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Pueblo Alto Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (2)

A mesa-top trail to two ancient Chacoan great houses and views over Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Ketl.


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Map Key

4.1

Miles

6.6

KM

Point to Point

6,436' 1,962 m

High

6,138' 1,871 m

Low

451' 137 m

Up

367' 112 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Views · Wildlife

Family Friendly A popular trail by families - children love the ruins and the narrow slot leading up to the mesa top.

The trail is open daily, 7 a.m. to sunset. The park is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 ft.

Need to Know

Chaco Culture National Historical Park fees apply. You must fill out the free backcountry permit form at the trailhead to complete this trail regardless of whether you are day hiking or backpacking.

Description

From the trailhead behind Kin Klesto, begin up the rocky switchbacks and into a narrow slot in the cliff face. This route to the mesa top was used by the Chacoan people similarly to how it is used by visitors today. Once up on the mesa, follow the trail and cairns past Terrace View, the Stone Circles, and the Shrimp Boroughs before arriving at the junction down to the Pueblo Bonito Overlook. The view down on Pueblo Bonito is better in the afternoon, so for now, turn left at the next junction toward Pueblo Alto.

The path ascends the mesa, climbing near the Chacoan Steps and passing an old Chacoan Road. About 1.5 miles from Kin Klesto, you can begin to see the ruins of New Alto. Trails lead to New Alto and to Old Alto to the left and right, respectively, of the main trail.

Near Old Alto, turn right on the main path. The trail now traverses the mesa top with great views down on Chaco Canyon and beyond. About 0.5 miles after Old Alto, the trail descends to work its way across the rock on the edge of the mesa, passing the Jackson Staircase before entering a short slot section to descend to a lower rock shelf. The trail works it way back along this lower shelf with views down on Chetro Ketl and limited views of Pueblo Bonito. (At one time, the views down on Pueblo Bonito were spectacular from this section; for safety and trail rehabilitation, these viewpoints are no longer accessible from the trail.)

Arrive back at the Pueblo Bonito Overlook junction about 4.4 miles from Kin Klesto. Descend to the overlook for good views of Pueblo Bonito, then return to Kin Klesto via the trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Anne Travels

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes

#9041

Overall
  4.5 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#133

in New Mexico

#9,041

Overall
5 Views Last Month
124 Since Sep 24, 2019
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

collared lizard Crotaphytus collaris
Sep 27, 2019 near Crownpoint, NM
Hiking the spur trail to New Alto
Sep 24, 2019 near Crownpoint, NM
Kin Klesto with my back to the cliff
Sep 24, 2019 near Crownpoint, NM

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Check-Ins

Oct 25, 2021
Matt Hage
Hiked to Pueblo Bonito overlook 2mi