02
Jun
14

Chaco Canyon: North Mesa

Here is a quick tour of the North Mesa of Chaco Canyon in Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

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The trail for the North Mesa begins at Kin Kletso ruins.  The ruins are part of the Chacoan culture of Ancient Pueblo people.  Kin Kletso dates back to about 1100 AD.  The trail onto the mesa is behind this ruin and that means hiking up through this crack, but I was so excited about climbing through it, I didn’t take photos until I climbed back down.

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It is about two hundred feet (60 meters) up through this crack in the canyon’s wall.

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It was much easier going up than climbing back down.  The perspective I had changed climbing down because it seemed the rock’s angles would cause my feet to slip off.

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There was more interesting things to see on this hike.  The ruins of Pueblo Alto and New Alto and a very impressive view of the desert beyond them.

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The Ancient Pueblo people or Chacoans were extensive road builders.  Roads were a uniform thirty feet wide, about 10 meters.  The Chacoans, like the Romans, built their roads in straight lines.  Neither liked to make curves.  When the Chacoans encountered large rock formations they built steps.

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When the Chacoans encountered cliffs or canyon walls the built ramps or…

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they built stairways up the side of the canyon walls.  Those ancient steps climb about two hundred feet or about 60 meters.  I think I know why they vanished.  They were too brave!

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Eventually you work your way around the edge of the canyon until you reach a couple more cracks that require you to climb down through.

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Which lead to an excellent view of Pueblo Benito and Chetro Ketl, Ancient Pueblo ruins.  But I don’t have wide angle lenses because I usually shoot wildlife, so the photos I have do not do justice to the beauty and mystery of these ruins.  The trail on top of the North Mesa then leads you back to the crack in the canyon’s wall.

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Two hundred feet down through there and you emerge onto a trail a mountain goat would hesitate to use.

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Those little sign posts are the trail markers pointing you up the path.

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2 Responses to “Chaco Canyon: North Mesa”


  1. June 2, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Absolutely stunning. And those stairs were heart stopping!

  2. 2 Randy Roberts
    June 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I couldn’t imagine using them…but apparently they did.


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