Santa Fe, Ship Rock, & Canyon de Chelly (AZ)

Native New Mexico

  • Chama Valley
  • Bisti Wilderness
  • Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe
  • Ghost Ranch and Abiquiú


September 12 - 19, 2024


  • Puebloan culture and art
  • Guided light hikes through areas of great beauty
  • The Chama Valley and Abiquiú, home of Georgia O’Keefe
  • Canyon de Chelly, Ship Rock, Bisti Wilderness, and other lovely natural areas
  • Cultural heritage sites in Albuquerque, Window Rock, and Santa Fe

Trip Description

The vast American West . . . one of our favorite regions to explore!  This itinerary will feature people, places, and stories of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona; as well as cultural exploration in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  We’ll visit sites connected to Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) people and their descendants; we’ll meet local Navajo guides for drives and treks on protected tribal land, and discover tribal traditions, legends, and stories about the natural world.  Our exploration will include a pueblo outside of Albuquerque, the Window Rock capital of the nation, the historic Hubbell Trading Post, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and walks in the Bisti Wilderness with a local guide.  After exploring the Chama Valley and Abiquiú, summer home of Georgia O’Keefe, we’ll spend the last two nights of the trip in Santa Fe.


Wednesday, September 11

Departure for Albuquerque!  We’ll fly west, alighting in New Mexico’s “center,” where we’ll settle into Old Town.  Enjoy the low-key vibe, and historic adobe buildings that surround the historic plaza.  We’ll enjoy an authentic southwestern dinner together, then catch up on our shut-eye ( . . . that’s New Mexican for sleep).

Thursday, September 12

Enjoy a delicious breakfast that hits the spot.  Today, we’ll explore parts of Albuquerque, before heading out to Sky City – the Acoma Pueblo, nestled into the rising plateau west of the city.  In Albuquerque we’ll enjoy a scenic drive that takes in “downtown,” the University of New Mexico, and funky surrounding neighborhoods; and the acclaimed Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.  At Acoma Pueblo, we’ll enjoy a guided tour by a pueblo native, and an opportunity to explore the Acoma craft shop.  Dinner and overnight, Albuquerque.

Friday, September 13

We’ll depart Albuquerque today, commencing a great circular driving route.  We’ll drive west to Gallup – our jump off point from “big highways.”  We’ll soon be cruising over peaceful small roads, to Window Rock, administrative capital of the Navajo Nation, and just across the state line in Arizona.  We’ll visit the Navajo Nation Museum and enjoy lunch in the area.

In the afternoon, we’ll drive via the Hubbell Trading Post (it’s a National Historic Site; and it’s been selling Native-made wares since 1878) to Canyon de Chelly National Park.  We’ll check into the Thunderbird Lodge, inside the park . . . our home for the next two nights.  We’ll enjoy lovely views, the cool evening air, and the possibility of beautiful night skies.  Dinner and overnight, Canyon de Chelly.

Saturday, September 14

We’ll enjoy a good breakfast to start our day at the Thunderbird!  We’ll embark on an expedition of sorts today, with local guides.  They will take us to important native sites in both Canyon de Chelly and neighboring Canyon del Muerte.  It will be a day of stories, lovely sites, and real exploration in a part of the world rarely seen or experienced by travelers!

Dinner and overnight, Canyon de Chelly.

Sunday, September 15

We’ll rise and shine . . . and enjoy the morning light filtering through cottonwood trees.  After breakfast, we’ll begin making our way both north and east, as we drive through the heart of the Navajo lands – past the community of Tsaile, home of the Diné-language college, and through Red Valley . . . and into New Mexico and the landmark of Ship Rock.  We’ll be quite close to the rock itself, so in great position for dramatic photos, in this land of eternal sky.

We’ll continue our drive into the town of Shiprock, then to nearby Farmington – home for the night.

Those interested can join local guides for a late-day excursion into the Bisti Badlands, featuring some of New Mexico’s most stunning landscapes, and a great place to watch twilight descend.

Dinner and overnight, Farmington, NM.

Monday, September 16

After breakfast, we’ll continue our drive east, through long stretches of sage desert, washes, and occasional peaks.  Eventually we’ll enter a more mountainous region, containing the Rio Chama, and the well-watered valley of Abiquiu, where artist Georgia O’Keefe made her home.  We’ll enjoy a guided visit of O’Keefe’s homeplace, lunch in the area, and an extended look at life in the Rio Chama valley.

In the mid-afternoon we’ll continue on to Santa Fe, home for the next two nights.  We’ll enjoy our inn located near the historic Plaza of Santa Fe.  Dinner and overnight, Santa Fe.

Tuesday, September 17

Enjoy a delicious breakfast, then explore Santa Fe.  The Plaza area abounds in museums (featuring state history, Georgia O’Keefe, and Native arts), and galleries, plus boutiques, cafés, etc. that are emblematic of Santa Fe’s art-forward attitude.  Imbibe and enjoy.

Optionally, in the early afternoon, join me for an excursion to Los Alamos (40 minutes away), where we’ll track down excellent mid-century architecture, including Robert Oppenheimer’s house, and make a visit to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

Dinner and overnight, Santa Fe.

Wednesday, September 18

We’ll enjoy a leisurely morning in Santa Fe, before driving south, following the Rio Grande valley back to Albuquerque.  We’ll fly home in the afternoon.

What's Included

  • Comfortable van transportation
  • Accommodation for 7 nights
  • Breakfast, 4 lunches and 4 dinners
  • All activities/admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$5,262 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $800)

What's Not Included

Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, optional activities, or optional trip insurance.

Couldn't have asked for more in terms of weather, accommodations and scenery. Can't wait to go on another adventure with Explore Up Close!
My husband and I love the attention to detail. We always have a wonderful experience: visiting new and interesting places, eating lots of good food, making new friends, and exploring new places!

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Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.

Explore Up Close will provide a recommended flight itinerary for your consideration, which is intended as a helpful suggestion. We encourage travelers to choose airfare depending on their personal preferences, as some travelers may prefer to travel independently and meet at our destination, or may wish to extend their travels at the beginning or end of the trip. Our travel agent is available to assist you with booking flights and trip insurance.

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