Staging Area for Historic Trips
"Canyons of the Ancients National Monument"
We'll cut some of the confusion regarding the differences between the Hovenweep National Monument sites and the Canyon of the Ancients sites. They are scattered throughout the same valleys. They were built during the same timeframes...and "abandoned" around the same timesframes. The peoples shared similar lifestyles and farmed and hunted the same mesas.
The difference? One is a National PARK, maintained by the National Park Service and the other is managed by the Bureau of Land Management...
The Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, covers 164,000 acres of southwest Colorado and has the highest known density of archeological sites, with 5,000 recorded and thousands more waiting for study. It is now known that this area was inhabited by the Puebloan people as early as 750 AD, farming and hunting these lands.
Many of the "villages" are accessible by most vehicles. The Lowry Pueblo can be reached with any two-wheel drive vehicle. I would suggest a four wheel drive vehicle to visit the Painted Hand Pueblo, which remains one of my favorite places on earth. Some of the more remote sites can only be accessed by high clearance four wheel drive, as the trails can get rather rutty.
What I can promise is a fantastic trip through American History, and beautiful scenery.
"Anasazi Cultural Heritage Center"
Begin your journey into the history of the Puebloan people at the Anasazi Cultural Heritage Center. Not only is it VERY informative, with interactive displays and exhibits...they also have the best maps and bochures of the Canyons of the Ancients.
Just behind the Anasazi Cultural Center is the Escalante Pueblo Ruin, a cliff-top dwelling which had been inhabited during different time periods. This could be your first glimpse of some of the ruins you will visit in the Canyon.
"Camp under the Stars"
Our first year out here, we stayed at McPhee Campground, just outside Dolores, for our staging ground for journeys to the Canyons of the Ancients, Hovenweep and Mesa Verde National Park.
The next year, we stayed at Hovenweep overnight and explored the remote canyonlands. This spiritual land will stay with you and lure you back...