Several people have asked us if we have ever visited the Chaco Culture National Historical Park; no we never have. For one thing, it is not one of the 61 National Parks, and for another thing, we have never driven in this area of New Mexico during the many trips we have made through the West. We actually had to pull out the paper road map to find our way; not only do you lose hi-res cell on the New Mexico backroads, the New Mexican tourist-information websites warn you that the online navigation sites don’t know the way to the canyon.
So, instead of watching the Weather Channel and Hurricane Dorian updates, we decide to leave the house today and drive to Chaco – 3 hours 25 minutes from where we are staying. Definitely an adventurous day. The drive is spectacular, lots of interesting geology, mountains, and winding roads in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful part of one of the least traveled parts of the US.
And would you believe it – 2G cell network!!
We took the northern route, state highways and county roads all the way to the 13 miles of county DIRT road in to the park. Right before the turn off for the road to Chaco, there’s a nostalgic gas station – remember Sinclair?This is a place they don’t want lots of people to visit unless they really want to – and interestingly enough it is also a World Heritage site. A very nice Visitor Center built in 2017 shows a map of the area and the park rangers are knowledgeable and helpful.
There is a loop road to all the various cultural sites determined to be accessible. You can take the trails to get close up to the sites and the petroglyphs that are visible on the cliffs. The history is very interesting and this civilization from the 800-1200’s is a major component of the Pueblo Native American culture. It is a spiritual place, raising many thoughts and questions as you walk among the ruins. This is as good as Mesa Verde National Park in preserving and educating us on the history of these ancient peoples.
The crow is always guiding our path!
The Petroglyphs here are visible after all these years and still pure and protected. It reminds us of the ones in Painted Desert National Park except you can’t get close to those like you can these. These are just a sampling.
We leave this special park with great respect for the Chaco civilization and the national park system again for preserving and protecting these cultural treasurers.
Back on the road – more beautiful geology and a great view of a desert storm.
Back in Santa Fe, we happen to be driving past the Santa Fe Brewery. Stop to pick up beer – much cheaper than the grocery store. Happy Camper and Pepe Loco. A relaxing evening ahead.