There are so many ancient pueblos in Chaco Canyon that it can take more than one week to experience them all. Hours upon hours can be spent gazing upon the largest of the great house pueblos that were occupied by thousands of people long ago. Wandering along the pathways will present endless thoughts to ponder over and each vision is like a pause in time. Timeless is the nature of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park experience and the memories will certainly last a lifetime!
Featuring the individual Chacoan great house pueblos is best to do, simply because each one is a remarkable ancient sacred place. None of these pueblos truly stand alone, because they all are interconnected and they all served a common cultural purpose. A good example of this can be found at Chetro Ketl, which sits between Pueblo Bonito and Hungo Pavi. All three of these structures incorporate a “D” shaped floor plan, which can clearly be seen when looking down from the top of the mesa bluff. However, the proportion of certain design elements do differ between these three pueblos. The reasons why the elemental designs differ, yet retain the traditional “D” building complex shape is something to ponder over and the insight gained can provide clues to the functions of each site.
Sitting between Pueblo Bonito and Hungo Pavi is Chetro Ketl and this great house pueblo certainly is a majestic sight to see! The foot trail that goes to this pueblo passes over a mound, so the largest part of the structure remains hidden from view till a visitor is nearly at the end of the trail. Looking at the outlying structures that sre first seen will provide a few clues as to how the foot traffic to the neighboring Pueblo Bonito flowed, because there is a long petroglyph wall between these two great house pueblos. Many hours can be spent deciphering the inscribed messages, which can provide insight into events from long ago.
Chetro Ketl is a very large “D” shaped great house pueblo that once had over 400 rooms. This makes Chetro Ketl the second largest structure in Chaco Canyon and it is estimated to have been over four stories tall. This great house pueblo must have been a place of spiritual importance, because there are a few big kiva ceremonial rooms and one is elevated high upon a terrace overlooking the rest. Several smaller kiva rooms can also be seen in the courtyard level. The big kiva rooms at Chetro Ketl are remarkably well preserved and the lines of the classic native masonry are still crisp and clean. Looking into the big ground level kiva will provide a view of the inner design, which is fascinating to see. Hours can be spent pondering over this kiva alone, so be sure to pack some water when doing the Chetro Ketl tour!
Chetro Ketl is certainly like no other pueblo, yet the classic “D” shape design can be found throughout this part of New Mexico. Chaco Canyon can be compared to a philosopher’s stone in many ways and this sacred place certainly is a spiritual destination. Touring Chetro Ketl will provide a few answers to questions about the past, yet a visit will also reveal many new mysteries to meditate over. This is the magic of Chaco Canyon, so be sure to set aside plenty of time for the trip!
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