Which Ancient Puebloan monument in April?

Old Dec 20th, 2022, 07:06 PM
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Which Ancient Puebloan monument in April?

Greetings, and thanks in advance for your help! I am planning a trip for April 2023 and trying to understand which Ancient Puebloan cultural monument (Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Canyon of the Ancients, Bandolier) will have the most content available when we are there. I have one whole day budgeted into the trip for Ancient Puebloan culture.

I was going to go to Mesa Verde, but it doesnít seem like we will be able to get to either of the largest attractions. I really wanted to do the tour of Cliff Palace, but the website said they donít start until Memorial Day. I read that Mesa Top Road is closed for construction, so Iím not sure if we would even be able to get to the overlook. On top of that, the museum is closed. It also looked like the road to Long House doesnít open until May, and our dates are fixed to a business trip.

Chaco Canyon was on the list too, but several people on the boards said we couldnít go there in a rental. How rough is the road? My opinion is that what the rental company doesnít know wonít hurt me. My other problem with Chaco was a video I saw that explained why the museum didnít have any artifacts on display. That lessens the experience for us. The other problem is where to stay. We are NOT campers.

I also started looking at Canyon of the Ancients, but I was wondering how far from the parking area to intact ruins? We are in average shape for 48 & 50 yr old plump Americans, so some hiking is ok, but I know we canít do like 12 miles or something. Ladders and clambering over bounds and stuff is fine for short periods. Also, how do these ruins compare to Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon?

Bandolier is also a consideration as we might be in that area, but I really wanted to see one of the ruins under the rock overhangs.

My questions to you:
1. Which Ancient Puebloan cultural monument will have the most content to enjoy in the first 3 weeks in April?
2. Will there be any guided tours available?
3. Will the roads be reasonably accessible by non 4x4 vehicles? We can get an SUV rental, but it wonít have an offroad package or giant tires.
4. What am I missing; what didnít I think of?

Thanks again!

Jennifer S.
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 04:18 AM
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Where are you going on this trip other than to an ancient ruin? I ask because there are hundreds of sites with ruins in the southwest, many of which might be on your route and give you a chance to see a variety of styles.

Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon are two of my favorites but given that Mesa Verde will be mostly closed I would probably give it a pass. The closest lodging to Chaco we have found for Chaco is in Bloomfield, NM about a half hour north of the road into Chaco. That road starts out paved for about 5 miles then is unpaved for about 10 miles then is paved when you get into the National Park. Do not go on it if it has rained. Near Bloomfield are Aztec Ruin and Salmon Ruin which are much smaller.

I really like Bandolier and meant of the dwellings there are carved into the soft rock of the mountainside rather than built from smaller rocks. I have some photos at www.Flickr.com/photos/emalloy2009. Click on the albums for trips to the area.

If we knew where else you were going we could suggest other sites.
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 06:36 AM
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If you are coming from Albuquerque you could stop off at Acoma: Sky City which is about 1.5 hours west. Built on a mesa rising 357’ above the valley floor, this is one of three oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the U.S. It is thought it was built c.1250 A.D. The tour takes you through the adobe/stone village where one can buy lovely Indian pottery from venders for little money. The 1629 San Esteban de Rey Mission Church has five-feet-thick walls and impressive religious paintings from that period.
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 12:41 PM
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Thanks for the replies. We’re flying into Albuquerque for 2 days of meetings in Santa Fe, then our vacation starts. We plan to go to Monument Valley and Grand Canyon. I’m hoping to fit in a slot canyon in Page too. We have about a week or so to fit it all in. Then fly out of Phoenix or Vegas.
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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 01:23 PM
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They are not Puebloan but Mogollon, but would Gila Cliff Dwellings Work? There is lodging in Silver City NM. You actually do climb a few ladders and walk through some of the enclosed rooms.

https://www.nps.gov/articles/gila.htm

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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 02:52 PM
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You could try Navaho National Monument, but I am not sure that you can see the cliff dwelllings up close even with a guide. My picture was taken with a zoom:


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Old Dec 21st, 2022, 06:43 PM
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Canyon of the Ancients is fantastic--see the museum in Dolores and then the I would see the Lowry Pueblo. If you click on my user name, you will see a trip report for Mesa Verde that includes canyon of the ancients, I would recommend Salmon and Aztec monuments-- they are on my bucket list. Chaco is try amazing. The road should not be an issue in April. The other option would be Hovenweep. But check the park website for conditions.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2022, 02:51 PM
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The guided hike at Navajo National Monument also doesn't start until Memorial Day weekend. There's no self guided option.

I haven't taken a guided tour at Canyon de Chelly but I believe some of these include ruins. These are ruins under rock overhangs but aren't as extensive as the ones at Mesa Verde. You used to be able to hike down without a guide but that trail was still closed as of earlier this month.

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Old Dec 23rd, 2022, 03:52 AM
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Canyon de Chelley makes a good stop on your way to Grand Canyon. Get your own guide rather than take the “shake and bake” tour. There is lodging in Chinle and guides there as well as from the NP VC
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Old Dec 28th, 2022, 12:02 PM
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Canyon de Chelly is a remarkable site to visit. You have to travel with a Navajo guide if you want to( you should) go down into the Canyon. We had Adam Teller of Antelope House Tours as our Navajo guide and highly recommend him.
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Old Jan 1st, 2023, 08:34 PM
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Thank you everyone for the great info and suggestions. Mesa Verde is definitely out for this trip, and Chaco Canyon too. We’ll have to see them another time. Unfortunately, Gila is too far south for this trip, but it’s been added as a place to go someday. We plan ongoing to Bandalier, Aztec, and Canyon of the Ancients (great TR StantonHyde).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 05:16 AM
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Sounds like a good plan for this trip. The kiva at Aztec is spectacular. There is a less developed area of Banndolier called Tswanki is about 5 miles closer to Santa Fe. It is a great place to explore on your own and there were ladders to help you up to the sites when we were there several years ago.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 08:50 AM
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Aztec is still on my to see list--as is Bandoleir (sp?) and Salmon. Glad the TR was helpful. Can't wait to see yours after you visit these great places!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 12:12 PM
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I'm not sure where you're planning to stay but Hovenweep is not that far from Canyonlands of the Ancients and you could do both.
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Old Jan 15th, 2023, 08:02 PM
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I'd also add in a recommendation for Chimney Rock. The natural landforms are amazing with Puebloan ruins near the top, making for an scenic and not-too-difficult hike. It's got good accommodation in nearby Pagosa Springs.



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