Ever since this trip, I’ve been asking myself, “how in the heck have I never been to Chaco Canyon before?” I mean, I literally grew up just a few hours away and would pass the turn-off on so many trips from Albuquerque to Durango. This trip was special for so many reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason was because I was able to share my first visit to Chaco with one of my best friends, Mike. We didn’t spend nearly enough time exploring, but that only gives me reason to return sometime soon.
The canyon is not the easiest to get to, miles and miles of washboard road, and the weather can be brutal, both hot and cold. But it is worth the effort, in my opinion.
Chaco is made up of a complex of more than 150 Great Houses, Casa Bonita is the largest and most well know. The first dated evidence of human occupation of Chaco Canyon comes from an archaeological site protected by a cliff overhang. This sheltered area protected fragile materials that were able to be dated to the 900’s BC. The peak of the region was between 850 and 1150. The site is remarkable for its monumental buildings, distinctive architecture, astronomy, artistic achievements, and it served as a hub of ceremony, trade, and administration for the Four Corners Area.
The following photographs were taken at Casa Bonita, from sunset until dark. The moon helped to light the scene, and the entire three hours we wandered around Great House, we were the only people there, making this night a truly spiritual experience.