New Mexico Scouting

By December 24, 2013November 24th, 2021No Comments


(Walking The World, since 1987, has been designing and leading guided walking tours around the world, or hiking tours if you will, for those over 50.)

If adventure is your passion, head to the northwest part of New Mexico for one of your walking vacations.

I recently took a short scouting trip to the wilds of northwest New Mexico to develop a new Walking The World adventure tour for 2012.  For several years we’ve operated a trip to New Mexico that focuses more on the areas around Santa Fe and Taos.  Now I think you’ll love exploring new areas like El Malpais National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park , or Chaco Canyon as most people know it, El Morro National Monument, the Bisti Badlands Wilderness Area, and of course a visit to Santa Fe for some gourmet wining and dining.

From Ft. Collins, Colorado, where I live, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, my jumping off point to explore NW New Mexico, it’s a long but interesting drive.  It was made more so by the traffic jams in both Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado.  But I digress.  My first stop was Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  Now, just getting to Chaco can be an adventure in itself.  From Albuquerque I actually headed back north on Interstate 25 to Hwy 550 at the Bernalillo exit.    Once on Hwy 550 it’s about 65 miles to the town of Cuba – no relation to the Island – and then another 50 miles, all on well paved two-lane road, to the turnoff (South) to Chaco on San Juan County Road 7900.  There’s a sign marking the turnoff to Chaco, but it’s not large and it comes up pretty quickly, so watch your mileage and stay alert.  From the turnoff on CR 7900 it’s about 21 miles to Chaco, much of the distance on dirt roads.

I love driving on dirt roads out in the middle of nowhere with a sky so big it seems like it will go on forever.  It’s a feeling of freedom and wildness for me, a feeling I find most often when I’m out in the wide open expanses of the western United States.   On this day, the sky was blue, the air was clear, there was little or no traffic, again something I like because it’s like it’s my own little part of the planet that I get to explore without busloads of tourists, and the ruts in the road were manageable.  Truly, there’s not much out in this part of New Mexico.  There’s Sagebrush and Rabbitbrush, some cactus and other low shrubs but very few trees and little wildlife.  One thing there is a lot of is quiet.  And stillness.  I like to stop my car from time-to-time, get out and just let my body relax in a stillness found in few other places.  It’s hard to describe,  but it’s like my body relaxes in the quiet and stillness.  My mind quits racing with so many thoughts and ideas.  I can actually feel my body calm and settle in to just being a part of where I am.  No worries, no time constraints, no anything except a slow smile creeping across my face because I feel so doggone good.

Okay, back to Chaco.  As you get close to Chaco you’ll start to notice the landscape becoming a bit hillier and before long you’ll spot the first ruin at Chaco, an incredible feeling and sight.  The questions start to come.  How did they find their way here?  What was so appealing about this place way out in the middle of nowhere?  How many people lived here?  What happened to them?  What did they eat?  And many, many more questions.  Which I’ll address in the next post.  For now, here are a few photos of a wild, mysterious and magical destination – Chaco Culture Historical Park.