Monday, September 15, 2008

Casa Rinconda Trail at Chaco Canyon

The Casa Rinconda Trail is a 0.5 mile loop that visits three small village sites plus a Giant Kiva in Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in northwest New Mexico.

The trail head is toward the west end of the loop road on the south side of Chaco Wash and is the last major stop around the loop.

In contrast to the multi storied engineered Great Houses that dominate the canyon, these village sites were mostly one or sometimes two stories, with thinner walls, and seem to have been remodeled and added onto as needed.

These sites were in use at the same time as the Great Houses and were places where more people actually lived.
These small village sites began as pithouses, circular depressions in the earth, and expanded with a row of room blocks for storage. Eventually the circular pithouses were lined with stone and became the ceremonial kivas.
Looking across the village site to the north Pueblo Bonito, the largest Great House in Chaco Canyon, is visible. Behind Pueblo Bonito the extent of the 30,000 tons of sandstone that crashed on the back of the site in 1941 is visible.

From this angle the crashed rubble pile looks more massive than the building site is. At the back of the Casa Rinconda Trail, stop 10, the back country trail to the Tsin Klitsin site connects.

Casa Rinconda is the largest excavated Great Kiva in Chaco Canyon and one of the largest in the Chaco Culture. It is aligned on a north and south axis. The Kiva has many of the typical features such as a bench around the perimeter, niches set into the walls, a fire pit, and pits to support the large timbers that held up the roof.
This Great Kiva has an unusual feature of a lower entryway placed beneath the steps of the northern entryway, and looks like a stone lined trench. On a previous visit here visitors were allowed to enter and walk around inside, but the way is blocked off now.

It seemed a little odd to me that such a large kiva was associated with small villages. There were many more residences here than we see but the other large kivas we see are associated with the Great Houses. Maybe it is something like a smaller college town now that can still have a giant football stadium.

1 comment:

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

How fascinating and wonderful that you were there! Beautiful photos.