The Best Hikes in Chaco Canyon HP National Park

184 Triplog Reviews in the Chaco Canyon HP National Park
Most recent of 38 deeper Triplog Reviews
1.6 mi • 138 ft aeg
After a ten-year hiatus, I returned to Chaco for the solstice again. I have a batch of friends up here, many archaeologists, who haven't been to Chaco and I figured it would be fun to show them stuff, even during this strange COVID time. Started out by hiking up the Fajada Overlook trail from the campground for sunset when we arrived on Friday.
8.7 mi • 840 ft aeg
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


6 mi • 646 ft aeg
second hike of the day and the best hike of the trip
took a break after penasco blanco
this one started at the same trailhead
down to kin kletso again (shown as yellow house on the haz map)
then up a narrow break in the rock - neat passageway
up high on the mesa now, the trail goes to an overlook for pueblo bonita
nice perspective on this large ruin
backtracking to where the loop splits, we went clockwise to hit both pueblo alto and new alto
both were impressive great houses
there is a section through grasslands on singletrack heading east but much of the trail is on slickrock :)
curving south, the jackson stairway comes into view
we decided we would not be interested in trying that :o
now entirely on slickrock, eventually heading back west
a few ups and downs and some fun little scrambles to negotiate
great views below, this time of chetro ketl ruin and of the entire chaco canyon to the south
closed the loop and dropped through the passageway
highly recommend this hike
it has everything but petroglyphs
nice to see that johnr1 had done this loop

7.49 mi • 487 ft aeg
john mentioned a visit to chaco canyon a few weeks ago
i'd never heard of it but sounded like there would be a lot to see
got to the visitor center around 1015 or so, driving from petrified forest
decided on doing the longest "backcountry" hike first, setting out around 1100
the trail starts down an old road, passing by kin kletso ruin
then a sandy singletrack leads to casa chiquita
we checked both of those out and soon came to the petroglyph trail, which parallels the main trail
lots of interesting stuff to see along here and fun to spot the glyphs
another mile of flat led to chaco wash, which we crossed and headed up to the famed supernova pictograph
an interesting ascent to the top of a mesa where penasco pueblo is located
explored this great house and took plenty of photos, which convey the scale of these ruins better than words
retraced our steps, but taking a more direct route across the wash
nice hike to a cool destination with plenty to see along the way


0 mi • 0 ft aeg
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.
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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.
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[ 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.
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[ gps route ]
1.91 mi • 0 ft aeg
Yes, this report is only 11 1/2 months late :stop: .
Salida Gulch Trail #95 - Bradshaw ...
Salida Gulch Trail #95 - Bradshaw Mountains - Prescott Arizona

Don't you just love it when a place you read about and pictures you see lives up to the hype. Well Chaco Culture National Historic Park sure lived up to its billing. It was a great way to end our excursion into New Mexico. We packed up from our Bisti Wildnerness campsite and drove to Chaco. I have pictures and video of some of our drive. It was a lovely day to see even more.

The dirt road was in great shape as we finally got near to the canyons of Chaco. We arrived at 10AM to Pueblo Bonito after making a quick stop at the VC. We picked up the pamphlet to have as we walked around the paths. The construction is impressive to say the very least. I took many pictures and lots of video so you can read more about it when flipping thru the pictures and/or taking the video tour. It was difficult getting thru the smaller doors that's for sure. And then standing inside of this magnificent structure was an incredible feeling.

After Bonito we walked over to Chetro Ketl which was pretty awesome to walk around as well. It's hard to imagine how daily life occurred so I did a little Rx on the web and could find some pictures that would depict how these places may have looked back in their day.

Next up was Casa Rinconado; actually the giant kiva :o . THAT was quite something. Once again, it's hard to visualize how it really looked so I included a link under my pictures to the Aztec Ruins where a kiva was renovated before they quit doing that sort of thing.

On the drive out we got to step out and take a look at some elk grazing below the road; a great way to end our Chaco experience. On the drive back to Arizona we stopped at the El Rancho Hotel... you know, the one you see signs for near Gallup. Well that was nice; altho we didn't spend much time.

Here are the videos that include movies and many more pictures than the ones posted here. If you haven't been to Chaco, I'd definitely put it on your list:
Bisti to Chaco Culture Park https://youtu.be/lC ... NGO4
Pueblo Bonito
https://youtu.be/ka ... CxQU
https://youtu.be/UE ... ND6U
https://youtu.be/ea ... geNg and Chetro Ketl
Chetro Ketl https://youtu.be/ep ... BoGQ
Chetro Ketl and Casa Rinconado https://youtu.be/ln ... 59Pk
Casa Rinconado, drive out and El Rancho https://youtu.be/SK ... 3cp4
11 mi • 4,400 ft aeg
Such a wonderful day, it is a treat to review it. Start up the historical Goat spring trail via the canyon was unique. The challenge and a bit of overcoming a fear factor was actually fun. On up to the Mesa Ridge was great. Made the decision to take the Mesa Ridge rather than the rim. I enjoyed it. On up to Hershberger Peak was such different terrain. I just love old stable trees. On around Fake Peak to the A Trail section toward Ortega Peak. Up on the peak a bit of wind kicked up. Down the trail for a relaxing ending to the day.

Also think we may have solved the world problems. It just all seems so simple on the top of a beautiful mountain. Too bad the rest of the world does not see it the same.
7.1 mi • 300 ft aeg
After driving the chickens to the four corners show, I had the day off on Saturday to hike. Previous visits to the four corners show met with less than ideal hiking weather but this year it was perfect so off I went. The approach road was dry but very wash boarded making the trip in and out less than enjoyable. The Chaco canyon more than made up for this, however with ts spectacular ruins and setting.

I opted for what is apparently the longest hike in the area and found it to also be one of the most informative. The loop starts with a class 3 scramble up from the base through a chimney that is completely hidden from casual viewing. From the top, you look down on several of he better sites and also have great views from the top of the entire area.

The Alto complex is fascinating as it starts with a big pile of rubble which must have been the first Kiva. Then there is a second area that has definite walls and rooms but is pretty well ruined. This area features the brick with little slivers used to line them up which is not particularly handsome or long lived. Finally there is the new alta with properly formed rocks that fit together with just mortar. Beautiful and it has lasted 1000 years of exposure to the weather. I am amazed that the builders could do such precise work with just stone tools.

From Alta the trail proceeds back to the top of the cliffs and provides amazing views of he Kivas from the top. I found this to be much more interesting than wandering at the level of he structurs.

The Chacan roads were a bit hard to find but the carved steps known as the Jackson stair was impressive. I crawled down to where I could see the first step and came away with huge respect for the folks that would climb that thing. I might rap it but now way I am going to free climb it. There has been a 1000 years of erosion, however, so perhaps in its original state it was a bit less intimidating.

Got back to the loop start with time so I wandered down the trail a mile or so and found another Kiva with accompanying ramp to the top. Amazing amount of dirt and rock that was moved to make this.

This complex is amazing in its engineering and construction. I am glad I got a chance to visit

And for those interested in the outcome of the trip, Suze got reserve feather leg which meant a lot to her. This means that one of her silkies was better than 80 feather legs of all types
11 mi • 750 ft aeg
Day 3

Pueblo Pintado
Chaco National Park
Fajada Butte
Hungo Pavi
Chetro Ketl
Petroglyph Trail
Pueblo Bonito
Pueblo Alto Loop
Kin Kletso
Pueblo Del Arroyo/ Wetherell grave site
Casa Rinconada
South Mesa Loop Tsin Kletzin site
Chacoan Stairway
Una Vida


Last minute decision to come to Chaco. It was very hot, but worth the hike. SPF 100, worked well. I did burn my lips badly. They where swollen the next morning, and now blistered.. Lesson learned....
Sorry, i tried to narrow the pictures down. There is a lot. I started with over 400.
0.75 mi • 50 ft aeg
Well, this was it....Casa Rinconada at Solstice...6:10 a.m., June 21.

I had traveled over 8 hours (2 extra) while enduring an ill-fated Google-map conundrum, PageRob's grotesque midnight snoring, and worse of all, the defection of my daughter to Randall's camp cooking.

Yet here I stood in amazement (along w/250 others) at the possibility that sunlight shining thorough a hole in a side wall and into an opposite wall's cubby could mean that ancient Anasazi had grasped the knowledge of astronomy. Do I think it's true?? If I may quote "GB"...."well sure, why not?"

It was a great trip with great memories and great peeps...

Chaco is wonderful, and I'm sure I'll be back....
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