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Petroglyph Trail, NM

13 13 2
Guide 13 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Northwest
3.1 of 5 by 7
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 0.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,130 feet
Elevation Gain 20 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 0.32
Interest Ruins
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
30  2018-05-21
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails
30  2018-05-21
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails
138  2012-06-28
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails
4  2011-06-20 squatpuke
12  2011-06-19
Kin Bineola
40  2011-06-18
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails
9  2008-06-21 PaleoRob
22  2008-06-21
Chetro Ketl
Page 1,  2
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, May → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:00am - 6:09pm
0 Alternative
Neat petroglyphs in Chaco Canyon
by PaleoRob

Chaco Canyon is an amazing place in northern New Mexico where the ancient pueblo culture of the area, the Chaco Branch of the Anasazi, comes to life. Today's modern New Mexico Pueblos, like Acoma, Zuni, and the Rio Grande Pueblos, as well as the Hopi, are all descended from the Anasazi who roamed across the southwest hundreds of years ago.

The Petroglyph Trail starts just past the trail marker number 2 on the Pueblo Bonito Trail. You can take a trail guide from the parking lot for Pueblo Bonito/Cherto Ketl, and I recommend doing so. It contains lots of good information about the inscriptions on the cliff face, with numbered signs to point out items of interest.

The trail follows the cliff face between the Chacoan great houses of Pueblo Bonito and Cherto Ketl. Along the cliff there are various types of petroglyphs. Close to the Bonito side of things, there are some inscriptions from the early Anglo explorers to Chaco Canyon. What may be considered rude graffiti today was simply part of documenting a site in the late 1800's, when not very much was known about prehistoric sites.

To the south of the trail between Bonito and Cherto Ketl lays a series of low stone and rubble covered hills. They may not look like much today, but around 1100, this section of Chaco Canyon was under construction. This area was being prepared as a foundation for a large structure that would have connected Pueblo Bonito with Cherto Ketl - imagine the size of the resulting building! For reasons unknown to us today, building this was never finished, even though people lived in Chaco for some time after.

Keep your eyes moving across the cliff. There are 'glyphs both up high and down low. Some of the higher 'glyphs probably required ladders, or standing on roofs that no longer exist. There are still some beam holes along the wall that mark where the heavy roof beams would have anchored into the cliff.

Petroglyphs and pictographs are hard to decipher, even with the aid of modern science and the input of living Native Americans, related to the Anasazi. At stop 9, a Zuni kachina figure can be seen, faintly painted on the wall. We know it is a kachina from Zuni, because we know that Zuni tribesmen worked on the excavation of Bonito in the 1920's, and some were known to be artists. What some of the more esoteric figures mean, we can only guess.

The trail eventually ends at Cherto Ketl, another of the core Chacoan Great Houses. Hiking along the path through Cherto Ketl is also informative and fun, as it contains several features not found at Bonito or any other core Chaco buildings. Either continue back to the car from Cherto Ketl, or take the hike around Cherto Ketl before returning to the cars.

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2007-12-21 PaleoRob

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Petroglyph Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    john and i had a reservation at gallo campground
    before setting up camp sunday night, we did the short hike to una vida ruin and checked out the petroglyphs above
    the next morning we packed up (after coffee :) ) and hiked along the canyon walls in the campground looking for and finding plenty of petroglyphs
    went right onto the wijiji trail from camp, following an old road east to the ruins
    hiked further east to see petroglyphs and pictographs
    returned to the campground and drove over to the wetherell cemetery, then followed the petroglyph trail over to pueblo bonita and chetro ketl
    both great houses were amazing and well worth spending a little time there
    hit the road after that
    quick trip, but i think we packed in as much as we could
    there are a few more things to see and a couple of hikes to do in both chaco canyon and petrified forest
    thanks for thinking of this, john
    it was a great trip

    Petroglyph Trail
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    Spring Break 2016
    I had one day to come up with a plan and sell it to my wife who was on break this week.

    We drove up to Petrified Forest National Park and walked a loop over some of the Flattops. The route was inspired by an old (but typically elegant) post by Belladonna Took. We saw a few petroglyphs and on one of the mesa tops we saw plenty of evidence of habitation (metates and pottery pieces). No ruins though...I guess pit houses don't have stone walls and maybe the archaeologists cleaned up after their excavations. Nice walking out there, great time of year too (cool and uncrowded). We spent the night in Gallup.
    [ photoset ]

    Next day was Chaco Canyon. We'd not been there before and I tried to assimilate as much of the detailed info on HAZ and elsewhere in making the plan. Best I could come up with was start at outlier ruin Kin Bineola then head to "downtown" Chaco. Navigating the roads is every bit as hard as the reports say. We traveled with little confidence and were surprised when we saw the Kin Bineola sign. Unfortunately the sign said "closed". The road was washed out and Chaco Rangers later told us a dam broke two years ago and it's not clear if or when Kin Bineola will reopen.

    We looped north through Nageezi and arrived at Chaco Canyon National Historical Park about 3.5hrs after leaving Gallup....slow start. Nice visitor center and we decided to use our time by walking the Penasco Blanco Trail which passes the famous super nova pictograph and reaches an "unrestored" ruin on a mesa above Chaco Canyon. It also parallels (~200' apart) the Petroglyph Trail which is an offshoot nearer the rock wall; so we walked that trail on the way up and looked at a lot of petroglyphs. Unfortunately the soft rock also has a lot of modern vandalism.
    The ruin was great, no one there!, and nice temperatures. The trail is a little bit sandy. Spent the night in Farmington.
    [ photoset ]
    [ gps route ]

    Next day we headed down to the "Bisti Badlands". Again HAZ info and a conversation with Tibber helped cement this plan. There are no trails but it seems everyone loads the same waypoints so you can see tracks most of the way. We really enjoyed this place. Not so different from Petrified Forest country but a bit more spectacular. Very nice walking on hard flat ground. We saw only 3 other people out there. Headed home in time for dinner with our daughter.
    [ photoset ]
    [ gps route ]
    Petroglyph Trail
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    Chaco/Bisti Wilderness Experience 2011

    Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails =>
    Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness =>

    4 Days, 3 Nights - bliss!
    313 images later (178 on Rebel XT, 135 on 7D)

    Saturday June 18, 2011
    -on the road from Mike Mattes' Chandler residence @ 7am
    -Phoenix to Payson to Heber to Holbrook to Thoreau to Crown Point to Chaco via south entrance
    -somehow arrive at Gallo Campground first, get sites 48 and 49 in the "tents-only" alcove. Campground less than half full at 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon. Estimate about 80% full come the end of the day.
    -Trish (aka Trishness) and Tracy (aka Paintninaz) arrive and get site 40 since only 2 tents per site are allowed...
    -Larry the Lost (aka squatpuke) arrives with daughter Rebecca (aka ???)
    -time for our first trek, Chaco Canyon Overlook Trail that starts at the Gallo Campground entrance =>
    -whip up BBQ chicken drumsticks with corn-on-the-cob and S'mores to feed the masses. Rebecca wins the best comment; "Hey Dad, this is way better than some granola bars for dinner".
    -Rob (aka PageRob) arrives at sundown
    -too many choice beers to be "slumming it" with a Caguama
    -Camp fire discussion eventually (inevitably?) gets around to "MAN CORN" => viewtopic.php?t=5356

    Sunday June 19, 2011
    -Chef Mike starts the day with our traditional Prickly Pear Vodka & Orange Juice before cooking the bacon and eggs over-easy.
    -7 HAZ'ers pile into Rob's Explorer and Mike's Jeep for backcountry ride to our first Chacoan Outlier, Kin Klizhin =>
    -carry on through the backcountry to the "sand trap" area => that became a turnaround point for us last year.
    -"sand trap", "smand trap"! No problem for Mike's 4WD Jeep and Rob's 4WD Explorer as we push through to Lake Valley Chapter House and up NM371 to CR7297 (turn off near mile marker 70 on NM371) and the Bisti Wilderness trail head
    -I'm very surprised to see multiple vehicles at the TH. This is my 3rd trek into the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness and the first time I've ever seen another human!
    -equipped with some Bisti tips from Letty and Laurent Martres' handbook "Photographing the Southwest", we start to walk up the South Hunter Wash noting the barbed wire fence on the north side
    -when the barbed wire fence bends 90 degrees to the north, we angle ourselves in a northeast direction towards some fanciful coloured formations and into an area noted as "Stone Wings" on the Bisti Wilderness map
    -we eventually make our way into the North Hunter Wash before finding a promising looking canyon with some shady walls to sit and have a lunch snack
    -we continue our lasso loop back to the 90 degree bend in the barbed wire fence
    -noting the crew is looking a little "spent", the "Cracked Eggs" area recommended by Letty will have to wait for a future adventure
    -we head south along NM371 and the turnoff for Lake Valley Chapter House.
    -a couple of miles south lies the turnoff for Kin Bineola =>
    -by far my favorite Chacoan Greathouse Ruin and Chacoan Outlier!
    -exploration of 3 southerly middens yields 6 inch pottery sherds and multiple handles
    -a green collared lizard amuses us as it tries to protect it's midden territory
    -after thorough exploration, on to Crown Point to pick up some ice and supplies
    -back in cell phone coverage, some "Happy Father's Day" texts trickle in
    -take advantage of the coverage to give my Dad a call
    -a little south and east of Crown Point lies Kin Ya'a =>
    -this is a lesser appreciated outlier, but still worthy of exploration for it's ample middens and Chacoan roads
    -evening menu featuring BBQ steak, mushrooms, onions, sweet gherkin pickles, French bread, and our camp fire standby dessert, S'mores!
    -wind kicks up even more followed by a rain storm forcing us to retreat to our tents (or vehicles for some) to call it a night.

    Monday June 20, 2011
    -Chef Mike starts the day again with our traditional Prickly Pear Vodka & Orange Juice before cooking up his famous chocolate chip pancakes.
    -Trish and Tracy plan to trek the Penasco Blanco Trail to see the "Supernova" Pictograph =>
    -for the remaining HAZ 5, our goal is the last remaining unexplored park trail, Pueblo Alto Loop =>
    -through "the crack" and onto the mesa overlooks of Kin Kletso, Pueblo Bonito, and Chetro Ketl
    -next up is the Jackson Staircase and the Chacoan Road that heads toward Escavada Wash => ... -roads.htm
    -Pueblo Alto and New Alto ruins explored
    -back at the TH, the first Cag's are consumed (remember that taste is proportional to thirst and we were VERY thirsty)
    -mandatory exploration of "downtown Chaco"
    -Pueblo del Arroyo =>
    -Pueblo Bonito =>
    -Petroglyph Trail =>
    -Chetro Ketl =>
    -interesting reverse drive by Rob to collect Larry, Rebecca, and Mike at the Pueblo Bonito parking lot
    -back to the Gallo Campground for some R&R before tackling Wijiji Trail at sunset
    -explore the Gallo Campground vandalized petroglyph panels =>
    -evening Ranger Program with Park Rangers Joe Fleming and G.B. Cornicopia
    -the Gallo Campground is filled, but the Park Rangers indicate that they are not turning anybody away
    -I notice about 5 tents populating the area around the Campground Host Site
    -evening meal featuring Rob's burritos and appetizers by Trish and Tracy

    Tuesday June 21, 2011
    -Solstice Day in Chaco
    -Trish wakes me up ~4am (yikes!)
    -Waiting at the Gallo Campground Host Site for shuttle van pick-up 4:45am (yikes again!)
    -Arrive at Casa Rinconada about 5:15am =>
    -We wait for the Laguna Pueblo tribe members to finish morning prayers at the Casa Rinconada before the masses are permitted to trek up to the site
    -I'm stunned by the "cluelessness" of many of the visitors as they feel compelled to walk in front of the solstice alignment window and interupt the image being photographed and videoed by others
    -I'll estimate the solstice observers to be about 3x the previous years' number
    -a little "glitch" waiting for the promised shuttles back to Gallo Campground
    -once back at the camp, Chef Mike has jumbo breakfast sausages and waffles ready for consumption
    -break camp, say our good-byes and we hit the road
    -side trip to El Morro =>

    Photos to be posted when I get a chance...
    Petroglyph Trail
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Chaco Canyon - New Mexico

    This was a pilgrimage of sorts to the acknowledged center of Southwestern Puebloan society. I can't really explain my general fascination with ruins, but the enigmatic mystery certainly is a major component. There's probably no better place to further fuel this fascination than Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

    Lynn, Tobyn, and I decided to spend an extended July 4th weekend in New Mexico leaving Sarah at home to look after the dogs (besides, she also had to work). The plan was to make base camp at the Holiday Inn in Farmington NM and get an early morning start (ie. 5:00 am) each day. This ensured our accommodations since camping at the Gallo Campground within Chaco Canyon is severely limited.

    Waking up before sunrise (New Mexico is on daylight savings time) we headed 11 miles east along Hwy 64 to Bloomfield NM and the junction with Hwy 550. Interesting that we passed the Salmon Ruins site (see ) and Aztec Ruins site (see ) on route to Chaco Canyon. Take Hwy 550 south from Bloomfield 39 miles to CR7900. Continue south along this paved county road for about 5 miles until you reach the signed junction with CR7950. Heading in a westerly direction, turn onto CR7950. This county road is paved for the first couple of miles, but soon turns into a bone-jarring, rutted, dirt path that may be impassible in wet weather. Traveling about 15 miles along CR7950, you cross the boundary into the Chaco Culture National Historic Park. We covered the 70 miles to Chaco from our Farmington NM hotel in about 1 1/2 hours.

    The roads within the Historic Park are paved! Fajada Butte (famous for its' Sun Dagger Site) appears on the horizon within the canyon. We made our way to the visitor center. Although the park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, the visitor center hours are only 8 am to 5 pm. With the time now only 7:00 am, we decided to check some of the close-by ruins, Una Vida and Hungo Pavi.

    Having our annual NPS pass, we decided to display this on the dashboard and move on to the truly massive and mysterious Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl ruins. The 0.25 mile long Petroglyph Trail connects the two Chacoan "great houses". The site is beyond words, so I won't even make an attempt to describe it here.

    Having completed a couple of hours at the two "great houses", we headed to the next "MUST DO" trail, the Pueblo Alto backcountry trail that includes overlooks of Kin Kletso, Pueblo Bonito, and Chetro Ketl. A 200 ft scramble up a "crack-in-rock" trail is required to get to the lookout vistas. Tobyn and Lynn hung back as I made the way along the ledge top trail.

    We moved on to the Penasco Blanco backcountry trail. We decided to stop at the initial petroglyph panels just beyond Casa Chiquita. The Casa Chiquita site is unexcavated, allowing one to ponder how the ruins looked 100 years ago before any restoration work was initiated.

    Having completed the 2 backcountry trails, it was time to have a snack and beverage back at the air-conditioned truck. While Lynn and Tobyn relaxed, I sprinted around the Pueblo del Arroyo site.

    We then moved on to the Casa Rinconada Community that includes the largest known kiva in Chaco Canyon. It was a strange coincidence that we ran into Mike & Sandy Mattes at this site. I knew Mike was off to visit Zion, Bryce and Mesa Verde this week. It turned out that Chaco was a spur of the moment decision since it was (sort of) on the way back to Phoenix from Mesa Verde. After completing the loop trail, we decided to head back to the Visitor Center.

    The Visitor Center is rated highly by me containing a wonderful selection of artifacts uncovered during many of the archaeological digs. The collection of "evidence bags" made a compelling statement about the stupidity of many of the "Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979" violators.

    Trail Summary:

    1. Una Vida & Petroglyph Loop Trail is 1.0 miles long. My rating = 2, FAIR
    2. Hungo Pavi Loop Trail is 0.25 miles long. My rating = 4, ABOVE AVERAGE
    3. Chetro Ketl Loop Trail is 0.5 miles long. My rating = 5, OUTSTANDING
    4. Chetro Ketl to Pueblo Bonito Petroglyph Trail is 0.25 miles long. My rating = 3, SOLID CONTENDER
    Reference ... -trail.htm
    5. Pueblo Bonito Loop Trail is 0.5 miles long. My rating = 5, OUTSTANDING
    6. Pueblo del Arroyo Loop Trail is 0.25 miles long. My rating = 3, SOLID CONTENDER
    Reference ... arroyo.htm
    7. Casa Rinconada Community Loop Trail is 0.5 miles long. My rating = 3, SOLID CONTENDER
    Reference ... conada.htm
    8. Chacoan Staircase Lookout is 0.1 miles long. My rating = 2, FAIR

    Backcountry Trail Summary:
    NOTE: Hiking permits are required for these trails. They are free and available at the Trail Head and Visitor Center. Trails are open sunrise to sunset.
    1a. Pueblo Alto Loop Trail is 5.1 miles long. My rating = 5, OUTSTANDING
    1b. Pueblo Bonito Overlook is 2.0 miles long roundtrip. My rating = 5, OUTSTANDING
    1c. Kin Kletso Trail is 0.5 miles long roundtrip. My rating = 4, ABOVE AVERAGE
    2a. Penasco Blanco Trail is 7.2 miles long roundtrip. My rating = TBD
    2b. Casa Chiquita & Petroglyph Trail is 4.0 miles long roundtrip. My rating = 4, ABOVE AVERAGE
    3a. South Mesa Loop Trail is 3.6 miles long. My rating = TBD
    3b. Tsin Kletzin is 2.6 miles long roundtrip. My rating = TBD
    4. Wijiji Trail is 3.0 miles long roundtrip. My rating = 3, SOLID CONTENDER

    See links for more info: for background cultural history ... 4#e_144965 for historical photographs (4-pages)

    Talking with one of the Rangers, late September and October are considered the "best times" to visit. The area has finished with Monsoon rains and heat and its fall season before the winter snows. Maybe consider a return visit to eliminate any "TBD's" from the trail ratings. I also hear the backcountry trails and the pottery sherd dump at Angel Peak Badlands at the end of the 30 mile Chacoan Road north from Pueblo Alto calling me. I'll also have to include the Salmon Ruins and Aztec Ruins sites...

    Permit $$

    Chaco Canyon HP National Park
    $8 per vehicle good for 7 days Entrance Fee

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Grants, NM, take NM Route 605 north. Turn left onto NM Route 509, and continue north, until reaching Navajo Route 9. Turn left on Route 9 until you reach NM Route 57. Turn right. All turns are clearly marked for Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

    WARNING! NM Route 57 is dirt and poorly maintained. It is passable to cars in dry weather, but is badly washboarded, washed out, and chug-holed. During wet weather, it may not be passable even to high-clearance 4x4 vehicles. Driving this road in wet weather is at your own risk - be prepared to turn around or be stuck if you chose to.

    Once reaching the park, Route 57 turns to a nice paved road. Go to the visitor center and pay the fee. Then drive down the 1-way loop road to the Pueblo Bonito parking lot, and start your hike there!
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