Summer 2009

Gallup, NM

13 June 2009

General Information

Local Map


Photographs and Commentary
Click on picture to enlarge

Another cool morning. As the sun rose the temperature rose quickly to about 78 degrees, still ten degrees below normal for this area.

Today we went to Chaco Canyon, another archeological site occupied by the Anasazi. Unlike Canyon de Chelly, with its cliff dwellings, Chacoans built their great houses on the canyon floor. Chacoans also built a network of roads that connected Chaco Canyon with other sites in what is now Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. There is also evidence that they traded with other cultures as far as Mexico. Chaco Canyon was occupied by the Anasazi for about 300 years beginning in the mid 800s. For more information go to National Park Service site and Minnesota State University.

Getting to and back from Chaco Canyon was half the fun. The National Park Service directions for travel recommend driving to Chaco Canyon from the north. We were coming from the southwest so we didn't really want to go north and add a lot of additional driving. The NPS directions warn that the route we were taking is an unimproved road that is not regularly maintained (an understatement) and could get worse in inclement weather because it can turn into a quagmire. In reality, only 20 miles of the 90 mile route from Gallup is on Highway 57, so we figured it could not get any worse than some of the roads we encountered in Alaska, Yukon and northern British Colombia. The run from Gallup to the intersection of Highway 57 and Highway 9 was relatively easy and was completed in about 75 minutes. The 20 mile run from the intersection to the Chaco Canyon Visitors Center took another 45 minutes. Highway 57 is part washboard, part pothole, part boulders and all rough. I told Susie that it reminded me of the condition of the Belt Parkway in the Mill Basin area.

After a short stop at the Visitors Cente, we started visiting the various ruins along the loop road through the canyon. It was a lot of walking and we were glad we were doing in now instead of the 100 degrees of the summer season. After we finished our last ruin, we headed back toward Highway 57 and noticed the black clouds building up in the direction we were heading. We could only hope that we could make the pavement of Highway 9 before the rain started and we barely did. The first few showers were nothing more than a nuisance and probably wouldn't have made Highway 57 impassable. Nonetheless, we were happy to be on blacktop. As were approaching Gallup on I-40, we ran into a thunderstorm which didn't last long (the storm was moving at 35 mph in an easterly direction and we were heading west at about 70 mph). After the storm passed, the wind started getting stronger. The airport reported sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts over 45 mph. When we got to the trailer it was being rocked by the wind. As I write this, the wind has died down to about 20 mph and it looks like we may have a cool but calm night.

Una Vida Ruins

Part of the Una Vida ruins

Detail of a door  and surrounding masonary

Detail of the construction of a door and masonry work at Una Vida

Wooden poles, part of floor support

Wooden poles that formed part of floor support
Picture by Susie

Hungo Pavi Ruins
Picture by Susie


One of many Kivas (ceremonial pits) in the Chetro Ketl ruins

This area has been investigated by archeologist who reinforced the work are to keep it from collapsing. The Chacoans did not use steel I beams.

Walls of Chetro Ketl

Walls of Chetro Ketl


The window lintels have a had a plug taken out of them for dating the time of construction.


Petroglyphs on the cliff walls between Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito


Picture by Susie



Left, picture by Susie


View of the plaza at Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo Bonito walls

Pueblo Bonito walls require reinforcement to stay up

Pueblo Bonito

View from the Pueblo Bonito plaza

Great Kiva at Pueblo Bonito

Pueblo del Arroyo

Pueblo del Arroyo seen from Pueblo Bonito


Great Kiva at Casa Rinconada

Great Kiva

Great Kiva at Casa Rinconada

Seen On The Road

Cattle Road Block

On the return from Chaco Canyon we encountered a number of cattle on the road. This cow and two of her calves refused to move and held us back until they were good and ready to relinquish the road.

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