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Pueblo Bonito, Nageezi

Ruin · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
Pueblo Bonito (Spanish for beautiful town) is the largest and best-known great house in Chaco Culture National Historical Park, northern New Mexico. It was built by the Ancestral Puebloans who occupied the structure between AD 828 and 1126.

According to the National Park Service, "Pueblo Bonito is the most thoroughly investigated and celebrated cultural site in Chaco Canyon. Planned and constructed in stages between AD 850 to AD 1150 by ancestral Puebloan peoples, this was the center of the Chacoan world."

Anthropologist Brian Fagan has said that "Pueblo Bonito is an archeological icon, as famous as England's Stonehenge, Mexico's Teotihuacan, or Peru's Machu Picchu."
In January 1941, a section of the canyon wall known as Threatening Rock, or tse biyaa anii'ahi (leaning rock gap) in Navajo, collapsed as a result of a rock fall, destroying some of the structure's rear wall and a number of rooms. The builders of Pueblo Bonito appear to have been well aware of this threat, but chose to build beneath the fractured stone anyway. The wall stood 97 feet (30 m) high and weighed approximately 30,000 tons; the Puebloans compensated by building structural reinforcements for the slab.

In 2009, traces of Mexican cacao from at least 1,200 miles (1,900 km) away were detected in pottery sherds at Pueblo Bonito. This was the first demonstration that the substance, important in rituals, had been brought into the area that became the United States at any time before the Spanish arrived around 1500. Cylindrical pottery jars, common in Central America, had previously been found there, but are rare. 111 jars have been found in Pueblo Bonito's 800 or so rooms.
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Pueblo Bonito reviews

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123 reviews
  • Very large ruins in the Park, some restored somewhat, a large number of ruins to view and read about. Visitor center was closed, but did have nice restrooms to use. Warning: Road to the Park is...  more »
  • Wonders to behold are at this ruin. Lots to see and it is large. There is an overlook that looks down onto the ruins . This is large and you can walk into the ruins and look at a lot of things. There....  more »
  • We had the place almost to ourselves which made the visit special. It's definitely worthwhile to buy the guidebook for $2 at the visitor center, although I wish the Park Service would make these...  more »
  • Pueblo Bonito is an amazing site too see. Before coming to this site I was unaware of the immense history and the vast influence of the Chaco culture. The ruins are in great condition considering their age. Be respectful while venturing around the ruins and do not climb or walk on the walls. Also be sure to bring plenty of water and for when it's cold, a light jacket.
  • Huge site but a little hard getting there. The road in is 20 miles of rough dirt terrain, take it slow to save your rig, saw a muffler on the side of road. The park is paved thou! The best ruins we've seen to date, need a couple hours to see it all.
  • So many mysteries and such remarkable skill. Worth the rugged road to get there.
  • Ancient and impressive. It was a real treasure of tremendous anthropological significance. This was the tallest building in North America until the skyscrapers of Chicago. Today, it was real neat to walk around and explore the hundreds of rooms.
  • Oh my gosh I loved this site! We wondered around looking at the ruins and could imagine it in its glory. We even got to go inside and see what it was like. Its a drive worth making. On the way out we saw plenty of wildlife. Nice visitors center with clean restrooms and souvenirs.

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