Many Unforgettable National Parks are within driving distance of the El Rancho Hotel, including the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Chaco Canyon, El Malpais, and Canyon de Chelly. The National Parks represent America at its best. Read on to learn about the parks and how you can visit them.
- Mesa Verde
- Meteor Crater
- Chaco Canyon
- Canyon de Chelly
- El Morro
- El Malpais
- Grand Canyon
- Aztec Ruins
- Old Spanish National Historic Trail
- Navajo National Monument
- Antelope Canyon
- Bisti Badlands
- Monument Valley
- Four Corners Tribal Park
- Church Rock and Pyramid Peak
About the Parks:
The Parks allow the people from around the world to experience nature in its unspoiled and purest form. Visiting a National park is a rare opportunity to appreciate our world and gain a better understanding of life. As President Roosevelt put it, “There is nothing so American as our national parks…The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.”
Similarly, a former director of the National Park Service once said that:
“The American way of life consists of something that goes greatly beyond themere obtaining of the necessities of existence. If it means anything, it means that America presents to its citizens an opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually, as well as physically.”
The American way of life consists of something that goes greatly beyond themere obtaining of the necessities of existence. If it means anything, it means that America presents to its citizens an opportunity to grow mentally and spiritually, as well as physically.
How to See the Parks:
If you are interested in visiting a National Park, the El Rancho (listed in the National Register of Historic Places) can help you with your trip. At the Hotel, we can provide you with information about driving to the parks and entry fees for the parks. The El Rancho Hotel is centrally located near numerous National Parks including:
Mesa Verde has received a WORLD HERITAGE SITE and is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States. Mesa Verde has some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world. mesa Verde is the only Cultural National Park in the U.S. National Park System.
Mesa Verde was built by Ancestral Puebloan people. At the site, there are over four thousand archaeological sites and over six hundred cliff dwellings. It is best known for the cliff dwellings, including the largest cliff dwelling in North America.
Antelope Canyon is the most visited and most photographed slot canyon in the Southwest. The canyon was formed through erosion as the result of flash floodes. Antelope Canyon is one of the most visually spectacular sites in the Southwest.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Receiving a WORLD HERITAGE DESIGNATION as an outstanding example of world cultural patrimony, Chaco Canyon preserves the civilization that lived in the region between 850AD to 1250AD. The park is one of only twenty World Heritage sites in the United States.
Chaco Canyon is the densest example of Ancient Pueblo Ruins in the United States. It is also one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural and historical areas in North America.
Considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is a deep canyon carved by the Colorado River. The Canyon is 277 miles long and is over a mile deep. The Canyon has been continuously inhabited by Native American and is a holy site for the Pueblo Indians.
Geologically, the Grand Canyon is a record of nearly two billion years of the Earth’s history.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly features sheer cliff walls that have been cut for millions of years by water and wind. At the bottom of the canyon was a traditional farming area for the Ancient Puebloans who used to populate the area around the 900-1300AD.
El Morro represents one of the unique meeting points of American Indian Culture and the Conquistadors. It was a resting point for both cultures in the Southwest as it provided an oasis in the Desert. On the top of El Morro are the remains of a Mesa top Pueblo where approximately 1500 people may have lived around 1275 AD. Among the unique inscriptions on the mesa include Native American Petroglyphs.
In more recent years (i.e. 1600s), conquistadors, traveling through the region, left their signatures on the rock as they passed by. Some conquistadors who signed the mesa include Juan de Onate and Don Diego de Vargas who led the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico in 1692.
El Malpais was created by volcanic forces over the last million years. The volcano spread Molten lava across the desert and created trenches and caves through the region. El Malpais is one of the best geologic records of volcanic activity on the planet.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
The Aztec Ruins are a series of historic Pueblo structures dating back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The structures are part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The West ruins at the National Monument are known as the “Great House,” which is an ancient complex. The Great House also includes a Kiva that is the oldest and largest of its kind. The Kiva’s were places of social and religious importance to the Pueblo.
Old spanish National Historic Trail
The Old Spanish National Historic Trail was a trade route that extended from Santa Fe, NM to Los Angeles California. This route utilized an old system of Indian trails that had previously connected the region. The trade route saw mules and animals move from California where there was an overabundance of wildlife to New Mexico where they were in great need. In exchange, New Mexico sent Indian products such as blankets and baskets to California due to California’s lack of wool processing. The Trail is infamously known as a route to raid areas of California to steal horses for use in the Southwest and also for the Indian slave trade. This route, was the real route of Cowboys and Outlaws in the Southwest.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Located in the Gila National Forest in Southwest New Mexico, the Gila Cliff Dwellings consist of cave dwellings that are interlinked across five cliff alcoves. The cliff itself was created by volcanic activity.
Navajo National Monument
The Navajo National Monument is the home of 3 of the most intact cliff dwellings from the Pueblo People. The National Monument is located near Monument Valley and is a nice detour when visiting the more popular Monument Valley.
On the Arizona, Utah border, is a group of Sandstone Buttes rising from the desert landscape. The Buttes are a sacred place for the Navajo People and, much like Sedona, the place fills individuals with a sense of peace and serenity like few places in the World.
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep is a set of six prehistoric villages built in the Golden Era of the Pueblo People and was home to approximately 2,500 people. It is known for the skill of the builders who built multistory buildings upon canyon rims and boulders.
Four Corners Tribal Park
The Four Corners Tribal Park is the meeting place of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. It is the only place in the US where 4 States meet. It is worth a quick stop if traveling to Monument Valley, Lake Powell in Utah, Mesa Verde, the Natural Bridges in Utah, or the Grand Staircase-Escalante.
It is believed to have been created by a meteorite about 50 meters across that was travelling several miles per second.
Church Rock and Pyramid Peak
Located within a few minutes of Gallup, NM Church rock is a rock formation that resembles a church. There are abundant hiking trails in the area that allow people to escape into nature. Pyramid Peak is a rock structure in the shape of a pyramid that offers breathtaking views of the Southwest.The El Rancho also provides an excellent stopping point for people visiting National parks in the Southwest because of its location near the four corners region (the intersection of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado).
We have a number of recommendations for seeing the parks and hope that you will ask one of our friendly staff about the National Parks when you stay at the El Rancho Hotel.