Feel like something is watching?
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.
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.