Day 964: Chaco Culture National Historical Park

This morning was pretty windy, so I didn’t fly:

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Trish made another tasty breakfast:

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We took the truck and started driving towards Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  This route is not officially maintained, and as we followed faint tracks through the grasslands, we passed some open range goats:

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We also saw a number of wild horses:

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This area has a number of abandoned structures built by homesteaders and ranchers of bygone days:

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We at last arrived at Chaco Culture:

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Fajada Butte:

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Chaco Culture preserves the central population center for the Ancestral Puebloan people. From 850 to 1150, the Ancestral Puebloans built dozens of Great Houses here.  The first site we visited was Hungo Pavi, occupied from 1000 to 1250:

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By the 11th century, the Ancestral Puebloans were building walls using rough inner “fill” stone and carefully cut outer “veneer” stone, creating smooth-surfaced walls:

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To transport timber from distant mountains, roads were built.  The staircase used to descend to the canon floor is still visible:

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We next visited the Great House Chetro Ketl, occupied from 950 to 1950:

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A great kiva:

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This underground kiva has been excavated and reinforced:

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This wall its original wooden porch along its length until the early 1900s, when it was scavenged by homesteaders:

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There are a number of petroglyph sites here:

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Our last stop was Pueblo Bonito, the largest Great House at Chaco Culture:

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This massive rock-fall crushed 30 excavated rooms.  A thousand years ago, Ancestral Puebloans built a retaining wall in a failed attempt to support what was once a massive slab peeling off the cliff face behind the Great House:

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Views of Pueblo Bonito:

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The Ancestral Puebloans tapered their wall thickness to allow lower stories to better support upper stories:

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The precision of their walls is impressive:

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Great kivas at Pueblo Bonito:

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We went inside the Great House:

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This room still has its original wooden ceiling:

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We decided to hike up onto the canyon rim so we could look down on Pueblo Bonito.  The hike goes up through this crevice in the canyon wall:

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Trish photographed me looking down at her:

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From the top, we could look down into the ruins of a smaller building:

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These dark protrusions are fossilized burrows of a shrimp-like animal:

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After a bit over a mile, we could look down on Pueblo Bonito:

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We headed back down:

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The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks and received their badges:

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When we returned to the RV, the sky was quite dark, and then the sun came out below the clouds, making the ground brighter than the sky:

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Day 963: Flying Cabezon Peak and Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah WSA
Day 965: Exploring the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area

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