Chaco National Historical Park
Chaco Cultural National Historical Park Travel Blog› entry 156 of 167 › view all entries
After a fine night's rest in the Walmart parking lot in
There is only one campground, a visitor’s center, and an 8-mile loop road filled with hikes to amazing architecture from 1000 years ago. All trails and sites close at sunset. All areas outside the park area (meaning along the road, sites, and that's it) are considered back-country and require a permit (free and self-registration), if allowed, because this is sacred land to the Indian cultures.
Everyone is nice at Chaco because they are so enthusiastic about
At 2pm we attended a free Ranger-led tour of Pueblo Bonito, the largest common area at
In a campground of about 15 rigs, we had 3 Lazy Dazes (Fred and Ruth, who had done wonderful additions to their 3rd Lazy Daze were great!) and a homeschooling Mom (Jennifer) with two cute daughters. We really enjoyed them!
At sunset we drove back in Ciao Baby to the Visitor’s Center with Jennifer and kids and attended the Astronomy presentation- AWESOME! It is only given on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Only the campers were there, as there is no lodge around.
Chaco has “a very dark sky” and in a win-win agreement, a man from
A college-caliber presentation by an astronomer with a PowerPoint presentation (outside) was fascinating. He also had a laser beam that he could use to point out the North star and constellations- that was really neat!
The Chocoans were very aware of sun and star patterns - certain buildings, windows, petroglyphs and other features shone light through multiple doorways or corner windows only on the summer and winter solstice, as well as the two-week predictor of the solstice. Their knowledge of seasons, cardinal directions, and time provided for a fascinating discussion. What a magical evening!
I would love to be at Chaco on a solstice, taking time-lapse pictures of the sun hitting the exact center of a mountain valley and tracking right up the mountain edge. As they said, you would never forget the significance of soltice after attending one there at Chaco, complete with native dancing.
I admit to waking in the night, opening the bathroom window and sticking my head out into the cool, dry desert night to gaze up on a sky filled with incredible stars. Absolutely breathtaking. I've only been privileged to see a sky like that twice before: on Haleakala Volcano in Maui and in Big Bend NP, Texas. Truly dark skies are so rare because of light pollution. Night at Chacoo looked as if 15 layers of stars were transposed on the night sky. Wow!