Cuba, New Mexico & Surrounding Area
Some of the local roads recommended by map publishers and services using GPS to access Chaco are unsafe for passenger cars and DO NOT show the best route. Some even place Chaco many miles away from where it actually is! Please use our directions below to avoid getting lost or stuck.
From Cuba, drive NW on US 550 to CR 7900, approximately 50 miles from Cuba (at mile 112.5). This route is clearly signed from US 550 to the park boundary (21 miles). The route includes 8 miles of paved road (CR 7900) and 13 miles of mild to rough to bone-jarring dirt road, depending on local authorities inclination to work on the road. Inside park boundaries, all roads are paved.
In inclement weather, the dirt road can be difficult to impossible for most family cars to negotiate. We are NOT kidding, trying to be dramatic or overly cautious!
For all the wild beauty of Chaco Canyon's high-desert landscape, its long winters, short growing seasons, and marginal rainfall create an unlikely place for a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture to take root and flourish. Yet this valley was the center of a thriving culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its community social organization, and its far-reaching commerce created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since.
The cultural flowering of the Chacoan people began in the mid 800s and lasted more than 300 years. We can see it clearly in the grand scale of the architecture. Using masonry techniques unique for their time, they constructed massive stone buildings (Great Houses) of multiple stories containing hundreds of rooms much larger than any they had previously built. The buildings were planned from the start, in contrast to the usual practiced of adding rooms to existing structures as needed.
Constructions on some of these buildings spanned decades and even centuries.
CHACO CULTURE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Pueblo Bonito at Chaco
Inhabitants of Chaco were either not very tall or bent over a lot.