THE CHACOAN PAST enthralls visitors to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, southwest of Nageezi; Aztec Ruins National Monument, in Aztec; and Salmon Ruins Museum, in Bloomfield, which also tells the story of 19th-century Anglo settlers. The roads to Chaco can turn treacherous in bad weather; call ahead. If you plan to stay the night, reservations are recommended. Chaco has entrance fees; the others are free. All three have exhibits and gift shops and occasionally offer tours of their grounds and host special events.

Salmon Ruins archaeologists lead daylong, small group tours of the Dinétah, Chaco Canyon, and the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, plus one that highlights local sandstone arches and archaeology. Prices start at $400, with transportation and lunch included. Go to

Launch your own tour of eight Dinétah sites by downloading a brochure from the Bureau of Land Management at

High-clearance vehicles are a must. Do not touch petroglyphs, camp in the sites, or take anything but photographs. Stick to exploring the listed sites and prepare for remote, rural conditions. Help is far, far away.

Read more: Help protect fragile archaeological sites by becoming a site steward.