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Chaco Culture NHP, NM
Pueblo Alto Trail
See a murder site amid ancient ruins.
Even the purpose of this massive, 1,000-year-old complex is shrouded in mystery. The great enigmatic ruins intrigued Richard Wetherill, an amateur archaeologist shot to death here in 1910 (allegedly over a horse). Glimpse his grave and the park’s most celebrated sites on this 5.1-mile loop. Grab a free permit at the trailhead and ascend .7 mile to a 100-foot cliff overlooking Wetherill’s grave. Continue .3 mile to view Pueblo Bonito’s maze of stone circles from above, then close the loop past Chetro Ketl and the cliffside Jackson Stairs. From Pueblo Bonito itself, follow a .3-mile spur west to the sandy Wetherill family cemetery. Contemplate the mortals gone before you beneath famously dark night skies at Gallo campground (full moon Oct. 29). (505-786-7014, nps.gov/chcu) Trip ID*1616134
The way From Albuquerque, take I-25 N to US 550 N, then go 113 miles to CR 7900. Turn right on CR 7950 and go 22 miles to the Pueblo de Arroyo trailhead.
Buffalo National River, AR
Buffalo River Trail
Explore 19th-century Ozark graveyards.
By 1860, a few thousand homesteaders had built a life in the Buffalo River Valley’s limestone hills and fertile bottomlands, but 150 years later, the abandoned area feels like a ghost town. Wander the remnants of their lost civilization on this 13-mile shuttle hike past forgotten farms and three of the area’s 40 cemeteries. From Kyles Landing, ascend a 500-foot river bluff en route to 155-year-old Cherry Grove cemetery at mile 5.1, a shady, hilltop repose for 168 souls. Continue 2.1 miles to riverside Erbie Campground (walk-up sites, free November to March). Day two, parallel the river two miles to the intimate, 18-grave Adair family plot, then two more to half-acre Brown cemetery, where a family of children rests. Follow the river 1.9 miles to your car at Ozark. (870-439-2502, nps.gov/buff) Trip ID1901789
The way Shuttle: From Fayetteville, link AR 45, US 412, AR 21, AR 43, AR 74, AR 7, and CR 129 to Ozark. Trailhead: Backtrack 10 miles to AR 74 to Kyles Landing Rd.
Vicksburg NMP, MS
Al Scheller Hiking Trail
Trek through a Civil War cemetery.
If lost souls are doomed to eternal wandering, you’ll find a crowd in Vicksburg National Cemetery: Of the 17,000 Union soldiers interred here, most are unidentified, their bodies buried where they fell in battle, then exhumed and transferred here. Snag a free trail guide for this 12.5-mile loop, and follow orange and white blazes across former battle lines to stirring monuments like the Missouri State Memorial (mile 2.5), where opposing regiments from the same state battled one another. At mile five, enter the 116-acre cemetery and wander its rows of weathered headstones on a hill 200 feet above the Mississippi. Continue 7.5 miles over hardwood-forested ridges to a half-dozen more memorials and the Confederate surrender site (mile 11). (601-636-0583, nps.gov/vick) Trip ID1877297
The way From Jackson, take I-20 west 39 miles to exit 4B. Follow Clay Street .8 mile west; turn right onto the park road to the trailhead next to the visitor center.