Wijiji

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 3.9 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6203 - 6236 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs.
Trailhead: Wijiji
Fee: $8/vehicle
Attractions: Chacoan Great House




The Wijiji Trail is located in the Chaco Culture National Historic Park in northwestern New Mexico. The area is commonly referred to simply as Chaco Canyon. The park contains the densest collection of pueblos found anywhere in the southwest United States. Wijiji is one of more than 150 'Great Houses' that are found scattered about the region. A 'Great House' is a large stone building, multiple stories high, containing hundreds of rooms. They are believed to have been used mainly for trading and ceremonial purposes and not as places of residence.


The trailhead is located across the roadway from the Gallo Campground before reaching the Visitor Center. Wijiji is a backcountry trail and hikers are required to fill out a permit before using it. One copy of the permit must be left with your vehicle, one copy carried with you, and one left at the trail register. Be sure to follow the directions on the parks website to get to Chaco Canyon to avoid being sent down one of the many bad routes in the area.


From the trailhead the route parallels the cliff for a short distance.


Petroglyphs can be spotted on a boulder beside the trail after a short distance.


The trail connects to a service road that it follows the rest of the way to Wijiji.


The road serves as the trail for the remaining 1.5 miles with little to no change in elevation along the way.


Mountain bikes can be ridden up to the point where the route leaves the road and becomes a single track. That leaves only about 50 yards to get to the site and about a half mile round trip for the site and the petroglyphs.


Wijiji is a massive 'C' shaped block with an open plaza. The ground floor contained about 100 rooms. Rooms along the north wall at the back of the complex reached at least 3 stories high while the east and west wings were most likely only 2 stories. The plaza wasn't enclosed by a wall and lacked a great kiva like most of the other Great Houses. It did have 2 centrally located kivas; 1 at the head of each wing.


Near the northeast corner of the complex a short spur trail leads to some panels of both petroglyphs and pictographs.


A pictograph of a painted hand looks like the person placed their hand on the rock and then blew the paint onto the surface to make an outline of the hand. They would have probably blown the paint from their mouth or used a reed.


Most of the rock art is very faint and indiscernible but several objects do stand out.


It is amazing these massive walls have been standing so tall through the centuries.


We manage to see elk every single time we come to Chaco Canyon. The most consistent spot is along the road near the entrance to the park.


All of the backcountry trails are closed at sunset so plan your visit accordingly. It's too bad that Chaco Canyon is so far off the beaten path because it is always great to visit here. Wijiji is probably the easiest of the backcountry sites to get to in the immediate area. It has a couple of slight differences from the other Great Houses and the pictographs also set it apart. As far as the pronunciation we heard a Navajo say both 'wee-gee' and 'wee-gee-gee'. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.