Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vacation Photos--Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon

There is a very special place in the middle of nowhere called Chaco Culture National Historic Park.  It's in northwestern New Mexico.  It's about 40 miles south of Bloomfield, New Mexico.  Getting there is a bit of an adventure in itself.  When you turn off the highway to head to Chaco Canyon, you still have a paved road for a few miles.

Then the pavement ends and your trip slows considerably.  It's not that the road is narrow or winding.

It's not.  Its just that it's rough.

Think washboard. 

For thirteen miles. 

With an occasional pothole thrown in to make sure you're really watching.  Add a cow and a few sheep just for an audience and another potential hazard.  I was driving--with both hands firmly on the wheel--so no pictures of this part of the trip. 

But once you get there, what a magical place.

The above photograph shows Fajada Butte, a prominent feature in Chaco Canyon. 
Fajada Butte is closed to the public to protect it, but it has the Sun Dagger marker that is believed to align with celestial occurences.

From 850 to 1250, Chaco Canyon was a center of activity for the ancient Chacoan people all over the southwestern United State's Four Corners region.  They had a road system and this "community" of great houses.  Pre-planned architecture, astronomical alignments, agriculture, and engineering were all elements of this ancient culture.  All of this before the Iron Age!  No metal.  No paper.  No compass!

We arrived in August 2010 just in time (and by pure luck) to join in the full moon presentation at the monumental complex of ruins called Pueblo Bonito.  We went early enough to tour part of Pueblo Bonito on our own before we joined the tour with the ranger, who really LOVES astronomy and Chacoan culture. 

Please enjoy this photo essay of the rest of our first day (and night) in Chaco Canyon.  The ranger initiated us into the culture and deemed us Chacoans.  After that visit, we're honored. 

What an amazing place . . .

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I showed your photos to Phil and he wants to go. He said he's always wanted to go. We'll go when its warmer, though.


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