Places To Go

A brown sign designating Chaco Culture National Historical Park as a World Heritage Site sits in front of a tan building identified with text as the Chaco Canyon Visitor Center.
Chaco Culture NHP was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

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Chaco Culture National Historical Park Visitor Center

Inside the visitor center, you will find a museum with exhibits on ancestral Pueblo daily life, the Chacoan landscape, and more. There is also a 26-minute film to watch and a bookstore run by the Western National Parks Association.

Remains of a large masonry wall emerging from the desert floor, with a tall butte in the background.
Remnants of Una Vida with Fajada Butte in the background.

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Una Vida

Una Vida is a Chacoan “great house,” a large pre-planned multi-storied public building with distinctive masonry, formal earthen architecture, and a great kiva. Una Vida exists today in a near-natural state of preservation, free from major vandalism, and with only minor excavations and preservation repairs. A one-mile (1.6 km) roundtrip (including petroglyphs) trail begins at the NE corner of the visitor center parking lot. Portions are rocky, steep, and slippery when wet. Take water and travel in small groups to lessen impacts to this fragile site.

Remains of brown masonry walls reaching one to two stories above the desert floor, with a tall canyon wall just behind the unexcavated site.
Hungo Pavi.

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Hungo Pavi

Hungo Pavi is an unexcavated Chacoan "great house" (monumental public building) containing over 150 rooms, a great kiva, and an enclosed plaza. It is a good example of what Chacoan sites look like without excavations - covered with a protective blanket of wind-blown sand and native vegetation. Travel in small groups to lessen impacts to this fragile site.
Remains of a large masonry structure with open rectangular and circular rooms rises above the desert. Looking down on the large building from above, storm clouds can be seen in the distance.
An aerial view of Chetro Ketl.

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Chetro Ketl

Chetro Ketl is the second-largest Chacoan great house. It covers more than 3 acres, and contains a great kiva and elevated kivas. As builders constructed second and third stories, they created an elevated plaza that stands 12 feet above the canyon floor. Located 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the visitor center on the 9-mile (14.5 km) canyon loop drive, the trail through Chetro Ketl is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) roundtrip. It is graveled, and climbs several short, steep rises, so assistance is recommended for people using wheelchairs.
Two walls with extremely detailed masonry work rise above the viewer, with 4 doorways or windows visible - including a doorway in the corner of these two walls. Several logs from a previous ceiling are emerging from one wall to the bottom left.
Seven corner doors are known within Pueblo Bonito.

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Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito is the most thoroughly investigated and celebrated cultural site in Chaco Canyon. It is the only "great house" within the canyon where visitors can walk through the rooms. Incredible engineering techniques and intentional detailed masonry are highlights of this 0.5 mile (0.8 km) roundtrip walk. This is a must see when at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
The sun rises through two doorways of remains of a very detailed masonry structure.
The sun rising through two open doorways of the great kiva Casa Rinconada during the fall equinox.

Charles Cutter

Casa Rinconada

Casa Rinconada, a community site on the south side of Chaco Canyon, affords a different view into Chacoan life than the great houses on the north side of the canyon thought to be primarily used as public spaces. Excavations of the Casa Rinconada community in the 1930s and 40s by the University of New Mexico field school illuminated that new structures were frequently built over top of older structures no longer being used and that old buildings were often remodeled and incorporated into new construction. Several potential astronomical alignments have been identified within the great kiva as well. Casa Rinconada is the largest excavated great kiva, and several small house sites can be found along this 1-mile (1.6 km) loop. The trail is gravel with several short, steep rises and steps, so assistance is recommended for people using wheelchairs.
Remains of three concentric circular masonry walls with the desert mesa and white clouds in the background.
Tri-wall structures are rare in Chacoan architecture.

NPS/Jamie Peters

Pueblo Del Arroyo

The great house of Pueblo del Arroyo was planned and constructed in two short phases, from approximately 1065 to 1150 CE. Though smaller than earlier great houses, the structure has many typical great house attributes. But unlike other great houses in the canyon, it was built away from cliff walls, in the open near the arroyo. Another unusual feature is the tri-wall structure. Very few of these tri-wall structures have been found in the Southwest – three of those are at Aztec Ruins National Monument. The one found at Pueblo del Arroyo is the only one known in Chaco Canyon. A walk around the 0.25 mile (0.4 km) Pueblo del Arroyo loop gives you a chance to contemplate life in a smaller, later great house.
A number of carved images of spirals, figures, and more on a sandstone wall
Many petroglyphs can be found within Chaco Culture NHP.

Russ Bodnar

Petroglyph Trail

Throughout Chaco Canyon, Ancestral Pueblo people, and later Navajo people, carved petroglyphs and painted pictographs on the sandstone walls of the canyon. A walk to Una Vida, a walk along the Petroglyph trail between Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl, or a hike on the Peñasco Blanco trail allows you to marvel at some of these ancient images.
Walls of a reconstructed round masonry kiva, with remains of ancient walls in the background.
Aztec Ruins National Monument

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It doesn't stop with just Chaco Canyon! Check out this page to learn about other ancestral Pueblo sites and how far the Chaco Phenomenon truly extended.

Last updated: December 9, 2023

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Nageezi, NM 87037


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