Una Vida

Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 6193 - 6347 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Chaco Canyon Visitor Center
Fee: $8/vehicle
Attractions: Chacoan great house, petroglyphs

Una Vida is located in the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico. The only recommended way to access Chaco Canyon is from the north. Drive southeast from Bloomfield on US Highway 550 for about 39 miles, or west from Cuba, New Mexico for about 50 miles, and turn south on CR 7900. The turnoff is at about mile marker 112.5. There is a large brown sign at the turnoff making it easy to find. From 550 follow the signs for 21 miles to Chaco Canyon. The first 8 miles of the road are paved but then it turns to gravel. Heavy rains can make the road all but impassable. The first 9 miles of the dirt road can usually be driven around 35 MPH. After that the road gets rougher for a mile or two, but still accessible by passenger cars, with some improvement the closer you get to the park. The roads within the park are all paved. Rangers report that vehicles heading to the park from the south can run into trouble and need towed at times.

The Una Vida trailhead is at the northwest corner of the parking area at the Visitor Center.

The trail is a wide hard packed path leading to the area of the ruins with a more primitive spur trail leading up to several panels of nice petroglyphs on the side of the cliff.

Brochures that coincide with numbered trail markers are available to borrow or you can purchase a personal copy for 75 cents.

The easy hike over to the ruins is less than a half mile where the trail splits and begins a loop.

There are enough standing walls left to match up with the various unexcavated rubble piles to give a good idea of the layout of the site. The best view of the area though is from the petroglyphs which are around 200 feet higher.

We noticed that some people looked at the trail leading up the cliff to the petroglyphs and chose not to follow it. The trail isn't really difficult to hike and it takes less than 30 minutes of your time. Besides some very nice petroglyphs the view by itself may be worth the little extra effort.

There are several main panels of petroglyphs along the face of the cliff as well a few on at least one boulder along the way.

Una Vida was a preplanned public complex with a great kiva. Most of what you see hasn't undergone any change from how it was first found with very little excavation or looting having taken place.

Here a ranger guided tour is preparing to depart from the trailhead. The tours cost nothing additional to the entrance fee. The Gallo campground  at Chaco Canyon is on a first come basis and fills up quickly. All of the area around the park is reservation land making the closest other places to camp over 20 miles away. All of the sites are closed from sunset to sunrise so plan your visit accordingly. Una Vida is a good site to start with when visiting the Chaco Canyon. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.