Air/Land Adventure Expeditions

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Tours by Destination

Discovery Air Tours & Scenic Flights To:
Aztec Ruins, New Mexico


The Aztec Ruins lie in the heart of northwestern New Mexico, just south of the Colorado border. Today, Aztec Ruins comprise the largest surviving Great House outside of the famous Chaco Canyon complex of the San Juan Basin. The Ruins stand as an enduring monument to the accomplishments of the Anasazi people, who lived in the east central regions of the Colorado Plateau from AD 100 to 1300. Built between AD 1110 and 1120 (based on tree-ring dating), the pueblo contains some 405 rooms and 28 kivas, and housed around 700 people. Portions of the surviving ruins are three stories tall and three feet thick, made up of elaborate carved-stone patterns unique to Chacoan sites.

The Aztec Pueblo was inhabited by a highly skilled and organized people. Beginning around AD 900, Chacoan masons and farmers dominated the rivers, valleys, and deserts of the Four Corners Region. However, this high desert area was ultimately abandoned by AD 1300, due to unrelenting drought. Originally, the Aztec Pueblo was only occupied about forty years, but later was resettled in AD 1225 by Anasazi from the north believed to be of Mesa Verde origin. The newcomers built in a hurry, using relatively crude masonry techniques, and left after some seventy years, probably for the Rio Grande Valley. By the beginning of the Fourteenth Century, only winds and shadows roamed the fields and structures of the Ancient Ones.

Southwest Safaris offers its clients the unusual opportunity of exploring Aztec Ruins with an accomplished archaeologist who has excavated/published for 25 years. This is a chance to learn in the field the intriguing story of a vanished people who left "without a trace." The lessons for today's society are haunting. Members of the expedition rendezvous at the Santa Fe Airport for a 7 a.m. departure. Fly up the canyons of the Rio Grande River, Chama River, and Gallinas drainage. Listen to the pilot/guide describe the geology of the Colorado Plateau as the plane soars over pastel-colored deserts and canyons, cliffs and hogbacks, volcanoes and dikes, rivers and dry washes. Watch 300 million years of landform evolution pass beneath the wing. Discover the rolling forests, meadows, and foothills of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation, followed by Canyon Largo's daunting badlands, monuments, and ravines. After landing at a mesa-top airstrip overlooking the Animas River valley, tour members are led by the above-mentioned archaeologist room by room, courtyard by courtyard, through the ancient living-structures and ceremonial chambers of the Aztec Ruins. In the Great Kiva, Pueblo drumbeats and chanting break the silence of the ages. Enjoy a mid-morning picnic snack of fruit juice and freshly-baked muffins while lively discussion continues under a canopy of shimmering cottonwood trees. Safari members drive back to their plane for scenic return to Santa Fe, arriving by 12:45 p.m. $595/person, 2-fare minimum. Package includes 5.5-hour air/land tour, Ruins access fee, and snack. (Top of Page)


This exciting air safari follows the same itinerary as described above, but with the addition of a Mesa Verde Country overflight. That is, the route of flight also includes aerial reconnaissance of the rugged canyons and mesas of the cliffdweller regions located to the west, south, and east of Mesa Verde National Park. See magnificent Anasazi canyon architecture from a perspective unachievable from the ground. The extra flying requires about forty minutes. Perfect for expedition members seeking extended air touring plus a more complete understanding of the early Pueblo people and natural history of the Four Corners Region. $695/person, 2-fare minimum. Package includes Aztec Ruins Classic Airventure, scenic sortie over southwestern Colorado, Ruins access fee, and mid-morning snack. (Top of Page)


The Aztec Ruins Delight Airventure departs Sant Fe, NM, at 7:00 a.m. and offers a direct flight to Aztec, NM, with light narration. After landing, tour members will be greeted by an archaeologist, who will guide the ground expedition through the rooms, corridors, kivas, and courtyards of the famous Anasazi site. A great chance to disappear into the past to study ancient culture. After a detailed exploration of the pueblo, tour members return to their awaiting safari airplane for direct flight back to Santa Fe, arriving shortly before noon. This aerial adventure is designed to provide minimal time in the air and maximum economy, without sacrificing the great panoramic views of northwestern New Mexico. $495/person, 3-fare minimum. Package includes all flying, park entrance fee, and 2.5-hour guided ground tour. Not included: picnic brunch at the ruins. (Top of Page)

Southwest Safaris . . . "Top-Flight Experience!"
Details & Notices

Please call when making tour arrangements. Advance reservations required.

Duration of all expeditions is approximate. Length of scenic flights based on block time. Prices and itineraries subject to change without notice as policies or conditions warrant or dictate.

Southwest Safaris is an approved FAA/NPS commercial air carrier/air tour operator, offering authentic, quality, natural history airventures since 1974.

P.O. Box 945
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504

Phone: 505-988-4246 | Toll-Free: 800-842-4246 | Fax: 505-983-6061


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© Bruce Adams, 2006-2022       Webpage Updated: 7/21/22