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Here’s what we’re planning for Archaeo Astronomy 2020!

Join Smith College Professor of Astronomy, James Lowenthal, on this adventure that will provide excellent opportunities for night sky viewing and walking in the footsteps of ancestral Puebloans. We’ll explore some sites that are a little more off the beaten path and see some incredible astronomy as a result. No experience or prior knowledge is required, just an interest and willingness to learn.

This adventure will begin at the Albuquerque airport and venture west to the awe inspiring Canyon de Chelly, which has been called more spectacular than the Grand Canyon and is the longest continuously inhabited place on the Colorado Plateau. We’ll continue west and north to Navajo National Monument, where we’ll have an excellent opportunity for night sky viewing. The following day, participants will be able to choose a guided tour of the Betatakin Cliff Dwelling or the Keet Seel Cliff Dwelling. The hike to Betatakin is a 3 mile round trip hike, while the Keet Seel hike is much more strenuous and requires a 17 mile round trip hike though you’ll be rewarded with viewing the best preserved cliff dwelling in the Southwest. Either option is sure to inspire and add to one’s knowledge.

After heading east, we’ll stop at Hovenweep National Monument to explore the military towers perched on boulders and canyon rims surrounding ancient springs. From there, we will venture to the Edge of the Cedars Museum for the largest collection of Ancestral Puebloan pottery on display in the four corners states and make a stop in Moab. We will have the opportunity for a hike as well as what’s sure to be a magnificent sunset and night sky viewing in Arches National Park.

Next, we will head to Durango for the Ute Tribal Museum and night sky viewing at Chimney Rock National Monument, an off the beaten path archeological site. Chimney Rock is also the Chacoan site that is highest in elevation at 7,000 feet. For our final day, we’ll head back south to Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study for some incredible rock formations and then continue on to the 540 acre Cottonwood Gulch Basecamp for our final night.

Everywhere we go, we’ll see incredible evidence of the advanced astronomy that Ancestral Puebloans practiced. There will be buildings and openings aligned to cardinal directions with accuracy, solstice markers, moon calendars, and more. Come explore the connection between archaeology and astronomy in the Southwest with a knowledgeable and fun staff team. Expect lots of good stories, laughter around the evening campfire and great food, too!

Is this trek right for me?

  • Great for the history, nature, and adventure-minded
  • Perfect for hikers and outdoor-lovers
  • No previous outdoor experience required
  • An overall adventurous spirit & serendipitous mindset will serve you well

What is included in the cost?

Tuition includes everything once you arrive in Albuquerque:

  • All meals
  • All transportation
  • Staff, educators, field specialists
  • All gear necessary for group expedition
  • Activities (Museum entrance fees, etc.) and backcountry permits

Trekkers are responsible for covering travel costs to and from Albuquerque the first day and last day of the trek. Gulch staff will be at the Albuquerque Airport to greet incoming Trekkers.

For more logistical questions, visit our FAQ page, or give us a call: 505-248-0563.

*Our cancellation policy

Trek Details

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  • Ages 21+
  • 10-20 members
  • Cost: 
  • Dates: Please check back for future dates

Packing List


“Gazing Into The Past”

  • Night skies at Navajo National Monument
  • Choose between a hike to Betatakin Cliff Dwelling or Keet Seel Ciff Dwelling
  • Explore the ancient villages of Hovenweep by day and enjoy the night skies of an International Dark Sky Park
  • Wander Edge of the Cedars Museum to view the largest collection of ancestral Puebloan pottery on display in the Four Corners
  • Visit sites off the beaten path


Places We Go