Mysterious, sublime, historical, ancient, stunning, beautiful, and captivating are only a few of the words that could be used to describe Chaco Culture National Historical Park. But to really get a feel for this must see destination, join one of our professionally guided walking tours and see for yourself.
Chaco Canyon, located in the Four Corners region of the U.S. – Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, will inspire and intrigue you, particularly if you’re interested in ancient cultures and how they lived.
Inhabited from about 850 AD to 1250 AD, Chaco is remarkable in many ways: the size of the “urban” area, the advanced techniques used in irrigation, architecture, astronomy and landscaping and in the items found that had been traded with other cultures as far away as South America.
One of the more interesting trade items discovered was evidence that chocolate was present as a part of life in everyday Chacoan culture. The chocolate drink they enjoyed presumably could only have come from a few parts of what is Mexico or Central America, roughly about 1200 miles away, a long walk. Large containers of pottery have been found, that when tested, all contained traces of chocolate. It’s known that people of the Mayan culture drank chocolate from ceramic vessels, much like the ceramic vessels found, primarily in one room, at Pueblo Bonito at Chaco. Sounds like the Chaco people had the right idea about how to enjoy the finest of desserts in the desert!
If you visit Chaco, you’ll notice that the area around Chaco is fairly unremarkable in terms of landforms or much vegetation of any kind. And you’ll notice that you don’t see evidence of much wildlife either. Of course, when Chaco was thriving 700 and more years ago, conditions could have been significantly different. What we do know is that Chaco was the center of significant trade, was highly advanced in the art of building, had an intricate irrigation system that can still be seen today, and had a highly sophisticated method for keeping track of the seasons. The people in Chaco were also interested in the people and the region around them and had a highly developed system of roads that connected them to over 150 other communities. It’s no wonder they were as successful as they were in communicating with a variety of other groups. Being able to trade with other groups, collect information and reach out to individuals of other societies also kept the gene pool in Chaco healthy.
When you visit Chaco Canyon, I highly recommend taking the Ranger guided walk. I did so with a friend on my recent scouting trip to Chaco and was highly pleased with the information and experience the Docent provided. While no additional sites are currently being excavated at Chaco, the amount of material and information already discovered is significant.
Please keep in mind that there are no real services at the visitor center beyond nice restrooms and a great bookstore at the Cultural Center. Bring your own food and water and be prepared to drive some distance to find overnight accommodations. Farmington, New Mexico, is a good sized town that offers a variety of lodging choices and some great local food.
(Walking The World offers small group walking tours to more than 30 destinations worldwide and focuses on those active adults over 50 years of age.)