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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon

Fajada Butte, just along the canyon from our campsite
It’s several days now since we left Chaco Canyon, and this is turning into a stunning, memorable journey. Every day has brought us novel experiences, dazzling landscapes and remarkable people – most of them offering the kind of grace, warmth and hospitality that would make any of us resolve to be a better, kinder person. If that sounds sentimental, so be it. If I get the chance over the next few days I shall see whether my writerly skills are up to the task of conveying more fully what I mean.

For now, I can offer these images from the astonishing ruins that are to be found at Chaco Canyon, a centre for Anasazi ceremony and culture in the mid-9th to mid-12th centuries A.D. The largest structure is Pueblo Bonito, a D-shaped complex of dwellings, storehouses and kivas (circular ceremonial chambers) originally three and four storeys high which formed the largest building in North America until (if I recall the Ranger’s talk correctly) 1871. Or it may have been 1880. Either way, you get the picture: lots of rooms – 600 in total.

Pueblo Bonito from the mesa
The architecture and stonework of these buildings is fascinating; this gives a flavour of the style

There are many other complexes along the canyon – such as Chetro Ketl, a Chacoan great house which rose to three storeys and encompassed 500 rooms. It was neither wind, nor storm nor any other natural force which reduced their stature – rather the zealous pot-hunters of the nineteenth century. (No comment.)

Rear wall (i.e., against the canyon), Chetro Ketl

Chetro Ketl from the mesa

And there were more modest dwellings like this one, tucked away under the bluffs just fifty feet from where we pitched our tent.

As well as these fabulous ruins we were able to enjoy scenery – both along the canyon floor and up on the mesa - that took our breath away.

...even though some of it was hard to get to




Tomorrow we drive west to Canyon de Chelly, and try to catch up on a wonderful three days in Taos.

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