Deep in the heart of the American Southwest, in the beautiful state of New Mexico, wheelchair travelers are able to visit and explore Chaco Culture National Park. Between 850 and 1250 A.D, this canyon was a central hub to thousands of people in the southwest. The inhabitants of Chaco Canyon develop a civilization with incredible organization and engineering, unlike any other in the area. The astrology knowledge alone was exceptionally advanced and accurate, which cultivated the rich community known today as Chaco Culture National Park. 

 

Planning

Getting to this park is a challenge due to the remote location; the nearest hotel, for example, is over an hour away. Many visitors choose to camp at the park overnight when visiting. A wheelchair accessible camping spot with a great view and near the bathrooms is available for travelers. From the main highway, a sign appears for Chaco National Park at a dirt road. This road is long, rocky, and dangerous when it rains heavily. Water barges and other various bumps and holes are found along this road as well, so be sure tires are in great condition. Furthermore, there are no lights along this road, so plan accordingly based on driving endurance and experience. Some travelers may want to leave the park and be off this road before dark. Again, it’s not an easy road.   

If able to make it down this rocky road, be sure to bring plenty of water and food since the park is in the middle of the desert. A drinking fountain is at the visitor center, but it’s best to bring your own as well in case there are any issues. There is no on-site cafe or restaurant of any kind. During the warmer months, or depending on personal preference, it’s advisable to bring an umbrella for shade as there is zero in the park, besides the little bits that some buildings and structures provide.

 

Trails + Attractions

Various hiking trails and pathways around Chaco Culture National Park, are constructed packed dirt and rock and many of these routes are barrier-free. A few have a medium to small incline that travels from the parking lot to the highlighted area. Someone with a power wheelchair or assistance will obviously have an easier time navigating the terrain over a person with a manual wheelchair. However, using a manual wheelchair without assistance is still possible at Chaco Canyon, as long as that individual has well-developed upper body strength and endurance.

Chaco Canyon is an exceptional location for stargazing. If possible, signup at the visitor center to participate in a ranger-led exploration of the night sky and discover a little more about the people of Chaco Canyon were all about. Right next to the visitor center is observatory center with a large telescope, which is a part of the nighttime activity.          

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