The trail to the Pueblo Bonito Overlook Trail is a two mile round trip and the difficulty level is on the high end of the moderate level. Not every visitor will be able to do this trek, because the steep climb up to the very narrow crevice passageway that goes to the top of the mesa is like tackling an obstacle course. Those who have mobility challenges may find this trek impossible to do and visitors who are prone to dizzy spells during strenuous activity are advised to take it slow. This is a very remote area in New Mexico and a serious injury is guaranteed to result in a very long wait for rescue, so safety should always be the first concern.
On the flip-side, those who are spry and physically fit will find the trail to the overlook to be an adventurous easy hike. The total length of this trail is a bit deceptive, because the parking area is located near Pueblo Bonito and the overlook trailhead is located a fair distance away on the Penasco Blanco Trail at the Kin Kletso Great House Pueblo, which is also known as Yellow House. Packing extra water and a snack is advisable, especially on a hot day. The extra fuel will enable following another trail option on the mesa top that goes to Pueblo Alto, which is a five mile loop trek.
While weaving around and over the boulders on the way up to the mesa rim crevice, the overviews of Kin Kletso are amazing to see. Kin Kletso is a majestic 65 room great house pueblo and more information will be featured in a future article. The narrow crevice up to the mesa rim actually is the easier of the challenges, but wide people may have to turn sideways to ease on through. There is a constant draft of cool refreshing air running through this shady narrow gap, so this part of the journey actually is a very pleasant experience.
Once on top of the mesa, the Pueblo Bonito Overlook Trail is well marked and easy to follow. The trail goes over relatively flat ground as it weaves its way along the rim of the mesa, so this end of the hike is like taking a walk in the park. There are several protected archaeological sites to be found along the way, which include an ancient stone circle and several pecked basins, which are carved into the solid bed rock. These small basins were likely used for grinding food or raw materials and they are an interesting study to ponder over. There are also dozens of fossilized prehistoric shrimp burrows to be seen on the bedrock surface, which indicate that this region was once covered with oceanic waters.
The foot trail literally comes to a dead end at the Pueblo Bonito overlook and the first view will likely result in the jaw dropping in awe! The bird's eye view of Pueblo Bonito is magnificent to see and the features of the entire Chaco Canyon can be experience as well. Landscape artists worldwide cherish this amazing cliff top perch, so be sure to pack a good camera for the hike!
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