"Home of the Sun Dagger" Chaco Culture National Historical Park Things to Do Tip by AlbuqRay
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Things to Do: 7 reviews and 27 photos
Chacoans were definitely skywatchers. Fajada Butte has six petroglyphs including the Sun Dagger, a carving of a "rattlesnake", other spirals, and a rectangle that are conspicuously lit by contrasts between sunbeams and shadows during equinoxes or solstices. Public access to the butte was stopped in 1989 when erosion from modern foot traffic was found to be responsible for one of the three screening slabs at the Sun Dagger site shifting out of its ancient position. The Sun Dagger assemblage of stones has thus lost some of its former spatial and temporal precision as a solar and lunar calendar. In 1990 the screens were stabilized and placed under observation, but the wayward slab was not moved back into its original orientation.
The butte is 135 meters high. The remains of a 95 meter high, 230 meter long ramp were found on the southwestern face of the butte. Note that the thin black seam is lignite coal separating the lower Menefee Formation from the Cliff House Sandstone layer above it. An abundance of ripple marks and a wide variety of fossils are visible in the latter layer. The fossils include shells and casts from clams, ammonites, snails, and shark's teeth.
Directions: The Fajada Butte Overlook is about two miles from the park entrance on the main road.
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