Archives for category: Traveling


After two day & nights which we thoroughly enjoyed, we left Chaco Canyon.  Knowing what the road would be like on the way out we were prepared for a slow “morning commute.”  Taking our time, when we got to the paved road, we stopped to put on our friction sway control, as the manufacturer recommended that it not be used in off-road conditions.  You can see the dust on the Jayco as husband-man puts the sway bar back on; the whole pop-up was pretty much coated with it but the inside stayed clean.


As we travelled away from Chaco, we made some plans on-the-fly.  Matthew had never been to Santa Fe &, since it was only a little over three hours away, we decided to spend an afternoon in one of the oldest cities in the U.S.


Parking in Santa Fe can be dicey, even when you’re not towing a small camper, but we were able to find some empty parking spaces about four blocks from the square in Santa Fe.  We fed two meters & then went to feed ourselves at La Palacio, a TripAdvisor recommendation.  A small, family-run cafe, I had an excellent chicken burrito, Matthew’s steak tacos were just as good, & my Mom had a very tasty mushroom soup & BLTA sandwich.

After lunch, off we walked to do the “touristy” things including  looking at the Native American jewelry & crafts sold on the sidewalk in front of the Governor’s mansion, walking around the square, walking to the “oldest house” in Santa Fe & also viewing San Miguel Church. (Pixs in order from above)



We followed the old Santa Fe Trail out of town & moved on to our next stop, Las Vegas, NM.  Given the boondocking in Chaco Canyon, we figured that a night in a hotel would be nice so we made reservations at the Super 8 in Las Vegas, which is as nice as its reviews.  Next stop the next day: Fort Union National Monument along the Santa Fe Trail.




Our stay at Chaco Canyon National Historical Park was one of the highlights of our trip & we really wished to have camped there a few more nights.  That being said, Chaco Canyon may not be a highlight for everyone.  There are RV blogs which make every place sound like paradise & which never note the downside of anything.  For us, going to Chaco did not have much of a downside, however, there are some parts of visiting there that might not constitute a good time to others.


First of all, the road back to the Canyon.  The above picture shows the paved part of the road once you get into the Park.  This is after about 20 miles of a road which starts out paved, turns to gravel-and-dirt, then to dirt-and-potholes before ending up paved.  

We came to Chaco by the northern road & it had been graded six weeks prior to our visit.  A look at pixs around the web, however, shows that the road can get pretty bad &, if there has been recent rain, the Rangers say it’s impassable.  (In case you’re wondering how the Park Rangers manage, they have on-site housing.) Even with the road being recently graded, we still kept it under 10 mph (or less) on the dirt part.  No question, it’s a bit of a shake-down cruise & a dustbath.


Second, once you make it back to the campground, be prepared for a primitive campsite.  As you can see, we had a great site, however, sites are not overly long altho’ nicely spaced.  There is no electric, water, or sewer on-site, just parking, a tent pad & fire ring. The CG has a lavatory with an outside sink for dishes but no showers.  

For us, after years of wanting to boondock, this was our first time dry camping & we enjoyed it.  Or, let’s say, we didn’t notice much difference between dry camping & our normal mode of camping.  We did have a solar panel to keep our battery topped off &, before the trip, replaced the Jayco’s incandescent bulbs with LEDs to conserve energy.  Temps were on the cool side at night, in the 40s, but the pop-up had a propane furnace so we stayed warm.  Even Mom who had never camped before enjoyed it but then again, she’s pretty flexible.  Not everyone wants to rough it!


Third, what Chaco Canyon National Park is about is the ruins of an ancient culture.  The logs in the wall in the above pix are over 1000 years old & come from as far away as 70 miles.  We find that amazing & fascinating… but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea!  I can see how someone who is not into Southwest antiquities could come to Chaco & say “What’s the big deal?!”  Given what it takes to get to there, some may be happier visiting a more accessible National Park like Mesa Verde.  Or even just looking at pixs on a blog.

Add to this that, given where it is, Chaco Canyon is not exactly cell phone & Wifi-accessible.  Those who are addicted to their technology, especially the younger set, may not be happy about spending a few days cut off from the known world. 🙂


All things considered though, we loved Chaco Canyon & would go there again in an instant especially when spending the evenings enjoying the quiet beauty of a Southwest sunset.


Overnighting at Chaco was great, largely because it was so dark & quiet there.  After spending a restful night at the campground, our plans included taking the ranger-guided tour through Pueblo Bonito, which is the largest set of ruins in Chaco Canyon.


The Park Ranger who lead the tour was G.B. Cornucopia & he was the same ranger who gave the Dark Skies presentation the night before.  He initially came to Chaco as a tourist interested in astronomy & over the years that interest lead to him becoming a Park Ranger there.  His tour of Pueblo Bonito started with the disclaimer that most questions about the Canyon can honestly be answered by the phrase, “We don’t know.”  Despite that, he certainly had a lot to say about what Southwest antiquities experts think may have taken place there 1000 years ago.


This size of Pueblo Bonito is impressive &, if you are going take a day-trip to Chaco, it is the one ruin recommended that you see because it does have both rooms & kivas.  Of course, as Ranger Cornucopia said, they can’t say for certain what the purpose of the rooms & kivas were.  Until recently it had been thought that the kivas were used for religious purposes but current research has backed off on that theory.


We also toured Pueblo del Arroyo on our own &, while not as sprawling as Pueblo Bonito, we enjoyed walking around it just as much, maybe because we had the place to ourselves.


After spending a good part of the day touring the ruins, it was nice to sit down at the Jayco & read & enjoy the scenery.  There’s more of that to come in the next entry.