Welcome to the Four Corners region, known for sweeping vistas, internationally recognized dark skies, diverse plant and animal species, and remains of the homes left behind by the Ancestral Puebloan culture, whose sites are sacred to modern Pueblo descendants. Compare the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde to the structures in Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument. This unique and beautiful area is increasingly at risk of oil and gas development, which threatens priceless sacred lands and archeological sites. On this trip, journey alongside NPCA experts to experience these unique places firsthand and get a behind-the-scenes look at how NPCA is fighting to protect them.
September 26 - October 2, 2021
7 days/6 nights
Minimum/Maximum: 10 guests/16 guests
- Spend two full days exploring cliff dwellings and other archeological sites at Mesa Verde National Park
- Wander through the Puebloan “great houses” at Chaco Culture National Historical Park
- Get a behind-the-scenes look at the threats to the cultural landscape of southwestern Utah at Hovenweep National Monument
- Stargaze under some of the darkest skies in the country
DAY 1: Arrivals into Albuquerque: Welcome to the Southwest! After arriving, meet your NPCA host and trip leader and take a private shuttle to Old Town Albuquerque to check into your hotel room. We’ll kick off the trip with a welcome dinner and a chance to get to know our fellow travelers. Our NPCA host will give an overview of the journey ahead. Hotel Albuquerque (D)
Day 2: Chaco Culture National Historic Park: Depart for Chaco Culture National Historical Park* for an introduction to the park by park staff. A thousand years ago, Chaco was the center of a vast and elaborate cultural network that extended throughout the four-corners region. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site faces threats from increasing oil and gas development. We’ll learn about these pressures while we explore the park’s sophisticated structures alongside local experts. We will spend the night in Farmington, New Mexico in a charming B&B. Casa Blanca Inn & Suites (B, L, D) *The dirt roads going into and out of Chaco Culture National Historic Park are bumpy. In case of inclement weather, we will visit alternate park sites.
Day 3: Aztec Ruins National Monument & Mesa Verde National Park: Our first stop is Aztec Ruins National Monument, a lesser-known park featuring a one-of-a-kind reconstructed ceremonial Great Kiva. After a tour, we’ll head to Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to over 600 protected cliff dwellings typical of Ancestral Puebloan culture. Meet with park staff for an introduction before taking a scenic hike. Tonight we’ll have the option for a night-sky program. Far View Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 4: Mesa Verde National Park: Tour the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, a national historic landmark that was built with the same materials used by Ancestral Puebloans to construct their homes. After lunch, we’ll take a guided tour of Cliff Palace or Balcony House, a few of Mesa Verde’s largest cliff dwellings, where we’ll have a chance to take in the landscape as the original inhabitants would have. Far View Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 5: Mesa Verde National Park: Today, we will take a deeper look into the park and NPCA’s role in its conservation. After breakfast, we’ll get off the beaten path and explore additional archaeological sites at Wetherill Mesa, Badger House Community and Step House. In the afternoon, we’ll meet with NPCA experts and partners for a discussion about the challenges the park faces from proposed oil and gas drilling in the surrounding area. Far View Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 6: Hovenweep National Monument
This morning, we’ll head west toward Hovenweep National Monument, just over the border in Utah. Our first stop will be at Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center & Museum for an overview of the cultural legacies we’ll see throughout the day. Once in Hovenweep, we’ll meet NPCA partners who will guide us through the park. To end the day, we’ll meet with NPCA staff and partners to reflect on the journey while enjoying a farewell dinner in Durango, Colorado.
Strater Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 7: Departures from Durango, CO: On our final morning, we’ll enjoy breakfast before heading to Durango Airport (DRO) for our flights home. For those choosing to extend your stay in Durango, your trip leader can provide recommendations for the many cultural activities and outdoor adventures the area has to offer. For those wishing to return to Albuquerque, your trip leader can arrange a private transfer upon request. (B)
Itinerary is subject to change based on weather and potential unforeseen park closures due to COVID-19.
NPCA TRAVEL ELIGIBILITY: NPCA is the only independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advocacy on behalf of the National Park System. We are 100% privately funded and we rely on donations from individuals like you. One traveler per group must be an active NPCA member to participate in an NPCA trip. An annual membership starts at $15 per person. Please make dues payable to NPCA by check or credit card at npca.org.
TRAVEL SAFE WITH NPCA Your safety is our top priority. NPCA has worked diligently with each of our travel partners to develop important safety measures for all our trips. As guidelines and protocols evolve, we are committed to creating flexible options for those interested in rescheduling or booking new travel. For more information, check out our COVID-19 Travel Update.
MORE INFORMATION For full details on this trip, including inclusions, exclusions, accommodations, terms and safety protocols, please download the detailed trip brochure.
MAKING RESERVATIONS To secure your space on this NPCA trip, please contact Jared Dial, NPCA’s Travel Program Manager, at 1-800-628-7275 or email email@example.com.
TRAVEL PROTECTION We strongly recommend purchasing important optional travel insurance that will cover you for a variety of travel-related contingencies, such as trip cancellation, interruption, and/or delay; baggage loss, theft, damage or delay; accident and/or sickness medical expenses; accidental death; as well as evacuation/repatriation coverage. Please note that a Pre-Existing Condition waiver is available if you purchase the policy within 21 days of making your initial trip payment. Also consider the optional “Cancel for any Reason” protection. All questions regarding the plan’s coverage should be directed to Travel Insurance Select through USI Affinity at 1-800-937-1387 or by visiting their website.
Check out NPCA’s full tour lineup at www.npca.org/trips