We’ve been preparing for your visit for over 1,000 years
Did you know the U.S. has a pre-historic Puebloan place of mystery that has been likened to Macchu Picchu, which is little seen or visited?
Transport yourself into another world, at Chaco Canyon! This UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park lies on top of the southeastern Colorado Plateau’s physiographic province in the San Juan Basin and had a diverse thriving culture from 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. It served as the heart of spiritual and ceremonial practices for the Chacoan people.
Experience this major ancestral Puebloan center of migration, grand construction, and cultural integration and see why Chaco is a fascinating place of mystery.
To the Pueblo man it is spoken to be the cradle of civilization and the burial place of their ancestors. To the Dinetah, it is the center of the world they evolve from. To the Hopi, it is the final destination. Take a journey with us back in time to experience these highly organized large-scale structures, featuring multi-storey construction and sophisticated coursed masonry, which illustrate the increasing complexity of Chaco social structure.
Chaco distinguished itself within the regional ancestral Puebloan culture and dominated the area for more than four centuries. These structures weren’t farming villages, they were public buildings used by communities and regions for ceremonies, trading and civic events.
More than 150 distant communities emulated Chacoan architectural designs, layout, and construction of their public buildings. Linking the sites, there was an elaborate system within the canyon of carefully engineered roadways, stairways, and ramps to sites far beyond, that can still be traced.
Yet, with their high level of complex infrastructure, architectural development, economic reach and social organization, no one knows what caused their sudden collapse in the 13th century. Quickly, villages were permanently abandoned, never to be revisited or revived again.
So here is your opportunity, beneath the expansive skies of northern New Mexico, to soak in this ancestral corridor that paints an expansive story.
Day Tour Overview – Roads to the Soul Aren’t Paved
Offered Saturdays March through November
Our journey begins with a visit to Una Vida, an L-shaped Great House where you can explore a petroglyph panel etched in the canyon’s cliffside sandstone. These petroglyph panels are pecked, incised and abraded into the sandstone and their significance is still recognizable today by Puebloan and Navajo peoples because they symbolize specific clans or story elements.
If the short steep climb seems too much for you, the other option is to visit Chaco Canyon’s Visitors’ Center museum and watch the 20-minute interpretive film. After either excursion, you will enjoy a picnic lunch.
Following lunch, we will explore the largest Great House, Pueblo Bonito, a Spanish word for “pretty village.” This important epicenter of ancestral homeland showcases the core-and-veneer walls that distinguish Chacoan great-house construction.
Pueblo Bonito is the most thoroughly investigated and celebrated cultural site in Chaco Canyon. The term “great house” is an archeologist term to describe the large sites in Chaco. These great houses shared many architectural features such as planned layouts, multi-storied construction, distinctive masonry, very large rooms, plazas, and huge subterranean ceremonial chambers called “great kivas.”
You will learn about the first excavators and their findings as you explore the important Room 28 where 111-cylinder jars, a tall and narrow form of pottery, were found. These cylinder jars were used for drinking a chocolate beverage made from the cacao tree brought from Central Mexico, believed to be drank by high-ranking people during rituals. This journey would have been nearly 1200 miles away from Chaco!
You will conclude your visit to the greatest kiva, Casa Rinconada. Casa Rinconada is a large round building complex. The symmetry of the axes creates a perfect circle and some speculate it physically represents the Ancestral Puebloan cosmos and served as an important religious center.
Throughout the day, you’ll be dismayed at the obvious societal advances and ponder what created their sudden failure and destruction.
Heritage Inspirations wishes to provide you with an authentic, culturally vivid encounter with the mystery of Chaco Canyon.
In order to accomplish that, Heritage Inspirations plans all the logistics so that you can simply experience a beautiful scenic drive. Our informative guides offer you special insight and knowledge into the area and will also provide you with the tools needed to dive deeper into the mysteries of Chaco.
Don’t miss out on this authentic, cultural and vivid encounter with the mystery of Chaco Canyon!
These tours have limited space and sell out fast.
Book your tour in order to experience the elemental beauty of eroded sandstone and desert wind while you imagine the presence of ancient voices.