New Mexico with Kids: Chaco Culture National Historical Park

April 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm

From the Navajo Nation we drove into New Mexico.

High above the ruins at Chaco Culture

High above the ruins at Chaco Culture

The Navajo Nation really had seemed like almost a different country – the people were different (almost all were Native Americans), the food was different, and even the flag was different. As soon as we exited the reservation lands we were back in mainstream USA. We passed a mighty rock formation known as Shiprock, and soon we were in Bloomfield, NM.

Bloomfield was hot and dusty. The only reason we were there was because of its proximity to one of the most isolated and unknown archaeological zones in North America, called Chaco Culture, where we would be going the following day. Meanwhile, Bloomfield turned out to be a positive surprise – it had a great public pool and waterpark, which we really enjoyed. It was excellent time off from our long journey so far.

The next morning we were on our way. The trusty Rough Guide warned of the poor road to Chaco Culture, but we had no problem and we pulled up to the visitor center just in time to go on a guided walk of the ruins.

Chaco seems to have been the religious center for a large civilization dating to around 1000 AD. Extremely little is known about it, but it is fascinating. We saw huge buildings with many windows, and the remains of many kivas (meeting halls). We hiked high above the site and one could see the outlines of roads leading away in all directions – though in fact, since Chaco was a center, the roads were leading in.

It was mighty hot – I hiked with the boys but eventually we had to turn round – we were running out of water and it really felt as if we were in the middle of the desert, which in fact, we were.

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