Chaco Canyon and Lybrook Badlands Adventure

Aimee, Steve, Maya, and Ian Price suggested going over to Chaco Canyon on the Long Indigenous Peoples / Columbus Day weekend. We’ve been wanting to do that trip, so this sounded perfect! Manesh, Drew, and Aimee’s folks were also part of the trip.

Chaco Canyon is truly amazing, we recommend it (and would love to go back with you!). The recent High Country News article “We traveled 2,000 miles to save Chaco Canyon” is a good reminder that more of our heritage needs protecting.

We left Los Alamos as soon as school was out on Friday. We drove out NM-126 past Fenton Lake, through Seven Springs, and out NM 126 into Cuba – the road was a bit rough for a few miles, but overall it was in great shape. And a beautiful drive!

We drove on out NM-550 and had no problem finding Chaco Canyon (plenty of road signs). The final couple of miles of road were pretty rough (~ 5 miles of dirt road, maybe 1 mile of really washboard road – no bad ruts). We pulled into the campground and were happy to see our friends. We setup camp and got settled in. We brought the hammock (and hammock stand – no trees…) and that was quite the hit. We had a good campfire and enjoyed the amazing stars. We did bring bikes – other than Aven riding around the camp area a bit, we didn’t use them much. Biking could have been fun, but we ran out of time! Here are a few photos from around camp:

Camp panorama and some nice sunsets:

We enjoyed camp in the morning, but rallied for a group hike. We had several good adventures exploring the area – what an amazing site. I’m really glad it is a UNESCO World Heritage site! The ruins in the area are simply fantastic and well worth exploring. We love Bandelier and Mesa Verde, but this is a different scale / experience.

Amazing ruins:

We had several good hikes. Here’s the hiking gang:

Heading up the stairs / crack behind Kin Kletso to be up on the canyon. Look for the crazy kids (and crazy adults!) charging ahead:

And… up on the canyon and hiking to the Pueblo Alto Complex.

The next day we went out towards Casa Casita and Penasco Blanco. The rain clouds on the horizon did end up raining on us. We split off from the group and turned back to head home.

Rock love – could Aven be a future Geologist?

On the way back out, just in front of Kin Kletso

We were all packed up, but had some time and decided the rain wasn’t too threatening, so we went back through the Lybrook Badlands (amazing, highly recommended, but also, be prepared/warned! I recorded our drive and hike with Strava and we drove a 30% grade, single-wide, dirt road that would be unpassable (slick clay) in rain. We had no problem in our Honda Pilot, but we were close to the edge of too much.


And two badland panos:

We drove on out, got back on NM-550, and then decided to take NM-96 back north of the Jemez (instead of through) and enjoyed the scenery of La Jara, Galena, Coyote (and of course, a stop at Bode’s in Abiquiu). Great weekend adventure, and just a taste of exploring the area!

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