Chaco or Bandelier

Mar 22nd, 2006, 11:42 AM
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Chaco or Bandelier

If you have been to both of these National Park sites and you had to choose between the two in terms of preference, which one & why?

How are they alike &/or dissimilar?
laurieb_nyny is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 12:07 PM
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Been to Bandelier (very cool place), wonder the same thing--what's Chaco Canyon like ( first week in April)?
sylvia3 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 02:13 PM
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sylvia3 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 03:00 PM
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Bandelier is interesting and we enjoy visiting anytime we are in the area. The long ladder up to the Ceremonial Cave is really neat. However, Chaco is the center of the whole area. Has some great movies in the Visitor's Center that explain a lot and the walks, expecially through Pueblo Bonito, are amazing. The drawback to Chaco is the drive that includes about 11 miles of dirt (unimproved) road but the result is worth it. If you are time limited, Bandelier is probably the better choice.
LarryT is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 04:47 PM
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Been to both. Spent two nights in Chaco, and one night at Bandeler.

The unimproved road to Chaco is nothing to scare you off, unless the weather is bad. So if its sunny and dry, this is just a dirt road, and then its paved again inside the park.

Chaco is in the middle of nowhere, but has some really great ruins to check out. You can walk in and out of the ruins and some have multiple stories.

Bandelier has the ladder trail which has little ladders that lead into the ruins in the side of the mountain. It also has some ruins on the ground, but they are not as spectacular as Chaco.

If I had to choose one or the other, I would go to Chaco because the ruins themselves are more impressive. However, if you're going to be in Sante Fe, Bandelier is more convenient. Also, it will depend on how much time you want to spend at each place.

If you have a few days, you could hit up Chaco then drive to Bandelier through Jemez Springs. Its a very scenic drive and makes a nice connection between the two areas.

We were in both places in early March. Bandelier had visitors, Chaco was virtually empty. It was cold at night, but warmed up nicely in the daytime which made for great hiking weather. No snow at either place, but there was snow on the drive between the two.
dockruins is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 10:32 PM
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I've been to both and I can't wait to go back to Chaco because it is just amazing. If you were asking me to choose between Chaco and Mesa Verde my choice would be a lot harder, but Bandelier just didn't do that much for me, maybe because I have been to Mesa Verde National Park.

utahtea is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 03:13 AM
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Our fall trip to Colorado and NMexico came together specifically to visit Chaco Canyon. What an incredible place! We also visited Bandelier which was also interesting but much smaller. We also spent some time in Jemez Springs, which was our favorite area of New Mexico - just beautiful. And it's close to Bandelier. Chaco is a huge area - it was the center of this ancient civilization. Bandelier was a small outpost so it's hard to really compare them. The ruins at Chaco are simply remarkable considering how old they are. The road in from Farmington is long (1.5-2 hrs) but its flat and well graded. We camped at Chaco so we could spend as much time there as possible. The campground is small but very nice. If you are really interested in native american cultural sites, Chaco is the place to go.
sharondi is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 05:08 AM
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Thanks so much everyone!

I have already been to Mesa Verde, so just to be clear (which unfortunately is not)is Bandalier more like Mesa Verde (cliff dwellings) & is Chaco different as to types of structures/civilization????

Thanks again.
laurieb_nyny is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:00 AM
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The difference between Bandlier and Mesa is that with Bandelier everything is within walking distance. Plus, and more important, you can climb up into the cliff dwellings at Bandelier.
At Chaco, the biggest dwellings are on the ground and you can walk through them. There is a steep hike up to a ruin that is on top of a mesa. What gorgeous views there. (Bandelier is more enclosed in the canyon.)
JackOneill is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:06 AM
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Chaco is to Bandelier as New York City is to Poughkeepsie.

Visually Bandelier may be more stimulating than Chaco Canyon so, for the casual visitor, it may be more enjoyable.

If you are a student of Ancestral Chacoan (Anasazi) culture, then Chaco Canyon is a "must see".

Chaco was the center of the civilization in the Four Corners Area for several centuries. Bandelier and Mesa Verde were part of that culture but "boomed" only after the collapse of Chacoan Culture (with the influx of refugees from Chaco Canyon). In the case of Bandelier, this influx seems to have been of a somewhat violent nature.

That is a very simple answer. I'd suggest that you go to the library and get the book 'Anasazi America' so you'll better appreciate whatever ruins you decide to visit.

For me Bandelier was amusing whereas Chaco was a very moving experience.

peterboy is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:13 AM
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Im not sure haow these links will work on Fodor's but, for my visual impressions look here:

Go to page 21 of the gallery and the images from Chaco run through page 43.

My impressions of Bandelier are on pages 50 to 53.

peterboy is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 06:31 AM
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At Mesa Verde you have cliff dwellings and some dwellings up on the cliff top that are out in the open and are all but gone. That's the same with Bandelier.

Chaco's ruins, on the other hand are out in the open and are subject to more decay than the cliff dwellings. These kind of dwellings are harder to come by than cliff dwelling just because the cliffs protect them from erosion. Chaco has to be the best in this catagory. Hoovenweep is another good example of out in the open ruins.

utahtea is offline  

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