After traversing the infamous 21-mile washboard dirt road to the entrance of Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, it was nice to be greeted by one of the Park’s wildlife. As the lone elk bugled, we hollered back “Thanks for the welcome! We’re happy to be here.” Just then, a big wind gust came up ushering us into this ancient cultural site. We said farewell to the elk and hello to the towering Fajada Butte.
With the windy conditions, we decided to hold off on taking our bikes down from the car for a ride around the 9-mile paved loop. Instead, we started our Chaco Canyon (#5 of our 12-park goal) tour with a fun and easy hike along the Una Vida trail that leads modern day visitors to a section of petroglyphs. I’m always intrigued by this bascially-beautiful rock art that has come to provide so many symbols of Southwest culture.
From there I was eager to make it down the road to Pueblo Bonito. After a few short photo opportunities at equally culturally significant sites of Hungo Pavi and Chetro Ketl, we arrived at the greatest of the Great Houses.
As a historic architecture enthusiast I was most amazed by the building techniques it took to construct this ancient monument. The materials, the artisans, the planning that it took to build such a beautiful site was inspiring. By following the printed guide books, we were able to earn more about how the construction of Pueblo Bonito and of its discovery by contemporary explorers and archeologists.
- Read more about the preservation efforts of Chaco Canyon that started at the turn of the 20th century.
After an informative and stunning tour of Pueblo Bonito, we made our way to Pueblo del Arroyo which I think provided for some of the most scenic vistas of the canyon. That piece of real estate is where I would have preferred to make my residence 1,000 years ago.
Too soon our visit to Chaco Canyon came to an end, but before it was all over I was determined to say I biked Chaco. So I hopped on my two-wheeled mode of transportation and set out for the park exit. It was exhilarating to ride among this ancient cultural mecca with the spirit-filled breeze in my face and the sun setting at my back.
I look forward to returning for another adventure … hopefully on my bike again and next time with more time for exploring hiking trails and experiencing new vistas of this old place.