South Mesa Trail

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Located 47.6 miles from Bloomfield, New Mexico (NM)
4 Stars
3,508 Steps 1  (1.6 mi)

The South Mesa Trail is a backcountry loop trail that climbs steeply to the top of South Mesa. The view from the mesa is spectacular as it gives a panoramic view of Chaco Canyon and the Ancient Puebloan ruins. A backcountry permit is required to hike the South Mesa Trail; information and the necessary permit may be acquired at the trailhead.

South Mesa TrailSouth Mesa TrailSouth Mesa Trail

Once at the top of the Mesa, the Tsin Kletzin site is available to explore. The remains of this Chacoan Great House contain 81 rooms, 3 Kivas and a plaza. Many of the rooms were used for storing food and as a place to meet with other Puebloans who traveled from near and far for rituals and ceremonies. Evidence from archeological excavations also revealed that families lived here, often residing in three or four rooms per family.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park is considered to be the most remarkable Ancient Puebloan ruins site within Southwest America; this sacred site is protected by federal laws, please do not disturb or remove the artifacts and report evidence of vandalism.

Note: Metrics on this page cover the first half of the trail.


The South Mesa Trail has a maximum elevation of 6,658 ft (2,029 m), a minimum elevation of 6,149 ft (1,874 m), and an elevation range of 509 ft (155 m).


[ A to B ] or [ B to A ]
Steps 1Length 2Min Ele 3Max Ele 4
3,5081.6 mi6,149 ft6,658 ft
[ A to B ]
Time 5Floors 6Gain 7Loss 8
48 min39.5474 ft0 ft
[ B to A ]
39 min0.00 ft474 ft

What is the length of the South Mesa Trail?

The length of the trail is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) or 3,508 steps.

How long does it take to hike the South Mesa Trail?

A person in good physical health can hike the trail in 48 min in the [ A to B ] direction, and in 39 min in the [ B to A ] direction.


The following chart shows the total calories that you may expend on the trail while hiking in the [ A to B ] and [ B to A ] direction at a typical speed and is based on gross weight (which includes anything carried), the topography, trail length and trail conditions.

Topo Maps

Download the free South Mesa Trail topo map and the adjoining quads to plan your hike. These are full-sheet, 7.5 Minute (1:24,000 scale) Chaco Culture National Historical Park topographic maps. Do you want full-sheet outdoor recreation JPEG Topo Maps?

Adjoining 7.5' Quadrangle Legend

  1. Northwest Topo Map: Pretty Rock, NM
  2. North Topo Map: Pueblo Bonito NW, NM
  3. Northeast Topo Map: Kimbeto, NM
  4. West Topo Map: Kin Klizhin Ruins, NM
  5. Topo Map: Pueblo Bonito, NM
  6. East Topo Map: Sargent Ranch, NM
  7. Southwest Topo Map: Nose Rock, NM
  8. South Topo Map: Seven Lakes NW, NM
  9. Southeast Topo Map: Seven Lakes NE, NM

Is there a South Mesa trail map?

Yes, and it's free! The South Mesa Trail is located on the Pueblo Bonito topo map. Use the adjoining quadrangle legend to download the map.



  1. Steps is a unit of distance equal to the sum of stride lengths that vary with the terrain.
  2. Length is the distance of the trail between the two trailheads, measured on the trail.
  3. Min Ele is the minimum elevation on the trail.
  4. Max Ele is the maximum elevation on the trail.
  5. Time is the typical total time required to hike the trail.
  6. Floors is the gain divided by twelve, the height of one floor.
  7. Gain (cumulative elevation gain) is the sum of every gain in elevation.
  8. Loss (cumulative elevation loss) is the sum of every loss in elevation.