Thoroughly impressed by what the ancient Pueblo Indians created, we headed towards the more well-known ancestral cultural home, Chaco Canyon. This was high on our list of places to visit, but boy was the road out there ever wretched. Not as bad as Hole-in-the-rock road, but it’s miles and miles of road that slowly deteriorates. There was a chance of rain that evening and the rangers at the visitor center even implied that if it rained, the roads might become impassable. Hooray.
But of course we stayed anyways, because this place is truly awesome.
First off, the visitor center sells little books for each site and they cost $1-$3 per book. They are completely worth it. The information in it was exhaustive and corresponded to numbered markers at each site, really helping us understand what we were looking at. Plus, they served as exceptional reading material later on that we could apply to other sites and review.
Chaco Canyon itself it comprised of several massive sites along the main road, with smaller ruins and petroglyphs down some hiking trails. As we needed to avoid rain and had Fin, we stuck to the main ruins of Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, and Pueblo del Arroyo. Those three alone hold so much, though, that it’s hard to walk away impressed.
They are all massive ruins and this time again we were lucky enough to time our arrival with a ranger tour, so we tagged along and learned just how masterful these people were at wall-making and building design. They knew how to create rooms that were cool in summer and warm in winter, rooms that aligned with solstices, and buildings that shielded the inhabitants from almost all the elements. It was truly impressive stuff.
If you ever visit here, try to stay at the campground, because you will always want more time to see things.