Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Nageezi: Address, Phone Number, Chaco Culture National Historical Park Reviews: 4.5/5

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
4.5
National Parks
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Chaco Canyon holds one of the largest collection of prehistoric buildings on the continent.
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What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
The area
Best nearby
We rank these restaurants and attractions by balancing reviews from our members with how close they are to this location.
Attractions
2 within 6 miles
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
746 reviews
Excellent
593
Very good
120
Average
18
Poor
10
Terrible
5

BradinDoha
Doha, Qatar7 contributions
Let's get the negative out of the way first.  The drive in.  
It is about 29 miles from SR 550 near Nageezie to Chaco Canyon.  At about 10 miles on Road 7900/7950 you hit the end of pavement.  At about 15 miles you hit the end of the county maintained gravel road. The next 4+ miles of road into Chaco has the worst washboards I have ever seen. I grew up literally 2 blocks from the end of the pavement, so I am familiar with dirt roads, and I am not exaggerating. This stretch of road is desert hardpan. When it rains, it turns to grease.  When it dries, it's as hard as rock and all the ruts and washboards remain until the next rain. The pavement resumes inside the park.
Just FYI, I pull a 31ft travel trailer with a heavy duty 4x4 Dodge diesel with really stiff suspension. I slowed to about 5 mph in 1st gear to try to minimize the shaking.  After about 150 yards I absolutely HAD to stop.  I  was certain that I would ruin my truck or trailer or both!  I backed up about 100 yards to a nearby driveway and turned around. 
Our savior was Wayne.  Wayne and his family own Horsethief Campground, a Dry Camp area, just past the end of the pavement. The land here is not public access.  It is Navajo land and you may only camp in designated locations.  Chaco has very few camp spots which are reserved well in advance. If you are pulling a trailer, I highly recommend you STOP AND DROP IT at Horsethief.  Lower your tire pressure and then head on to Chaco.  
Call Wayne at 505 486 3319 to reserve a spot.  
Those with a passenger car or a light SUV with softer suspension will have a much easier time. Even for light vehicles, the last 4+ miles is still 15-ish mph.  For heavy vehicles, it's do-able with reduced tire pressure.   You can carry a small compressor like I do, or repressure your tires at the Sinclair where road 7900 meets SR 550.  And BTW,  that Sinclair is the neatest,  cleanest miniart you will find!
Beyond the limited access, Chaco is an amazing place. It is mind boggling to learn about how and think about why this was constructed a millennium ago.
Written May 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

JHM231
Connecticut177 contributions
We came here on a weekday in June and there were about 30-40 other people here, so I'd imagine that even at the weekend you won't be sharing this with many people. The drive from the North is supposed to be better because it has fewer miles of dirt road. However we were glad we had rented a Jeep. It's bumpy. We bought the self-guided booklets from the visitor center for the main sites here. This is a unique experiene that is unlike any other site I have been to. The buildings which are c 1000 years old have been excavated and in some cases partially rebuilt so you can see what the structure was like. I would recommend getting the booklets so you can read about the structures you are seing in each part of the property. It will take about 3 hours if you look at all parts of the buildings, but factor in the time it takes to get here. You really need a whole day. I found the whole site quite atmospheric and it's remoteness adds to that
Written June 23, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Anna S
Albuquerque, NM7 contributions
Chaco Canyon National Historical Park is a treasure, but visiting the remote site takes some pre-planning. The surrounding scenery is gorgeous and the park/ruins are beautiful.

Getting there is another story. It involves driving on a rough, bumpy, "wash board," dirt road for 13 miles, once you make the turn off from paved road CR 7900. I absolutely recommend a 4-wheel drive vehicle with good tires for this trip.

WARNING:
The dirt road is not maintained by the state, nor the National Park Service.

You should also dress accordingly. Wear study shoes for hiking; no sandals or open toed shoes! A hat and sun screen is advisable. There is a paved loop road within the park itself, but vistors must park at each site and then hike in; in order to see each of the individual sites. Be prepared to do some walking!

Finally, bring your own water and food to snack on or for lunch. There are no food concessions of any kind, other than the National Park Shop for information and souvenirs. Depending on how long you spend at each ruin site, it can take 2 to 4 hours to see the Chaco Canyon ruins, using the loop road.
Written November 15, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Simon P
40 contributions
The place is vast, with numerous sites over a 5 or 6 mile long canyon, plus outlying sites. We saw 4 major ones in 4 hrs, total waling about 4 miles. There is a good road in the park, but getting in includes 13 miles of dirt, 6 of them bone shaking washboard. That 13 miles stretch of the 7950 took an hour each way -in a compact rental) so be warned and take it slow. Weirdly, no-one has thought to pave the road in - to the most important archeological site in the USA probably. (!?) Also, you an't get even a cup of coffee there. National Parks would have captive audience for cafe, after the 90 min drive in off the main highway (550). (There are two other roads in, not to be tried without a 4x4.
Written April 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ed B
Tampa, FL52 contributions
Couples
Excellent park with amazing history. It’s not a busy park as it’s literally off the beaten path. Unfortunately either way to enter the park (from the northeast or from the south) requires a 20 mile drive from the nearest main road, with almost all of that on dirt roads. We drove in from the northeast and exited to the south and both were horrendous. To be fair, we did it in a rented Nissan Versa so it’s doable in that type of car though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, especially depending on the weather. Despite all of that, the drive was worth it. Make sure you have plenty of water for the trails. The visitor center and restrooms were surprisingly very nice considering the park is so remote. They sell guides to all of the sites at the visitor center for $2 each.
Written June 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Charles G
4 contributions
Couples
We visited Chaco, then Aztec, then Mesa Verde. All were educational experiences and glad we did them all to see the different representations. Chaco was special; a remote, beautiful stark desert and spiritual place. The drive was rough. Pulling a 25’ Airstream with AWD BMW X5 diesel, stayed 2 nights (don’t chance it, make sure you have reservations), entering from the south and exiting to the north. South was rough, rutted, slow go for 2+ hours. Would be scary and probably impassable if wet. North was major washboard, slow go for almost 2 hours. It felt like quite an adventure to us, however, one of camp hosts was a delightful woman that hauls her 28’ AS pulled by a Suburban, each year! We won’t do it again with a trailer but glad we did it once. Hope this gives you confidence to go.
Written September 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

nancyqc
San Francisco, CA75 contributions
We are so glad we made the journey to visit this site. Our visit to Chaco Canyon was made enjoyable by having an experienced professional guide take us through this site. Tori Myers from the Salmon Ruin Museum is an archaeologist who does these tours and made our 7 hour day tour the best! Transportation was provided as well as a fresh sack lunch. The ruins are incredible and the knowledge we gained by having such a tour will be forever memorable.
Written August 19, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Babu2773
Chicago, IL886 contributions
First, we hired an archeologist from Salmon Ruins in Farmington to drive us into the site and spend the day telling us what we were looking at. Well worth it! You can't take a rental in and the road is rough. I just sat back and enjoyed the wash board road because I was in a giant Suburban and it wasn't my car. Chaco Canyon is amazing and worth the journey back. Just be prepared as the road is not maintained by the park service for a stretch and our guide said she has seen cars sliding off the road when the rains come. The ruins are amazing, and if you look closely, you will see pottery shards. Just don't take them or pool them together. Bring a lot of water and food. You will drive the loop road and stop off as you go, but make sure you buy the guide or you won't know what you're looking at. We had a real guide, but you need the paper guide if you don't. The visitor center has a little shop, museum and movie. Here you will pay your park fee. Check the national park's website for alerts before you go and make a call if you have any questions.
Written October 1, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Martin S
Fort Wayne, IN30 contributions
Couples
Highly recommend you take the time to visit Chaco Canyon. The park is fantastic and the restored ruins are incredible. The visitor center has a nice display.

We also recommend you book a day long tour with Salmon Ruins Museum. They meet you at the Salmon Ruins Museum, located outside of Bloomfield, and drive you to the park in their vehicle. Definitely a plus since the road to the park is unpaved and can be difficult for normal vehicles. Our guide Tori is a trained archaeologist and did a great job explaining the history of the ancient communities and answering all our questions.
Written November 23, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Steve
2 contributions
During current COVID times, I was excited to hear from a ranger at El Morro that Chaco was open, so I decided to brave the 20-mile dirt road in my car (the road was passable, but EXTREMELY washboardy and rocky). There was a table outside the Visitor Center where a ranger charged me the $25 entrance fee (I had to ask for a copy of the NPS pamphlet for the park). While walking through the extensive ruins, I was surprised that there were no interpretive signs. There were wooden signposts with numbers that seemed like they might correspond to a guidebook, but the ranger hadn’t mentioned any guidebook, and the other visitors I talked to also didn’t know what the numbers referred to (I overheard one family say “Weird that they have numbers but no explanations). After several hours of viewing the ruins, I saw a family reading out of a guidebook, and I asked them where they got it. “It’s $2 at the Visitor Center,” they replied. I stopped at the Center again on my way out and explained all this to the ranger, who replied, “Yes, we have guidebooks for $2 at that table over there.” I asked, “Why on earth didn’t you tell me this when I arrived?’’ She offered little explanation or apology.
Given the sorry state of the roads, the lack of information, and the unhelpfulness of the staff, the $25 entrance fee (plus an additional $2 if you want to know what it is you’re looking at) seems a bit exhorbitant. The ruins were impressive, but the park itself was a huge disappointment.
Written May 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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