Chaco Culture National Historical Park, NM

Explore the American Southwest with this southwest USA itinerary through New Mexico, the southwestern corner of Utah and Northern Arizona. Get the Inspiration you need to plan your own trip

by and - last updated on 6/5/2024

Chaco Canyon Area, NM   Map

This was a day trip we made from our Santa Fe, NM basecamp; Chaco Culture National Park is like stepping into a real-life history documentary! This remote canyon in New Mexico was home to a thriving civilization way back, from 850 to 1250 AD. You can wander around giant, ancient apartment buildings (seriously, imagine the rent!), called pueblos. Hike or bike through the desert scenery and spot mysterious symbols carved into rocks.

Pueblo Bonito is a large & magnificent D-shaped structure that dominates the landscape. This "beautiful town," as its name translates from Spanish, is the largest and most famous great house in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Built by the Ancestral Puebloans between 828 and 1126 AD, Pueblo Bonito is a marvel of ancient architecture.

Pueblo Bonito is the most thoroughly investigated cultural site in Chaco Canyon. Planned and constructed in stages between AD 850 to AD 1150 by ancestral Puebloan peoples, this was the center of the Chacoan world. That world eventually covered a vast area of the present-day Southwest, including the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, and portions of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.

This is a nice place to walk about and explore and Chaco caters to all types of walkers. You can cruise the nine-mile Canyon Loop Drive in your car, stopping to check out the main ruins up close. Feeling bolder? Hit the backcountry trails and walk where the ancient people walked, exploring hidden ruins and getting a feel for the vastness of this whole place.

WARNING: The park can only be accessed by driving on dirt roads. You should visit the National Park Service Website directions page and read their directions to avoid driving on private roads or roads that may be unsafe for non 4WD vehicles.

More Info for Chaco Canyon, NM 

  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park Wikipedia Article
  • Our Chaco Culture National Historical Park, NM Image Gallery
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park Google Images Set
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park Google Map
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park National Park Service Page
  • Youtube Search Results for "Chaco Culture National Historical Park"
  • Our Youtube Channel

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