Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves the ruins of American Indian habitations dating back to the 9th century. Access to the park, off the highway, is via a 34 km (21 mile) road, much of which is unpaved. However, the visitor who braves the journey is rewarded with extensive Native American ruins, some of which are remarkably well preserved. Take a self-guided tour or a ranger-narrated one and plan to do a lot of walking. Pueblo Bonito, the largest of the great houses, had, at its peak, more than 600 rooms and 40 kivas and was four stories high.
The most convenient base of operations for a visit to the park, and a destination in its own right, is Albuquerque, New Mexico. Its Old Town is a classic Colonial, Spanish town, with flat-roofed, adobe buildings, a central plaza, bordered by a church and government and other buildings. It is easily walked and offers several museums as well as the ubiquitous shops and restaurants. The city of Albuquerque is a thriving metropolis and offers every available service, so it makes a great starting point for an exploration of a variety of western New Mexico and eastern Arizona attractions.
The Route 66 Historic Highway, also known as “The Mother Road”, and “Main Street, America”, was built to connect Chicago, Illinois, with Los Angeles, California, and provided a major route to the West for desperate families from the East and Midwest during the depression. The road was made more famous by a 1960’s television series and a song, recorded by Nat King Cole. Little of the old road still exists, because of the interstate highway system, but the areas that remain offer a nostalgic glimpse of the past. Probably the best preserved section runs through the city of Albuquerque and contains several good examples of vintage landmarks, such as the KiMo Theater (423 Central Ave, N.W.) and the gas station at 2455 Isleta Blvd.