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2021 September 18 to 26
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $5498
Private Room: $6798
Fly on the longest tram in the US to the top of Sandia Peak, with 100-mile views above Albuquerque and across the broad Rio Grande rift valley.
Lift your spirits as we meet the unique Acoma peoples and their adobe settlement nestled defensively on top of a towering mesa – a Sky City!
Relax at our vibrant farm-to-fork boutique lodge, set by the Rio Grande.
Enjoy unique culinary experiences prepared by devoted stewards of the land.
Witness grand, high alpine vistas as you cross high-mountain passes and drop into Victorian mining towns.
Let the kid in you shine as you journey from Telluride by jeep up steep mountain roads to the top of the world.
Enjoy the cultural history of the pueblo people who established the intricately built pueblos and palaces in the cliffs of Mesa Verde, the largest archaeological preserve in the US.
Embrace the fall colors in northern New Mexico and have a short hike among the red, yellow and white sandstone landscapes around Abiquiu, an area cherished and soulfully painted for decades by Georgia O’Keefe.
Enjoy the culture, markets, galleries, and food scene in Santa Fe for two nights.
Our tour follows the steps of an eclectic mix of settlers, authors, and artists who have been drawn to the high desert region of northern New Mexico. They have been attracted to its colorful Native American and Spanish history and culture, the abundant produce that grows in the area’s rich soils, and the vast natural beauty of its mesas, mountains, and hundred-mile vistas. That enchanting spirit and beauty extends beyond state borders, into southwest Colorado, where we explore the cliff palace ruins of Mesa Verde and the charming old mining towns beautifully sited along the San Juan Skyway. We travel through stunning gorges and along the slopes of towering mountains, enjoy waterfalls and natural hot springs, and then settle into Telluride. Experience a jeep ride on the old mining roads to see alpine vistas, 14,000–foot peaks, and great stands of quaking aspens blanketing the landscape with the yellows, golds, and reds of autumn color. Explore the extraordinary landscapes and structures in the Chama River Valley that inspired Georgia O’Keefe and Ansel Adams, among others. And then relax in Santa Fe, the historic and culturally authentic capital of the southwest.
Day 1: Arrive in Albuquerque
Our tour begins in Albuquerque, settled by Spanish settlers along the banks of the Rio Grande River and in the shadow of Sandia Peak.
We stay for two nights at a beautifully refined and renovated historic inn on an organic farm sheltered by grand cottonwood trees. Enjoy the open realm of this rustic yet contemporary inn: visit the local alpacas and peacocks, the lavender fields, and the culinary garden where you might find kitchen staff collecting herbs and vegetables for tonight’s farm-to-fork dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. After time to get settled, join the group for welcome dinner at the inn.
Day 2: A Pueblo in the Sky and an Aerial Tram to the top of Sandia Peak
This morning we travel west to Acoma Pueblo, considered to be one of the longest inhabited places in North America. Their historic pueblo is isolated, defensively perched on top of a sheer-sided mesa, almost 400 feet above the surrounding valley floor. In the village, we will witness the artistry handed down from their ancestors for crafting distinctive and highly sought-after pottery. We will hear about their traditional ceremonies and the impact the missionaries had on these ceremonies. We will also visit the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum, displaying both the artistry and history of Acoma Pueblo.
Next, explore historic Old Town Albuquerque before returning to relax at our inn. Later this afternoon we’ll take an aerial tramway to the 10,378-foot crest on Sandia Mountain for a short walk along the crest to see the panoramic view across the wide Rio Grande rift valley.
Day 3: North to Durango
Enjoy a casual morning before we hit the road and head north, briefly stopping at Aztec Ruins National Monument. Pueblo people describe this site as part of their migration journey. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing north.
Today’s destination is the 1890’s mining town of Durango, located on the Animas River at the southern edge of Colorado’s the San Juan Mountains. Tonight, you’ll have free time to explore this rough-and-ready town and to sample the variety of nighttime entertainment available in the local saloons, breweries, and restaurants.
Day 4: Into the San Juan Mountains to Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride
There are two impressive routes from Durango into Silverton: the original route was a steam train cleverly designed to run on narrow gauges through gorges and under cliffs. It was developed for miners to get to and to return from their mines, hauling their gear and hopefully their exploits. The more recent route into Silverton is an engineering feat of mountain highway, located at times so high and precarious on steep mountainsides that it is called the San Juan Skyway. We hope to have you enjoy parts of both routes, but this will depend on train operations at the time of our tour.
Whether by train or by vehicle, this morning’s ride from Durango to Silverton will impress. We’ll climb over Engineer Pass, catch sight of the Needle Mountains and their four 14,000-foot peaks, see crystal lakes and evidence of miners who searched these pristine mountains for gold and silver. Upon arrival in tiny Silverton, you’ll have time to explore the boardwalks and have lunch.
Then we continue by vehicle, over Red Mountain Pass and steeply down into Ouray, a quaint, Victorian mining town that bills itself the Switzerland of America. A visit to Box Canyon waterfall awaits, then we’ll travel past Ralph Lauren’s Double RL Ranch en route to Telluride, where we will stay for two nights. This former mining town–turned–resort is perfectly framed by the Rockies in a box valley with a picturesque waterfall.
Day 5: To-hell-you-ride!
There are differing stories about how Telluride got its name. Today’s jeep tour may help you see why some think that it was named after the rough terrain miners had to cross to get there, exclaiming “to hell you ride!” A 4×4 jeep tour will climb up old mining roads and into high basins filled with alpine scenery. Depending on weather and access, our excursion may include ghost towns, views of towering peaks, gold mines, majestic wildlife, and possibly the summit of Imogene Pass.
This afternoon explore Telluride on your own, possibly with a hike or horseback ride. Or relax in the spa and then enjoy cocktails while looking across the mountains at the stands of golden aspen trees.
Day 6: From Mountains to Mesas – Mesa Verde National Park & Abiquiu
This morning we cruise over Lizard Head Pass, down the lovely Dolores River valley, and eventually to Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mesa Verde is known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings. We’ll visit several of the ruins, showing us the progression of the peoples who occupied this area, starting in pit houses and a few hundred years later creating amazing dwellings in cavernous spaces in the large cliffs. Afterwards, we continue to New Mexico and then follow the Chama River as it carves a thriving valley from the Continental Divide down to the stunning, multi-hued cliffs, mesas, and mountains surrounding Abiquiu, where we are welcomed at a boutique inn as our home for the night.
Day 7: Colorful Northern New Mexico: An Intriguing Mix of Cultures and Natural Beauty
This morning we will explore the unique wonders around Abiquiu and Chimayo. This is the dramatic landscape that caught the heart of artist Georgia O’Keeffe. She lived a reflective, quiet life here, capturing the remarkable vistas on canvas. She wasn’t alone. Ansel Adams also photographed many scenes here.
Long settled by the Spanish, the area was also the starting place of the first commercial caravan across the West, led by Franciscan priests from Abiquiu to Los Angeles in 1829, a route that became known as the Old Spanish Trail. We will explore Abiquiu with several short hikes, then continue south to Santa Fe, which offers both cultural and active pursuits. Our hotel will be close to the plaza, allowing you to roam Santa Fe on your own. Or enjoy a cocktail on the top floor of our hotel with views over the small city.
Day 8: Santa Fe
Santa Fe awaits you this morning. On a walking tour, we will see the historic plaza including the Palace of Governors, the seat of government for more than 300 years, St. Francis Cathedral, and the lovely Loretto Chapel, a miniature replica of Saint-Chapelle in Paris. Browse in the International Folk-Art Museum, with artifacts from more than 50 countries and stroll through the Native American market with artists selling their fine art and crafts. Explore on your own the rest of the day, with options such as the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, a massage at Ten Thousand Waves, or an afternoon wandering the galleries on Canyon Road. This evening, join the group for a farewell dinner, celebrating our journey, and meeting new friends!
Day 9: Home
Fly home from the small airport in Santa Fe or catch our transfer to the Albuquerque Airport for your flight home. Santa Fe has much to offer, so we encourage you to stay a few more days. We are happy to extend your stay in Santa Fe and provide suggestions to help you explore this unique area over several more days.
Price includes: Accommodations for 8 nights in a shared room (with single rooms available for the single supplement); All transportation when traveling as a group; Arrival transfer to hotel in Albuquerque; One group departure transfer from Santa Fe to Albuquerque airport for flights departing at or after 1 pm on the final tour day (or to Santa Fe Airport for those departing from there); 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 5 dinners; Wine or soft drinks at Welcome and Farewell Dinners; Entry to attractions and parks, including Acoma Pueblo, Sandia Peak Tramway, Box Canyon Falls, and Mesa Verde National Park; Jeep 4×4 high-mountain tour near Telluride; Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour director; Gratuities for included meals and for the driver; HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare between home and Albuquerque/Santa Fe, New Mexico; 5 lunches and 3 dinners; Tips to local guides, hotel staff, and gratuity for the HE Travel tour director/host; Personal items such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, and laundry.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1300 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
Much of this tour will be at high elevation, and the trip includes several short hikes on both paved and undeveloped trails.
- Where does the tour start and end?
- This tour starts in Albuquerque and ends in Santa Fe (with one scheduled group transfer to Albuquerque Airport on last day for flights departing at 1 pm or later)
- What is the terrain like for this tour?
- We travel through several elevation zones by vehicle, alpine tram, and Jeep, crossing many high mountain passes. Our Jeep ride will reach 11,000 feet, and perhaps as high as 13,000 feet in the Rockies of Southern Colorado. Most nights we will sleep above 7,000 feet.
- What will the weather be like?
- Expect mild days and cool to chilly nights in late September. However, an occasional cold front may pass through, bringing cool winds, rain, and possibly the season’s first snows at higher elevations. Alternatively, we may encounter unexpectedly warm days. With such changeable environments, plan to wear layers, and have a warm jacket, hat, sunscreen, and rain gear.
- What happens if an excursion is not available during the tour?
- Many of our excursions are weather dependent and may also be affected by and COVID-19 restrictions. If affected, our tour leaders will use their familiarity with the area to bring you similarly interesting experiences.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174