Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a collection of almost a dozen ancestral Puebloan great houses and kivas, which are extensive architectural feats, unique to the area, dating back to around 800 A.D.

Attractions

Chaco Culture National Historical Park offers the densest concentration of pueblo structures in the southwest.

  • Pueblo Bonito, located in the park’s central canyon: This is the most well-known and studied great house

  • Visitors can view the unique architecture, using stone and timber that was acquired many miles away

  • Pictographs/rock art located throughout the park

  • Dark night sky - officially named as one of the world’s few Dark Sky Parks, where stars and planets are most visible, even to the naked eye.

  • Several trails and loops where hikers can trek to see the countryside and reach less-visited pueblos

Location

Chaco Culture National Historic Park is located in northwestern New Mexico, between Farmington and Albuquerque.

History

Chaco Canyon was the center of the ancestral Puebloan culture, and was built starting in the 800s. It holds unique and intricate architecture, with a likeness that isn’t seen anywhere else in the southwest. Many of these great houses and other structures were often oriented to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions, and also depicted astronomical markers. Scholars believe the great houses were used for ceremonial and commerce purposes, rather than living. Chaco Canyon remained central to trading and ceremonial Puebloan life until the 1100-1200s, when cultural focus shifted to the nearby Mesa Verde and other locations.