Chaco Canyon, near Farmington, NM. During a work trip to the area, I made a stop at the national monument here. You come upon the location suddenly, unexpectedly. The area to the east of Farmington is stereotypical New Mexico: flat, endless, dry, deserted. Like Hollywood views Texas. As you drive south from the highway, you slowly approach a great river canyon, but this canyon has been empty for a thousand years.
Anyone so interested can go to various web sites and look up the history of the place. When Europeans were building cathedrals, bridges, roads, water wheels, ships that sailed around the Horn of Africa, when the Chinese were peering through telescopes and recording the heavens, the people here gathered stones together and built a rabbit's-warren of dwellings and ceremonial rooms. Many of the hundreds of sites were reburied after excavating, to preserve them from looting and from the elements. Many were destroyed during exploration, such as when a National Geographic survey about 80 years ago used wood beams from the construction for cooking fires (this, according to the park ranger). Visited 2-2006.