Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon

Offered exclusively to Museum members! Membership information can be found in FEE section below.


Day 1 Monday, Sept. 27th TUCSON TO CORTEZ, CO
After our departure from Tucson, we‘ll work our way north to Wupatki National Monument and enjoy a picnic lunch followed by an exploration of the archeological sites of the numerous groups of people that once called this home. Overnight in Cortez Colorado. (Baymont by Wyndham) L,D
Our adventuresome day begins with visits to Hovenweep National Monument and a stop at the lesser-known site of Lowry Pueblo. After an al fresco lunch, we’ll visit Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, an archeological museum and interpretive center. Dinner this evening is at an organic farm-to-table restaurant, "The Farm Bistro." (Baymont by Wyndham) B,L,D
Day 3 Wednesday, Sept. 29th MESA VERDE TO FARMINGTON, NM.
We’ll see and experience Mesa Verde National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers an unparalleled look into Ancestral Puebloan culture with visits to Mesa Top loop that features pit houses, Square Tower House, and Sun Temple. After lunch we’ll tour the iconic Cliff Palace. In the afternoon we descend the Mesa and make the short drive to Farmington, NM. Dinner will be at our hotel. (Marriott) B,L,D
Day 4 Thursday, Sept. 30th CHACO CANYON
At last, we’re at Chaco Canyon, one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas in the United States! Highlights include Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Bonito and Pueblo del Arroyo. We’ll return to Farmington for our last overnight. Farewell dinner is at D.H. Lescombes Winery and Bistro, featuring local favorite St. Clair wines. (Our transportation into Chaco Canyon is in 15-passenger vans as motorcoaches aren’t permissible.) (Marriott) B,L,D
Day 5 Friday, Oct. 1st FARMINGTON, NM TO TUCSON
On our way home to Tucson, we’ll tour thru Petrified Forest National Park, make a few stops throughout the park, and lunch at the spectacular rainbow forest. Breaks in route to Tucson. 6:00 pm estimated arrival time. B,L

Your Leaders

Fred Nials was raised on a ranch and farm along the Canadian River in eastern New Mexico. Although a geologist by training, he has done geoarchaeological research on well over 5,000 archaeological sites ranging in age from Paleoindian to Historic in western North and South America and Cyprus, and taught at universities in New Mexico, Washington, and Nevada for 28 years. He specializes in the stratigraphy of archaeological sites, prehistoric technology, and prehistoric agriculture, and has done pioneering work on aeolian and alluvial chronologies in the western U.S. and South America. He participated in the earliest and most comprehensive early study of prehistoric irrigation in coastal South America, the earliest comprehensive study of the Hohokam canal system in the Phoenix Basin and was part of a team that reconstructed the annual flow of the Salt and Gila Rivers since 577A.D.

Jesús García is a Cultural Conservation Research Associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Jesús was born and raised in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, México and eventually moved to Tucson and earned a bachelor's degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Arizona. He began his career with ASDM in 1991 and has taught natural history and cultural programs throughout southern Arizona and northern Sonora. His many interests include conservation biology, art, cultural ecology, regional languages, music, and gardening. Jesús is a master storyteller and an expert at identifying plant and animal species, describing their preferred growing or breeding habits and explaining their environmental connections to one another and to us.

Stephen Bernier runs the logistics and is owner of South of the Border Tours.  Stephen has organized and produced tours throughout the American Southwest and Mexico since 1993 that include the University of Arizona Elderhostel/Road Scholar Program, Arizona Historical Society, Scottsdale Sister City, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tohono Chul, Portland Art Museum, Heard Museum Guild, as well as various other museums and universities. Stephen is also a volunteer with Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists.     

Included Services

Transportation by luxury motor coach, van transport for day excursion in Chaco Canyon, 4 nights' accommodations, all meals as listed on itinerary, guide fees, and entrance fees.

Meeting Place

We will meet and leave cars at the Museum.

Activity Level

Guests must be able to walk short and longer distances unassisted over various uneven terrain.


This special travel opportunity is offered exclusively to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum members. If you currently are not a member, but would like to join us, you can purchase a membership online here. The trip price is $2200. Single supplements are an additional $275.

COVID Precautions

Our tour operator, South of the Border Tours, has taken enhanced health and safety measures to protect tour participants and staff. Motor coaches are certified through the UMA (United Motor Coach Association) AssurClean program that include sanitization and disinfecting protocols and procedures that follow CDC guidelines. For the greatest peace of mind and protection, we recommend that all participants be vaccinated against COVID-19 before participating in this trip. You will be expected to follow masking and social distancing guidelines consistent with CDC and local requirements at the time of travel, or when required by our Group Leaders. Our group size will not be more than 22 participants plus 2 staff on a 49 passenger motor coach to allow for social distancing. Please note that these measures are subject to change at any time and may be altered as new information about the virus becomes available.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be in writing or email.  Our policy is as follows:  
Cancellations made 45 days prior to departure will result in refunded payments, less a $100 per person handling fee. Cancellations made 44-31 days prior to departure will result in a 50% refund of payment unless the trip is at capacity and space can be resold, in which case only the $100 handling fee will be retained. Cancellations made 30 days or less prior to departure are non-refundable unless the trip is at capacity and space can be resold, in which case only the $100 handling fee will be retained.

There are many factors to consider when planning a trip right now and situations around the world are changing almost every day.  We understand participants may want more flexibility when planning for the future.  As we are unable to deviate from our cancellation policy, we strongly encourage travel insurance.  You are welcome to choose any travel insurance company, however, Allianz Travel Insurance is our preferred company and they now include Cancel for Any Reason coverage, as well as other options that are specific to Covid-19.  Please visit their website to review all policies that are available:


This trip is jointly run by South of the Border Tours and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Should you have any questions about the itinerary or logistics, please contact Debby Bernier, Office Manager at 520-760-4000 or at For questions about payment or if you are a single traveler, please contact the Reservation Coordinator at 520-883-3022 or at

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