Chaco Culture

National Historical Park

Overview | Map/Climate | Description | Activities | Lodging | Nearby

Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America's richest and most facinating cultural and historic areas. In Chaco Canyon, a desert valley in northwestern New Mexico, between the early AD 800s and the late 1200s, the Anasazi created a civilization whose architecture, social organization and community life reflected a high degree of sophistication. Large multi-story stone villages and an impressive 400-mile road system exemplify their engineering and construction talents.



A central settlement, Chaco, was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture connected with approximately 75 outlaying communities. It was a hub of ceremony, trade, and government for the prehistoric Four Corners area -- and a phenomenon unlike anything before or since.

It is thought that these agrarian people may have developed this political and economic center to manage and distribute the food supply that varied, due to the vagaries of wet and dry growing seasons. These Anasazi constructed their pueblos with large oversized rooms and also developed a masonry technique that allowed them to build more than 4 stories high. Several of the resulting complexes contained hundreds of rooms and dozens of kivas.

A prolonged drought between the 1130s and 1180s may have contributed to the disintegration of Chaco. The Chacoan cultural sites are fragile and irreplaceable and represent a significant part of America's cultural heritage. The sites are part of the sacred homeland of Pueblo Indian peoples of New Mexico, the Hopi Indians of Arizona, and the Navajo Indians of the Southwest, all of whom continue to respect and honor them.

Pueblo Alto Complex Trail

General Information

Rates & Fees

  • Entrance fee: is $8 per vehicle or $4 per person.
  • Camping fee: $15 per site, per night.

Seasons / Hours

The Visitor Center is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day, and the rest of the year 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Sites and trails are open from sunrise to sunset.

Visitor Center

The Visitor Center includes a museum, information desk, book store, gift shop and restrooms. Drinking water is available 24 hours a day in the Visitor Center parking area. Pay telephones are located just outside the Visitor Center.


Facilities include restrooms, public telephones and drinking water. The book store is operated by the Southwest Parks & Monuments Association for the benefit of the Park.

Programs & Events
Guided tours and campfire talks in summer, exhibits, walking tours, picnicking and day hiking.

From the paved loop road, 5 self-guiding trails lead visitors through the major Chacoan sites. Walking time for each is about an hour. There are 4 backcountry hikes as well. Inquire at the Visitor Center. Sites and trails are open from sunrise to sunset. The Wijiji and Kin Klizhin trails may be used for Biking.

No lodging, gasoline, repair services or food are available in the park. To the northeast, the nearest services and amenities are located on State Highway 44 at the Thriftway convenience store. The campground has water (non-potable) and restrooms with flush toilets. There are no showers.

An access guide is available at the Visitor Center. There is one accessible camp site and accessible restrooms in the campground and at the sites. Some trails are accessible with assistance.

Rules, Regulations, Precautions

  • Permits are required for backcountry hiking trails. The permits are available at the Visitor Center or from a Ranger.
  • No overnight backpacking is allowed. Trailers longer than 30 feet are not permitted in the campground.
  • Carry plenty of water -- one gallon per day per person -- and drink it!
  • Stay on the designated gravel trails.
  • Do not walk, climb, stand, sit, or lean on the walls.
  • Do not deface, add to, or alter the rock art.
  • Do not collect pottery or other artifacts anywhere in the park.
  • Children should remain with the guardian responsible for their safety.
  • No pets arde allowed in the ruins.
  • Do not climb on the walls of the sites, which are weak and dangerous. No collecting of artifacts, plants, or minerals.

Chaco Canyon National Historical Park
P.O. Box 220
Nageezi, NM 87037



Overview | Map/Climate | Description | Activities | Lodging | Nearby



Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms



Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
The movie Stagecoach, in 1939 introduced two stars to the American public, John Wayne, and Monument Valley. Visiting Monument Valley gives you a spiritual and uplifting experience that few places on earth can duplicate. Take a look at this spectacular scenery in this DesertUSA video.

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake Powell Held behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 186 miles, forming Lake Powell. The dam was completed in 1963. Take a look at this tremendous feat of engineering - the Glen Canyon Dam.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly NM offers the opportunity to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest Anasazi to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here today. Its primary attractions are ruins of Indian villages built between 350 and 1300 AD at the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves.


Take a look at our Animals index page to find information about all kinds of birds, snakes, mammals, spiders and more!

life straw

Rockhound books

USB Charger solar

Hot temperatures in the desertAre you interested in the temperatures in the desert?

Click here to see current desert temperatures!

Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -