Last week I ended off with stating how massive Chaco Culture National Historic Park is and let me tell you during our visit we were only able to really explore a maybe a 1/3 of the entire park because we ran short on time. While it was slightly unfortunate, we were able to thoroughly explore the great houses of Hungo Pavi, Chetro Ketl, and Pueblo Bonito.
Hungo Pavi is believed to have had 150 rooms, a great kiva, and plaza. The unique part about the great house of Hungo Pavi is that it largely hasn’t hadn’t any excavations or restorations conducted. Moreover, the Hungo Pavi house has been covered with vegetation and sand over the course of time. We’d recommend taking your time exploring this great house, we spent roughly 45 minutes here.
After Hungo Pavi, we hopped in the car and headed toward the next site in Chaco along the loop which led us to a shared parking lot that had two paths. One went to Chetro Ketl and the other went to Pueblo Bonito. Everyone who was at the same area seemed to be heading toward Pueblo Bonito, so we figured we explore Chetro Ketl first and then head to Pueblo Bonito to have a little bit more of a personalized experience.
Chetro is the 2nd largest Chacoan Great House in the canyon that spans over 3 acres. This particular set of ruins has a lot of kivas and one great kiva. We recommend taking your time exploring and focusing on the architecture at Chetro Ketl that is very unique to the region. Roughly, we spent an hour here taking photos and just a moment to soak in how massive these great houses might have been when people occupied them.
After Chetro Ketl, we headed over to Pueblo Bonito, which is the largest Chacoan Great House. From Chetro Ketl, there is a back trail that takes you directly to the ruins along the canyon wall. As we followed the trail, there were several petroglyphs that we saw that we would have missed had we not taken the trail. When we finally got to Pueblo Bonito, my mind was blown by how massive the structure was and my imagination ran wild with thoughts of what this place might have looked like in its prime.
Pueblo Bonito is the most important Great House in Chaco Canyon and was the largest. It was built in stages and was of the focal point of the ancient Chaco world. Pueblo Bonito served as a center of diversity among ancient Pueblo people. Some of the Pueblo Bonito ruins had been excavated and restored during the 1920s which reflects how it stands today. We spent a while hear taking pictures and exploring the short doors throughout the site. Unfortunately, after exploring Pueblo Bonito, we needed to head back to Albuquerque so we were unable to finish exploring Chaco Canyon. Next year, there will definitely be a day trip planned to further explore an area that is so rich in heritage and cultural significance.