202x Albuquerque / Santa Fe / Taos

Road Scholar 11005


This is a repeat of a 2015 trip – trying at a different time of the year and to fill a long travel gap. The only “problem” is a tentative New Mexico Christmas in 2022, so early dates here would be best: ~Mar 10, Apr 7, Apr 21.

Explore the best that New Mexico has to offer: the cosmopolitan heart of Albuquerque, the state's largest city; the Old World charm of Santa Fe; and the frontier spirit of Taos. From history and culture to cuisine and the arts, compare and contrast these unique cities and see how they evolved into the jewels they are today.

* Explore the renowned museums and art galleries that make northern New Mexico a mecca for both artists and collectors.
* Native Americans lead you through Taos Pueblo, a World Heritage site and one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the U.S.
* Enjoy visits to Bandelier National Monument and the Earthship Biotecture Community.


DAY 1 – Albuquerque - Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m. The activity level for this program is "KEEP THE PACE." You should be able to walk up to two miles over varied terrains with some inclines at a moderate pace. All activities during this program take place at an elevation of 7,000 feet.

(D) Program Registration 3:00-5:00 p.m. Orientation at 5:00 p.m.: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and answer any questions you may have. Your Group Leader will be the Study Guide for most lectures and field trips during this program. At 6:30 p.m. in the hotel meeting room enjoy a plated meal or buffet. Hotel: DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque 2 nights

DAY 2 - New Mexico History, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Old Town
Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; standing up to two hours at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center; walking up to several blocks on level, paved terrain in Old Town at 5,300' elevation.

(BLD) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. We begin with an overview by our Group Leader of the area's history, from its earliest Ancestral Puebloan inhabitants to the Spanish and American soldiers and settlers who followed. We'll then board our coach and depart on a field trip to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Operated by the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico, the IPCC is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Pueblo culture, highlighting the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people. Our self-guided visit will introduce us to New Mexico's many different Pueblos as we view the Pueblo-curated exhibits on the lower level.

Lunch is a plated meal at an Old Town restaurant. After lunch we'll travel to Old Town, where our Group Leader will introduce us to the oldest part of Albuquerque during a walking exploration of the plaza and surrounding area. Old Town has been the focal point of community life since Albuquerque was founded in 1706. About ten blocks of historical adobe buildings surround the central plaza, including San Felipe de Neri Church, which dates back to 1793. The city's settlers built their homes, shops and government offices here; many of these historical structures have been converted into the restaurants, art galleries and shops that we see today. There will be some free time for independent explorations of the area. Nearby museums include the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science across from Old Town on Mountain Road and the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History adjacent to Old Town.

Dinner is a plated meal at a local restaurant; order from a select menu.

DAY 3 - Field Trips to Los Alamos and Bandelier National Monument / Taos
Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; traveling about 190 miles for four hours over the course of the day; walking up to two miles over varied, uneven terrain with inclines at elevation of 6000-7000'. Some elevations gains via stairs and optional ladders at Bandelier.

(BLD) This morning we'll travel 100 miles north to Los Alamos, where we will visit the Los Alamos History Museum and the Bradbury Museum of Science. The Los Alamos History Museum is dedicated to preserving, protecting and interpreting the history of Los Alamos. Housed in the Guest Cottage of the Los Alamos Ranch School, the Museum has award-winning exhibits on the area's geology and anthropology, as well as the Manhattan Project. The Bradbury Museum of Science has wonderful exhibits about the history of Los Alamos National Laboratory, its national security mission, and the broad range of science, engineering, and technology research programs including the Lab's focus on Stockpile Stewardship.

We have boxed lunches. After lunch we'll take a short drive to Bandelier National Monument, which is fascinating both for its geology and archaeology. After stopping at the Visitor Center, we'll explore some of the trails in Frijoles Canyon where we can see "cavates," the cave-like dwellings used by the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here 400-to-800 years ago. We will then continue 70 miles north to Taos for hotel check-in.

Dinner is a plated meal from a select menu at a local restaurant featuring regional cuisine. Hotel: El Pueblo Lodge 2 nights

DAY 4 - Rio Grande Gorge, Earthship Biotecture, Free Afternoon
Activity note: Getting on/off coach; walking up to two miles over paved, sometimes uneven terrain with inclines at elevation of 7,000'.

(BLD) After breakfast we travel to the Rio Grande Gorge, which we'll cross via the "High Bridge." The bridge spans the Rio Grande Gorge 565 feet above the river, affording breathtaking views, and has been used as a location in a number of motion pictures. After stopping for photographs, we continue to the Earthship Biotecture Community which is a sustainable building style with a minimal carbon footprint that uses recycled materials, such as old tires, bottles, and aluminum cans, in a variety of fascinating — and sometimes funky — shapes and sizes.

Lunch is a plated meal at a local restaurant featuring Latin-French fusion cuisine. After lunch, we'll go to Taos Pueblo (if the Pueblo is open; it sometimes closes with little to no advance notice for private Pueblo events.) This picturesque Pueblo at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. The multiple-storied adobe dwellings reflect an ancient culture. Approximately 100 Pueblo residents still live much as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago, without electricity or running water. Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

Next we'll depart for Taos Plaza, where we'll enjoy free time for independent explorations of the Taos Plaza area. There are a number of museums, colorful galleries and shops in this area, all within walking distance of Taos Plaza. Nearby museums include the Harwood Museum of Art, which houses the Agnes Martin Gallery, the E.L. Blumenschein Home & Museum, home of artist Ernest Blumenschein, a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists, the Kit Carson Home & Museum and the Taos Art Museum at the Fechin House.

Dinner is on our own. This evening we'll be entertained by Cisco Guevara, a professional storyteller from Taos. A river runner since his teenage days in Los Alamos, Cisco honed his storytelling craft around campfires deep in the canyons of northern New Mexico. Cisco’s stories range from his rebellious youth, to tales that draw on his Hispanic and Native American heritage, to hair-raising adventures in the wilderness, to haunting tales of love and loss. A headliner at the Taos Storytelling Festival for the past 11 years, Cisco performs regularly for groups in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and has told his stories to rapt audiences as far afield as London and Paris.

DAY 5 - High Road, Chimayó, Travel to Santa Fe / Santa Fe
Activity note: Getting on/off coach; traveling 70 miles for two hours over the course of the day; walking up to two miles over varied terrain with inclines.

(BLD) Check out of hotel and depart for Chimayó, 70 miles south of Taos,via the "High Road Scenic Byway". On arrival, we'll visit Centinela Traditional Arts Weaving Gallery. Many local families have been carrying on the traditions of Hispanic-style weaving for generations. We'll have the opportunity to see some beautiful pieces by an award-winning, seventh-generation weaver whose work is on display in a number of museums, including the Smithsonian.

We'll have lunch at historic Rancho de Chimayó, a charming restaurant housed in an old hacienda. Chimayó is known for its heirloom chiles, the fruit of the Capsicum plant; most traditional New Mexican dishes are prepared with red or green chile. (New Mexico's official state question is "Red or green?" If you'd like to try both, order "Christmas!") Our group will have a plated meal, ordering from a special menu featuring traditional New Mexican cuisine, with chips, salsa, and a non-alcoholic beverage. After lunch we'll visit El Santuario de Chimayó. This shrine, a National Historic Landmark, receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called "the most important center in the United States for Catholic pilgrimage." Many of the faithful believe that the Santuario is built on sacred earth with miraculous healing powers. Inside, a small side room houses el pocito (the little well), which is the source of the "blessed earth" (tierra bendita). Continue on to Santa Fe.

Dinner is on our own. You may also choose to remain at the hotel and enjoy the complimentary Kickback® buffet, which is from 5:30–7:00 p.m. every evening offering a rotating menu of fresh, hot food … and soft drinks. Hotel: Drury Plaza Hotel Santa Fe 2 nights

DAY 6 - History Lecture, Walking Exploration, Free Afternoon
Activity note: Walking up to two miles over the course of the day over uneven sidewalks during the Plaza exploration; possibly more during free time.

(BLD) After breakfast, our Group Leader will introduce us to Santa Fe's history. Established by the Spanish in 1610, the city is the oldest capital city in the country and is home to the oldest public building, the Palace of the Governors. We'll then head out on foot for the Santa Fe Plaza, where we'll see historical sites such as the Palace of the Governors and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

We have a plated meal from a limited menu at a local favorite; selections include some traditional New Mexican dishes, as well as non-New Mexican options. Afternoon: Free Time: Explore the Santa Fe Plaza area on your own. There are a number of museums, colorful galleries and shops in this area, all within walking distance of the Plaza. Nearby museums include the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico Museum of History, the Palace of the Governors, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Native Art. You might also enjoy visiting Loretto Chapel with its intriguing spiral staircase and the State Capitol building. The State Capitol houses the "State Capitol Art Collection," featuring the work of local New Mexico artists, sculptors and photographers.

Dinner is on our own. You may also choose to remain at the hotel and enjoy the complimentary Kickback® buffet, which is from 5:30–7:00 p.m. every evening offering a rotating menu of fresh, hot food … and soft drinks.

DAY 7 - Museum Hill, Tesuque Pueblo, Travel to Albuquerque
Activity note: Getting on/off coach; traveling 85 miles for 1 1/2 hours over the course of the day; walking up to two miles over paved and uneven packed dirt terrain.

(BLD) Check out of hotel, and travel to Museum Hill for visits to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture features pottery, jewelry, sculpture, baskets, and other objects made by Native Americans from the earliest times to modern day, scrupulously documented and beautifully displayed. Most of the work is from the Southwest. The Museum of International Folk Art continues to focus on indigenous populations from around the world through their art – ranging from ceremonial dress and masks to furniture. The museum hosts the largest collection of international folk art in the world, including wings featuring some of the 106,000 pieces donated by collectors Alexander and Susan Girard and Lloyd Cotsen's Neutrogena collection. Following our visit to Museum Hill, we will travel to Tesuque Pueblo, 10 miles north of Santa Fe. The two- and three-story adobe room blocks surround a small plaza and Catholic Church. The traditional character of this Pueblo is so well maintained that Tesuque is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A Traditional Feast Day lunch is served in a private home at Tesuque Pueblo. After lunch, we will have a discussion with Louie Hena, a traditional farmer and member of Tesuque Pueblo. He will share stories of life within the pueblo communities. Following the discussion, we will depart for Albuquerque and hotel check-in. Dinner is in the hotel meeting room. Hotel: DoubleTree by Hilton Albuquerque

DAY 8 – Closing / Departure
(B) Breakfast available between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. Hotel checkout time: 12:00 Noon.