chaco canyon

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

At Chaco Canyon, many of the original “Vigas” are still embedded into the walls. These wooden features made up the floors of multi-story buildings as well as the foundations for the rooftops.

We’ve called them many names in the past. They were the Anasazi, the Ancient Puebloans, and today, at Chaco Canyon, they’re called “Chacoans,” or just “Chaco People.” The truth is, none of the names we’ve made up over the centuries really fits, and we have no idea what they called themselves.

What we do know is that Chaco Canyon was the cultural, political, and economic center of these ancient people from around 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. It’s thought that thousands of people lived here while roads were built and maintained throughout their area of influence.

We visited Chaco Canyon recently and walked among the many ruins, enjoying the landscape and the isolation of this northern New Mexico National Historic Site. The closest town is Farmington, and getting to Chaco Canyon took a bit of determination. Starting from State Highway 505, we turned off on County Road 7950 and drove about five miles until the pavement ended. We then proceeded along a dirt road that was minimally maintained for another thirteen miles, then another five miles over a road that was not maintained at all. We made it okay, and so did lots of other folks. The one small campground was full.

There were two first-come, first-served campsites. All others were by reservation only. Part of the campground is currently closed because the nearby rock walls are tending to fall, making for a potentially hazardous tent site.

The main entrance to Chaco Culture National Historic Park is from Highway 505 and along County Road 7950, about 20 miles from the highway to the park. Much of the trek is unimproved dirt. And to be fair, when we visited the park, the trip in was at about 10 MPH and we encountered a grader working the shoulders. On the way out, the road was comfortable at its posted speed limit of 30 MPH. The grader had finished his work while we were there.

There are several hiking trails within the park, but for this trip, concentrated mostly on the various pueblos that were situated along the loop road from the visitor’s center. Below are a few images we made along our way; mostly from Pueblo Bonito. This massive pueblo was thought to house a thousand inhabitants, and it’s a truly believable number. we encountered a volunteer ranger at the site that was able to tell us a great deal about the structure and what we believe to be true about its history. If you visit, be sure to seek these folks out. they have a great deal of knowledge and are willing to share.

Here’s a brief overview of what we found on our last visit to Chaco Canyon (Chaco Culture National Historic Park).
Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, The West, Travel, US Parks, 0 comments
Visiting Chaco Canyon

Visiting Chaco Canyon

One of our favorite pass times when traveling in the American southwest is visiting the various cliff dwelling houses. Places like Mesa Verde come immediately to mind, but the area is scattered with many more out of the way places that can really make an adventure to the southwest something special. Continue reading →

Posted by Donald Fink and Bonnie Fink in Blog, Travel, 0 comments