I headed the Born Free north on I-25 and then took Highway 550 out through Cuba..a really good road...much better than I thought it would be. Well, the good roads would end once I hit the turn off to Chaco. I had called the ranger station to check on road conditions. All the material I read said to be sure and enter from the north and not the south if driving an RV. The ranger confirmed that yes, I needed to enter from the north, and yes there was 13 miles of dirt road that was wash boardy with about five miles of really wash boardy road that "I wouldn't like". . a total of 22 miles from the highway. Well the ranger wasn't exaggerating, if anything he was understating the conditions. Two hours to drive 22 miles...5 MPH most of the time and if the road smoothed out maybe 10 MPH. Once I entered the park, the road was paved. Interestingly, I saw a few signs along the dirt road "Keep Chaco Unpaved". I guess there are some folks who don't want to share the magic of Chaco Canyon. Oh, my Born Free seemed to come through it all without any problems, but this drive is not for Big Rigs or the faint of heart.
There are absolutely not services at Chaco. No cell. No internet. No store. No food services. So one must be prepared with everything you need because it is a long 22 miles out to the road. Since it is so remote and the fact that it was mid-week, the campground was pretty empty even though it was National Parks Week.
I check in at the visitor center and found out that there would be a Ranger led tour of Pueblo Bonito at 10:00 the next morning, which would last about 1 1/2 hours.
Part of the road in Chaco Canyon is a paved 8 mile loop and leads to some of the major ruins including Pueblo Bonito. Pueblo Bonito is about at the half way mark. I took the loop road in the morning before the tour stopping at Hungo Pave and Chetro Ketl ruins as they were on the way.
The following are all of Pueblo Bonito. I won't show you pictures of all of the ruins. There are just too many. Pueblo Bonito was the largest structure in the system and one of the more preserved and excavated. To learn more about the Chacoan Culture just google Chacoan Culture and you will get a plethora of information.
The tour was most informative, and I could have listened again. So much information, and so little brain storage. Maybe I should have recorded it.
There are several ruins in the canyon that can only be seen by hiking to them. So I headed over to the Casa Rinconada Community and hiked up to Tsin Letsin . The trail loops around towards the south gap and back down to the canyon. It is amazing to walk on the top and see forever.
Tsin Letsin ruins:
Below is an example of a Kiva. The Chacoans seemed to continuously build and rebuild. Here you can see several Kiva on top of one another. Can you see the different in masonry? The Chacoans were skilled masons and their techniques evolved over time as they built higher and higher walls.
Stay tuned for more. This is only part one.