Paving Part of The North Road

We’re planning a trip to Chaco and Canyon de Chelly, hopefully a side trip to Crownpoint this coming October. Heard that the first few miles into Chaco were being improved? What did you find? — GB

G-

The north road from US 550 (formerly NM 44) around mile marker 112 is paved for about the first five miles (as 7900). That stretch dips and turns more than the rest of the road; the pavement is badly patched and potholed as I write this. When the road turns towards Chaco as 7950, the next 16 miles or so have been unpaved until right about now. At this time, the county is getting ready to pave one end for about 3 miles. I assume that will be done by the time you visit in October (good time of year, though it will be cold at night). I’ve heard the rest is less certain. At this time, expect a stretch of about 13 miles to still be dirt — dusty and washboardy, for sure, but not a problem for most cars unless it rains or snows around the time you drive.

peace, mjh

PS: There is some controversy over this paving; I have mixed feelings but mostly appreciate that Chaco isn’t easy to get to — it’s a sojourn; at least, the hard-core folks will still have the Old South Road to thrill us. If you feel strongly about this, or want learn more about why some people do, see www.dont-pave-chaco.com

ABQjournal: County Paving the Way to Chaco By Leslie Linthicum, Journal Staff Writer [Wednesday, August 3, 2005]

Tucked into a massive transportation bill that cleared Congress last week and is headed to the president’s desk is $800,000 that will settle once and for all a popular New Mexico campfire debate:

Should the road to Chaco Canyon be paved or not?

The road money is set aside to put chip seal— a cheaper-than-asphalt paving option— on the 16 miles of dirt road that lead to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

If you’ve ever visited the spectacular Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon, you know the road and probably either love it or hate it. …

Each year about 80,000 people make their way to the park to walk where pre-Puebloan Indians walked hundreds of years before. …

With federal funds on the way, the county will then begin to tackle the remaining 13 miles next year, according to San Juan County Public Works Administrator Dave Keck.

“If we get the green light from everybody,” Keck said, “we’ll begin to pave (the remaining stretch) next spring.”