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Casamero Ruins, NM

no permit
30 2 1
Guide 2 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Northwest
2 of 5 by 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 0.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,885 feet
Elevation Gain 20 feet
Accumulated Gain 40 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 0.5
Interest Ruins
Backpack TBD
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
12  2012-06-26 Stoic
18  2010-06-21 PaleoRob
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   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:57am - 6:15pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Culture Nearby
Feel like something is watching?
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Casamero Pueblo is one of the dozens of Chacoan "outliers" that are scattered across the southwest. Casamero, while much smaller than its famous relatives in Chaco Canyon, exhibits all the features that Chacoan Great Houses have. The trail winds through the excavated and stabilized portion of the ruin (most of the rooms), but does not go south towards an apparent Great Kiva a hundred yards to the south of the main building. The ruin sits at the base of the photogenic Ojos Tecolote (Eyes of the Owl) Mesa.

Warning: While this hike is short, there is no water available. It is also located near an active rail line and power plant. Use appropriate caution while in the area.

History: The Casamero site was occupied by Anasazi people between 1000 and 1100 AD. While the site itself is considered a Chacoan outlier, it is unknown exactly what influence the people living in Chaco Canyon had upon smaller outliers such as Casamero. Were the outliers actual outposts of a homogeneous culture emanating from Chaco? Were they aware of Chaco and merely trying to imitate it? The questions become harder to answer the further away from the core of Chaco one gets. Some outliers, such as Pueblo Pintado, are clearly related to what was going on in Chaco Canyon proper. Others, such as Escalante up in Colorado, or the outliers that lay in Arizona, or Edge of the Cedars, present a less clear picture. Considering our evolving view of the complexity of the society centered around Chaco Canyon, the less likely it seems that the outliers are in fact isolated instances of local populations trying to imitate the biggest power in the region. Casamero lays some 60 miles south-southwest of Chaco Canyon, on the other side of the continental divide. Despite this, it is likely that it retained ties with the canyon. There are numerous other Great Houses in the valley, and well-associated Great Houses such as Kin Ya'a lay just over Borrego Pass to the north. Casamero was partially excavated in 1965, and the remaining walls were stabilized in 1976. The trail winds through the excavated and stabilized portion of the ruin (most of the rooms), but does not go south towards an apparent Great Kiva a hundred yards to the south of the main building.

Hike: The hike starts from the signed parking area. From there you pass through a hiker's maze and then up a straight path to a trail register (as of June 2010, there was nothing inside the register - not even paper. Considering the dates written in pencil on the register lid, this has been the case for several years.) the trail makes a sharp turn, brings you up over the plaza front wall, and to a sign that explains the basics of Casamero, along with an artist's reconstruction of what Casamero looked like when occupied. The trail then heads up into the ruin itself. There are several signs that explain various features of the ruin, and no particular order that they need to be examined in. After looking at the rooms and reading the signs, I recommend walking down the back wall of the Great House - the wall casts no shadow at noon on the solstice. The looming alcoves on the east face of Ojos Tecolote do really resemble a set of giant owl eyes. If you are adventuresome, you can head south to the large depression with a pole sticking out of it - this appears to be the remains of a Great Kiva, based on location, size, and exposed masonry on the south wall.

All through the hike you will hear the whine of the Escalante Generating Station, just behind the ridge, as it is producing electricity. A few times a day a train will bring coal in from the coal mine to the northeast, so you may hear that lonesome whistle blow. Except for a few vehicles using County Road 19, the site is quiet. Enjoy your time at Casamero - you will probably be the only visitor that day.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2010-06-22 PaleoRob
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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 Review
Casamero Ruins
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My wheels finally hit the pavement on Route 9, and I still didn't know my plan. Casamero was further south, Kin Bineola was to the west. I wanted to do both, but it was a question of how best to reach them and get home. Via Shiprock and Kayenta, or via I-40 and Hopi? I turned right and began my drive towards Crownpoint, but quickly doubled back. Sometime made me change my mind. I began rolling east, towards Whitehorse. The road was bumpy, with lots of dips, but it was paved so it was still an improvement over the unpaved and rocky Route 57. I reached Whitehorse in short order, and made the right onto Route 509. Enormous plumes of smoke reached into the sky to the south. I knew, from Randy, that a large section of forest near Flagstaff was on fire. I wondered if there was a big brush fire on the plains south of Whitehorse. Certainly there were no trees to burn. 509 angled right towards the plumes, and they were growing larger and larger. It was curious, however, since they didn't seem to drift. They were just black columns rising into the sky. I finally came around the corner and the horrible truth dawned on me - these were no fires. Sometime since my last drive down Route 509 two enormous strip mines had opened up to pull coal out of the ground. The smaller of the two was located on the east side of the road, while a massive loading complex was on the west side. Three conveyor belt systems were loading or piling coal high, and it was these three that created the towering column of coal dust. The miners were also hard at work creating a bypass over Route 509 that would allow the heavy haulage trucks to pass over the road while not damaging it. I had to take a detour, and while I waited to get flagged through and enormous truck with a gas tank the size of my cab and tires as tall as my truck roared by, hauling an enormous trailer (not a dump-truck) full of coal. It was an incredible sight.
After it passed I was waved through and was soon proceeding back down 509 at a high rate of speed. I passed the former Uranium mill at Ambrosia Lake, now mostly being reclaimed though the radiation warnings still dot the fences, and made a right at the t-junction of 509 and 605. I wasn't on 605 for long, though. I had decided to take some back roads, so a couple miles after the turnoff, I turned again - this time on the dirt Haystack Road.
The drive on the Haystack Road from 605 to Prewitt is beautiful. There are sculpted buttes, spires, and mesas galore. The road crosses a one-lane bridge on its way to iconic Haystack Mountain and then drops into the flats along I-40, passing several Chacoan outliers (more on those for another trip). The drive from Prewitt north past the Escalante Generating Station to the Casamero parking lot is not remarkable, however, save for one thing: the lack of powerlines coming from EGS. An anomaly.
I pulled into the parking area and snapped a couple pictures of the signs. The hike towards the ruin is arresting, with the bold red cliff of Ojos Tecolote Mesa and its eye-shaped alcoves dominating the skyline. Considering the Chacoan propensity for orienting buildings near striking natural features (or even enhancing them), this effect was no doubt intentional and was likely even more impressive when Casamero was occupied. I could only be amazed by what was left. The Great House wasn't very large, even in its heyday, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. Built on an elevated mound with a possible plaza-enclosing wall, Casamero would have stood 2 stories tall in the 1000's, with fine limestone and sandstone masonry. I arrived near noon and noticed that the rear (cliff facing) wall cast almost no shadow. I wandered through the ruin for a little while, pondering what it must have been like at Casamero. Did these Casameroenos know about Chaco, but were just imitating the style? Were they sent out by the "powers" at Chaco to settle above the river valley below? I walked through the rabbitbrush and sage to a large depression to the south. I'd guess it was a Great Kiva - there was exposed masonry on the southern edge of the depression. I had to hit the road. I'd already been to Casa Rinconada, Una Vida, and seen a half dozen other ruins. Now Casamero. Next stop - Kin Bineola, 60 miles back to the north...
Next - Kin Bineola:

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Albuquerque, drive west on Interstate 40. Pass the town of Grants, but exit at Prewitt. Turn right on the main street and then turn left on County Road 19. This road is signed for Escalante Generating Station and the paper mill. Follow the road for approximately 2 miles from the frontage road. There will be a gravel parking lot, just past the train tracks, with space for about 3 cars and a BLM sign announcing you have arrived at Casamero Ruins.
page created by PaleoRob on Jun 22 2010 10:07 pm
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