Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde*

The Four Corners of the American Southwest, where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado meet, is world renowned for its archeological treasures and natural wonders. We will explore the ancient homeland of the Anasazi and the modern homeland of the Navajo. The geologic events that forged the landscape will come alive, while we marvel at the unique plant and animal life in the striking desert environment. This expedition will introduce you to the majesty and mysteries of this region.

We will visit the former homes of the Anasazi people, and see their rock art. Mesa Verde National Park is the world's largest archaeological preserve. We have reserved two nights at the park lodge, which will allow us to easily explore a great variety of cliff dwellings. At Chaco Canyon, representing perhaps the pinnacle of Anasazi culture, we'll walk in some of the finest archeological ruins in the United States. We will see how these people, hunter-gatherers at the time of Christ, developed an amazingly high level of civilization. They built multi-family dwellings of immense size, cleared hundreds of miles of roads, and invented water-control devices that allowed the growth of a population larger than what occurs in the same areas today. As we learn about this fascinating culture, we will ponder why their towns and cities were suddenly abandoned at the end of the thirteenth century.

White House Ruins, Canyon de Chelly*

Native peoples are still an essential part of life of this region. Present-day Pueblo tribes living along the Rio Grande River are believed to be the direct descendants of the Anasazi. WeÕll visit Acoma Pueblo, situated on a mesa top. It has been occupied since 1150 AD, and offers a unique opportunity to visit a modern pueblo. At Canyon de Chelly, Navajo guides will help us appreciate the special features of their homeland and its magnificent canyons, cliffs, and rock art. A Navajo-guided tour through the striking buttes and mesas of Monument Valley is another highlight.

We have planned a range of activities to help you appreciate this spectacular land of colorful rock formations, wind swept buttes, mesas, canyons, and cliffs. Our walks will highlight many of the interesting desert plants, birds and animal life of this unique region. The landscape will come alive as we gain an understanding of its geologic history - the collision of continents, invasion of ocean over vast inland areas, the wearing away of entire mountain ranges, and violent volcanic eruptions.

Goosenecks of the San Juan*

The trip concludes in historic Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the oldest cities in North America, with a rich Spanish heritage.

Our comfortable lodging is always well-located, within or near the parks and reserves. We travel in 15 passenger vans that allow flexibility for taking advantage of the unexpected, whether its a side-trip to see a burrowing owl perched on a fence post, or a soaring golden eagle. Like all Nature Discoveries trips, this is a small group trip, limited to a maximum of 20 people.

Monument Valley
Monument Valley*

Your leader is scheduled to be Gene Gartland. Gene is an instructor at SUNY Brockport and teaches at the Educational Opportunity Center in Rochester. He has an MS in Geoscience from the University of Rochester. Gene will help you appreciate the fascinating geology and archeology of the Four Corners region. In addition to this expedition, Gene has led many trips in the western USA, including Utah, Big Bend, Alaska and Yellowstone. A second leader will be added as enrollment warrants.

* All photographs are taken by Steven Daniel and are the property of Nature Discoveries, Inc.

Comments from Past Trip Participants

"So many highlights: The twilight walk to White House Ruin, Three Turkey Ruins, and the trip in Monument Valley."

"The leaders were caring and made sure individual wishes were met"

"The entire trip was new to me and each stop and area held fascinating memories."

"The staggering scenery in Chaco Canyon and walking through ancient Anasazi dwellings in Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon."