Chaco Culture National Historical Park

New Mexico is home to a wide range of historical sites that contain an invaluable treasure of knowledge about the Pueblo People who used to inhabit this area nearly a thousand years ago. These sites are quite well maintained and serve as great tourism spots too. You can visit them any time of the year you want and not only will you get a great amount of fun and entertainment there, you will also get a deeper and much more personal insight into what the lifestyle was like in this place a thousand years ago. While the spots that hold these ancient relics and remains are numbered in dozens, there is one particular spot that is considered to be home to the largest collection of these ruins and relics in the whole state. This place is the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The nation that inhabited this particular place was the Chacoans who stayed here between the year 900 AD and 1150 AD. These people were very advanced and there is clear evidence of their ability to track the movements of the sun and the stars. While they had built a great town here that had some very large structures, it had to be abandoned by the Chacoan people eventually as the climate of the area changed and the year 1130 AD brought with it a long drought. Today it is frequently visited by a large number of tourists and is one of the hottest spots in all of New Mexico’s tourism to find out more about this place, read on.


The earliest signs of life that were found here indicated that the first time ever that this place was inhabited was around 10,000 BC. The people from that time were hunter-gatherers and there are more than 70 different campsites where their remains have been found. The descendants of these people who remained in the Chaco Canyon and settled there were also known to be the very first Pueblo People. A specific underground structure known as “kiva” is what characterized these people. The modern world set its foot here for the first time in the year 1823, however, it was in 1901 that the first remains were spotted here and six years later, President Roosevelt issued an executive order that turned this area into a National Monument. The archeologists started looking for the remains in the year 1920 and there was a huge amount of discoveries made here. Tree-ring dating suggests a time span between 1033 and 1092 which is considered to be the peak of the civilization at that time. In 1959, the National Park Service opened a visitor center here for the park which provided valuable services for the throngs of visitors that had started visiting this place. There are a lot of activities here now and the whole place is very well managed.

The Sites

The Chaco Park consists of several unique regions that have been described below:

  • Central Canyon: This is the center of the overall canyon and in here you will find the biggest sets of remains. The buildings are all combined and with over 650 rooms covering an area of 2 acres, it is the biggest and most magnificent Great House of all. The height of this place is over four-stories and looking at it from a distance gives a very special feeling.
  • Pueblo Alto: Another Great House, this was a relatively smaller complex with a total of 89 rooms that housed around 10-20 families.
  • Great Kivas: Each Great House had one of these in them and all the inhabitants of the complex used to go there to perform their religious rituals. There was a room for around 400 people in these kivas.

What to do?

There is a lot to do here if you come with proper planning. If you are only coming for a day trip then visit the museum to see some of the everyday life things that have been excavated from this place. In addition to that you can also find a bookstore, a theatre and a gift shop at the visitor center. Camping ground have also been develop here by the National Park Service in case you want to have a more in-depth visit of the place.

Visiting the Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a wonderful opportunity to explore ancient culture of the Pueblo People and at the same time have a fun time trekking and enjoying the wonderful landscape that this place has. So find yourself a chance to visit this place as soon as possible.

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