Western Expeditions Explores Chaco Canyon

By Anne Mead

The expeditioners had a great three days exploring the beauty and mystery of Chaco Canyon.
Temperatures and spirits were high as we went on hikes each day that brought us to different sections of the canyon where we spotted lots of wildflowers, lizards, rabbits, coyotes (at a distance), and incredible ruins left from the ancient people of Chaco.
Some highlights included a night sky program on Friday evening that explained the connection between the people, the earth, and the solar system as they built their great structures and created petroglyphs
to mark the movement of the sun and their appreciation of their world. We then got to use the park’s massive telescopes to view the moon and Saturn. The night sky in the park was incredible with clear nights and no light pollution, looking up at the same sky that people have for ages! (Chaco Canyon is a National Dark Sky Park).
Saturday was a chilly and early morning when we got the opportunity to watch the sunrise at Casa Rinconada. At one point, a beam of sunlight shines through a particular window and one can see how the Chacoans marked the arrival of the summer solstice and the long day it brings.
This was a treat and a very special experience. We are excited to see the changes in vegetation and wildlife as we move from high desert to alpine terrain. After lots of sun, fun, good food, and great desert hikes, the group is now headed to Silverton, CO to continue the trip. Stay tuned!
Author: Melanie, Western Expeditions Leader