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[photo] Chaco Culture National Historical Park
NPS Digital Archives (above) and NPS photo by Russ Finley (below)[Photo]

Chaco Canyon was the center of life for Pueblo Indians of the Colorado Plateau from 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. Beginning in 900 A.D. the people built large multi-storied stone structures on mesatops and on the canyon floor. This concentration of structures is thought to have served the region as a ritual, administrative and trade center. The largest building, Pueblo Bonito, rose four stories and contained 600 rooms and 40 kives in a D-shaped layout. Another nearby structure, Chetro Ketl, had close to 500 rooms and 16 kivas as well as an enclosed plaza. The pattern of large public buildings with oversized rooms, surrounded by conventional villages, became the standard in Chaco Canyon and spread throughout the region. In the 1200s, change came to Chaco as new construction slowed and Chaco's role as a regional center shifted to new cultural centers. Administered by the National Park Service, the park contains over 4,000 cultural sites associated with Paleo-Indian, Pueblo, Navajo and Euro-American occupation of the canyon.

The recommended access route to the park is from the north, via US 550 (formerly NM 44) and County Rd. (CR) 7900, and CR 7950. The route includes five miles of paved road (CR 7900) and 16 miles of rough dirt road (CR 7950). From the south, two dirt roads access Chaco from Hwy. 9, which runs between Crownpoint, Pueblo Pintado and Cuba. Both routes can vary from very rough to impassable. Not recommended for RVs. If you are traveling from the south, call ahead (505-786-7014) for current road conditions. The Visitors Center is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm, year round. Sites and trails are open from sunrise to sunset. Please visit the park's website for further information. Chaco Canyon is also a designated World Heritage Site.


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