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El Chiflón (Chimney Rock)

Geologic Feature
One among several pillar formations on the Mesa del Yeso, El Chiflón is on the right. – Roberto Valdez

ADA Accessibility Notes


El Chiflón means 'the stovepipe' in English. It is but a short hike from the old Archuleta ranch called the Rancho de los Espíritos retitled by different owners as Ghost Ranch. The system of cliffs throughout the region is generally banded in different colors. Starting from the bottom, there is a layer of red. Geologists call it the “Chinle Group” after Chinle, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. It is made up of red siltstone and fine sandstone.

On top of this is 200 feet of fine grained sandstone called the Entrada formation. It starts with a thick orange layer, then a thin white one, and then a thick yellow one. The Entrada layers were a super thick field of sand dunes with no fossils.

On top of them, pools of brine water formed and made the Todilto Formation. This formation can sometimes have fossils in its thin layer of limestone which is capped by a layer of gypsum.

Hispanos and American Indians used limestone (Spanish: cal) for preparing a kind of dent corn called maiz concho for making posole, a tasty local dish almost the same as southern hominy. Gypsum (yeso) was useful for whitewashing walls of houses. Hard balls of gypsum or alabaster, called jaspe by the locals, were cooked in an oven and crumbled into a bleach white powder. Mixed with water, a piece of sheepskin with the wool still on was used to paint walls with this non-toxic coating that brightened a room.

Pet Friendly Notes


Recreational Opportunities

Ghost Ranch is an organization that offers services and accommodations. This is one among several hikes into country for the enjoyment of the geology and fossils. The hike to El Chiflón is reasonably short yet strenuous.


Seasons Accessible

Avoid December to February because of the snow, ice,or mud. Most of the year is good.



Nearby Places