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Una Vida, NM

Guide 10 Triplogs  1 Topic
  2.5 of 5 
13 10 1
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 Lasso-Loop 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 6,193 feet
Elevation Gain 70 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.35
Interest Ruins
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
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
40  2011-06-18
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Trails
13  2010-06-21 PaleoRob
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 216
Photos 5,948
Trips 1,080 map ( 2,419 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, May → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  4:55am - 7:31pm
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One of the most pristine ruins in Chaco Canyon.
by PaleoRob

Chaco Culture National Historic Park, in northwestern New Mexico, is well known for its profusion of prehistoric Anasazi sites. The easiest of these sites to visit is probably Una Vida, a Chacoan Great House located directly behind the Visitor's Center. From the parking lot the trail is about a mile round trip, and takes you through the Great House with the option to go up to some petroglyphs on the nearby cliff face. Before starting the hike, I highly recommend taking a stroll around the Visitor's Center and museum, and picking up a trail guide for Una Vida.

The majority of the trail is a straight and generally flat stretch from between the parking lot and the ruin. Una Vida is easily visible from the parking lot, a massive, towering structure with walls still visible to the west of the Visitor's Center. Una Vida means "One Life" in Spanish, and it is unclear exactly what this moniker is supposed to mean. It could be a Victorian reflection on the impermanence of life and civilizations. Or perhaps it had some other meaning. The Anglo expedition that first discovered the ruins of Chaco Canyon had Pueblo guides, and some of the names of the ruins were told to the Anglos by these guides. Some examples include Pueblo Bonito and Pueblo Pintado, also sometimes known as Pueblo de Los Ratones. Perhaps Una Vida comes from some ancient bit of Pueblo knowledge.

The trail wraps around the north side of the pueblo, basically following the main walls. On the east side, near the plaza, there are the remains of a Navajo sheep pen. After the abandonment by the Anasazi, and before the Spanish, this area was part of the Navajo heartland. It is also interesting in that it shows that the traditional thought that the Navajo are afraid of or shy away from Anasazi sites is not always true.

Una Vida is a great example of what most of the ruins were like before Richard Wetherill arrived. Una Vida has never been excavated or vandalaized, and its existing walls have only been lightly stabilized. While most large sandy mounds along the bottom of Chaco Canyon generally contain Anasazi ruins, almost none of those are open to the public.

The trail enters the pueblo on the west side, near the large remaining wall. This wall provides the only shade along the trail. The trail is somewhat uneven around the pueblo, as it traverses the rubble of the town.

From here you can backtrack to the trailhead, or head up to the cliff face along the trail. Strange figures, mountain lions, fictional creatures, and antelope dot the cliff face. After taking in the views of Chaco Canyon, Fajada Butte, and Una Vida, you can return to the Visitor's Center.

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2008-01-14 PaleoRob
    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.

    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, drive north on NM Route 605 until reaching NM Route 509. Turn left onto NM Route 509. Follow Route 509 north until reaching Navajo Route 9. Turn left onto Navajo Route 9. Proceed on Route 9 until reaching NM Route 57. All of these turns are marked with signs for Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

    WARNING! NM Route 57 is a very poor road, with bad washboards, washouts, and chug-holes when it is dry. It is impassable to anything by 4x4 vehicles when wet, and sometimes even not then. Travel at your own risk. Passenger cars can and do make the drive regularly when the weather is good, but be prepared to turn around or get stuck if you attempt to drive to the park in wet weather.

    Once Route 57 reaches the park boundary, it becomes paved. Proceed to the visitor center and pay the fee. The trail starts from the parking lot for the Visitor's Center.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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