Shiprock on the Navajo Reservation,N.M.
This will be a brief tour of the more famous "must see" ruins of the Southwest. The nearest to Truchas is Chaco Canyon, which is one of the great archeological sites . The Park is about four hours west of here although the associated ruins cover a much larger area from southern Colorado down to west of Albuquerque. Since these pictures were taken in 1959, a massive road system has been discovered radiating out from the Park (see my Utah 1993 archeology expedition). These roads, up to 30 feet wide and laid with stone and cut stairways, present an interesting puzzle since the Indians had no horses or wheeled vehicles to require such ambitious construction. The area was occupied first by the Basketmakers whose village dating from 500 A.D. was excavated in the Park. The massive pueblo buildings were constructed hundreds of years after and were occupied until the droughts of the 13th century. However inspite of their size, Pueblo Bonito for example had some 800 rooms and was the largest "apartment" building in the U.S. until 1882, excavations seem to indicate that relatively few people, perhaps 100, lived there at any one time. This too has puzzled the archeologists. To me the answer is simple: given the extensive road system and the ample available accommodations, it was obviously the first Bed and Breakfast!
Probably the best known of all the ruins is Mesa Verde, discovered in the 1880's by the Wetherill family of nearby Mancos. It is located in the four corners area of southwest Colorado which is rich in anasazi ruins. To me there are too many folks visiting in the summertime, but it is certainly worth seeing.
Less well known and to the west across the Arizona line is Canyon de Chelly (pronounced "Shay".) This was the defensive heartland of the Navajos from which Kit Carson drove them during the Navajo war. It contains both Navajo homes and farms and Anasazi ruins which predated their arrival in the Southwest.
Also in Arizona and on the Navajo reservation is Navajo National Monument with ruins located down in the canyon. The most dramatic are Betatakin and Keet Seel. Keet Seel is a nine mile hike and looks like a city where the people just walked away.
BACK TO THE ADVENTURE PAGE