Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Canyons of the Ancients & Hovenweep NM's

Our first stop on the way to Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was the Anasazi Heritage Museum, which also serves as the visitor's center for this monument.  We viewed two videos and many displays of artifacts that have been preserved by the many archeologist's excavations over the past hundred years or so.  This museum had a lot of artifacts displayed and there also many interpretive displays that exemplified the way the Ancients lived and struggled through their times.

All of the artifacts here have been recovered from the many sites within the Canyons here in the monument.  From wiki: 
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. state of Colorado, and is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Created by a Presidential proclamation on June 9, 2000, the monument encompasses 164,000 acres (663 km²) and surrounds three of the four separate sections of Hovenweep National Monument, which is administered by the National Park Service. Canyons of the Ancients was set aside to preserve and protect the largest concentration of archeological sites in the United States. As of 2005, over 6,000 individual archeological sites had been identified within the monument.

At least 6,000 distinct structures have been identified in the monument, and the density of archeological remains is the highest of any region in the U.S. After building basic pit style structures at first, the puebloans later built cliff dwellings.  We tried to find Sand Canyon Pueblo first, but got lost on the dirt roads and decided to vacat this plan and head for Lowry Pueblo on up CO 491 a bit.  Got to Pleasnat View and took Road CC straight another gravel road to the ruins.  The above photos were from these ruins.  Here are few more.  As you can see, the main pueblo house has been preserved from the weather and other non-natural destruction with a metal structure.

From what the ranger said and the video we saw back at the Heritage Center, the rough boundaries of the Monument contained a large number of these communties.  In fact, they estimate that the Four Corners area had a larger population 1000 years ago than what is inhabited in the same general area today.  Amazing!  From the top of the Lowry Pueblo, here a few shots as one looks around.

So, after about an hour here, we drove about 20 minutes, on paved and non-paved roads to the Painted Hand Ruins.  The last half mile of this road was pretty rough.  Also, the trail to the ruins, about a quarter of a mile or so, was not very well marked.  And when we did arrive at the overlook at cliff's edge, the last 200 feet DOWN the cliff was nearly impassable.  We did not attempt to traverse this part of the trail.  So I just took several photos from this edge.  We later discovered there was another "spur" to this trail that went on down the cliff edge for anoter 300 yards and then switched-back down towards the ruins.  But looking down at the ruins area, it appeared that the site would have been tough to walk around on.  Good thing we probably didn't.  Here are a few pics from the Painted Hand Pueblo.

We also had a welcoming committee of one to greet us as we tried to go down that lat 200 feet, but decided not to try.  It was a very colorful Collard Lizard, about 12 inches long.  And he was fast!

OK, enough of the Painted Hand.  On to Hovenweep NM.

Rock House
From Wiki: 
Hovenweep National Monument straddles the Colorado-Utah border Northeast of Bluff, Utah, United States. President Warren G. Harding proclaimed Hovenweep a National Monument on March 2, 1923. The Monument consists of six clusters of Native American ruins. Four of these are in Colorado: Holly Canyon, Hackberry Canyon, Cutthroat Castle and Goodman Point. In Utah, the two sets of ruins are known as Square Tower and Cajon. The modest Monument headquarters is located at Square Tower Group between Pleasant View, Colorado and Hatch Trading Post, Utah.

It just amazed us as to how these people of long ago had the wherewithall and the resources and comraderieship to accomplish such feats of architecture.

Square Tower, four stories tall before erosion of the structure.
Some estimates have as many as 1000 people lived here at the communities with Hovenweep.

Note the "tailings" or talus of the eroding process of this building below the edge of the rock.

We were truly impressed with amount of ruins here in this canyon as we strolled through the 2 and a half mile loop trail.  What we didn't expect was the last half mile and another welcoming committee.  That half mile went down the canyon and, you guessed it:  Back UP the other side.  Not bad, but after what we had just witnessed (welcoming committee), we went slowly and watched carefully as the way was very rocky and pretty tricky.  Here are few pics.  The first is actually a clip of about 20 seconds of our little critter.

Well, we had us a full day, and we still had about 42 miles to get back to the MH in Cortez, CO.  It was late, so we were going to have to eat late again, which neither of us like to do as it keeps us from getting a good night's sleep.  Oh well.  So, when we arrived in Cortez, right next to the Sundance RV Park, is Jack & Janelle's Country Kitchen.  I forced myself to order their special, prime rib.  Oh the hazards of long day hikes!  :-))  So, we're off to Moab, UT this morning (Monday, 4/19).  Till the next time, RVing Beach Bums signing off.