Peñasco Blanco

Bloomfield, New Mexico 87413

Peñasco Blanco

Peñasco Blanco Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"A day hike to a major Chacoan great house in Chaco Culture National Historical Park, passing other great houses, petroglyphs, and pictographs on the way.

From the ruins, you can see far up and down the canyon. Few people make the hike, so you may have the ruin to yourself. I visited Peñasco Blanco in February after a heavy snowfall. I reached the great house shortly before sunset, after breaking trail through the snow. The mercury was falling fast as the sun sank in the west. Combined with a wind howling out of the northwest across the treeless mesas, my sense of cold and isolation was extreme. It was hard to picture the buildings here ever being inhabited."

More Peñasco Blanco Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

"This day hike through the New Mexico desert is a great little getaway. The 7.6-mile out-and-back hike in Chaco Canyon includes petroglyphs, pictographs, Chacoan ruins, and possibly some elk sightings. An early-morning or late-evening hike would be ideal should you choose to hike it in the summer months as the midday heat can be intense in the desert canyon. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a US National Park Service historical park that is home to some of the most exceptional pueblos in the Southwest. The park is located in the Four Corners region in northwest New Mexico in a remote canyon. It contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico and preserves one of the United States’ most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas."
100 Hikes in New Mexico (The Mountaineers Books)
Craig Martin
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"On the tan sandstone cliffs below the pueblo of Peñasco Blanco, the trail passes the most intriguing rock art to be found at Chaco Canyon. On a small overhang along the south wall of the canyon, a red-painted crescent moon, large star, and handprint decorate the sandstone. Experts speculate the pictograph represents a supernova explosion that occurred in 1064, during the height of the Ancestral Pueblo culture in Chaco. Chinese astronomers left a written record of the sudden appearance of a bright new star located near the waxing moon. Ardent sky watchers, the Ancestral Pueblo people certainly witnessed the same event, and this unique rock painting may be their own pictorial record of the explosion."
Best Easy Day Hikes the Four Corners (Falcon Guides)
JD Tanner and Emily Ressler-Tanner
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"This day hike through the New Mexico desert is a great little getaway. The 7.6-mile out-and-back hike in Chaco Canyon includes petroglyphs, pictographs, Chacoan ruins, and possibly some elk sightings. An early-morning or late-evening hike would be ideal should you choose to hike in the summer months as the midday heat can be intense in the desert canyon. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is home to some of the most exceptional pueblos in the Southwest. The park is located in the Four Corners region in northwest New Mexico in a remote canyon. It contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico and preserves one of the United States’ most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas."

Peñasco Blanco Trip Reports

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10/15/2006
This is a very enjoyable hike with spectacular Penasco Blanco ruins at the end. The ruins are not as complete as those that can be reached by driving but they give a better sense of the size of the Pueblos. We hiked several days after a major rain storm and had a bit of trouble crossing the wash, but we were able to make it with a small jump. The trail guide suggests that you stop if you see any water-we would suggest that unless the water is coming from rain occuring at the time, there is little jeporady in continuing on.
If you go to Chaco Canyon, make every to find the time for this hike and/or the Alto Mesa Loop Trail.
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Trail Information

Bloomfield
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
7.8
Distance
220 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
4-5 hours
Duration
All year, trail open 7 a.m. to sunset
Season
6,050 feet
Trailhead Elevation
6,270 feet
Top Elevation
Wildflowers, Views
Features
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, PO Box 220, Nageezi, NM 87037; (505) 786-7014 www.nps.gov/chcu/index.htm
Local Contacts
National Park Service map and brochure; Pueblo Bonito and Kin Klizhin 7.5-minute USGS quads
Local Maps