Chaco Culture National Historical Park, The Center of an Ancient World of the ancestral Pueblo peoples, is our destination today.
On our New Mexico, USA tour for our Australian tour guest, early June, included a visit with the Ancients at Chaco Canyon located in Northwestern New Mexico. Traveling there today is a challenge. Thirteen miles of rough, dirt road reads the description in the National Park website, however, I think it should say “you can’t get there from here!”
Departing from Grants, NM we had an early start as the 100 mile drive will take most of 3 hours. The last 40 or so miles are across a desolate stretch of the current Navajo reservation which includes about 18 miles of gravel road which then degrades to a rutted, dirt one-lane road.
Our visitor was sure he was experiencing the true wild-west as we traveled across this beautiful yet desolate country. An occasional ranch outbuilding was glimpsed off in the distance, a lone cow or horse graced our panoramic view, and an shadow of a coyote or rabbit scampering across the road was our only companion.
The Park Rangers at the new visitors center were quite helpful in their discussion of what is not to be missed and which hikes would be appropriate for the heat we were experiencing, reminding us no water or facilities are available after we leave the center.
Our objective was to spend the most time at Pueblo Bonito and Casa Rincanada. Pueblo Bonito is the true high point of this area.
As you can see from my photos, this is an amazing place of history. Realize these people had no beasts of burden, no wheels to haul their logs or stones, only their ingenuity and physical strength.
Our next stop was Casa Rinconada and the Great Kiva.
Donnita & Michael
The pictures give you an idea of the area today. It is a very dry high desert type vegetation. However, at the time these people lived here, the climate most likely was different. More wet, the archeologists tell us by what they have been able to piece together. Driving in this area today is difficult enough, I cannot imagine what it would have been 1,000 years ago if the weather was as it is today.
A picnic lunch in the picnic area by the Park visitor center preceded our drive from this area to Taos, New Mexico. We were visited by beggars at lunch – a chipmunk and a raven. They obviously were used to having people around as they came right up to our table.
Driving the rough, dirt road out of this area found us in a wind storm with lightening and thunder. What a challenge keeping the car on the road in the wind, dust and then the rain.
Our drive across Northwestern New Mexico took us into the Jemez Mountains and then the beautiful Abiquiu, New Mexico, Georgia OKeefe’s home.
Our tour guest had heard about the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Rancho de Taos, however the rain precluded a stop today. We opted to visit it another day.
Tonight we enjoyed a traditional dinner at the historic home that now houses Doc Martins restaurant. The food was good, and the live entertainment in the bar was the focal point this evening.
Tomorrow we hike alongside the Rio Grand River gorge and walk through the Taos Pueblo.