Chaco Culture National Historic Park

36° 5'4.64"N 107°55'46.87"W

Una Vida
Hours and Fees:
$4/person or $8/vehicle
Open 7 days a week from 7am to sunset

Chaco Stairs

Getting There:
From Farmington, NM head east on highway 64 to Bloomfield Boulevard (Highway 550). Take Highway 550 south to road 7900 (Indian Service Route 7061), 3-1/2 miles south of Nageezi. From here one simply has to follow the signs to the park. The route from Highway 550 to the park is a rather rough (washboarded) dirt road that crosses a stream. It is important to take weather into account before venturing out to the park. A small amount of rain could cause the road to become impassable without a properly equipped vehicle. Also note that crossing the stream bed can be very dangerous if there is running water.

Site Information:
Chaco Culture National Historic Park is home to a collection of Chacoan pueblos dating back to the mid AD 800’s. There are more than a dozen ruins located within the park, with about half accessed from the 9-mile paved loop road. Vehicle pull-outs and parking areas are provided at each of the sites along the paved loop and self-guided tour booklets are provided at the trailheads.
Chetro Ketl Pueblo
The remaining backcountry sites can be reached through a network of hiking trails.

Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo del Arroyo

Notes About our Visit:
We arrived at Chaco Culture mid-morning and after checking in at the visitor center we headed out to visit the sites along the 9-mile paved loop. We spent about 30 to 40 minutes at each of the site, walking around and reading up on the information provided in the booklets provided at each location. We spent 5-1/2 hours, in total, visiting all of the sites along the loop.

We enjoyed the Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito sites the most as their size gave a great perspective on the number of people who lived in the area. One thing we found interesting was construction of Chetro Ketl; archeological evidence indicates the Chacoan people brought in ‘fill dirt’ to raise the football field sized area above the flood-plain of the nearby steam by more than 19 ft. This is astonishing to me, as I know how long it takes modern man to perform this type of excavation work with dump trucks and earthmovers.

Another interesting architectural feature we learned about was the influence of Mexican architecture on the area.  Chetro Ketl’s outer wall had originally been built in the colonnade fashion found in Central Mexico.  Archeologists speculate the columns supported the roof of a large room but the spaces between the columns were later filled in as the room was remodeled.

A large campground is associated with the park and lies just east of the visitor center.  Although we did not stay here, we found the area to be well maintained.  Although there are restrooms associated with the campground, there are no showers and potable drinking water can only be found at the visitor center.  Camping costs $10/night and $5/night with an Interagency Pass.


Overland Expo, Living Overland, ToyotaBeau Johnston is an engineer, writer, and photographer who is dedicated to proving you can find a balance between work and life. He is the Co-Founder and Publisher of Living Overland and a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. When he isn't working, you can find him exploring National Parks, fly fishing, and camping with his wife (Krista) and their two dogs.


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