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One of my favorite National Park Service areas is Chaco Canyon,  located in the northwestern part of New Mexico.  Part of it's charm is it's remoteness -- the only road in consists of miles of unpaved washboard which deters many visitors.  The first time I made the journey was in May/June 1993 with a group from the JCCC Archaeological Society when I still lived in Kansas;  I haven't returned since February 1999 when I ventured out with some friends  (a Russian national and a Bulgarian immigrant)  I was staying with up in Farmington.

I think the following Associated Press article,  published in yesterday's Albuquerque Journal is a good candidate for New Mexico Magazine's popular "One Of Our Fifty Is Missing" column:

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Top 10 List Puts Chaco Culture National Historic Park in Arizona

The Associated Press

CHACO CULTURE NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK — Chaco Culture National Historic Park made a list of 10 favorite hidden parks,  but the list hid it even more — by locating it in Arizona.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees this week released a list of members' favorite parks,  but accidentally listed the archaeological site in Chaco Canyon south of Farmington as being in Arizona.

The 400-member group discovered the mistake and fixed it,  said coalition coordinator Bill Wade.

"That mistake slipped through several reviewers,  but really,  we know it's in New Mexico,"  Wade said.  "Having been there myself,  I know how beautiful it is."

Chaco Canyon is home to massive ancestral Pueblo Indian ruins that date from A.D. 850 to A.D. 1250.  Archaeologists consider it one of the most important sites in the Southwest.

The park's Web site says Chaco is remarkable for its monumental public and ceremonial buildings and its distinctive architecture.

"Sometimes people actually think we're in another country,"  said G.B. Cornucopia,  a guide at Chaco for 19 years.  "We also sometimes get confused with Canyon de Chelly,  which really is in Arizona."

Coalition member Tom Vaughan,  Chaco's superintendent from 1985 to 1989,  said its isolation makes it his favorite in the entire national parks system.

"What's most moving to me is visually the light in the morning and in the evening,"  Vaughan said.  "The other thing is the silence of Chaco.  It's a place where you really have to go and stay overnight to get the full experience."

More than 70,000 people visited the park in 2004.

The other top hidden parks listed:  Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve,  Alaska;  Grand Teton National Park,  Wyoming;  Fort Bowie National Historic Site,  Arizona;  Crater Lake National Park,  Oregon;  Theodore Roosevelt National Park,  North Dakota;  Dry Tortugas National Park,  Florida; Yosemite National Park,  California;  Lincoln Memorial,  Washington D.C.;  and Zion National Park, Utah.
When my sister and I were growing up,  one of the highlights of our annual family vacations were visits to various National Parks.  Yet,  I've only visited four of the ten on this list.  I'm currently in the market for a new vehicle  (haven't decided on a car or a truck yet);  perhaps I should shop with an eye to having something I can drive to the numerous remote places to visit in my part of the country.  It would be nice to be able to  (confidently)  drive out to Chaco Canyon once again!