Half Day/ Auto Tour Itinerary
Slightly northwest of the visitor center begins the 9-mile one-way loop road that takes visitors around Chaco Canyon. Visitors can stop at any of these prehistoric sites with short, self-guiding trails, as time allows:
- Hungo Pavi
- Chetro Ketl
- Pueblo Bonito
- Pueblo del Arroyo (just a short way northwest drive off the main loop road)
- Casa Rinconada
Self-guiding trail brochures can be purchased at the Visitor Center Bookstore.
Full Day Itinerary
Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a smaller park, with less trails and miles of hiking, perhaps, but it fully makes up for it with the densest collection of pre-columbian pueblos and cultural sites in the American Southwest. Visitors who are in the park for a full day have much more time to explore each Pueblo, listed above in the half day itinerary.
In addition to spending time visiting the sites along the 9-mile loop, visitors can see a few more sites a little off the beaten path, such as:
- Una Vida/Petroglyphs: trail located by visitor center, less than 1/4 -mile long.
- Una Vida is one of the earliest great houses, construction beginning around the mid-800’s.
- Casa Rinconada: trail located 6 miles down the 9-mile loop, trail is a ½-mile long.
- This graveled, sometimes steep trail winds through villages and buildings, highlighting the different architecture and building styles used by Chacoan culture.
- Wijii: this trail is located east of the visitor center, and is 1.5 miles long.
- This trail is a backcountry trail, and will require a permit.
- It is one of the lesser visited sites, so if you or your group is looking for a little solidarity, take this trail down alongside the river.
Two Day Itinerary
Visitors should stop by the visitor center and bookstore, and complete the full day itinerary, detailed above, during the first day of a two day stay.
Besides the short, self-guided trails located along the 9-mile loop, almost all trails in the park are backcountry hikes that require permits. Visitors can spend the second day obtaining a permit at the visitor center, and enjoying a few hikes to some of the further destinations.
Some backcountry hikes to consider are:
- From Pueblo del Arroyo:
- Hike .3 miles to Kin Kletso
- Continue to hike .7 miles to Casa Chiquita
- Continue to hike 2 miles (optional overarching trail to see petroglyphs along the way) to the fork to see more pictographs (.3 miles) or to continue on .6 miles to Penasco Blanco
- On the way back, at Kin Kletso, consider taking the right fork .7 miles to a 3-mile loop that passes Pueblo Alto Complex and the Chacoan Staircase
- Hikers can complete this whole trail and return, or turn back at any point
- From the parking lot for the Casa Rinconada Community:
- Hike the approximately 3.5-mile loop that leads to Tsin Kletsin
Backcountry hiking requires a permit, and are only open from 7 am until sunset. No overnight backcountry camping is allowed. Backcountry hikers can camp at Gallo Campground.
Here is a list of the backcountry hikes available:
From Pueblo del Arroyo:
- To Kin Kletso: .3 miles
- To Casa Chiquita: .7 miles
- To the Pictographs (trail before Penasco Blanco): 2.3 miles
- To Penasco Blanco: 2.6 miles
From Kin Kletso:
- To Pueblo Alto Complex (left hand of fork): 1.3 miles
- To complete the whole loop hike: 3.8 miles
From the Casa Rinaconada Community parking lot:
- To Tsin Kletsin: 1.6 miles
- To complete the whole loop: 3.9 miles (approximately)
From the parking lot right after the fork with Gallo Campground: