Our first trip of the 2016 season was to Chaco Canyon in NW New Mexico. We scheduled the trip not realizing that there was no moon and being an official Dark Sky area, the experience was really something. The ruins there were constructed by early Indian tribes between 850-1150 – long before Columbus arrived. The extent of the structures that have been recovered is amazing. We took a guided tour at the largest pueblo but you can explore on your own. Simon is not allowed on any sacred ground, but he is allowed in the back country and on several hiking trails near the campground.
Our site was #13 next to the only tree in site – although it was not blooming so it provided no shade. We were in plain view of some ruins but nothing as dramatic as what was just a short drive away.
It turned windy on our second day there and fortunately we were at the site when the winds picked up. We were able to save our canopies but our umbrella didn’t survive. A couple of sites over lost their canopies and at least one tent. We took a hike to the top of the ridge above the campground that overlooked the valley. Simon doesn’t like the wind.
We attended two Dark Sky presentations. The first one focused on the constellations and we were not impressed. The second one however was like a lecture and explained so much about why the structures were located where they were and how the Indians used the low horizon to schedule their lives. We didn’t want to leave the next day but reality and life was calling. We will probably return someday.
The sky was so full of stars and the Milky Way was quite prominent. We were very lucky indeed to be able to experience this.