I got up at six and went for a run by the river.
Then Dan and I packed our bags and had coffee at a riverside coffee house we enjoyed last year when we were in Pagosa Springs. We finalized our plans for the day over coffee, then went back to the hotel, checked out, and got on the road.
It was a lovely clear morning, and we watched the landscape change as we headed south, back into New Mexico.
Our first stop was Azteca, where we toured some ruins.
They were originally thought to be Aztec ruins, hence the name, but are now considered to be more closely related to the dwellers of Chaco Canyon.
In fact, for anyone interested in Chaco Canyon but without a lot of time, Azteca is a great option. It’s easy to get to, architecturally similar to Chaco, and you can wrap up your visit in an hour.
Chaco, on the other hand, is well over an hour from any decent-size town, and once you’re off the highway, you have another eight miles of paved road and thirteen of rough unpaved road that will ruin your suspension if you take it too fast. You need time and commitment to do Chaco.
It’s worth it, though. Completely and totally.
Chaco has numerous pueblos and they're all simply amazing.
Some of the best views are from the cliff tops.
After hiking for a few hours, we had a picnic lunch and watched our new bunny friend.
We had thought about camping, but Dan wasn't feeling up to par, so we decided to head into town.
It took us three hours over more dirt roads that cows wandered across as casually as if they lived there. Oh, wait—they do. I got a little nervous as night came and we were still on dirt roads with no signage, no lights, no signs of other humans anywhere, but finally we made it onto paved roads again and then to Grants.
The Holiday Inn Express in Grants is quite nice—much better than I would’ve expected for a town this size. Tomorrow we’re considering ice caves, an old volcano, and a wolf sanctuary. We may also go to Pie Town. Tomorrow night or Friday at the latest, we’ll be checking in with my Dad near Belen for a couple days. It’ll be nice to see him. I hope I haven’t completely ruined his birthday present in the back of the Jeep.