You're in for a wild time at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta. Explore Old Town Alburquerque if you like before meeting your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception.
Gaze upwards as hundreds of colourful balloons take to the sky. This evening, attend the exclusive and private Chasers' Club to view the mesmerising Balloon Glow. Then, the following day, join the Southwest Native Trails trip on Day 2.
Trace centuries-old stories etched in stone by Ancestral Pueblo peoples and early Spanish settlers when you visit the Petroglyph National Monument this morning. Continuing your journey to Acoma Sky City Cultural Center & Haak'u Museum for a guided insight into one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States and the 28th Historic Site designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Head back to your hotel in Albuquerque where the rest of the evening is yours.
One of the highlights of your Southwest journey will be the visit to Chaco Canyon inside Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Chaco Canyon is one of America's most significant and fascinating cultural and historic centers of ancestral Puebloan culture. It was the central hub for ceremony, trade and administration for the entire Southwest area. See Pueblo Bonito, one of the most important “ Great Houses” representing the apex of Anasazi, renamed Ancestral Puebloan, in modern day culture. With its 5 stories high and almost 700 rooms it stood as the largest structure in North America until the 18th century. Dinner this evening will be served at your hotel's restaurant. (Should weather conditions render the dirt road to Chaco Canyon unsafe, your Travel Director will arrange visits to other safely accessible destinations of historical and cultural significance.) Tonight, your 'Stay with Story' is historic El Rancho Hotel, home to many movie stars filming Westerns in the area throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
This morning, stop at Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation, where you'll see the Window Rock geologic formation and the World War II Navajo Code Talkers' Memorial and learn how Navajos helped the United States win WWII. Take a step back in time and visit the Hubbell Trading Post National Historical Site,and learn how the Navajo and settlers once traded. Delve into the story of Lorenzo Hubbell, who had a major influence on Navajo rug weaving and silversmithing. After a visit to the Canyon de Chelly Visitor Centre, meet your certified Navajo Local Specialist and board your 6X6 vehicle to marvel at the stunning scenery with sandstone cliffs, canyons, and beautiful artwork in the forms of pictographs, petroglyphs and ruins.
See an ancient community built into a sandstone cliff as you peer over the edge of the White House Overlook to see the mastery of Ancient Puebloan construction. Watch nature defy gravity when you encounter Spider Rock and hear the legend of the mythical Spider Woman who is said to live in this towering stone spire. Enter Monument Valley National Tribal Park where your Local Navajo Specialists will accompany you on a 4X4 adventure. Enjoy and authentic Navajo lunch prepared alfresco. You'll also have the opportunity to visit an authentic Navajo hogan.
Head for Hovenweep National Monument, one of the most intriguing pre-historic settlements in the Southwest, known for its six major villages and more than 300 additional sites within the National Monument. Travel across Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and wind along the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway. Visit the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum (formerly known as The Anasazi Center), known as Southwest Colorado's leading archaeological museum, displaying exhibits on archaeology, local history and Native American cultures. Continue onto Mesa Verde National Park.
This morning see some of the best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites as you explore the park. Visit the Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum, where you will see the park's third largest cliff dwelling, Spruce Tree House. This evening, your 'Stay with Story' is the historic Strater Hotel and dinner is your choice dining in Durango.
A full day at leisure in Durango to pursue your own interests. Perhaps take a trip aboard historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway. Return by coach via the spectacular San Juan Skyway Scenic and Historic Byway. Other options include mild to wild white water rafting along the Animas River or a visit to the outstanding Southern Ute Museum.
Drive on to Taos Plaza, a Historical Landmark, where you'll enjoy some free time before we visit the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both as a World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. Meet your native Taos Local Specialist who will share insights about the Pueblo. Stop at San Francisco de Asís Mission Church, a historic and architecturally significant church and one of the finest examples of a Spanish Colonial New Mexico mission church. Continue to the colourful artists' retreat of Santa Fe.
A Local Specialist reveals the secrets of Santa Fe, starting at the historic Santa Fe Plaza. A special treat awaits at Del Charro where you'll 'Dive into Culture' and enjoy the rich flavours of a local favorite-Natillas. The afternoon is free. This evening, the dining capital of the Southwest puts its best foot forward with an unforgettable Farewell Dinner at one of Santa Fe's most iconic settings.
Say a fond farewell to Santa Fe and take your transfer to Santa Fe Airport.