Chaco Culture National Historical Park Visitor Center, Museum and Western National Parks Association Park Store will open again to the public in April 2021. Loop Road is open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the entrance gate to Loop Road closing at 4:30 pm. All visitors must vacate Loop Road by 5:00 pm. All trails are self-guided, with park brochures and some information located outside the visitor center entrance. All backcountry trails require a backcountry permit, which can be found at the entrance of each trailhead. The campground is scheduled to open to the public in April 2021.
1808 CR 7950 Nageezi, NM 87037
Visit https://www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm for updates.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, also known as Chaco Canyon, is the largest excavated prehistoric ruins in North America and is a must-see for history buffs and outdoor lovers! Chaco was the center of the ancestral Puebloan culture from AD 850 to 1200. Attractions within the park include Chacoan great houses, kivas, rock art, and stunning vistas. The hallmark Chacoan roads and geometric layout of structures captivate visitors from around the world.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Info
Chaco Culture NHP (National Historical Park) is open daily except for Christmas and New Year's days. Starting on February 29, 2020, the driving loop and archaeological sites will be open from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. This includes all great houses, parking areas accessed from park roads, backcountry trails, and outlier sites. The entrance gate to the loop road will be closed thirty minutes prior to the park closing time.
The park visitor center will be open from 8:00 am-4:00 pm. Beginning on May 1, 2020, the driving loop and associated locations will be open from 7:00 am to
9:00 pm and the visitor center will be open from 8:00 am-5:00 pm. The park will revert to the winter hours of operation on November 1, 2020.
Camping overnight is available. The rate is $10 per night at the Gallo Campground. As an International Dark Sky Park, the star gazing from Chaco Canyon is world-class making for an exceptional location for camping. experience.
Effective June 1, 2018, the entrance fees to the park will be $25 per vehicle or $20 per motorcycle. All of the money received from entrance fees remains with the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the revenue
going to Chaco Culture NHP.
A 9-mile long park loop road provides access to five of the Chacoan sites. It also provides access to several trail-heads for backcountry hiking and biking. Backcountry hikers should obtain a free hiking permit at the visitor center. Pets are allowed in the Park.
How to get to Chaco Culture National Historical Park
The remote location of Chaco Canyon adds to the beauty and adventure of visiting this National Park. The main entrance into the park is from US Highway 550. From 550 turn onto CR 7900, (40 miles south of Farmington / 50 miles north of Cuba). This route is clearly signed from US 550 to the park boundary (21 miles). The route includes 8 miles of paved road and 13 miles of dirt road.
The section of dirt road can best be described as "washboard". Visitors not accustomed to traveling on dirt roads need not worry, note the posted speed limits and keep in mind that the destination is well worth the 13 miles of dirt road. Please note that some roads recommended by Google, map publishers and mapping services using GPS are unsafe for passenger cars. The most recommended access point is from Highway 550, from CR 7900. The road to Chaco can become impassible in inclement weather. If rain, snow or thunderstorms are in the forecast simply call the visitor center or visit their website for road conditions and park closures.
- Official Map of Chaco Culture NHP
- Back Country Hiking Maps
- Biking Trail Maps
- Chaco Outlier Maps
- Virtual tour of Chaco Canyon
Chaco Culture History
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 Canyon had become the political, economic, and ceremonial center for the Chacoan culture. Roads connected the canyon to over 150 other great houses, including Aztec Ruins and Salmon Ruins to the north. Chaco Canyon 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.
Things to do while visiting Chaco Canyon
- Guided tours
- Self-guided tours
- Night Sky programs
- Journey Into the Past Tours
Things not to do while visiting Chaco
- Do not collect pottery, arrowheads, or any type of artifact or plants
- Do not walk, climb, sit, or lean on fragile walls
- Do not deface, add to, or alter the petroglyphs, pictographs, or rocks