Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves one of America’s richest and most fascinating cultural and historical areas. Chaco Canyon, a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between AD 850 and AD 1250, was a hub of ceremony, trade, and culture for the prehistoric Four Corners area--unlike anything before or since. Chaco is remarkable for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings, and its distinctive architecture--an ancient urban center that still amazes and inspires us a thousand years later. In 1987, the park received international recognition for its cultural resources through designation as a World Heritage Site.
All visitors must stop at the Visitor Center to receive an entrance permit and brief orientation. Staff and volunteers are happy to help you plan your time in the park. Ancient sites are accessible off the nine mile Canyon Loop Drive. Six front country and four backcountry hiking trails are self-guided. Trail guides are available in the bookstore and at the sites.
From April through October, the park offers ranger-guided tours of Pueblo Bonito at 10:00am and 2:00pm daily. Tours of other sites are occasionally offered at 12:00pm and 4:00pm. Pueblo Bonito is the largest and most excavated of the Chacoan Great Houses. During the hour-long, quarter-mile walk through the site, the ranger will discuss the building in the context of Chaco's archaeological, cultural, historical, and geological significance. No reservations are required; meet the ranger in the Pueblo Bonito parking lot.
The people living in Chaco a thousand years ago kept track of the seasons for planting and ceremony using the sun and the night sky. We can see the observations of the ancestral Puebloans incorporated in their architecture. The tradition is still alive at Chaco through our Night Sky program offered Tuesday, Fridays, and Saturdays from April through October. Beginning at sunset at the observatory (behind the restrooms at the Visitor Center), a ranger will give a talk on archaeoastronomy, park history, or another topic. Following the presentation, staff and volunteer astronomers will open telescopes and the observatory dome for viewing of celestial objects. No reservations are required.