Fajada Butte of Chaco Culture National Historic Park

December 8, 2011
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The sun rises on the top of Fajada Butte of Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico. (Mike Cavaroc)
The sun rises on the top of Fajada Butte of Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico.

Throughout the road trip that I returned from earlier last week, I was telling people that one of the places that left a lasting impression on me was Chaco Culture National Historic Park, aka, Chaco Canyon, and the ruins found therein. The entire complex is quite mesmerizing and is well worth the journey into a completely remote area of northwestern New Mexico.

There is one set of ruins, however, that is closed off to public access due to its fragile nature. Erosion from tourism forced the park service to shut down the Sun Dagger site, which rests at the top of a lone butte called Fajada Butte, rising out of the desert floor at the mouth of Chaco Canyon itself. The site made incredible uses of petroglyphs to mark the equinoxes from both the moon and sun using spirals carved into boulders as light broke through other boulders. A nice illustration can be found on Wikipedia here.

Fajada Butte is only one of many captivating attractions at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. The entire area will bring a profound new appreciation for ruins not just there, but all over the southwest.

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