Chacmultun means "mounds made of red stone" in Maya.
H.E.D. Pollock, working under the auspices of the Carnegie Institution, visited Chacmultun in 1980. He writes:
"The outstanding characteristic of Chacmultun...is the utilization of natural eminences to locate the city's important civic and religious structures. The buildings tend to face one another, but, and perhaps more importantly, they focus on the floor of the valley that bisects the site. One is tempted to conjecture the presence of some important precinct or structure on the valley floor. In any event, lack of knowledge of this central part of the city is a handicap to understanding the overall plan."
The name Chacmultun applies specifically to the group of buildings in the northwest part of the ruins, but has been extended to include the whole site. The three groups which constitute the major ruins at the site are known as the Chacmultun Group, the Xetpol Group, and the Cabalpak Group.