Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

Sports

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

Ideal to take several days to explore vast historical area
Pueblo Bonito, an immense D-shaped great house, was the center of the Chacoan world. Cardinal directions are embedded in the architecture. It is located at the juncture of Chaco Wash and the South Gap.
The Pueblo Alto Loop Trail, shown in black, incorporates two Chacoan passageways. The Peñasco Blanco Trail, depicted in blue, passes by petroglyph panels along Chaco Wash before ascending to Peñasco Blanco.
Travel basics

Travel: From Durango, travel south on U.S. Highway 550 for 82 miles. Just south of mile marker 113, turn west on San Juan County Road 7900. Turn right onto County Road 7950, 5.1 miles from the highway. Pavement ends at 8.1 miles. The gravel road is wide and swift at first. Farther on, the road is vulnerable to deep ruts and may be impassible when wet. The road is paved upon entering the park at 21.2 miles. Four-wheel drive recommended but, when the road is dry, two-wheel drive with good clearance should suffice. Allow 2 hours, 15 minutes from Durango. There is no fuel available in the park.


Entrance Fee: $20 per vehicle or Interagency Annual Pass


Gallo Campground: $15 per night. There are 48 sites which may be reserved. Picnic table, fire ring, tent pad and restrooms with non-potable water. Drinking water is available at the visitor center.


Time: Spend the entire day or multiple days in the park.


Difficulty: Trails; navigation easy; no exposure; backcountry hikers must carry a permit, available at the trailhead; little or no shade; carry plenty of water.


Trail Guide: The informative Backcountry Trail Guide with maps is available at the visitor center.

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

Pueblo Bonito, an immense D-shaped great house, was the center of the Chacoan world. Cardinal directions are embedded in the architecture. It is located at the juncture of Chaco Wash and the South Gap.
The Pueblo Alto Loop Trail, shown in black, incorporates two Chacoan passageways. The Peñasco Blanco Trail, depicted in blue, passes by petroglyph panels along Chaco Wash before ascending to Peñasco Blanco.

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

Members of Durango’s Seniors Outdoors hiking club descend a Chacoan passageway to the valley floor on the Pueblo Alto Trail.

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

Seven corner doors in Pueblo Bonito serve as astronomical markers. Masonry techniques were unique for the time and evolved over the centuries.

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

Will Rietveld converses with another visitor in the plaza at Pueblo Bonito. Find the subtle intersect between the great house walls and the Cliff House Sandstone from which they were constructed.

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

A petroglyph panel with a supernatural being mask is on a wall 35 feet above Chaco Wash on the Peñasco Blanco Trail.

Chaco World Heritage: Two backcountry hikes visit ruins and rock art

The Supernova Panel is on the ceiling of a small overhang above Chaco Wash. The red pictographs depict a star, crescent moon and human hand.
Reader Comments
click here to add your event
Area Events
click here to add your event
Area Events