"Chaco Canyon National Historic Park" Chaco Canyon National Monument by MarkJochim

Chaco Canyon is home to the largest excavated Native American ruins in North America. The more than 2,000 sites were constructed between 900 and 1200 years ago. The Anasazi ("ancient ones") - ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians - built a 400-mile system of roads radiating out in straight lines from Chaco Canyon, as well as irrigation ditches to water their cultivated fields.

At the National Historic Park in Chaco Canyon, the visitor center includes a small museum on Chaco culture and a bookstore. It is also possible to buy bottled water but no food.

A paved loop road leads to the trailheads of the various ruins - the most impressive of which is the massive Pueblo Bonito (once five stories tall and containing 800 rooms). There's also a primitive, park service-operated campground.

Chaco Canyon is possibly the most remote large property in the entire National Park System. The roads into the park are washboard dirt and impassable during bad weather. There are no gas stations, food concessions or hotels along the route. However, this remoteness adds to the experience - keeping Chaco Canyon delightfully free of tourist crowds.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Remote, uncrowded, spiritual, historic
  • Cons:Remote, very bumpy road going into the canyon
  • In a nutshell:Well worth the trip, but make certain your car is up to the trip!
  • Last visit to Chaco Canyon National Monument: Feb 2000
  • Intro Updated Apr 6, 2003
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MarkJochim

“...only on the road can you see that yesterday lies behind you and tomorrow waits on the path ahead"”

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