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hrewer 03-02-2019 07:10 PM

Chaco Canyon roads
We’re interested in camping at the Gallo campground in Chaco Canyon. We have a 17’ trailer and drive an all wheel drive Toyota Highlander. If you have been there, would you recommend it with our set up? It looks like there are two ways to go in, from the north on 550 or from the south using 371, 9, and 14. Is one of these easier?
We’re planning for the end of September.

Jack L 03-02-2019 08:11 PM

I've visited Chaco Canyon twice. Once in the summer and going in was easy, but it poured rain before leaving and the dirt road turned into about 6 inches of slippery mud. Getting out - no trailer then- was awful. The second time was late April and going in was horrible. I should have cancelled this leg of the trip, but I didn't. It was snowing with 4 inches of snow un top of 5 or so inches of slippery mud. I was determined to get there and have a Tacoma 4X4 off road truck with great BFG all terrain tires, otherwise I do not think I would have made it. I am hard headed and shortly after starting in, I contemplated turning around, and should have, but I didn't. There is not any good place to stop or use a phone. Cell service is always questionable.

If the dirt roads are dry, you will have no problem, but if they are not, use caution. The roads in the park are paved and very nice, but the roads outside the park are Navajo Reservation dirt roads. My first trip was from the south and the second trip was from the north. Road condition on both was about equal. From memory, coming in from the north was longer. Chaco is beautiful and worth the effort. Have fun.

Paul O. 03-02-2019 11:39 PM

Chaco Canyon is a great place to visit, we saw it three times. The last time, four years ago, we drove in on the south road and out on the north road. The south access was reasonable, graveled and graded for the most part, the north was bad. It was, in parts, just bedrock. Make sure everything is secured: drawers, refrigerator door, oven door, put anything loose on the floor, etc. The vent hood over my stove broke lose when the mounting screws pulled through the shelving material. I spent 40 minutes fixing and securing things when we got back to pavement. Plan to go slow and easy.

Jack L 03-03-2019 05:38 AM

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The advice that Paul O and I have suggested should be applied to all Reservation roads. Very beautiful country with very little road maintenance.

Less snow when I got there, but a very dirty truck and trailer.

CPrice 03-03-2019 06:18 AM

I will be working here as a campground host during July and August!
IMHO, this is one of the most beautiful locations in the SW and I spent 25+ years roaming the SW.
You will be inside one of the most historic pueblos in NM which I'm sure you know.
Also, you will be inside one of the best dark sky communities in the west. You might even get lucky with professional telescopes on the weekend from Albuquerque State University as they often come out to the campground to teach the students.
I have driven the road twice and found Trip Advisor to be the best source of information. I especially like this thread:

You will be so enriched by this experience, happy and safe travels.

ZachO 03-03-2019 09:45 AM

What I remember is terrible, terrible washboard. I should have spent more time because I remember not being all that impressed but I trust the opinion of Cheryl, since she's spent so much time in the area, so I must not have been open enough to the experience. It was part of a long, long road trip.

The road was flat and wide, just washboard, so in my little motorhome I just had to go about 10mph to keep things from shaking apart. Frustrating and so...slow...but completely passable. Wouldn't have wanted to see it after a big rain or snow.

MyronL 03-03-2019 11:04 AM

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On our trip in the road was rough enough that this fellow didn't know he had a flat tire until he'd run it down to the rim. Lucky for him some kindly locals helped him out.

That road can be extremely treacherous, in particular if it has rained. Numerous mud gullies will be very slippery and not for the faint of heart. All I could do about it was keep it in low gear, go as fast through it as you dare to, always watching your trailer fish-tailing behind you, count on your momentum, prayer, and never, never stop! Worth the drive in, of course, so long as you take it seriously.

Kenny Strong 03-03-2019 02:46 PM

Chaco roads
Hi came in from the north,, I expressed to my wife. I am so glad I didn't bring the 13' Bigfoot trailer. The road was one of the worst washboard roads I have seen. I felt 10 miles an Hr. Might be the safest I have had cabinet door hinge screws pull out. (closet door at entrance.) I was doing 10 to 30 mph. Higher speed on flatter sections. on that washboard road. If you can Park trailer out side the park and drive in to check the road. You can chose to drive in or not. Or call the entrance center in the park. Loved the site. Came in May . very dry
Later Kenny.

hrewer 03-03-2019 03:07 PM

Any ideas for where you could camp close by instead of taking in the trailer?

Lee Senn 03-03-2019 08:15 PM

chaco canyon
Lived in New Mexico for 35 years and visited Chaco Canyon several times, all of the above advice is good. I seem to remember a documentary on Public TV , I think narrated by Robert Redford , that I would heartily recommend viewing . It gives incredible insight into what would otherwise be an interesting visit and converts it into an amazing experience. Lee and Norma

UWilly 03-03-2019 08:26 PM

We have been in Chaco Canyon close to 16 times over the last 50 years and for a while made the Spring Equinox each year to view the Sun breaking over the rim in the morning that shines through several door structures that lined up. It lasts only a few minute – but it’s GREAT and a marvel of the ingenuity of the indigenous people of this county to create it without slide rules, computers and toy phones! It is in the same realm as Horsetail Fall @ YOSE. The last couple of times we were at Chaco – I enjoyed being on the “other side” - watching humanity. The whole site is a marvelous example of just plain neat engineering.

The road into the canyon IS A WASHBOARD - basically to reduce traffic into one of the most serene sites in our country (daytime or @ night) and a home to the Anasazi (Hopi/Zuni/Acoma ancestors).

Driving to the canyon from the North or the South depends on which approach was graded most recently. When traveling into the canyon – keep a third eye on the weather. From the North approach you drive through several dry washes. When they say “don’t drive through when water is present”, believe them! Just TAKE YOUR TIME and tighten down the hatches.

You’ll not regret the time & effort spent in visiting the site. It is a place to just stop and just be. Around mid-March or mid-September when it is not so hot, is probably best. The last time we were there for the Vernal Equinox, it got down to 8 degrees at night. Still had a great time.

CPrice 03-06-2019 03:06 PM


Originally Posted by UWilly (Post 734780)
The road into the canyon IS A WASHBOARD - basically to reduce traffic into one of the most serene sites in our country (daytime or @ night) and a home to the Anasazi (Hopi/Zuni/Acoma ancestors).
You’ll not regret the time & effort spent in visiting the site. It is a place to just stop and just be. Around mid-March or mid-September when it is not so hot, is probably best.

Wonderful post!

Mike Magee 03-06-2019 05:50 PM

Beautiful? The place is a total ruin! :) Just kidding.

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