September is a glorious time of the year to travel the Four Corners region. My wife Kathy and I took advantage of the recent long stretch of sunny weather to visit the San Juan Basin of Northern New Mexico. We joined a trip organized by the Chipeta chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society. The purpose of the trip was to visit the archaeological sites in the Largo Canyon drainage, southeast of Aztec, N.M.
The Largo Canyon region, known as Dinetah, was inhabited by ancient Puebloans prior to the 13th century and the Navajo people since the 14th century. After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pueblo groups from along the Rio Grande River fled to the Largo Canyon region to escape the persecution of the Spanish. There are many masonry structures and rock art sites associated with that time period and earlier.
We met the members of our group along U.S. 550 at Counselor. From there, we drove north into Escrito Canyon, a tributary of Largo Canyon. The area is quite remote, no less then 40 miles as the crow flies from Aztec. Cliffed mesa tops and deep canyons create a rugged landscape that makes travel very challenging. The road was alternately hardpan, washboarded and sandy.