chaco canyon, New Mexico, from the south?

Jun 16th, 2008, 08:21 AM
  #1  
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chaco canyon, New Mexico, from the south?

Trying to arrange a visit; anyone know if highway 57 (from Thoreau through Crownpoint)is passable, or possible?
If not, what's the best option for a day trip from the Santa Fe or Alb. area, or is there a closer place to stay? thanks
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Jun 16th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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I've never done it following your route, although it looks like a good one.
I've done it this way: Head north out of Santa Fe on 285. Hang a left on 84 just outside of Espanola. Drive through some pretty Georgia O'Keefe scenery. Than take another left on 96. Follow this for what seems like forever until you see a sign for Chaco just before the postage stamp town of Nageezi. Turn left onto a rutted dirt road and hope that it hasn't rained in several days.
Chaco is an incredible place. Oh, and it takes forever to get there. But ti's worth it.
Have fun.
JackOneill is offline  
Jun 16th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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Thanks, it's on my "all time must see" list!
However, I had hoped to cut some driving time by checking out Acoma, El Morro and El Malapis National Monuments, and staying over in Grants (maybe Gallup) and getting an early start to Chaco in the a.m. The idea is to not only see some other sights, but also to maybe not do 21/2 hours each way via Alb. or Santa Fe?
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Jun 16th, 2008, 03:18 PM
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We've always entered from the north as well.

I have heard the southern entrance is rough and if it has rained it could be impassable. I would call them to ask them about the road condition:

Chaco Canyon Cultural Center
(505) 786-7014

It is worth the time and bumps to get there.
BeachGirl247 is offline  
Jun 16th, 2008, 03:24 PM
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So, has anyone out there entered from the south? It looks like about the same distance to the park!
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Jun 16th, 2008, 03:42 PM
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Sorry, I also haven't gone in this way. On the National Park website, they advise calling ahead to make sure the southern route is open.

http://www.nps.gov/chcu/planyourvisit/directions.htm

Utahtea
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Jun 16th, 2008, 05:21 PM
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yup, been to all the official sites, but they only "recommend" entering from the north. Knowing the NPS, they often discourage off the beaten track routes (and I KNOW, Utahtea, you know what I mean, being a NP junkie like me!). I'll suck it up and do the roundtrip from Albuquerque or Santa Fe, but it really looked like a good idea to start the day a little closer and take in some other NMs the day before.
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Jun 16th, 2008, 06:23 PM
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Call them. They can tell you how the road is since they drive it. Unless we drove it very recently we can't tell you the road conditions. I'm sure it will be fine and you can keep your preferred itinerary.

(505) 786-7014

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Jun 16th, 2008, 07:55 PM
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The area around Chaco is very dry and, as a result, the surface is hardpan.
If there is any rain, the water rapidly runs off and collects in low areas.

The time we drove it we entered from north off of US 550 between Albuquerque and Durango.

I had heard horror stories about that road, but I had no problem with it.
I grew up driving on dirt roads and that one was a boulevard compared to some I have driven.

I can see how it would be muddy right after a rain, but as dry as that section of the state is, I don't think rain is much of a threat. Of course, it does come every so often.

We enjoyed Chaco. It is truly an amazing place. Before taking the tours of the various ruins I encourage you to view the learning tools available in the visitor center.

I do advise you to have a nearly full tank of gas and extra water along because there is nothing between the paved highway and the National Park Service reserve. In fact I don't recall any kind of store even close to the turnoff.

brookwood is offline  
Jun 16th, 2008, 11:42 PM
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Ok...since you called me a NP junkie, I had no other option than to search my other boards and try and find you a post. Sorry, but this was the only one that talked about the s. entrance..and it's back in 2005. Sorry

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...ew_Mexico.html


Utahtea (I am a NP Junkie)
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Jun 17th, 2008, 06:42 AM
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Thanks a lot, Utahtea! The first, last, and only actual southern entrance reference; looks like planning will have to be done on the fly (and the NPS will be phoned) if we want to do Malpais, Morro, and Acoma before Chaco.
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Sep 15th, 2008, 05:01 PM
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Just a followup: the southern route into Chaco Canyon from highway 40, past Crownpoint, is a very drivable gravel road with terrific scenery. I would absolutely recommend this route (as long as there isn't a lot of rain)!
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Sep 16th, 2008, 06:23 AM
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Thanks for posting after your trip. Did you contact the visitor center for the road conditions first or just took a chance? Just wondering if they keep it open all the time now.
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Sep 16th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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sylvia, how about a trip report??
Deb
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Sep 16th, 2008, 08:14 AM
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Called in advance a week or so ahead of time, and were told "no worries, road's fine." The NPS website and highway signs are misleading, IMO, though the map on the actual Chaco brochure is correct (but you have to get there to read it!); signs were posted for Chaco at the Milan exit of Hwy 40, so we asked at the large Chaco "Gift Shop and Information" site there and were advised to just take the much easier route 391, past Crownpoint, east on 9, then north on 57 (paved until 57; this was vs. the alternate route through reservation land, which we were told was extremely bumpy). The gravel part into the park was less than 20 miles, and we thought much better than expected (though not as good as the "preferred" road from the north into the park, which we used to leave). After decades of wanting to visit, the one hike I really wanted to do, a 4-5 mile loop to the high pueblo ruins on the mesa (Altos), was closed for the one day we were there! (They were installing a new outhouse in the parking lot; seemed silly to us and others that we couldn't just walk past the trucks.) Chaco is gorgeous, easy to visit once you get there; basically a 9 mile loop and easy access to sites, and 3 or 4 more challenging hikes to other sites.
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Sep 16th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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South is do-able...we have usually entered from the north and left thru the south to get to the interstate quickly...there is no real differance in road texture I can relate...it is wash board here and there no matter what...I have arrived just after a sever thunderstorm the night before and that type of country either soaks up the moisture or quickly sheds it off ....no problem with the road...we usually camp there and they have great camp host or hostess as well as basic bathrooms... enjoy the visit ..
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