Chaco Culture Park (also called Chaco Canyon) lies in an unpopulated part of northern New Mexico. There are two access roads, the more common is from NM 550 and involves a long section of dirt/gravel. This road does some dry stream crossings which may be impassable in wet weather. It's also slow going regardless of the weather. When you finally arrive at the park, the loop road is paved. There is a campground at the south end and a visitor center just north at Fajada Butte.
The park consists of a length of Chaco Canyon and the high density of ruins within it. The Chacoan culture refers to the civilization centered here around the 10th century. There are complex connections between Chaco and the Anasazi and other Pueblo-dwellers that are too academic to deal with here. Basically, anything found here is Chacoan by definition.
The ruins at the base of the canyon walls here are Hungo Pavi, a settlement of 70-some rooms.
Chetro Ketl is a much larger complex with many more rooms and a substantial numbers of kivas as well. It is probably the single most impressive site at Chaco.
Chetro Ketl is roughly D-shaped like many of the dwellings at Chaco. The curve of the D consisted of a high wall and a whole lot of rooms and dwellings. The flat portion acted as a public square and featured many round kiva chambers (visible on the right in this photo).
Chetro was abandoned around 1100 for unknown reasons. Since its discovery a section of the canyon wall collapsed onto part of the great house (visible in the back right here). Almost all of the constructions in Chaco are located right up against the canyon walls.
A notable feature inside the dwellings are these corner windows. This was a multi-story room when inhabited and some of the doorways between rooms are also corner openings like this.
There are pictographs at a couple sites at Chaco Culture Park. The wall behind and just south of Chetro Ketl makes up the Petroglyph trail. Several of them are visible in this photograph.
Pueblo Bonito (seen here) is just a short distance from Chetro Ketl. From here you can see Chetro Ketl, also Pueblo Arroyo further down the canyon and some of the buildings at Casa Rinconada on the far side. Casa Rinconada contains one of the most impressive kivas in the southwest. There are other sites located further out on hiking trails but we had to skip those on this trip as we were also attempting to keep our 10-month old son amused.