The Chaco Culture Conservancy was formed in 2020 with the merger of the Friends of Chaco and the Friends of Aztec Ruins. The Conservancy is a New Mexico nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation created to assist and support Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Aztec Ruins National Monument. We engage in a variety of educational and outreach activities that help benefit visitors and help protect the two parks. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is located 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque, NM. Aztec Ruins National Monument located directly north, 55 miles, as the crow flies, in the town of Aztec, NM.
Members of the Board
Clif Taylor, Kensington, CA
Steve Speth, Lebanon, OR – Vice President
Shelly Valdez, Laguna, NM
Tracy Bodnar, Aztec, NM – President
Ron Sutcliffe, Pagosa Springs, CO
Linda Wheelbarger, Farmington, NM – Secretary
Charlene Richardson, Farmington, NM
Marie Jensen, Farmington, NM – Treasurer
Denise Robertson, Aztec, NM – Park Superintendent and Liaison to the Board
Chaco Culture National Historic Park: Center of Chacoan Culture
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a unique cultural place, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chaco Canyon was the center of a thriving ancestral Puebloan culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its community social organization, and its far-reaching commerce created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since.
The cultural flowering of the Chacoan people began in the mid 800s and lasted more than 300 years. The great houses of Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida, and Peñasco Blanco were constructed in the mid- to late-800’s, followed by Hungo Pavi, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Alto, and others. These structures were often oriented to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions, and lines of sight between the great houses allowed communication. Sophisticated astronomical markers, communication features, water control devices, and formal earthen mounds which surrounded them. The buildings were placed within a landscape surrounded by sacred mountains, mesas, and shrines that still have deep spiritual meaning for their descendants.
By 1050, Chaco had become the ceremonial, administrative, and economic center of the San Juan Basin. Its sphere of influence was extensive. Dozens of great houses in Chaco Canyon were connected by roads to more than 150 great houses throughout the region. Pueblo descendants say that Chaco was a special gathering place where many peoples and clans converged to share their ceremonies, traditions, and knowledge. Many Southwest Indian people look upon Chaco as an important stop along their clans’ sacred migration paths-a spiritual place to be honored and respected. This long and unique history is one reason why Chaco Culture National Historic Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Aztec Ruins National Monument:
Aztec Ruins National Monument contains some of the most remarkably well-preserved ancestral Pueblo architecture in the Southwest. The 900-year-old planned community is monumental in scale, in its individual structures as well as its designed landscape. This community is characterized by many features: a planned symmetrical layout; unique complex of architectural features, including rare multi-walled structures; and T-shaped doorways. There are original wooden roofs in dozens of rooms and the tree-ring research has enabled this to be the best-dated among the ancient Southwest sites. The most significant experience for exploration is the restored Great Kiva.
The high integrity and importance of the site were globally recognized in 1987 when Aztec Ruins National Monument, along with Chaco Culture National Historical Park, were together designated as a World Heritage Site.
A strong regional influence from AD 1050 to 1280, most researchers and archeologists agree that this place became the new Center Place for trade, spiritual traditions, and administration, replacing Chaco Canyon and its influence. Today this place endures in the lives and culture of all the Pueblo Nations along with other American Indian people of the Southwest.