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Chaco Culture National Historical Park

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Revision as of 04:26, 20 December 2005 by Bill-on-the-Hill (talk | contribs) (Fees/Permits)
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Chaco Culture National Historical Park

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Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a major unit of the United States national park system located just outside Navajo Nation in New Mexico. It preserves extensive ruins of prehistoric American Indian communities. Chaco is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.




Flora and fauna


Get in

Drive. The nearest city with air service is Farmington (New Mexico), about 60 miles north, which is served by a commuter airline (Mesa) that is a partner with United Airlines. The nearest major airport is in Albuquerque about 150 miles southeast. There is no rail or bus service in this remote region.


Entrance fees for the park are $4 for individuals, $8 for cars, and are good for seven days. The National Park Service's "Park Pass" ($50/year) secures unlimited repeat entries for this and other National Park Service units. Campsites (see below under "Sleep") are $10/night, with a $5 discount for holders of a Park Pass.

Permits are required for backcountry hiking. They're free and available at the visitor center.

Get around








The nearest hotels and motels are in Farmington, about 60 miles north, and in communities along Interstate highway 40 (e.g. Gallup and Grants), a similar distance south.


The park includes a single, rudimentary campground. Fee $10/site/night ($5 with NPS Park Pass). There is no potable water, but bottled water may be purchased at the nearby visitor center. Vehicles (RVs, trailers) must be no longer than 30 feet.


No backcountry camping/backpacking is permitted within the park.

Stay safe

There are no significant safety issues with the park itself (usual warnings about wildlife, sunscreen, etc.), but its remoteness means that you may want to pay a little extra attention to road safety while getting there and back. Northern New Mexico is notorious for problems with drunk drivers. Areas near Navajo Nation, as Chaco is, are particularly worrisome around payday (Thursday or Friday), as the prohibition of alcohol on the reservation drives alcoholic residents, of whom there are too many, to drive into Farmington or Gallup to indulge. Terrible accidents have happened involving Navajo Nation citizens on the way home after an evening of drinking; be extra cautious at such times.

Be alert also for livestock on the roads, particularly sheep. It's wise to fill your gas tank in Farmington or Gallup (or Grants or Thoreau) before heading for the park, as services are sparse indeed once you get off the main roads.

Get out

  • Navajo Nation lies just west of the park, with numerous related attractions. If you happen to be there on a Friday, a Navajo rug auction at Crownpoint combines well with a visit to Chaco; inquire locally about schedule or follow the link on the Navajo Nation page.
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument is another NPS unit full of historical, cultural and archaeological interest; near the town of Aztec just east of Farmington.

External links Park home page

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