Day 28 – Aztec Ruins and Angel Peak
We got things together early today even though we have less than 100 miles to travel. Our destination was the town of Aztec, NM and the pueblo site there followed by finding a suitable bush camp for the night. The Aztec Ruins were not originally on our plan but after listening to our guide in Mesa Verde we decided to stop by and see the park. We were not disappointed. This pueblo site had a fully reconstructed great kiva as well as many intact rooms and chambers. The little museum at the visitor center was terrific as was the film. We had lunch at the site and then headed further south in search of a spot for the night. Twenty miles down the road we spotted a sign for Angel Peak Recreational Area and decided to give it a try. Six miles down a gravel road found us at a campground overlooking the badland canyons. We had our pick of sites and decided on one that was right on the canyon rim. Our picnic table literally on the edge of the canyon proved to be an awesome dinner table and the campfire that night was outstanding thanks to Bobbie’s pyro-maniacal skills. The stars were bright, as was the ¾ moon…so no Milky Way tonight.
Day 29 – Chaco Culture National Historic Park
We slept in a bit and enjoyed a morning bicycle ride around the canyon rim. We set off further south toward our next historical park. From the main highway we traveled 20 miles on a paved road followed by 14 miles of a really rutted dirt road until reaching the park boundary. We were amazed that a national park would have such unimproved access until we got to the actual entrance to the park. It was warm and dry, high desert at its best and our campsite for the next two nights was right near the ruins. We settled in for a late lunch and an afternoon of “doing nothing.”
Day 30 – Biking Chaco Culture National Historic Park
With trail map in hand we headed out on our bikes to ride the ten mile loop road through the park. The canyon is neither very wide nor very deep and the ruins are all within a short hike of each viewpoint and parking area. The sky was clear blue and the 80o temp helped make the ride one of the most enjoyable so far. The ruins were huge. The Chaco culture was the largest of the pueblo people and some of the sites had as many as 500 rooms. We wandered through five of the nine pueblos on the canyon floor. There were few people; probably due to the location and limited access to the park. One of the trails followed the cliff walls and we were able to walk right up and view many interesting petroglyphs. It was a short day. All in all we biked about ten miles and hiked another three. Back at camp we settled in for a relaxing uninvolved afternoon in the dry desert. We had a nice campfire this evening under the star-filled sky and full moon.