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Chaco Culture NHP is located about 170 driving miles northwest of Santa Fe, 70 miles west of Cuba, and about 60 miles, give or take a few, south of Farmington or Bloomfield, NM. Directions will vary depending on where you're coming from so see the park website for exact details but here's some things to know:
• There is one recommended route into the park and that's from the north. Do NOT attempt any routes you may see on websites other than the park's that suggest entering from alternate roads - these can become impassible after rain and/or be really tough on your vehicle. The park site lists a few other ways in but even these can easily become impassible after a round of heavy weather.
• If taking the recommended route from the north, you'll turn off US 550 at Country Road 7900, 3 miles southeast of Nageezi, at mile 112.5. The park boundary is another 21 miles from here and 13 of those are rough dirt road that will be muddy after rain. There is a convenience store on the 550/7900 turnoff that is your last chance for stocking up on gas and groceries before heading off to the park.
• After 8 miles, County Road 7900 splits off to dirt-surfaced County Road 7950 at a fork - take this route to the entrance.
• While the north route is almost always accessible, it does cross a wash that can flood after very heavy rains. Check the forecast and call the park for advice if big storms are brewing.
Because of its remoteness, you will need a vehicle to get here and there's no public transportation within the park.
Updated Oct 23, 2011
Phone: (505) 786-7014
After a stop at the Visitor Center for information and any necessary permits, you'll jump on the 9-mile, one-way, paved loop road to visit 6 of the main sites. There are parking lots at each (some with restrooms) and you can pick up printed trail guides here or at the Visitor Center. The sites involve walking 1/4 mile to 1 mile round-trip from the parking areas and most of the trails are gravel-surfaced. Some of the sites involve climbing short slopes, over rubble and rock and through small doorways but no problem unless your mobility is severely limited.
Other sites are more remote and involve hikes of 2 to over 7 miles round trip. You need free backcountry permits for these - pick them up at the Visitor Center.
The loop road and some of the trails may also be biked so bring your two-wheeler! The main road is flat as a pita and there are handy bike racks in the parking areas of the main sites.
See the website for descriptions of the sites, hiking and biking trails, and other activities offered at the park.
Updated Nov 30, 2009
Phone: (505) 786-7014
There are two roads into Chaco Canyon, one from the south and one from the east. The one from the south is entirely unpaved and prone to becoming impassable if muddy. The road to the east is partially paved but can also get full of ruts. The road from the south is more scenic.
Updated Jul 8, 2005