Volume 3 covers Kin Kletso, Casa Chiquita, Penasco Blanco trail and Pueblo, and Alto Mesa trail and Pueblo Alto complex
Kin Kletso is one-half mile west of Pueblo Bonito on the north side of the canyon. It's a McElmo Phase pueblo with 55 rooms and 5 kivas arranged in a rectangular configuration. There are no ground-level exterior doors in the pueblo. Entry was gained by climbing ladders to doors or roof openings in the upper stories. The lower half of a third story can be seen along the north wall.
Casa Chiquita is located on the north side of Chaco Canyon about a mile west of Pueblo Bonito. It's a Pueblo III, McElmo phase pueblo of 50 rooms and 3 kivas, making it possibly the smallest pueblo in Chaco Canyon. It's built in and around a hill and is roughly square in shape. Casa Chiquita is unexcavated with only minor stabilization of its walls.
Peñasco Blanco Trail
Peñasco Blanco trail is one of my two favorite trails at Chaco. It's roughly 7 to 8 miles (depending on what trail guide you read) out and back and is rated as moderate. The trailhead is at the Peublo del Arroyo parking lot. The trail passes Kin Kletso (about 0.25 mile) and Casa Chiquita (about 1 mile). A short side trail just beyond Casa Chiquita leads to the largest collection of petroglyphs in Chaco Canyon. The trail parallels Chaco Wash for a while and bifurcates (love that word) just before crossing the wash. The left fork continues to Peñasco Blanco. The right fork is a loop that goes to the supernova pictograph and then rejoins the main trail. Shortly after crossing the wash the trail climbs onto West Mesa and ends at Peñasco Blanco ruin. Peñasco Blanco trail traverses desert terrain all the way and is fully exposed to the sun, so take plenty of water on the hike. If you're lucky you might see some reptiles along the way.
The supernova pictograph consists of a concentric circle painted in red on the cliff wall, and a sunburst, crescent moon, and hand also in red on the overhang above. The hypothesis is that this represents the supernova documented by Chinese astronomers in AD 1054. Who am I to argue? Cliff swallows keep building their nests close to the pictographs and the NPS keeps knocking them down.
Peñasco Blanco is a largely unexcavated Bonito Phase pueblo located on West Mesa about 3 miles west of Pueblo Bonito. Construction of the pueblo may have started earlier than most of the other great houses, around AD 900. The ruin is oval shaped with about 160 ground-floor rooms built around a central plaza. Three kivas are located in the plaza, and there is a great kiva located to the northwest. Construction continued for about 110 years, and several different masonry styles were used.
Alto Mesa trail
The Alto Mesa Trail is a moderate 4.8 mile loop trail on top of Alto Mesa on the north side of Chaco Canyon. I consider it one of the two primo trails at Chaco. We will hike the trail counter-clockwise around the loop. The first part of the trail takes us along the north rim of Chaco Canyon where we will have a birds-eye view of Kin Kletso, Pueblo del Arroyo, Pueblo Bonito, and Chetro Ketl. The trail then climbs onto Alto Mesa, past some ancient Chacoan steps known as the Jackson Stairs, and continues on to the Pueblo Alto Complex (Pueblo Alto and New Alto). From there it's a short jog back to our starting point.
Pueblo Alto Complex
The Pueblo Alto Complex is a combination of two pueblos, Pueblo Alto and New Alto. Pueblo Alto has been extensively excavated and partially backfilled; New Alto has not been excavated. Pueblo Alto is located two-thirds of a mile north of Pueblo Bonito on the north mesa (Alto Mesa). Pueblo Alto is a Pueblo III town of 100 one-story rooms and 11 kivas. A number of Chacoan roadways extend north and south from the pueblo.
New Alto is located 400 feet west of Pueblo Alto. It's a small square McElmo Phase pueblo of 28 ground-floor rooms around a small courtyard containing one kiva. Its walls are well preserved and were two stories in places. This made it much more interesting to photograph than Pueblo Alto.
Source material obtained from Chaco Canyon Archaeology and Achaeologists by Robert and Florence Lister, and Wikipedia.
Use the form on the Home Page to submit comments, questions, or suggestions. TD Productions Copyright © 2019