Monday, October 3, 2011

Back on the Trail of the Ancients - Chaco Canyon

A quick 80 mile drive back on the Trail of the Ancients and we were ready to tackle another Ancestral Puebloan site - Chaco Culture National Historical Park (NHP). One has to REALLY want to visit this NHP, as it is at least a two hour drive from anywhere! But, the effort is well worth it.

The Chaco Canyon was the center of a thriving culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture (We saw the architecture up in Colorado at the Lowry Pueblo and at Mesa Verde.), the complexity of its community life and its far-reaching commerce (traces of cocoa from South America were found in pottery remnants on the site) created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since.

The cultural flowering of the Chacoan people began in the mid-800’s and lasted more than 300 years! This can be seen clearly in the grand scale of the architecture. Using masonry techniques unique for their time, they constructed massive stone buildings (Great Houses) of multiple stories containing hundreds of rooms and many stories high.

The largest of the Great Houses in Chaco Canyon is Pueblo Bonito, center of the Chacoan world. Planned and built in stages, Pueblo Bonito was occupied from the mid-800s to the 1200s. The structure towered four stories high and contained more than 600 rooms and 40 kivas! The access to this ancient site was extensive and made the adventure a real wonder.

Approaching Pueblo Bonita

Old wall, new wildflowers.

The recent rock slide in the foreground wiped out about 30 rooms in the complex.

Pueblo Bonita covers more than 3 acres. You can see the plaza behind these walls.

Amazing how these large structures blend into the surrounding landscape.

Gary had to duck a lot to get through the doors.

Chetro Ketl is another Great House adjacent to Pueblo Bonito. It was begun about 1020 and contains an estimated 500 rooms and 16 kivas. The Great Kiva included at Chetro Ketl is a wonderful example of the Kiva.

The Great Kiva at Chetro Ketl.

There are several additional Great Houses and sites within the Chaco Culture NHP - all sites to see and experience.

Portions of the three story walls at Hungo Pavi still remain.

This opening is only about 2 x 2 feet - shows the building architecture.

But, after about 4.5 hours we were again maxed out on our attention span. AND, we had a good hour to get out of the park and back to Magic.

Perhaps you remember the statement at the beginning of this posting that the NHP is two hours from anything! I mean ANYTHING! We found some ‘RV sites’ (a questionable description) behind a ‘trading post’ about an hour from the park entrance in the middle of nowhere - and this was the closest thing without driving back north 2 hours or on to Albuquerque. We were prepared for what we got - and the space did the trick for the evening. We had an electric hook-up to prepare dinner and there were NO trees so the satellite worked just fine for Monday Night Football - thank goodness for satellite!!

The best view we could find from our parking spot.

Here is the actual view of our surroundings.

Tomorrow - The Balloon Festival!! We are sooooo excited!!

Ready to Fly - Elizabeth & Gary from the Middle of Nowhere

1 comment:

  1. Loving the pictures and the stories! Looks like you are having another great adventure :) Love you guys!