe Plaza, Chaco seminar

This day is free for you to explore and enjoy your beautiful resort and allow your body to naturally acclimate to the high desert.

Reconnect with nature amidst 77 lush acres where Northern New Mexico’s high desert meets the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Enjoy an award-winning spa treatment, thermal soaking pools, heated saltwater swimming pool, complimentary yoga, a secluded hike on one of many trails, or spend some time exploring the medicine wheel and meditation garden.

Relax in your light-filled room to enjoy the warming sun or star-studded night sky from your private patio or balcony. Your room features 360 square feet of light-filled space and indoor and outdoor seating areas with sweeping views of the surrounding verdant haven and is outfitted with art and furnishings handmade from locally sourced materials and artisan-crafted pottery.

Enjoy a group dinner followed by a special seminar presentation by Gregg to prepare for your visit to Chaco Canyon.

Breakfast and group dinner included

Day 3 – Wednesday, September 25

Acoma “Sky City”, Haak’u Museum.

Today experience Sky City Cultural Center and Haak'u Museum rich in cultural architecture, which serves as the reception center and museum for the Pueblo of Acoma. It is the gateway to Acoma “Sky City.” Acoma Pueblo is part of New Mexico's cultural heritage, as one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America and the 28th Historic Site designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Acoma history is also the story of the Southwest, from its initial role as the home to the Anasazi people, to the thirteenth century founding of the Pueblo, which is still alive and well as a community and touchstone for Native Americans in the area and nationwide. The mesa top settlement is known world-wide for its unique art, pottery, and rich culture.

The Acoma use the pueblo periodically for festivals and sacred ceremonies, and important tribal elders still live on the mesa. Return to your resort to enjoy a group dinner.

Breakfast, boxed lunch, snacks & water, group dinner included

Day 4 – Thursday, September 26

Chaco Canyon Day 1, Farmington overnight.

Chaco CanyonEarly morning departure for Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico.

The Chacoans built their complexes along a 9 mile stretch of canyon floor, with the walls of some structures aligned cardinally and others aligned with the 18.6-year cycle of minimum and maximum moonrise and moonset. The canyon itself runs along one of the lunar alignment lines, suggesting the location was originally chosen for its astronomical significance.

See immense complexes known as "Great Houses" which embodied worship at Chaco. There are several core traits of the Great Houses, but most apparent by far is their sheer bulk; complexes averaged more than 200 rooms each, and some enclosed up to 700 rooms.

Today we will visit the major excavated sites in the park on the Canyon Loop Drive, including Una Vida, Hungo Pavi, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, and Casa Rinconada. Walk the Petroglyph Trail (1/4 mile) from Chetro Ketl, to Pueblo Bonito, where you can view hundreds of petroglyphs lining the cliff wall.

Chaco_Canyon_Una_Vida_petroglyphs_NPSThere is evidence of archeoastronomy at Chaco represented, for example, by the "Sun Dagger" petroglyph at Fajada Butte, where it is suggested that at least twelve of the fourteen principal Chacoan complexes were sited and aligned in coordination, and that each was oriented along axes that mirrored the passing of the Sun and Moon at visually pivotal times. Two whorl-shaped etchings near the top of Fajada Butte compose the "Sun Dagger" petroglyph and are symbolically focal. Fajada Butte bears five other petroglyph spirals that are conspicuously lit by contrasts between sunbeams and shadows during equinoxes or solstices.

Many Chacoan buildings may have been aligned to capture the solar and lunar cycles, requiring generations of astronomical observations and centuries of skillfully coordinated construction. The sites are considered sacred ancestral homelands by the Hopi and Pueblo people, who maintain oral accounts of their historical migration from Chaco and their spiritual relationship to the land.

We will overnight in Farmington, NM where we will enjoy a group dinner upon arrival.

Breakfast, boxed lunch, snacks & water, group dinner included

Day 5 – Friday, September 27

Aztec National Monument, Chaco Canyon Day 2 , Dark Skies program, Farmington overnight.

This morning after an early breakfast, we will travel to nearby Aztec National Monument for a brief stop to explore its great reconstructed sacred kiva, T-Shaped doorways, intact ancestral Pueblo rooms (constructed over 880 years ago), and meandering pathways surrounded by towering cottonwood poplars.

As we return to Chaco Canyon, we will hike backcountry trails to access more remote Chacoan sites, passing ancient roads, petroglyphs, stairways, and spectacular overlooks, including a 5-mile round-trip hike down the canyon wall. See many petroglyphs on the way to Newspaper Rock toward the end of the trail, and if weather permits, cross the arroyo, to see the astronomical rock, known as the Supernova Pictograph. Or, hike the trail to the mesa top overlooking the entire Chacoan complex, including some of the estimated 75 nearby villages and the extensive system of roads that tied them together.

Return to the visitor center for a delicious buffet dinner served on site.

nightskiesChaco Canyon National Historical Park has been designated a Dark Skies park, recognized as a place free of artificial light pollution, resulting in exceptional night-time beauty. It's the only national park to feature its own observatory, where visitors can look upon the same star-studded skies that the Chacoans did one thousand years ago. We have specially arranged for our group (weather permitting) to view the night sky from Pueblo Bonito.

We will return to Farmington for the night.

Breakfast, boxed lunch, snacks & water, group dinner included.

Day 6 – Saturday, September 28

Chaco Outlier/Canyon de Chelly, return to Santa Fe.

After breakfast & check-out, we depart for Canyon de Chelly National Monument, a Chacoan Outlier located entirely on Navajo tribal lands. Explore this awe-inspiring site jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation on a private backcountry Navajo guided tour.

Enjoy spectacular overlooks, including Spider Rock, an iconic rock formation, cliff dwellings, and still occupied hogans. Your guides will share Navajo mythology and cosmology as they point out ancient rock art. Your tour includes many stops including Kokopelli Cave, Petroglyph Rock, First Ruin, Junction Ruin, the White House Ruins, and Antelope House Ruin in Canyon del Muerto.

After our tour, we will return to our hotel in Santa Fe.

Breakfast, boxed lunch, snacks & water, group dinner included.

Day 7 – Sunday, September 29

Free day, evening of entertainment and farewell dinner

Chaco Canyon T DoorsFree day to enjoy the spa, relax at the pool, or visit Santa Fe Plaza, and to assimilate and integrate your experiences of Chaco Canyon.

Tonight, enjoy a fun filled evening with uplifting entertainment, a farewell dinner and time for Q & A and sharing of experiences with each other.

Breakfast, group farewell dinner included

Day 8 – Monday September 30

Check out on your own.


Note: Itinerary subject to change.
© Itinerary property of Gathering Light Journeys