hiking
17 days ago

A short backcountry hike in Chaco Canyon, with breathtaking rewards...

The Pueblo Alto trail starts formally at Kin Kletsin which is a short walk from the Pueblo del Arroyo parking lot. It can be hiked as an out & back, or a longer teardrop route.

The beginning of the trail is a steep climb up the northwest side of the canyon, and is somewhat exposed before entering a narrow slot. It quickly reaches the canyon rim, and takes off southeast to contour the canyon, heading to a dramatic overlook of Pueblo Bonito. There are several interesting features to see along the way; watch for wooden park signs pointing them out.

Turning northward, the path climbs at a more leisurely pace, ascending to the Pueblo Alto and New Alto ruins with an expansive view of the canyon below. Directly south on the top of South Mesa, lies Tsin Kletsin, and to the northwest-west, is Peñasco Blanco, the two other clifftop great houses of Chaco Canyon.

This hike was easy enough to bring my eleven year old Vizsla along, but even in April, it's important to carry a couple of liters of water as the trail is primarily in the open sun and can be quite hot.

Returning down the slot can be a challenging, especially in the exposed section, as some of the "steps" are fairly tall. Because of her age, I decided to carry the dog down some of these rather than let her jump.

All in all, a very worthwhile hike.