Chaco Culture National Historical Park Hwy. 550 / PO Box 220 Nageezi, NM87037 (505) 786-7014
Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves the monumental architecture and complex community life of a major center of Ancestral Puebloan Culture (Anasazi) that took root and flourished for a thousand years.
The Chacoan culture began to flourish in the canyon in the mid-800s with continual habitation and building lasting for another 300 years. The Ancient Puebloan people (Anasazi) constructed massive stone buildings, called great houses, of multiple stories that are much larger than what had previously been built. Construction on some of these buildings spanned decades and even centuries. These structures were often aligned to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions and placed within a landscape surrounded by sacred mountains, mesas, and shrines. The buildings in the canyon are believed to be “public architecture” that were used periodically be the people for times of ceremony and commerce when temporary populations arrived in the canyon.
By 1050, Chaco had become the political, economic, and ceremonial center for the Chacoan culture. Roads connected the canyon to over a 150 other great houses, including Aztec Ruins and Salmon Ruins to the north. Chaco became the trade center for turquoise, parrots, macaws, copper bells, and other precious commodities.
By the mid-1100s the canyon began to decline as the regional center as new building ceased and influence moved to Aztec Ruins and other great houses. In time, the people moved away from the area and culture to reinvent themselves. Today the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico claim to be the descendants of the Ancient Puebloans.
Do not collect pottery, arrowheads, or any type of artifact or plants
Do not walk, climb, sit, or lean on fragile walls
Pets are not allowed within the great houses
Do not deface, add to, or alter the petroglyphs, pictographs, or rocks
Do not climb canyon walls
From the north, turn off US 550 at CR 7900 – 3 miles southeast of Nageezi and approximately 50 miles west of Cuba (at mile 112.5). This route is clearly signed from US 550 to the park boundary (21 miles). The route includes 8 miles of paved road (CR 7900) and 13 miles of rough dirt road (CR7950).
Warning: Some of the local roads recommended by map publishers and services using GPS devised to access Chaco are unsafe for passenger cars.
Things you need to know
Visitors Center Hours: 8 am - 5 pm daily except Christmas and New Year's days.
Park Hours: Sunrise to sunset year-round.
Entrance Fee: $8 per car, paid at the Visitors Center.
Camping: $10 per night, find a spot and then pay at the Visitors Center, reservations also available for large groups.
The 9-mile long park loop road provides access to five of the Chacoan sites. It also provides access to trailheads for backcountry hiking.
All backcountry hikers must obtain a free hiking permit at the visitors center.
Limited facilities are available.
Pets are allowed on the backcountry trails and in the campground.
Summer highs are typically in the 80's to mid-90's. Thunderstorms can produce heavy localized downpours and sudden dramatic drops in temperatures.
Winter temperatures will drop to well below freezing most nights. If you plan to camp in the winter, prepare for nighttime temperatures in the teens or lower.