Chaco Canyon Camping: Everything You Need to Know

If you love camping, planning a trip to the Chaco National Historical Park in New Mexico is a must for you. While you can definitely plan a one-day visit to the park, camping there is the only way to get acquainted with the park’s actual spirit. Read through the section below to know more about Chaco Canyon camping.

What is Chaco Canyon camping known for?

The Chaco National Historical Park covers an area of more than 34,000 acres on the high deserts of north-western New Mexico. Visiting the place will help you to witness the remains of Chacoan civilization, an American civilization that existed from 800 to 1200 AD.

The civilization was established by people of pre-Columbian society. The most amazing thing about these inhabitants was that they managed to grow crops despite the area’s inhospitable arid landscape. The settlers built several roads, irrigation systems, and pueblos that allowed their civilization to thrive.

Today, the park stands as the testimony of Chaco community’s culture. It offers visitors the rare opportunity to understand what America used to be centuries ago. That’s the reason why the place has already been enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage.

When it comes to Chaco Canyon camping you have just one option, the Gallo Campground. Gallo is located around a mile east from the park’s Visitor Center. It would allow you to camp in a harsh but interesting setting. Located amidst cliffs and fallen boulders, the campground is filled with inscriptions and petroglyphs that any tourist would love to see.

The campground has both individual and group campsites. The following sections include more details discussions on them.

What is the best time of year to go camping at Chaco Canyon?

The campground and the park remains open all through the year. However, you will have the best time there if you visit the place during spring.

The holiday seasons see maximum visitors flocking at the place. So, if you are planning to visit the place around that time, make sure you book your stay well in advance. However, if you have plans of visiting the place between November and February, you will have to pick a campsite that allows RV camping. All the tent-only campsites remain closed during this time of the year due to extremely low temperatures.

Don’t forget to check the weather forecast before leaving for Chaco Canyon camping. Carry clothing and accessories depending on the forecast.

What campsites are there?

Gallo Campground Fire Pit

The Gallo Campground is home to as many as 48 individual campsites. Out of them, one has been dedicated to the differently-abled individuals (you will see “handicapped accessible” written there). Each of these campsites features a fire grill and picnic table. Some are tagged as RV only, while there are others tagged as tent only. In addition, there are also campsites that allow both. You can book your stay at an individual campsite for a maximum of 14 days.

Other than the individual campsites, there are a couple of group campsites at Gallo. These sites have been designed from accommodating 10 to 30 people for tent camping. The maximum number of vehicles allowed at group campsites, on the other hand, is five. Both group sites feature a fire grill and picnic table. A group can spend a maximum of seven days at these campsites.

One of the biggest advantages of booking a group campsite at Gallo is that it comes with restrooms. All restrooms feature flush toilets. However, you will not be greeted with hook-ups or showers. If you are looking to shower, check out our article about how to shower while camping.

Remember that you are not allowed to gather wood when at Gallo. You will have to bring your own wood or buy some from the park’s visitor center. If that’s the case, here are the fire starters we recommend.

Things to know before going

Do you have pets at home and want to enjoy your vacation with them? If yes, there cannot be a better place than the Gallo Campground. The only thing you must make sure that your pets must always be on a leash when camping with you at this amazing camping site. Another thing you must keep in mind during your stay at Gallo is that you are not supposed to feed or approach the wildlife.

Remember that there’s no auto repair, gasoline, ice, or food available at Gallo or for that matter at Chaco National Historical park. So, if you want to make the best of your time spent at the park and campground, you will have to come prepared. We would also advise you to bring your drinking water as you will not get potable water here.

You will need to spend $15 for a night’s stay at Gallo. In addition, you will also need to pay $20 as the park’s entry fee.

Most National Parks have started implementing no-cash policy. So, for avoiding hiccups of any kind, we would advise you to carry your debit or credit card for making payments.

Should you go camping at Chaco Canyon?

If you love adventure and want to witness nature while staying at a historical site, there’s no better place to camp than the Chaco Canyon. It would allow you to gather knowledge about early Americans and will also help you to understand how it feels to stay at a place that never had favorable conditions for human civilization to thrive.

It’s important for you to keep in mind that the place is pretty remotely located and the road leading to the park is pretty rough. So, it’s extremely crucial that you plan your trip well. Other than making advance reservations, you must also start your journey early so that you reach the campground before sunset.

The place has so much to offer that even a seven-day trip to the place will not be enough to explore the region.

There are even some amazing hiking options in this part of the United States. Make sure you carry your hiking boots. You will need them for capturing the gorgeous landscapes of Bisti Badlands, Shiprock Pinnacle, and Angel peak.

Wrap up

Chaco Canyon camping is definitely something you will enjoy if you are not just looking for comfort when vacationing. You should consider visiting this part of the world if you love history, diversity showcased by nature, and of course diversity of American culture.

See you at the camp site!

Article Author
Sean's an avid camper, kayaker, and RVer. He loves spending time finding new trails and campsites to take his family and friends.