Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Campground

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo BonitoChaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo Bonito
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo Bonito

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Q & A

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Rock formations under the morning blue sky

Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Campground

The park is laid out with two main loop roads with pullout areas that allow you to park your vehicle and then hike out on different trials. I found the rock formations to be impressive, but the ruins of the Pueblo Bonito Chacoan great house architecture to be very interesting and a great place to photograph the Chacoan culture. The Chacoan world covered an area of the present-day Southwest, that included the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, and portions of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Their influence lasted for over 300 years and included many peoples within its sphere of influence.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo Bonito

The Pueblo Bonito Site

This site is located a little more than 4 miles from the Visitor Center along the Canyon Loop Drive. This is considered the most important site within the canyon and an area you must consider seeing if you are on a short supply of time. The walk along the trail wraps around the archeology site and takes you within the ruins of the architecture of the Chaco peoples who constructed the site from ​​AD 850 to AD 1150. The Chaco people were also ancestral Puebloan peoples similar to the people of the Bandelier National Monument.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo Bonito Ruines Angle View
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo Bonito Ruins Wide View

The Evening Sky – International Dark Sky Park

The evenings are cool, brisk, and with a wide-open sky. There is a reason this place is a haven to see the universe above and it lives up to that expectation. As you can see from the evening view of the Milky Way the photography possibilities are endless.

View of the campground at night from afar.


The road in the early evening was around 23 miles long and slow going to most of the road being rough. There is a gas station just before you begin the long road to the park. So fill up if you need too just in case. Once you officially enter the park the road is paved and easy to use. The sun had gone down and I was at last light. Then out of nowhere, I see what I think is a town on the horizon. To my surprise, it was a very active campground and I took the last spot for the evening.

There is a nice water bottle station and a clean restroom within the campground. If you can reserve a spot ahead of time I recommend doing so before you arrive. If you enjoy the stars being on one of the far edges will give you the best view.

Several of the open areas are flatter on one side and have unique rock formations on the other side. This really helps us give a site greater perspective and adds some additional mystery for you the reader. 

The campgrounds are very busy and active at night. It’s a very safe place for people to rest and walkabout. You have a mix of couples and larger groups with a few individuals mixed in to give a great balance of evening relaxation and joy.

Since you’re above 7000 feet elevation there are very few misquotes to deal with. Just peaceful crickets to lull you to sleep.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park


In conclusion, the site is well worth the visit and has a tremendous amount of historical, and culture to share. The Pueblo Bonita site has the most ruins and the others do require additional climbing and time. The sky is crisp and clear here, and night photography is great and does come out very clear at 7000 feet elevation. Take a look at the National Park site for additional information on planning your trip.

John Gentry at Chaco Culture National Historical Park Pueblo Bonito Ruins

This particular site and campground were unique, but make sure to make a reservation for your camper or tent site. Enjoy your visit to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

FYI – This post is still being worked on and expanded. Please check back in a few days for more photos and site information.

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