Campsite #5


Campsite #5 located in very sunny, very hot, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.  I originally decided not to go to Chaco Culture National Historic Park, because the road in looked beat.  Well, let me tell you.  The first 18 miles are like any other county highway anywhere in the US.  Parts are paved and very easy to drive, other parts are gravel and well maintained, but the last four miles.  Not so good.  The graveled surface tends to wash away in rainstorms leaving a very rutted and very rough last four miles into the Chaco Culture National Historic Park.  Including this lovely crossing.


I had already decided I needed to schedule a psychiatric evaluation before I reached this part of the road, especially when I realized, if it rains, I might not be able to get out of here.  This is called a wash.  We don’t have such things in Wisconsin and until now I didn’t fully appreciate what Louis L’Amour was writing about in his romantic western stories.


Washes are like a dry riverbed, except they only flow during severe weather.  So during heavy rainstorms all the water in these canyons empties into washes and you get flash flooding.  During a heavy rainstorm this dried up wash would look like a river and I’m guessing would look like a raging river.  After this section of rough road there is a hill to climb and a hill to descend on a very rough and very rutted road.

One of the first sites you’ll see as you near Chaco Culture National Historic Park will be Fajada Butte.


I’ve never been to a desert before and I’ve got to say, this place is stunning in beauty.  The campground is nestled in the canyon and as you can see from the first picture close to the canyon’s south wall, which gives you the only shade you’ll get in Chaco Canyon and that isn’t until evenings.  So prepare yourself if you visit.  You will be in sunlight all day.


Chaco Culture National Historic Park is filled with ruins from Ancient Pueblo people.  Maintained by the Navajo People, this place is not a playground, but a living museum and should be treated as such.  Bicycles are allowed on most trails, but when you get to the ruins there is a bike rack provided for parking.


Wijiji is the easiest hike, a round trip of about three miles or five kilometers over level terrain.  I walked up on it without even realizing I had made it to the house.  Mostly because I was busy looking for elk.  All the way to this site I could see elk foot prints.  Apparently, the elk spend the nights around the walls of the canyons and in the morning drop into the canyon’s washes.


There will be more to follow as I learn and explore this beautiful park.


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