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Old 02-27-2015, 12:42 PM   #1
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Chaco Culture National Hist Park - Big Rig?

We have a 40' Class A. We travel with a dog that is OK in the RV while traveling, but dislikes car trips (Plus most areas have dog restrictions.) We can leave our dog in the coach for 5-6 hours, though we like to keep it under 4 hours if possible.

It looks like from the North or the South, where known Big Rig Friendly parks are available, we'd need about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to travel to Chaco in our Toad. This leaves very little time to enjoy Chaco.

Does anyone know of Big Rig accessible places to Boondock that are closer to Chaco?

TIA,
Smitty
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Old 02-27-2015, 04:44 PM   #2
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Found a place about 19 miles away Chaco Outlier. Gent rents out a small cabin and tent camping places. But recently cut in a place for another gent in an RV. Close to the paved road, and away from the rest of his place. So I'm going to call him when we pin down our schedule, and he'll hold it for us.

Should allow for us to spend as much time in Chaco, as we will in Aztec Ruins too.

Once I've visited the location, I'll update my thoughts. But the owner sounded like a nice gent, so expecting it to be a great place to Boondock for a few days while visiting not just Chaco, but other Outlier's (Places outlying the National Historical lands.)

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 03-08-2015, 07:13 PM   #3
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Smitty77, I am interested in finding out how things work out for you. I was just looking at the Chaco web site and wondering about where to boondock while exploring the area. Hope that your plan works.


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Old 04-14-2015, 08:58 AM   #4
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We look forward to hearing about your experience. Chaco is on our list but dragging the TT down that road just to find no camp site available isn't our idea of fun. Happy trails!
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Old 04-14-2015, 10:56 PM   #5
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We ended up leaving early from Sante Fe on our way to Aztec. I chose a route that took us by the turn off to the Chaco Ruins. We had two options at this turnoff:

1) Park, after asking the attendant at a gas station/mini mart if we could leave our rig parked of to the side for several hours.

2) At the cutoff, their were a few RV's off on a dirt lot parked, minus their toads...

(We decided to leave our RV at the station. But either would do.)

We drove in on the paved road, got to the next turnoff to the Chaco Ruins, and found another place we could have parked our RV. It too, would have been OK.

We hit the dirt road, and it was good/bad/dusty and bumpy at times.... Lot's of stretches of slow driving in our CRV. And one river wash area, that was fine when we went thru, but weather conditions can vary. IMO, we could have driven our RV in on this dirt section, by adding another 45 mins to 1 hour to our driving time. (But, our 40' is too large for the camping area.) This was Spring Break time, and the campground looked to have spaces available. And, it would have been a blast to dry for a day tor two... Talk about no light interference with the star gazing. (Plus, the close by visitor station, has a mini observatory too!).

We were very glad that we went, and admit that the few hours we spent, could have easily been extended to a few days + with no problem. Lots of hiking, much to go see and reflect upon.

A few hours, or a few days - Chaco is worth the time, dirt, dust to see.

We also enjoyed the much smaller Aztec ruins. The Canyon de Chelly is a bit different, cliff dwellings, and the guided jeep tour thru the valley was very neat. Hiking Walnut Monument rim, and down into the valley, to see the ruins - was also very neat.

Notice I did not mention the first place I had found, where the gent had cut in a place of dry camping? I have no idea if this would have been good or not. But, it was almost a solid hour of driving for us, we did go slow over the rough areas, to get into the Chaco Visor Center. Add in another 30 mins or so drive from where this gent has his spot, and you could easily still need 1 1/2 hours to get in and out of Chaco, each way (as we drive).

So if your rig is small enough, and a day or two of no power and sewer hook ups is OK - figure a slow dusty bumpy, but easily doable, ride into Chaco campground. Or, if our are close enough to hit one of the mentioned parking spots for our coach, then run in with your toad for several hours, then back and onto either North or South for another hour - that is also a good solution. (And, while rough on the Toad, easier on the coach!).

If anyone wants the contact info on the gent with the cutout area off of the roadway, PM me and I'll hook you up. But, 19 miles from the the turnoff to Chaco, still leaves you with the actual drive into the park.

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:35 AM   #6
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Thanks Smitty! Glad to read that it was worth the efforts. Sounds like a special experience. Thank you also for the detail and what to expect.

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Old 04-15-2015, 07:41 AM   #7
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Thank you so much for this information, Smitty! Very helpful. It sounds as if we wouldn't have a problem taking our 25' high clearance TT in there.
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:55 AM   #8
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Your dog might enjoy car travel more if you get one of these. We got our from Orvis when we drove from Indy to Tampa to pick our first coach up. besides mor comfortable for the dog it is a bit safer as the sling prevents them from falling down between the front and rear seats.
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Old 01-27-2016, 12:39 PM   #9
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I know that this thread is old, but hopefully someone will still reply...

We are wanting to visit the Chaco Culture National Historical Park (Chaco Canyon, etc.) We have a 38 ft. 5th wheel & the N.P. Gallo Campground shows a 35 ft. limit.

Does anyone have experience camping in the Gallo Campground? Is the length restriction enforced? Do the sites have physical restrictions that would limit a slightly larger trailer?

I know that the road in is a dirt road, but is it "too bad" to take the trailer in?

If we don't stay at Gallo, does anyone know anyplace less than two hours away to camp? (I have PM'd Smitty already.) We have solar & are capable of dry camping for a week or two, so hookups aren't an issue for us.

Any experience and insight would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:54 PM   #10
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Call and talk with the people who work at the park. They were very helpful when i called, telling me of the parking spot off the highway. They can tell you current road condititions and if they feel your rig will fit a site.

Enjoy,
Smitty
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Old 01-28-2016, 02:17 PM   #11
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Hi Mark - I found the link to the place we talked to, but again due to schedule changes, did not end up staying here. Worth a call, and for sure double check with hem on if the still have a space, and how far they actually are to Chaco.

Chaco Outlier - Home

I dug out our notes from the trip, and it was on 550 at a place called the Red Mesa Store that we asked if we could leave our rig. Then a very short drive to the turnoff to Chaco. But as I mentioned, just at this turnoff from 550 to Chaco, is a dirt open lot. It had two or three RV's parked in it, and others were doing the same as us unhooking their toads to drive in the rest of the way to Chaco.

Unless you are planning to spend several days in the location, you might get by with pulling and overnighter in that spot. (Might ask at the Red Mesa Store, if they know if they chase overnighters from the area.).

I again asked my wife, and she said that she felt we had spent enough time to see the major ruins quite well. We probably spent a total of 2 1/2 hours once we left the Visitor Center. And she also enjoyed the ruins at Aztec, as a contrast.

So depending upon your travel plans, you could do as we did, and spend several hours at Chaco, and then had on up North to Aztec. We stayed in an RV Park within walking distance of the ruins.

And a repeat, we called and talk with I believe a Ranger, and they were very helpful on suggestions. And for sure would know how 'tight' those spaces are an if you would be allowed to 'fudge' your way in!

Best,
Smitty
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:40 PM   #12
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I don't think you would have any issues getting a 5r down the road, as long as it has not rained recently, even if its dried out, as the ruts could be very bad. I agree that calling would be the best best to see about the length.

See my wife and I's short trip report from last fall....


This area is very very cool and well worth the trip even if you have to unhitch and just go for a few hours, but a full day, or 2, would be much more worth while to really appreciate the area.

Have fun.
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Old 03-26-2016, 05:54 PM   #13
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We were there 20 some years ago on June 20 for several days and, as it turned out, in time for a presentation inside the Grand Kiva for the Summer Solstice. This included well known astronomers, anthropologists and puebloean elders. I have read that entering the Grand Kiva can only be done now by professional anthroplogists with National Park permission. Just spoke to our daughter about this and she still has good memories (she was about 9 or 10 then). The only campsites were fairly rocky and uneven and we had to block up our van (it was not an RV van, just a van). We saw the sign for Bandalier as we were headed for Albuquerque (back to Las Cruces) but the kids were Anasazie out: Mesa Verde, Hovenweep (two days) and two or three others we just visited. We later went back to Bandalier for three days in spring time and it was a great family adventure. Elaine and I visited Canyon de Chelle (sic) a few years ago and happily I have a friend from the Army who is now a tribal elder in Chinle (as he noted, "...you get older, everyone younger has died and now you are an elder and wise...") . He used to train for cross country by running up the canyon sands and then up and the trails that go to the rim.
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Old 03-26-2016, 06:05 PM   #14
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I reread my post. And I was not as clear as I should have been. If we could have fit into the campground, we really would have enjoyed at least a full day at various running. Probably two, as that way you could also do some of the hikes in the area.

Reed - What a great experience to have hit their and see the Sol show!

Best to all,
Smitty
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