Chaco Canyon

"Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America's most significant cultural and historic areas. Chaco Canyon was a major center of Puebloan culture between AD 850 and 1250. The Chacoan sites are part of the sacred homeland of Pueblo Indian peoples of New Mexico, the Hopi Indians of Arizona, and the Navajo Indians of the Southwest, all of whom continue to respect and honor them. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a very special place. Remote and isolated, it offers few amenities, so come prepared." – from the official web site.

Although I grew up in New Mexico, for some reason I'd never made it out to Chaco Canyon until this late autumn day in 2010. I came prepared to be mildly disappointed. I'd read so much about Chaco and the ancient puebloans; there is so much talk and speculation about Chaco, the ruins and the peoples; I figured there was no way the reality could compete. Was I ever wrong! This is a place you need to visit and spend at least a full day, if not longer. I plan to return time and again.

I've arranged the follow photos in roughly the same order in which I took them. There are a few exceptions to allow the page to flow better. My photos can neither prepare you for your visit, nor provide enough incentive to go. I do hope, however, you enjoy this glimpse of an amazing area in the Land of Enchantment.

Morning: Una Vida Ruins

Fajada Butte
Una Vida is located directly behind the visitor center not far from the park entrance.

Una Vida
Una Vida has not been as extensively uncovered and restored as have some of the sites.

Una Vida wall

Una Vida petroglyphs

 

Hungo Pavi

Hungo Pavi

Hungo Pavi

Hungo Pavi

Hungo Pavi

 

Chetro Ketl

Chetro Ketl

Chetro Ketl

Chetro Ketl Colonnade
Showing an unusual colonnade structure that was filled in by later inhabitants.

Chetro Ketl kiva

Chetro Ketl mini-kivas

Chaco Canyon
Looking down the canyon from Chetro Ketl.

 

Noon: Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito
Yes, that is an enormous rock-fall on the right. Happened in 1941.

Pueblo Bonito National Geographic sign

Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito wall

Pueblo Bonito door
One of the famous 'T' shaped doorways.

Pueblo Bonito kiva

Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito window

Pueblo Bonito from above
Pueblo Bonito as seen from the cliff-top. More on this hike next.

 

Kin Kletso & the Pueblo Alto Trail

Kin Kletso
Seen as one starts up the Pueblo Alto Trail.

Kin Kletso
As seen from the cliff top.

Kin Kletso
View back along the cliff top, looking down at Kin Kletso.

Pueblo Alto Trail
Erosion and water pools along the cliff top.

Chaco Canyon

Above Pueblo Bonito
My stalwart companion & guide, Linda, enjoys the view of Pueblo Bonito from the cliff edge.

Cliff top
Returning from the view of Pueblo Bonito, this is where one enters the cleft to follow the trail back down.

Pueblo Alto Trail
Here you can see one hiker coming out the bottom of the cleft and two others farther down the "trail".

Pueblo Alto Trail
Here you can see hikers descending the bottom stretch of the trail next to Kin Kletso.

 

Pueblo del Arroyo

Pueblo del Arroyo
We didn't explore this site this time.

Pueblo del Arroyo
Pueblo del Arroyo as seen from the cliff top trail.

 

Casa Rinconada

Great Kiva

Great Kiva
We only visited the Great Kiva. The rest of Casa Rinconada is left for next time.

 

Late Afternoon Scenery

Fajata Butte
Fajada Butte with Chaco Wash in the foreground.

Chaco Wash
View of the South Gap and Chaco Wash with its autumnal colors (from earlier along the cliff top trail.)

Fajata Bute
As the sun sinks slowly in the west... a last view of Fajada Butte from the car window after a fabulous day exploring.

 


All photographs copyright Bosque Bill - No use without written permission.