Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Chaco Canyon is located a long way from anywhere.  The route we took included 21 miles of dirt/rock road that had a serious washboard texture, as well as ruts in some areas.  I was so glad I was not driving my truck.  A friend was driving us in her Range Rover, which has a great suspension.  It was so nice to sit in the back seat and just sightsee instead of doing the driving.  There were four of us going, a girls’ day trip, and only one of us had been there before.


 Chaco includes a massive area of Anasazi Indian ruins that were abandoned before the 12th century.  It is thought that the community included about 5,000 people.  They built “great houses” near the sheer rock walls of a canyon.  The houses were built so close to the rock walls, that some of the roof beams were imbedded in the canyon walls for support. 


The largest great house was called Pueblo Bonito and contained over 600 rooms and 33 Kivas.  A Kiva is a round room that was built underground for religious ceremonies.   They were lined with rock walls and benches around the perimeter, with rock-lined areas for fires.   


 This area has survived quite well after all these centuries, a testament to the solid construction of this extensive area.  The walls were as much as 2 feet thick in some areas, built from rocks quarried from the canyon walls. 

There is a campground on the site, but without hookups.  I have heard that the road coming from the north is in much better condition, with very little of it being dirt/rock.  To see everything and do some of the longer hikes would require staying for a couple days.  As it was, we were able to see most of the major areas and we had done as much as we could in one day.  It was a long drive home and we were tired, so we stopped at a local restaurant for some Mexican food.  You can always tell a good restaurant if the locals are eating there.  We all agreed that it had been a fabulous day, the weather couldn’t have been better and we all enjoyed the trip.

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