November 14-22, 2014
Now that it’s been a year since we visited, I’m finally getting around to writing about our Chaco vacation that I mentioned in my last post about my Chimney Rock Workshop. I thought about making this post a series like I did for our Utah trip, but I didn’t have nearly as many photos to share.
Google maps shows Chaco Culture National Historical Park about 3 hours from us. Between the speed of the bus and some of the back roads we took, I think it took us more like 4-5 hrs. We’d reserved our campsite online, so all we had to do was check-in, set-up to watch the sunset, and make dinner. The first big cold snap of the season was moving through, and it felt like we practically had the Park to ourselves.
Saturday, we set out with the intention to hike the Pueblo Alto Trail which overlooks much of the Park. What we didn’t count on was that the ‘entrance’ to the trail was a pretty steep, almost bouldering, stairway to the top that our dog, Pakak did not want to climb once she’d gotten a few feet up it. We climbed back down and altered our destination to one of the furthest outliers within the Park, the Peñasco Blanco Trail. We were rewarded with solitude, and able to wander and wonder through the Petroglyph Trail. Turning around at the Supernova Pictograph site, made for an almost 6 mile hike. After a rest, we walked around Pueblo del Arroyo and called it a day. Back at the campsite, we set to baking garlic knots and cinnamon rolls for dinner, and spent some quality time B.S.ing with the friendly, Park Ranger.
Sunday we awoke to 19 degrees and the bus blasted with snow. The winds were something we knew would be a factor, but they sure did blow through our bones during most of the day. Later in the day, once the bus thawed out, we took her for a drive to warm up. Some rodent, maybe a kangaroo rat, had crept into the bus and stowed a bunch of the dog food into the heater pipe. It sounded like one of those childhood push-popper toys that kinda looks like a vacuum. It spit out dog food into the floorboard for miles, and the heater still smells like it. We braved the wind to visit Chetro Ketl and the most important and studied site in the canyon, Pueblo Bonito. I was in awe just by it’s size. The dusting of snow was a real treat, too, as it added a new dimension to the landscape’s shadows and highlights.
Monday, we packed up and headed towards Abiquiu. Needing a break from the cold, we planned to hole up and thaw out at the Abiquiu Inn. This pet-friendly Inn is our favorite stop whenever we find ourselves in this neighborhood. Their restaurant is quite tasty, too. Along the way, we found a road with great views to stretch our legs and romp around in the snow for a little while.
Rested, warm and bathed, we spent the next two nights on the Chama river. I’ve written about this spot before. It seems to stay pretty warm, and we basked like lizards in the sun for a few days.
Thursday we drove towards Taos, camping near Pilar in the Orilla Verde Area of the Rio Grande Gorge, which is a newly designated National Monument. Again, we were welcomed with solitude. After picking a site, we ran into town for dinner. The next day was spent rambling around Taos and finally meeting up with some friends who live there to crash on their couch. Saturday was the haul home with another great adventure (and our coldest camping yet) concluded.