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Kent (Washington)

Matt from Kent (Washington) asked

Where is the best base location for day trips to Chaco Canyon?

I want to visit and explore the Chaco Canyon area in New Mexico and am looking for advice for a good base location for day trips.   Somewhere with reasonable selection of lodging options, stores and restaurants.

New Mexico (NM)

1 Answer
answered first by
Crystal from Anchorage

Hello Kent,

I've actually been living in New Mexico this winter in the mountains outside of Albuquerque and have been making lots of day trips/weekend trip all around the state, so I thought I would share my insight. I love it here, and it's amazing how much variety there is in the landscapes and cultures.

I haven't yet made it to Chaco Canyon, but I have been looking into it. The ruins look amazing in pictures. If you were willing to camp, that would give you the most convenient access to the park, especially if you were planning on spending more than one day there. There is one camp ground in Chaco Culture National Historic Park called Gallo Campground.

Otherwise the nearest hotels/motels are 1.5 hours away! Most of the land in NM is owned by the government which means most of it is devoid of development. The nearest towns to look for accommodations are Bloomfield (New Mexico)Aztec, or Cuba. You may find a bit more selection a little farther in Farmington (New Mexico).

It's always worth running a search on and to see if there are any private homes available to rent for a night or two.

I also recommend looking at the NPS website which has a lot of good info you may find useful:

If I were you and wanted a single place to base day trips from, then I would probably stay in Gallup which is 2.5 hours to Chaco Canyon. I would also consider doing trips to Petrified Forest National Park and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. It's a lot of driving, but doable. 

What I would actually do if I were doing it is stay in different places and use a combination of camping and motel stays. For instance if I were starting in Albuquerque I might do something like this:

  • Drive 3 hours to Chaco Canyon. Hang out there for the day and either camp there that night or drive to Gallup for the night.
  • The next day drive 3.5 hours to Canyon de Chelly. There are both campsites and motels near the canyon to stay in.
  • Drive 1.5 hours to Petrified Forest. Spend the day there and then stay in a motel in Holbrook (Arizona).

But of course, it depends on what you had in mind to see.

I hope this helps, email me at if you need any more specific information.

Happy Travels!

Crystal, Traveler's Toast

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