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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

Day One:

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.

Day Two:

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 Itinerary

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: