Did you know that you can ride your bicycle at Chaco Canyon - and how much fun it can be?
My first bike ride at Chaco was earlier this month (April). It's hard to believe I had not jumped on a bike before. I loved it, and got a great workout to boot! I rode the loop road, and to Casa Chiquita (where you must leave your bike and continue on foot - see photo). Next time I'll head to Wijiji.
Being on a bike provides a completely different experience as you explore Chaco. I loved feeling the wind on my face, hearing the birds, feeling the quiet. And I felt closer to the Chacoans.
Reasons to bring your bike:
- Get a great workout. The paved loop road is 9 miles, plus the distance to and from the campground. The dirt roads provide even better exercise.
- Feel more connected to what is around you. Amazing what a difference it is to be on your bike versus in the confines of a car. Feel the wind and sun on your face. Hear the sounds of nature - and the quiet.
- Ride, rather than walk, the dirt roads to Wijiji and Casa Chiquita. Both are fairly short, easy, level rides (1-2 hours), though can have areas of thick sand.
- For more experienced mountain bikers, try the ride to Kin Klizhin, a 24-mile roundtrip ride from the visitor center to a site outside the main park area (5-6 hours). It's on a deeply rutted 2-track road that can be a challenge even for 4-wheel-drive vehicles, so beware!
Tips for a fun and safe ride:
- Bring a mountain bike (rather than a road bike) so you can ride on both the paved and dirt roads.
- Ask at the visitor center about the available areas to ride, and to check the road and weather conditions. Rain can make it difficult on the sand and dirt. Very windy days can add considerably to your workout.
- Wear a helmet. Be sure to take it with you when you leave your bike at one of the many bike racks.
- Take plenty of water and snacks, and wear appropriate clothing. It is high desert, so be prepared for changing weather: rain/snow, wind, hot sun - depending on season.
- Ride your bike to Casa Chiquita to shorten your roundtrip hike to Penasco Blanco (7.9 miles) by more than 2 miles.
- Be sure to plan your ride so you return before sunset, when the sites close, and you will need lights/reflectors for safety.
Get out there and enjoy riding your bike at Chaco! If you've already experienced it, do share with us below. Any additional tips welcomed.