Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chaco Culture NHP

Driving from SW Colorado to Albuquerque, we had to make a stop at Chaco Culture National Historic Park.  Several years ago while at another ancient Pueblo site (maybe Mesa Verde), someone told us that we HAD to go see Chaco.  I'm always interested in places that we HAVE to see (feel free to suggest some).

So we braved the bumpy, washboarded dirt road to get there - yes, it was worth it, but what is the deal with that road?  It was a rather extreme test of how things are packed in our trailer.  Happily everything made it through (twice) with no obvious breakage.  I've never seen our table migrate so far or fling the cup holders away, but other than that, it was all good.

The campground at Chaco is great - right next to some cliff dwellings and a couple trails, good sun (which we prefer now that we're solar-powered), nice atmosphere.  I should have taken a picture.

I did get a photo of the nearby butte that you can see from miles away:

Between the afternoon of our arrival and a good 2/3 of the next day, we covered pretty much the entire trail network and sights of the park.  We even got out the bikes, always fun when we manage to acquire that motivation.

I took a whole slew of pictures of old walls, so this is probably less impressive from your vantage point.  But if you ever get a chance to visit in person, it really is amazing.

Different styles of stone walls, built extra thick to hold upper stories:

Enjoying the morning sunshine:

Intricate architecture, with sandstone cliffs in the background:

A large kiva, and a view of the wide valley:

The extent of the excavated sites was amazing, also the idea that there is a lot more still unexcavated that we can't see.

In one place, a huge part of the cliff wall fell and landed on top of part of the pueblo.  Luckily no one was living there at the time (I believe it happened in the last century).

Trying to imagine how it looked during the heyday of the culture.

One of the multi-story walls, and signs that some sections were added on later instead of being integrated into the structure:

A doorway in a shape you don't see every day:

Starting a run up onto the sandstone mesa, checking out another site first:

John is on the other side of the valley, looking down at some "stairs" carved into the rock.  Probably difficult to see, but let's just say I won't be taking those stairs without being tied into a rope.

Here's John!

And there he goes!  He's fast.

Top view of one of the villages:

And another:

We enjoy running where we can also go exploring.  This place sure fit the bill for that!

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