This was my second trip to Chaco Canyon. Went back with my cousin David, who also accompanied me on my first visit there. We drove east on Highway 64 & then turned south on 550 to Nageezi. The first few miles were okay, but the last 13 miles into the park were unpaved, and very rough. And we often found ourselves going east again as well as south and west on the meandering back-country road. We tried to track our progress, but the GPS was no help at all. As far as it was concerned we were traveling "off road."
Our first stop was Hungo Pavi, which has not been excavated. It's pretty much just as it was was when discovered back in the 1800s. The walls were so well constructed that they're still standing after a thousand years. Other ruins have undergone various degrees of reconstruction.
Our second stop was Pueblo Bonito. As we walked among the ruins, it was hard to imagine thousands of people living and working here. This was the center of Chacoan culture from A. D. 859-1150. There were a great many rooms to explore. We did have an opportunity to observe several crews of workers doing restoration work. We then walked along the Petroglyph Trail to Chetro Ketl. Sadly, even in a place as remote as this, there were still those who left their graffiti on the ancient markings on the walls of the canyon. I wonder if the graffiti of today will one day be considered a great archaeological find.
We made camp before dark, then hiked the Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail for a beautiful view of the sunset.
It rained off and on all night, but was dry by morning. We hiked the Peñasco Blanco Trail, the longest in the canyon, in the morning, with a cold wind swirling around us. Peñasco Blanco is a sidetrip from the main Chaco settlement. A spur trail took us to the famous Supernova Platograph. This rock drawing is believed to represent the sighting of the Crab Supernova of July 5, 1054, which was also recorded by Chinese and Arab astronomers, and may have been visible during daylight hours for about three weeks in this area.
By early afternoon it was getting hot, and we were glad we were not trying to do this walk in the summer, when it's even hotter & drier. It would then be best to do this all in the early morning. In the afternoon we did a very nice hike to the Canyon Overlook, followed by a second vist to Pueblo Bonito. Pueblo Bonito is an example of Chacoan architecture called a Great House, which is D-shaped. It is very cold this night.
The next day, day 3 of our trip, brings bright blue skies and glaring sun for the morning hike to Tsin Kletsin, one of the best in the canyon. We made the loop, starting at Casa Rinconada, and returned by way of the south gap. We have now hiked every trail in Chaco Canyon.
After lunch we broke camp, then hiked Wijiji, one of the lonelier trails in the canyon, under perfectly calm blue skies.
We avoided most tourists by not going on guided tours. These tours are valuable for first-time visitors, such as we were two years ago. I remember learning that the Native American people would like us to stop using the word Anasazi, as it means 'enemy.' Since I learned that tidbit two years ago I have stopped using the term, but I see that the rest of the world continues to use it.
Chaco Canyon Adventures - Weekends Outdoors